by Noah Sears
It's no secret that Crank Brothers products have a reputation for emphasizing style over longevity, so when the new Mallet DH/Race pedals arrived in the mail I was excited yet skeptical. They looked great, but would they perform?
The Mallet DH/Race pedals debuted early this year to much fanfare, and were seen throughout the 2012 season on a number of World Cup race bikes. The original Mallets built a legion of followers, but each generation since has been less and less heralded. In their most recent variant Crank Brothers utilized a half polycarbonate two-piece design and a much smaller platform. Over the years the pedal has gotten smaller and lighter - more all-mountain, less DH. With the Mallet DH/Race Crank Brothers has gone big and metal, a welcomed return.
New vs Old. The Mallet has seen a number of revisions since the original version (right), and we're happy to see it taking a turn back toward the wide-bodied DH design with adjustable pins. The new designs is about 100 grams lighter than the original.
Mallet DH/Race Pedal Highlights
- Extruded/machined aluminum platform
- 300 series spring steel spring
- Forged scm435 chromoly steel spindle
- Q factorincreased 5mm per spindle vs most recent design
- Needle + cartridge inner bearings
- Cartridgeouter bearing
- Replaceable 8mm adjustabletraction pins
- 15 to 20-degree release angle
- Premium brass cleats included
- Red color only
- 5 year warranty
- 479 grams per pair
- $140 MSRP
Curious what else is new and exciting, or perhaps how they came to be? Click through this First Look slideshow for a chat with Colin Esquibel, the man who took the new Crankbrothers Mallet DH/Race pedal from sketches to production:
On The Trail
First, a little backstory on me... I've been riding clipless pedals again for a little over a year. Previous to that I was on flat pedals for five years following a heinous crash that left my right elbow in several pieces, large and small. I was a little scared of being mechanically bound to my pedals after that, and it was only as I began to take Enduro racing more seriously that I decided to come back to the dark side.
Previous to this review, the only clipless pedals I'd used were Shimano SPDs. I'd most recently been riding Shimano's PD-M530 "trail" style pedal - basically a barebones SPD with a small platform. I had no complaints with the bombproof SPD system - but apparently only because I didn't know any better!
Switching to the Crank Brothers pedals, the first thing that was immediately noticeable was the increased contact between the sole of the shoe and the platform - it truly felt like the best of both worlds (clipless and flat). The cleats provided enough float that I could put some english on the pedals like I would with platforms, but I had that locked-in, efficient feel of a clipless interface. I've tried these pedals with a variety of skate-inspired clipless shoes; SixSixOne Filters, Five Ten Minnaars, and the new Teva Pivot, and they've all given that sensation. The adjustable pins only add to the stable sensation, and have the effect of making it easier or harder to unclip depending on how far out they are. I can't speak to the added width of the cage having not tried the previous versions, but the feel is quite secure and stable. When I find myself unclipped in techy situations, the platform gives sufficient traction to navigate just about anything comfortably.
Long Term Durability
Durability-wise, the pedals have taken a beating without issue over the past few months. There have been several occasions where I've pedaled squarely into a rock and thought for sure those dainty little EggBeater springs would be toast, but that hasn't been the case. The new spring is holding up just fine, despite quite a few hard hits. The anodized finish does scratch very easily, however.
The pins have worn down considerably, but they're replaceable. I do however wish all of the pins threaded in from the bottom like the better platforms on the market. As is, only four per side have allen heads that are protected, and the remaining four have tool interfaces that look pretty mangled. It'll be a joy to get them out.
Finally, the left pedal has developed a little play, but I only noticed this as I inspected these for the review. A quick turn of the wrench and it was gone. Quite a simple fix considering all the time I've had on them.
What's The Bottom Line?
So do I like them? Yeah you can say that, I'd go so far as to say I'm now a convert to the Crank Brothers system. I've even got another set of Mallet DH/Race pedals on order. The pedals seem to be the best compromise of flat pedal feel and clipless efficiency, and the recent improvements are just that - improvements. With an additional neutral color choice, a more durable finish, more robust pins, and bearings that didn't need adjustment after a few months, Crank Brothers would have a five-star product. As is, though, the Mallet DH/Race pedals are hard to beat.
For more details, cruise over to www.crankbrothers.com.
About The Reviewer
Noah Sears eats, sleeps, and breathes mountain biking. During the decade he has been in the bike industry, he has managed a well-known destination bike shop, written for several publications, been a sponsored rider and product tester for various manufacturers, and is currently leading the marketing and product development efforts at Mountain Racing Products. A Colorado native and now Fruita local, there is no shortage of idyllic singletrack right out his back door. He has been racing downhill and super-D events since 2006, but thinks he has found his calling with enduro. His hammer and plow style of riding puts the hurt on his equipment - and his body. The amount he has spent to fix broken bones and replace broken parts over the years likely exceeds the GDP of a small country. He's all but sworn off 26-inch wheeled bikes, preferring to ride wagon wheels or at least 'tweeners. He also freaking loves Strava.