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The Best Mountain Bike Pedals for Any Type of Ride

Upgrading your stock mountain bike pedals will allow for more comfort, security, and efficiency on the trail.

best mountain bike pedals
Staff, Courtesy of Funn

While many mountain bikes come with stock pedals, the traction, grip, and efficiency that comes with upgraded pedals—either flats or clipless—makes a world of difference during rides. Regardless of whether you choose clipless pedals or flats, an upgraded set of pedals will allow you to ride more securely and efficiently. We’ll get more into the benefits of both flats and clipless pedals below, but if you’re considering getting more seriously into mountain biking, or simply want to increase your efficiency and abilities on downhills or cross-country riding, consider upgrading your pedals.

What to Look For

Flat Pedals or Clipless Pedals?

This is the main category determiner. Flat pedals are essentially platform pedals often with pins on each side to help keep your foot from slipping. They’re similar to the pedals your bike probably came with, though upgrading to aftermarket pedals usually means a wider platform, more traction, and better durability. They’re easy to attach to your bike—just make sure the spindle fits your bike's crank (usually 9/16-inch), and then they can be used with any kind of flat-bottom shoe.

Clipless pedals are for more advanced riders, and are compatible with cleated cycling shoes. They are more efficient, as you are effectively attached to the pedal, and can pull up with each stroke as well as push down. This means you’re getting the full power of each rotation. Riding “clipless” takes practice, and they can be tricky to get in and out of at first. It’s best to start riding clipless on mellow terrain or flat, grassy areas.

Flat Pedal Pins

Flat pedals have pins for traction embedded in the platform. We like models with nine to 12 pins on each side—the more pins, the easier it will be to keep your foot in the right position. Some of the less-expensive models have eight pins per side, which is perfectly fine, but more pins equals better traction. Some models have replaceable pins, a bonus if you think you’ll ride enough to wear them down.

Clipless Shoe Compatibility

You’ll need clipless mountain bike shoes to go with your clipless pedals. Mountain bike shoes have a two-bolt cleat, different than the three bolts on clipless road bike shoes. The styles of the shoes vary a bunch, though—some might resemble skateboard shoes (flat-pedal riders use this style as well) and some clipless mountain bike shoes look more like road bike shoes. It’s best to test out the combination of pedals and shoes before committing to a long or technical ride with them, as the platform and cage contacts might feel more secure with some combinations than others.


Mountain bike pedals (flats and clipless) come in a variety of materials. Many moderately priced pedals are an aluminum alloy, and some of the more expensive models are made with titanium. You can find less expensive models made from metal or composite materials. Many riders opt for nylon composite options because they can offer a compelling balance of low weight, durability, and reasonable prices.

How We Selected

We evaluated a range of clipless and flat pedals for everyone from beginners to experts, so there’s something for everyone. We checked on flat pedals’ pin placement for the best variety and grip, and varying materials and floats in the clipless pedals. We chatted with mountain bike experts, and have used a variety of these pedals ourselves on everything from downhill courses to casual cross-country outings.

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Best Beginner Mountain Bike Pedals
ethirteen Base Pedals

These durable, composite-body pedals are reasonably priced and have the same 22-pin pattern as the company’s higher-priced racing models. These pedals have the traction to feel secure on a variety of terrain, with 11 pins per side and a low profile on a wide platform for more stability. 

We’ve listed these as a solid beginner pedal, but really they’ll take you up each skill level with ease. At 392 grams, these do weigh slightly more than competitor models.

  • Wide platform
  • Durable
  • Affordable

  • Slightly heavier than others
Durable With Replaceable Pins
Bontrager Line Elite MTB Platform Pedals

This nylon-resin pair of flats has replaceable traction pins and a super tough axle, making them an excellent choice for riders more prone to pedal strikes or bike drops. 

The nylon-resin platform resists dings and abrasions, and the surface is also super grippy. These are around the same weight (350 grams) as the metal options. These might not be the best for riders with larger feet, as the platform is a bit narrower (4.5 by 4 inches) than other options on this list.

  • Durable nylon platform
  • Replaceable pins

  • Can feel narrow for large feet
Best Overall Flat Pedals
Race Face Chester Pedals
Race Face

These wide, comfortable pedals come in a variety of bold colors and have an updated traction on the surface for added grip.  The body is a durable nylon composite, and the traction treads are built right into the concave shape for added stability. 

The Chester Pedals have a sealed chromoly steel axle so larger riders can feel secure throwing weight around on dynamic rides. These pedals have eight pins per side, and some riders might have slightly more trouble staying in place with the fewer pins.

  • Super durable axle
  • Updated traction on platform

  • 8 pins per side
Best Affordable Low-Profile Pedals
SOLODRIVE Mountain Bike Flat Pedals

With the same design as a more expensive set, the SOLODRIVE Flat Pedals are just a half-inch thick, with a sleek, low-profile build for extra clearance on obstacle-heavy trails. This helps reduce pedal strikes, though some riders prefer the comfort of a beefier pedal, as you might be able to feel the spindle under your foot during long rides.

This set has nine pins per side, and an aluminum alloy construction. At 342 grams, they weigh about the same as pedals that cost twice as much.

  • Low profile
  • Similar build as more expensive pedals

  • Might feel too thin for some riders
Best Affordable Mountain Bike Pedals
K PEDC Aluminum Alloy Bike Pedal

These aluminum alloy pedals have a steel axle and eight pins on each side. They come with three sealed bearings which help keep debris out of the spindles, and we love the angled corners that help prevent pedal strikes or catches on challenging trail sections. 

These are solidly built, but like many budget-friendly options, the components tend to be less durable, and the pins and spindles can wear out faster than a more expensive pair. The platform is just over four inches wide, which might feel narrow to some riders. 

  • Affordable
  • Angled edges

  • Bearings not as durable
Most Versatile Mountain Bike Pedals
Funn Mamba Clipless/Flat Pedals

As far as versatility goes, it doesn't get much better than having clipless and flats in one pedal. To ride flats, you’ll use the flat side of the pedal, and for clipless riding, simply flip it around. 

These are ideal for riders who feel confident riding clipless on more moderate terrain, but want the safety of riding flats on downhills or more technical rides. These have a wide platform for comfort on long rides, but this can make clipping in and out a bit more challenging than on a classic clipless pedal. 

As a bonus, Shimano cleats are included in the package.

  • Compatible for clipless or flats
  • Comfortable platform

  • Can be hard to clip into
Best Overall Clipless Pedal
HT Components T1 Clipless Pedal
HT Components

This clipless pedal gets stellar feedback for mud shedding, fast entry and exit, and a low-profile design that still has plenty of usable platform space for stability and comfort on a variety of technical terrain or longer rides. 

Riders will feel solid and secure in the connections, and the grub pins won’t hinder you getting in and out of the pedals. These pedals are very reasonably priced for the design and quality of components, and will provide years of use without degrading or wearing down. 

Be aware that these pedals are not recommended for riders over 176 pounds.

  • Super secure connections
  • Wide platform
  • Low profile

  • Weight limit of 176 pounds
Best Clipless Pedal for Downhilling
Crankbrothers Mallet E Clipless Pedals

These pedals are as secure as they come, with six pins on each side, and extra traction on the platform to help with grip. This model also has a larger platform (and weighs 419 grams) than other clipless models, making them more stable and comfortable on long downhills, along with the efficiency of pulling on the uphills.

We love the concave platform and four-sided entry that helps you get in and out with ease.

  • Four-sided entry
  • Wide, comfortable platform

  • Heavier than other clipless models
Best Racing Clipless Pedal
Shimano XTR M9100 Race

These recently updated pedals offer more stability and ease of entry/exit than previous iterations, though some might find the narrow platform less comfortable than other clipless pedals. These shed mud and dirt to help keep the area clear for entry and exit, and they have two axle length options and are compatible with both XC9 and XC7 shoes. 

We’d recommend these clipless pedals for serious mountain bikers looking to enhance their efficiency and control during races or other high-intensity rides.

  • Lightweight
  • Efficient

  • Narrow platform
  • Pricey
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