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My top 7 picks for the best mountain bike flat pedals

In this article I’m going to describe how I got to choose my top pick from a selection of the best mountain bike flat pedals.

For 2021 I decided to drastically reduce the amount of bikes I would restore, and thin out my existing collection. I have more than enough bikes and I like riding them as much as I like fixing and upgrading them.

One of the great advantages of starting with a second-hand bicycle is that you don’t blow through your budget in one shot. I already put a new set of tires on my gorgeous 1998 Cannondale Killer V.

Whenever I rode this bike hard and went across some uneven terrain my foot would occasionally slip from one of the pedals. Since I’m pretty unwilling to undergo surgery again for a bicycle-related accident, I felt a new set of pedals was in order.

Since I didn’t want to be stuck to the pedals I went for flat pedals instead of clipless. One of the reason is that I also prefer to have the pedal in the middle of the shoe vs. the front. And I very much prefer the no-hassle flat pedal setup vs. needing to have a dedicated extra pair of shoes.

I couldn’t have known up front that choosing what seems like such a simple piece of kit would give me such a headache. So before I get to my top pick let’s review a couple of requirements.

The picks for the best mountain bike flat pedals

When you start doing this type of research, the same products surface. It’s either because everybody is reading each others stuff or that the cycling business is very hard to get into and existing brands simply know what they are doing.

Either way, here are my top picks, starting with the one I actually bought.

Hope F20

Hope’s F20 refers to the number of pins located on each pedal. They only offer a single pedal for adults. Why have more if you put your best effort in a single product? Makes sense.

The reason I chose this one over all the others was the fact that they obviously look nice, with the best machining I’ve seen on any pedal.

But Hope also has an outstanding reputation for making superb-quality products and these pedals are no different. Both in the durability and serviceability department. And it doesn’t hurt to get a “best in test” seal of approval in this regard.

They contain sealed cartridge bearings that spin freely and are sealed of to prevent outside contamination from happening.

I also was looking for a pedal with pins that could be removed from the underside. Not that I intend on crashing them into any obstacles, but it is the better option.

At €160 euros they are very pricey for a pair of pedals but I guess that’s part of the allure as well.

And 390 grams seemed to be a perfectly acceptable weight.

I also like the fact Hope is a British brand. Next thing I’ll be doing is to buy their seat post as well 🙂

Chromag Dagga

I almost bought these Chromag Dagga pedals before picking the Hope F20. But since black versions are out of stock everywhere it meant having to ship them from the U.S. which would proof to be too expensive, even for my taste.

But it’s probably for the better. These pedals feature the highest pins, which would be totally unnecessary for someone who uses his mountain bike more like a road bike.

And even though I was initially attracted to the relatively uncluttered look, the fact they’re also one of the biggest pedals out there made me realize it would be a bit of an overkill for what I was looking for.

HT ME03T

The lightest entry on this list the HT ME03T are made of magnesium (hence the “M”) and a titanium spindle, which lowers the weight to a mere 218 grams.

They also are extremely thin. 11mm. (vs. the thick 20mm. for the Deore XT). So if you like your pedals to be anorexic, this is the setup for you.

HT (which stands for Hsing Ta) is a brand that only manufacturers bicycle pedals (or it seems that way) and these are both their lightest and most expensive flat pedals. And with a price almost nearing 300 euros they proved to be a bit too expensive for me.

The aluminium offering AE05 is relatively cheaper and adds to the weight a bit, but who cares for an extra 160 grams? It’s still lower than comparative other products.

But the pedal also had a number of drawbacks. Why is there a weight limit of 80kg’s? I don’t understand that. Is that if I sit on the saddle? What if I’m standing up and putting the power down? Can the spindle bend or something? Or break?

I also didn’t like the fact they don’t run sealed cartridge bearings and I’m not looking for more maintenance on a bike. I do enough of that already.

So a no for me, but man they look like a million dollars!

Shimano Deore XT

Since I run an entire Deore XT setup on the bike, including a Deore XT Hollowtech II crankset, it made sense to look into the Deore XT flat pedal offering as well.

I’m pretty satisfied with the Drivetrain setup so would have no reason to think otherwise from their Deore XT pedal.

It’s slightly heavier than other offerings with 490 grams and cheaper. I was able to find a new pair well below the 100 euro mark.

Apart from the fact they have pins with top treads, which can get damaged, they seem to be an overall reliable work horse. They can take a beating and are easy to service with cup and cone bearings instead of the cartridge bearings.

So why not go for these pedals you might wonder? In my mind the Deore XT missed any outstanding factor. They tick almost all the right boxes but all in all they are above average. And I rather have a product that excels in a certain department (and might lack in another).

Even the overall design is good but not astounding. It’s like they looked at all the other pedals and took the middle ground of all the factors. A bit too heavy, a bit too thick, A bit too plain, a bit too much of a grey mouse for me to grab my wallet.

Shimano Saint MX80

Shimano’s other offering, the Saint, is even heavier at almost 500 grams.

The reviewers out there seem to think this thing is indestructible, but a lot of comments talk about play and clicking sounds in the cup and cone style bearings.

I don’t know what’s what, but if I have to choose between caged bearings and cartridge bearings, I’ll definitely go for the latter in every scenario. From a restoration perspective loose- or caged bearings simply suck, but that’s exactly what Shimano pedals seem to have.

I also think these are the ugliest of the bunch, and lack any sign of design sophistication. Less is more people! To my trained designer’s eye the lack of symmetry is jarring.

Nukeproof Horizon Pro

I knew there had to be something special about these pedals for me to buy them because they sure wouldn’t win the beauty contest.

So I guess it’s a good thing Sam Hill used these Nukeproof Horizon Pro pedals to win his Downhill Championship titles. But I’ve read in multiple articles the bearing seals came off.

And the pedals have this sort of “middle-of-the-road” feel to them. And I don’t like to buy stuff with “slight drawbacks” if there are better options out there. If I work for months on a bike, I’m not a afraid to spend a bit of extra cash to iron out the drawbacks.

And I don’t do downhill anyway.

Crankbrothers Stamp 7

If my sources are correct, the Crankbrothers Stamp 7 pedals are probably the most used pedals in this list.

At first sight they look nice. I didn’t mind that they would have a little less traction, considering the fact I would mostly be using them for street use.

The overall shape and design is fine. But they didn’t have that allure of a true premium product.

The pins are top-loading which is one of the biggest no’s for flat pedals. And as far as pedal can go, they have nothing to really attract me.

A good thing is that they have two different sizes. So you can go for a smaller one, which reduces the risk of striking anything on the trail.

Deity TMac

The only symmetric pedal on this list and the most gorgeous one as well. A perfect example of less-is-more design without getting overly simplistic.

And it’s yet another pedal that has the name worthy of a rapper, and a very cool one at that.

Because of the symmetry the Deity TMac‘s have top-loading pins, which in general is not a plus. But there are 28 of them on a relatively large platform, making sure you’ve got the grip you need.

The outer width of 16mm. ensures there’s enough room to make them more than super concave, tapering off to the center to just 14mm.

Final Thoughts

So that rounds up my top picks for the best mountain bike flat pedals. Obviously, my particular way of using flat pedals (not really for mountain biking) and my penchant for design, which is always very subjective, has made me say things you might totally disagree with and that’s ok.

In all fairness, going from my current setup to any one of these pedals is a huge leap forward. But if you’re shelling out your hard-earned cash, why not try and pick one you can rally behind with some thorough research. It has that placebo effect the product you choose is the right one simply because you think it is.

Flat Mountain Bike Pedals – Specifications

TypeWeight (gr.)
per pair
Size (mm.)
width, length, height
MaterialAxleBearingsPins
per pedal
Hope F20390110 x 102 x 14AluminiumCr-Mocartridge20, rear-loading
Chromag Dagga488120 x 115mm x 16AluminiumCr-Mocartridge24, rear-loading
HT ME03T218102 x 96 x 11MagnesiumTitaniumcaged16, rear-loading
Shimano Deore XT469
514
100 x 105
110 x 115
AluminiumCr-Mocup and cone20, top-loading
Shimano Saint MX80500AluminiumCr-Mocup and cone18, rear-loading
Nukeproof Horizon Pro430100 x 105 x 15AluminiumCr-Mocartridge20, rear-loading
Crankbrothers Stamp 7345
375
100 x 100 x 13
114 x 111 x 13
AluminiumCr-Mocartridge20, top-loading
Deity TMac409110 x 105 x 16.5AluminiumCr-Mocartridge28, top loading
DMR Vault430105 x 105 x 17AluminiumCr-Mocartridge22, rear-loading

Video Review

Mountain bike flat pedal requirements

As I delved into the area of flat pedals I found that beyond the obvious there are a number of flat pedal-specific requirements you can take into account when choosing what’s best for you.

Aesthetics

I always start here. If it doesn’t look good in my subjective eye, it will never find a place on my bike. With pretty colors and nice machining every brand has their own way of enticing potential buyers to spend their hard-earned cash on their product.

Price

Pedals vary in price just like any other piece of equipment that sits on your bike. I found that basically all pedals mentioned in other top ten lists out there start above the hundred dollar mark. I’m more than sure you can have a perfect set of pedals for far less, especially if you compare them to what I’m riding right now, which are the original VP pedals you can still get for less than 20 euros on Amazon.

Material

Material is also a key factor. In general, premium pedals use anodized aluminium with either steel or titanium axles that can be serviced. If you want to go lightweight, you swap out the the aluminium for titanium. This decreases the weight drastically but increases the price.

Size

Size is the next factor. Obviously different riders have different sized feet which need to be accommodated. Some brands actually offer multiple sizes some have a one-size-fits-most approach.

Pins

One of the most important aspects of flat pedals is grip. And grip is achieved with the help of pins. And pins come in a certain amount, a certain height, a certain placement, and a certain way of servicing them. Yes, a lot of stuff about just pins.

Endurance / Serviceability

Since mountain bikes tend to be ridden in such a way you crash more often than for example road bikes, they need to hold up under after a certain amount of abuse. And riding on clean tarmac is totally different from riding in the dirt. So serviceability is a high priority for pedals as well, since they pick up half a forest after a good ride.