Vital MTB Face Off: The Best Flat Pedals 112

34 excellent flat mountain bike pedals ridden and rated.

We review a lot of gear here at Vital, and if there is one question that pops up again and again, it’s always the one about how each product stacks up against the competition. We always try to provide enough competitive flavor in our regular reviews so you can figure out what’s hot and what’s not, but nothing beats a straight up stare down when it comes to crowning a king. So that’s exactly what we’ve decided to do, and we’re delighted to present this “Vital MTB Face Off” – a shootout of epic proportions designed to look beyond the marketing statements and the spec sheets to pick a winner where it matters the most: on the trail.

UPDATED November 2023: This article was originally published in late 2016, at that time it covered 17 pedals. In January 2020, we updated it with a further 7 pedals, another 2 were added in May 2020, 5 more in February of 2023 and now a further 3 have been thrown into the mix bringing the total to 34 pedals as of November 2023. Hundreds of hours of testing over a time span of several years - read on to dig into the most extensive flat pedal test on the internet!

1st Place: DMR Vault

When DMR launched their Vault pedal a good few years ago, they snuck a little “Next Generation” graphic onto one of the inside edges. Whether this was a reference to the evolution of their iconic V8/V12 pedal or a broader claim of next level performance we may never know, but the Vault was an instant hit with flat pedal punters the world over. Big and burly, the Vault provides faultless levels of grip in all conditions. Add in the fact that it’s easy to maintain and rebuild, that it holds up very well to abuse, and that it’s available in a bunch of fancy colors at a reasonable original MSRP of $140 USD, and you’re looking at the gold standard.

Shop the DMR Vault at Jenson USA and Competitive Cyclist.

2nd Place: Hope F22

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Hope's original flat pedal, the F20, didn't score too well in this test. Hope spent a lot of time working on its successor, the F22, which left a great impression on us when it was released in early 2023. Bigger, more concave, and among the lightest pedals in this category, the F22 provides impressive levels of grip and a great feeling under the foot. Add in Hope's well-proven track record of reliability and commitment to providing all the parts needed for future rebuilds, and the result is a mighty contender.

Shop the Hope F22 at Tredz.

3rd, 4th, and 5th Place: Deity TMAC, Newmen Beskar, and Tenet Occult

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This tasty group of flatties rounds out our Top 5. In 3rd place, Tyler McCaul’s signature TMAC pedal from Deity left an impression as big as its massive platform on our testers. Grippy and comfortable, this $169 pedal is the one to run when you have no clue how your foot might come back down after pulling a sick superman – just like TMAC himself! Newmen landed in 4th place with their first-ever flat pedal, the ultra-light and very grippy Beskar. Rounding out the podium in 5th place, Tenet's Occult is the embodiment of the old saying "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." With a shape that borrows heavily from the T-MAC it came as no surprise when this newcomer muscled its into the very top echelon of the rankings.

Shop the Deity TMAC at Jenson USA and Competitive Cyclist, the Newmen Beskar at Newmen Components, and the Tenet Occult at The Pro's Closet

How We Tested

We have previously reviewed a number of the pedals featured in this shootout, but in order to come up with a definitive winner and a reasonably scientific ranking, we tested them all again back-to-back by the same rider. Since we had a whopping 33 pairs of pedals to get through, this took a lot of time to do. The original batch of 17 pedals tested in 2016 were pitted against each other in a mega back-to-back session, and since then, any newcomers have been compared to the top performers with more back-to-back sessions. To minimize all the other variables they were all tested on the same trails. We used Five Ten's Freerider Pro as our reference shoe, but several others during testing as well. The pedals were mounted to six-inch travel enduro bikes, and generally ridden on two to three hour loops involving climbing and descending over fairly technical terrain, as well as used for shuttling and freeride sessions.

Riding each pedal back-to-back on the same trail on the same day afforded us a unique opportunity to test with all the other variables held as constant as possible, quickly revealing relative merits and shortcomings of each pedal. We have a short-but-sweet test loop available that features rolling, technical singletrack, a run down a steep and fast rock garden, jumps, and a climb back up involving both fire road and a technical trail section. We used this test loop for the original, 17-pedal shooutout and we've gone back to it ever since as we've been testing additional pedals.

It’s no secret that we like to geek out here at Vital, so when it came to adding a bit of science to our test, we headed to the workbench to see what the numbers had to say about it all. Weight and general dimensions tell one side of the story, but there’s always more to it than meets the eye, and numbers can be misleading. The industry norm is to state the physical dimensions of the platform itself, but in real life, the buck does not stop here.

Vital's Pin-To-Axle and Thickness with Pins Measurements Explained

If you have a huge platform but it sits right next to the crank arm, the effective stance width (the horizontal distance between the feet) will still end up on the narrow side. Similarly, you may design a super-thin pedal but have to run really long pins to provide grip, which increases the effective pedal thickness. To illustrate this aspect, we came up with two key measurements of our own that you won't find in any marketing documentation:

  • Pin-to-Axle (PTA) is the distance between the outermost pin and the crank arm.
  • Thickness with Pins is the total distance between the tallest pins on opposing sides of the pedal.

The PTA number will tell you where the effective edge of the pedal really is in relation to the crank arm, which is more important than just knowing the physical dimensions of the platform itself. In other words, how long will the pedal still provide grip as you move your foot outboard? Bigger pedals are more prone to snagging obstacles, but for the kind of fast, reasonably open riding we mostly do, we favor the safety of a bigger effective platform over the absolute ability to squeak through the smallest possible gaps. Also note that some vendors maximize their Pin-to-Axle by placing the pins very close to the outer edge, thus providing maximum clearance while still retaining a big area of effective grip. They may not have the biggest platform size but still offer the best PTA - bonus! As for the Thickness with Pins metric, it measures how much the pedal actually protrudes from the sole of your shoe, so it tells you how soon you're likely to snag your pedal on an obstacle.

Vital's Grip Score and Effective Concavity Explained

Some numbers are just numbers, but when it comes to evaluating grip things get a little subjective. When descending in full control with your heels down, almost all of the pedals in this test do a near-perfect job of keeping your feet where they are supposed to be. That's why they were selected to be in this test in the first place. However, when things start to heat up, either because you get sloppy or because the trail gets hectic, some pedals start to feel less convincing – be it on the climb or on the descent. This very aspect is what we have translated to a number with our Grip Score.

There are several ways to make a pedal concave, either by giving the pedal body a concave shape or by placing longer pins along the periphery of the pedal body – or a combination of both. Our extensive back-to-back tests proved to us that the pedals with the best grip and the most confidence-inspiring feel are all significantly concave. Effective Concavity measures the distance between a plane joining the tallest pins (typically the ones found on the leading edge of the pedal) to the lowest point of the platform body itself. If the pedal features pins in the center, we would also measure the difference in height between the tallest pin and the shortest pin, and then average that number with the pin-to-pedal-body number. By doing so, we take into account the fact that a pin in the middle of the pedal can hold the foot up and keep it from sinking in properly.

So what does it all mean then? Since our goal was to compare and rank these 33 flat pedals, we focused on grip, weight, pin-to-axle measurements, concavity score, and of course a general opinion about the total ownership experience of each pedal. We also took into consideration our overall riding impressions and the “feel” of the pedal, particularly when assigning the all-important Grip Score. While we considered our cumulative, in-house knowledge of the reliability and durability of any pedal we have previously tested, this shootout was ultimately not about testing each pedal for six months, so we have not assigned a reliability score. Similarly, we did not score the pedals on price. The pedals tested here are all of the premium variety, and as such they are not particularly cheap. We did however decide to test all the pedals in their standard configuration. Titanium axle upgrades or optional magnesium bodies were disregarded as some of these options fetch a huge price premium. If the pedals were configurable out of the box, we attempted to tweak out the best performance we could using the available options.

By The Numbers

The FINAL SCORE was calculated as a weighted average, using the following scores and weights: Grip Score (35%), Concavity Score (25%), Weight Score (20%), and PTA Score (20%).

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Is Thinner Better?

The biggest revolution in the flat pedal world was clearly the advent of the thinner pedal. Advantages of thinner pedals are numerous: you are less likely to roll a pedal, you sit “deeper into” the bike which has the same effect as lowering the bottom bracket height (great for cornering), and you are less likely to have your pedals hang up on rocks and other evil-minded obstacles in your path. However, is there a point where thin becomes too thin? If concavity is king, being thin doesn’t automatically get you in.

The issue with building thin pedals is that the axle and bearing/bushing system has to support the full weight of the rider and do so while putting up with harsh landings, rock strikes, and other abuse. An axle can only be made so thin before it snaps, which means you also have to shrink the size of the bearings or abandon them completely in favor of ultra-thin bushings. Longevity thus becomes an issue and the fact that the axle area ends up being the thickest part of the pedal body does not bode well for grip.

Furthermore, if you have to lengthen your pins to provide better grip, you almost end up back where you started (although a pin will snap if you hit it on a rock whereas a thicker pedal body likely won't, resulting in you ending up on the ground instead). That is why we also measured Thickness with Pins, and here we found a fairly clear correlation between thickness and grip – with one notable exception, the super thin pedals don’t provide as much grip nor are they as confidence inspiring when things get hairy.

Pins And Needles

Since the dawn of time – or at the least the invention of the mountaineering bicycle – the old trusty grub screw has been a go-to solution for flat pedal makers the world over. Many have tried to improve on this seemingly innocuous little piece of engineering, and while a few got close most haven't succeeded. The simple truth of the matter is that no matter how fancy you make your pins, there’s something about the combination of the thread pattern, size, material and finish that makes that classic old grub screw the stickiest shin slicer this side of SPD. Of course, improving them so they screw in from the rear is smart for durability reasons, and they can be combined with other designs to good effect, but the basic principle remains. Going with a standard pin design also means being able to pick up spares in any bike shop or even a hardware store, and that is always a good thing.

Our Picks

The best five flat pedals in the world, starting with our winner:

DMR Vault – Best in Test

DMR’s V8 and V12 pedals were classics in the true sense of the word, but when it came time to launch something new, the company went back to the drawing board to make sure they would keep up with modern flat pedal trends. End 2010, cue the Vault. Flatter, wider, and grippier, it was an instant hit and with good reason.

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DMR Vault Highlights

  • Extruded 6061 aluminum and 9/16-inch 4140 CroMo steel axles
  • 105 x 105 x 17mm platform
  • 11 pins per pedal - flip the pins to fine-tune grip
  • High load DU bushing and cartridge bearing
  • Weight: 432g per pair (verified)
  • MSRP: $140 USD (GBP 114.99)

Initial Impressions

The Vault is an impressive piece of hardware. The shape is aggressive and deliberate, the finish is deep and the whole thing says quality right out of the box. There are a bunch of different color schemes on offer, ranging from the stealthy, murdered-out Brendog edition to shiny silver or orange ano versions. Andreu Lacondeguy’s signature oil-slick set won’t necessarily help you send 360 flatspins but will nevertheless turn some heads. The Vault features a large, 105x105mm platform with a heavily machined shape that is concave in two directions, front to back and side to side. The platform is not among the thinnest on the market, but at 17mm at its thickest part, it still readily qualifies for the flat-and-thin category. The design is very open to allow it to shed mud easily.

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The pins are placed around the edges of the platform, with shorter, rounder pins in the middle and longer, sharper screws front and back. The edge pins screw in from the rear, while the four shorter ones in the middle screw in from the top (the “flip-pin” design also means you can use the longer pins as spare middle pins if you need to, or run the shorter side of the pins around the edges for slightly lower levels of grip). The out-of-the-box pin pattern further accentuates the concavity of the pedal body itself. There are two spare pins included with the pedals, with a full set of spares available for separate purchase (in different colors). The Vaults spin on a combination of bushings and bearings.

On The Trail

Let’s cut right to the chase: the first job of any flat pedal is to provide grip, and the DMR’s blew us away from the start. Place your foot on the Vault, and even before you apply any kind of weight or pressure it feels like the pedal is sticking to your feet. The concave shape, the pin pattern and the pin type all conspire to grab hold of your feet in the most tenacious way. Add in the fact that the Vault features one of the longest Pin-to-Axle measurements of this test, and it leaves you with a pedal that will hold on under any circumstances, regardless of how and where your foot may come back down on the pedal after you removed it in the heat of battle. Rain or shine, these things deliver.

One of the advantages of flat pedals is being able to place your foot as you want to, without the constraints of cleats. The Vault provides grip even if your size 14s are hanging off the edges by a mile. Similarly, if your ankles are having an affair with your crankarms, the lack of any kind of bulge over the axle means nothing needs come between those two love birds either.

Durability

The tapered, offset shape of the pedal body means it has a fair chance of staying out of harm’s way even if it is not among the absolutely thinnest pedals out there. We have ridden several pairs of Vault’s into the ground, and it took us about two to three full years to cause enough damage to even consider retiring the pedals. In terms of longevity, the bushings and bearings resist abuse quite well (although they tend to develop a certain amount of bushing play fairly quickly). When it comes time to replace the internals, the pedals are easy enough to service (with a specific tool available for separate purchase from DMR). 

Summary

When DMR launched their Vault pedal, they snuck a little “Next Generation” graphic onto one of the inside edges. Whether this was a reference to the evolution of their iconic V8 pedal or a broader claim of next level performance we may never know, but the Vault was an instant hit with flat pedal punters the world over. Big and burly, the Vault provides faultless levels of grip in all conditions. Add in the fact that it’s easy to maintain and rebuild, that it holds up very well to abuse, and that it’s available in a bunch of bling colors, and you’re looking at the gold standard.

Shop the DMR Vault at Jenson USA and Competitive Cyclist.

Hope F22 - 2nd Place

Hope’s F20 pedal has been around for 10 years by now, and although there was a lot to like about that pedal, it was ultimately let down a bit by a lack of outright grip compared to the market leaders in this category. Hope went back to the drawing board and came up with something that not only addresses the shortcomings of its predecessor but marks a giant leap forward in terms of platform size, feel, and grip.

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Hope F22 Pedal Highlights

  • 5-axis CNC-machined body
  • Reverse loading pins
  • New high-strength, heat-treated and plated CroMo axle
  • Three cartridge bearings and an IGUS bushing
  • Internal and external sealing
  • Fully serviceable and re-buildable
  • Six color options
  • Weight: 360 grams (pair, verified)
  • Two-year warranty
  • MSRP: £145.00 GBP // €180.00 EUR // $183.00 USD

Initial Impressions

Compared to the F20, the F22 platform has been completely redesigned, to offer more concavity and much better mud-shedding capabilities thanks to a more open platform body. The pins on the F22 have been placed all around the perimeter of the platform, with no pins present in the middle. We were also glad to see that the pins on the new pedal are a lot more aggressive, both in shape and in length – the pin design was one of the reasons that the F20 let us down a bit in the grip department. The front and rear pins screw in from the back to make replacing any damaged pins easier and to avoid having a grub screw type pin snap off and remain stuck in the threads, and there are washers provided that can be used to reduce the pin height to tone down the grip a bit.

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When it came to the internals, Hope stuck with the proven design of the F20 – a good move, in our opinion. With a total of 3 seals, 3 bearings and one large bushing, this axle system will take a beating and keep trucking through pretty much anything. Hope also says they have modified the axle itself to make it even stronger and more impact resistant. As for the pedal body itself, Hope left a fairly significant amount of material in the corners, an area that is very exposed to direct impact and where pins can easily bend or strip their sockets. A clever way to save weight while ensuring the pedal remains strong enough in key areas.

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On The Trail

Before you can install your new F22 pedal on your bike, you have to screw in the pins yourself. This is a bit fiddly and annoying perhaps, but it is also a good time for you to decide whether to add any of the included, optional washers behind the longer, hexagonal pins to tone down the grip ever so slightly, or to run them at their full length (the latter is what we opted for here). On the trail, our impressions of the new F22 were very positive. The foot finds its natural position very easily, and the grip is now up there with the best pedals in the world. The size and shape of the F22 feel great under the foot, and we’ve tested with several different flat pedal shoes to confirm that it will work equally well across different types of soles as well.

In action, the F22 delivers a ton of confidence thanks to the aforementioned grip and pin placement. People with larger feet will appreciate the generous dimensions of the platform, while Hope took care to keep the overall profile in check – the pins are placed quite close to the outer edges so as to minimize any unnecessary overhang. If you want a big pedal that can still squeeze through a tight trail network, the F22 looks like a top choice.

Durability

We’ve only had the F22 out on the trail for a few months at this point, but we’ve still managed a few good rock strikes in that time and we can confirm that the pedal seems built for abuse. We have a pair of F20s that have seen action on and off for the past 6 years, and they are still going strong, so we have high hopes when it comes to the longevity of the F22. As with all Hope products, full rebuild kits are available and you should be able to get many seasons out of your F22s.

Summary

Hope’s old F20 scored good points in the reliability department, but it had definitely been left behind in terms of platform dimensions and grip. The F22 has put Hope right back in the running, going straight to second place in this face off is no mean feat and testament to the solid R&D effort behind this new pedal. It is among the more expensive options out there, but in this case, we feel that the F22 delivers value for money and based on the F20 track record, it should see you through many a happy season of riding as well.

Shop the Hope F22 at Tredz.

Deity TMAC – 3rd Place

When Deity were tasked with coming up with a Tyler McCaul signature flat pedal, they knew they had to deliver. TMAC isn’t going to ride something he’s not 100% comfortable with – and neither would you if you had to try navigating a sheer knife-edge ridge line in Utah while making it look good to boot. After much work on the first iteration of the pedal, Tyler wasn’t sold, so Deity went back to the drawing board (that first version went on to become the Bladerunner pedal). They did away with some conventional thinking and the result is before you right now – a grippy and comfortable pedal that came oh so close to the top spots in this Face Off.

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Deity TMAC Highlights

  • Extruded and machined from 6061 T6 aluminum
  • 110 x 105mm footprint, 14-16mm thickness
  • Symmetrical pedal profile
  • Dual sided pins with pre-applied Loctite
  • Includes extra set of back up pins
  • Load distribution system to prevent bearing blowout
  • Multi micro-sealed bearings and DU bushing internals
  • Heat-treated Cr-Mo spindle that is compatible with a standard 15mm wrench or 8mm allen
  • Available in five high-polished ano colors and also white powdercoat
  • Weight: 438 grams per pair (verified)
  • MSRP: $168.99 USD

Initial Impressions

The first thing that stands out when you pull the TMACs from their box is how big they are. The symmetrical design is also a bit of a surprise, since most pedals will vaunt the virtue of a chamfered leading edge, but Deity says that particular aspect is more of a leftover from the times of much thicker pedals, where an offset platform made it much easier to get your foot back on if you rolled a pedal. The TMACs are not the thinnest pedals on test, but the body has been given a heavily concave profile to make sure your foot has room to really sink into the pedal. The pins are placed around the outer edges, and double up at the very outermost edge for extra grip for those times when your foot comes down in an awkward spot – like when you’re working on your super extended superman seatgrabs just like Tyler.

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Upon closer inspection, there is a lot of fairly complex machining going on here, but the pedal remains resolutely sober in its overall appearance. Lots of empty space makes sure mud has nowhere to build up. At 438 grams (verified), the weight is not too bad for such a big pedal either, especially give its full-length spindle and multiple bearing design. There’s a choice of six glossy colors and a powdercoat option too, to make sure you can dial in your color scheme to your liking. You also get a full set of spare pins (24) out of the box, which is always a nice touch. Note that it’s a good idea to go over the pins when you get the pedals, we found a few loose ones during our initial inspection.

On The Trail

Our feet felt at home on the TMACs right from the get-go. The sole finds its spot with ease, and the pedal produces that locked in feeling straight away. Going up or heading down, the minute you put any kind of pressure on your foot, it’s going to stay there until you lift it off. If you’re the kind of rider who likes to make micro adjustments to your foot position by sliding it around on the pedal, look elsewhere – the TMAC delivers magnetic levels of grip as soon as you get anywhere near them. There are no bearing bulges or other protruding parts on the surface of the platform, giving you full freedom to plant your feet anywhere you damn well please.

Deity maximized the already very big platform by placing the pins close to the edges. This means almost unlimited real estate to play with when choosing (or not!) where to set your feet down. We did initially worry that such a big pedal would produce lots of rock strikes, and although we did note a couple going through tricky areas we would sometimes clean on other pedals, it really did not feel like a very significant increase over the average. Moreover, we can’t say that the absence of a tapered leading edge made any kind of difference in real life – if you stuff your pedal straight into a rock you’re gonna feel it regardless. Having said that, if you regularly ride in super rocky and tight terrain, you will probably want to consider a smaller pedal.

Durability

The TMAC is a sturdy bit of kit, and we've had multiple pairs running on several different builds under multiple riders for a few years by now. We’ve bashed them around on rocks and we've run them into unsuspecting tree stumps on occasion, and although we have ripped a pin or two clean out (leaving a bit of a mess behind it on the surface), we were able to fit a new pin and put it behind us (pins can be accessed from the rear if you mangle them from the front). The pedals are reassuringly slop-free out of the box, and they remain so after much abuse, testament to a well thought-out bearing system and good manufacturing tolerances. There’s also something to be said for the decision not to go ultra-thin, which means you still get a good size bearing in there. Rebuild kits are available should that ever cease to be the case.

Summary

They say people only remember the winner, but that’s certainly not the case here – Tyler McCaul’s signature TMAC pedal from Deity left an impression as big as its massive platform on our testers. Grippy and comfortable, it’s the one to run when you have no clue how your foot might come back down after pulling a sick superman – just like TMAC himself!

Shop the Deity TMAC at Jenson USA and Competitive Cyclist.

Newmen Beskar - 4th Place

How do you make something very light yet very strong? In the Star Wars universe, it’s simple: use Mandalorian beskar, a super-tough alloy that can even resist direct lightsaber hits for some time. In the real world, most of us don’t need our stuff to be lightsaber-resistant, so Newmen settled for a regular Earthly aluminum body with a titanium spindle for their first foray into the flat pedal galaxy.

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Newmen Beskar Highlights

  • Pedal Body: Aluminum
  • Preloaded ball bearings
  • Pedal Axle: Titanium
  • Weight: 295g/pair (verified)
  • Pins: 16/pedal
  • Platform dimensions: 110 (W) x 113 (L)
  • MSRP: 168 EUR

Initial Impressions

The first thing that stood out to us when pulling the new Beskar pedal from the box was the weight, or the distinct lack thereof. 295 grams for the pair is SIGNIFICANTLY lighter than any other pedal in this test, including other pedals with titanium spindles. The shape is quite classic, with an open, offset platform that is completely empty between the outer rim and the axle area. The Beskar presents a lot of concavity, while the “PTA” (Pin-To-Axle) measurement is slightly on the conservative side (because the Beskar’s spindle is designed so that the pedal body sits right up next to the crankarm). It should be noted that Newmen have not put a weight limit on these pedals, citing the axle’s ability to withstand 5000N of force without deformation.

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Looking closer at the pins, they screw in from the top, but not with a traditional allen wrench interface. Instead they have a small hex bolt interface at the base, which gives them more stability and should also make sure that they can always be removed even if you mangle the top part. The pins are slightly thicker than a regular grub screw, but do feature threading that continues all the way to the top. There are 8 pins per side which have been placed all around the edge of the platform. There are no pins in the area closest to the crankarm, where a small bearing bulge resides. As for the bearings, Newmen didn’t want to use bushings or needle bearings which they say are quite sensitive to dirt, water and the peak loads occurring on pedals. Instead, Newmen has their pedal spinning on a floating, preloaded system which uses standard cageless bearings and a pair of washers (one brass and one composite) to distribute axial loads more evenly. The bearings have no seals, instead the whole bearing system chamber gets filled with grease from factory and a zerk grease gun adapter will be available to fill the pedal up again at home.

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On The Trail

The Beskar sits quite close to the crankarm, but the platform is big enough to provide ample room even for bigger feet. The pronounced concavity with the pins placed around the edges really helps the foot “sink into” the pedal, which results in a lot of grip. The pedal spins quite freely, but not completely loose – you’ll find it where you left it if you take the foot off.

As previously mentioned, the pins are slightly thicker than regular grub screws, which may make them a tiny bit less grippy in our experience. Make no mistake, the Beskar is still phenomenally grippy, but it’s worth pointing out this minor design difference with some of its competitors. As for the form factor itself, the Beskar is quite thin and has little problem slipping past most trailside obstacles thanks to the chamfered edges of the platform corners.

Durability

During our four months of testing we’ve managed to bash our sample pair into quite a few rocks with only minor scuff marks to show for it to date, which bodes well for longevity. Newmen are known for making very light yet very strong wheels, and it seems like this design objective has indeed carried over to their new pedal, leaving us pretty confident that it will last you a long time.

Summary

168 euros for a flat pedal is not exactly cheap, but it’s actually also not the most expensive option out there. In return for some of your hard-earned, the Beskar provides tons of concavity and by far the lowest weight of any of the flat pedals we’ve tested here at Vital to date. If you want your pedal to provide as much real estate as possible (as measured by our PTA metric), the Beskar gives up a few millimeters to some of its competitors, but our tester’s size 12 paws had no trouble finding a suitable landing spot regardless. As for longevity, we haven’t found any lightsabers to test with (yet), but the Beskar has pretty much shrugged off everything else we’ve thrown at it. This is the way.

Shop the Beskar at Newmen Components.

Tenet Occult - 5th Place

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and you could certainly do a lot worse than take inspiration from Deity’s awesome TMAC pedal. Bellingham-based Tenet launched their Occult pedal in 2020, and although it has a visual identity of its own, it’s clear to see the similarities with the TMAC, especially from the side. Tenet recently updated the Occult to version 2, reworking the axle to provide space for larger bearings and improved sealing, while the price remains at a very competitive $115 USD.

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Tenet Occult V2 Highlights

  • Custom extruded and post CNC'ed from 6061-T6 aluminum
  • 3 high quality sealed bearings + IGUS bushing per pedal
  • Heat-treated cromoly steel spindle with 6mm broach
  • Thread Thru Pins OR Grub Screws included (Pick your poison!)
  • 110mm x 105mm w/ 2mm dual concavity
  • Ultra low profile platform w/ 14mm thickness at the center
  • Available in Onyx, Gun Metal, or Umber
  • 1 Free Pedal Refresh (USA ONLY)
  • EFBE Tri-Test Gravity Certified
  • Lifetime Crash Replacement
  • 418g/set
  • MSRP: $115 USD

Initial Impressions

The Occult features a symmetrical platform design, with the pins placed all around the edges. The pedal ships with thread-through pins installed, but a whole replacement set of classic grub screws are also provided in the box should you want to change things up, along with spacers that can be used to fine tune the height of the thread-through pins. There is also an 8mm socket provided, which is needed to pull the axle out for maintenance. At $115 USD MSRP, these extras make the Occult even better value.

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The platform is wide and offers 2mm of concavity in itself, further accentuated by the tall pins placed around the periphery. There is no bearing bulge of any kind, so the whole platform is available to place your foot on. The axle uses three bearings and an IGUS bushing to spin on, a fairly common configuration these days. Tenet offers all US owners one free pedal rebuild during the first year of ownership, and a lifetime crash replacement program as well – pretty good conditions in the flat pedal world!

On The Trail

The Occult impressed us from day 1, delivering tenacious grip and a very natural feel under the foot. The large platform works well regardless of where you happen to plonk your foot down, and the significant concavity really allows the foot to sink in and hold on. The PTA is generous enough, and the absence of any kind of inside bearing bulge means that this pedal will work well both for riders who like a wide stance and those who prefer their ankle bones snug up against their crank arms.

Just like the TMACs, the symmetric shape of the Occult does not provide for a chamfered leading edge, which is arguably better at sliding off rocks than the rather square edge presented here. The imposing platform may also not be the first choice if your trails are super narrow, although Tenet did make good use of the available real estate by placing the pins fairly close to the edges of the platform. The edges are rounded off to at least improve your chances of surviving any impromptu encounters with ill-tempered trailside obstacles.

Durability

We’ve been able to test the Occults over several months on different bikes by now, and the platform appears sturdy and the revised axle system holds promise of improved reliability. The free first-year tune-up for US-based owners is a nice touch which provides for extra peace of mind in the longevity department. Upon inspection, the seals appear to be doing their job, and we found plenty of grease in both our pedals as well. So far, so good!

Summary

The Tenet Occult is not the outright class leader when the scores are tallied, but it puts up a damn good fight in every area. It’s got great grip with plenty of concavity and a roomy platform to place your foot on, it’s thin and reasonably light without unnecessarily restricting the ability to run adequately dimensioned bearings. Best of all, it is very competitively priced, especially when you factor in the two full sets of different types of pins supplied as well as the tool required to access the axle system for service. Definitely a serious candidate for the best value award if there was one in this test.

Shop the Tenet Occult at The Pro's Closet.


The Contenders

We chose the pedals for this test fairly carefully. There are literally hundreds of flat pedals out there, so we targeted the ones we felt we‘d be happy to slap on any bike and ride for a year. Our top finishers are all premium products in their own right, but the contenders won’t exactly hold you back either, for the most part. In the order of the rankings, here are the best of the rest:

Sensus Crue

Sensus took their time developing the Crue (or the Crüe, as it was originally presented to us), and it shows in the final product. The machining is absolutely top-notch, with a deep finish that really brings out the intricacies of the shape. The pedal is quite thin, with an elongated, asymmetrical body that provides more real estate towards the front of the foot. Consequently, the leading edges are chamfered to allow the pedal to glance off rocks as opposed to hanging up on them. The Crue spins on a combination of IGUS bushings and ABEC-rated bearings, and  thanks to the titanium spindle, it weighs in at a mere 342 grams for the pair, placing it easily among the lightest options currently available. Yes, it’s also the most expensive, but there is a CroMo spindle version as well for those who’d rather save $70 than 70 grams. On the trail, the Crue is grippy, comfortable, and smooth underfoot, with a large platform that supports different foot placements without feeling clumsy or unwieldy. The price tag stings but you get exotic materials, low weight, and fantastic workmanship for your money. If you’re looking to treat yourself to something a bit special, this one fits the bill!

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Spank Spoon

Spank makes a couple of innovative pedals, but it was the Spoon that originally caught our attention when rounding up the first contestants for this shootout. It’s one of the few pedals available in different sizes to suit different feet, a fairly recent development in the market (Crankbrothers do this with their Stamp pedal as well). With a classic shape but lots of well thought-out little details, the Spoon tips the scales at a reasonable 420 grams but more importantly, leaves you with change in your pocket since it is also one of the cheapest pedals on test here. Once on the trail, the Spoon 110 delivers tons of grip and the wide, comfortable platform is confidence inspiring. The overall Pin-to-Axle number is a little short of its full potential, due to a very short spindle and Spank placing the pins some ways back from the edges. Nevertheless, there is plenty of room to play with, and the Spoon 110 will always be there for you even if your aim is a little off when your feet come back down on the pedals.

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Kona Wah-Wah 2 Alloy

When the Wah Wah hit the market over 15 years ago now, it’s probably fair to say that it helped usher in the era of the modern flat pedal. It was flatter, thinner, and grippier than most of the other options out there, but 15 years is a long time and by today’s standards the legendary Wah Wah had been left behind – until the Wah-Wah 2, that is. A wide and large platform means lots of support even when your foot is in the wrong place. If you like to place your feet flush up against the crank arm, the inboard bearing bulge can get in the way a bit, but Kona has managed to still keep it relatively narrow so it shouldn't be a major issue for most. With the pedal being so wide, it also means you may find yourself smacking into trailside obstacles that smaller pedals could sneak by. That is part of the trade-off with big platforms and something to bear in mind when you chose the best pedal for the trails you ride. On the flipside, the Wah Wah 2 is also heavily chamfered, and its thin pedal body and average-length pins leaves it with a very low overall profile, so it’s very good at gliding across obstacles as opposed to hanging up. All in all, we think Kona got the balance between width and height just about right.

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Race Face Atlas V2

If you know the original Atlas, the new version will feel instantly familiar. The two outlines appear very similar, but closer inspection reveals some major changes. First of all, Race Face has gone with a completely different axle system, built around 1 large inboard bearing and a wide outboard IGUS bushing. The axle is now secured on the inside of the pedal, via a large flat flange on the axle that is held in place with a flat and wide nut, equipped with a seal to keep water and dirt out of the internals. A flat wrench is all that is needed to open it up for service. The axle has also been updated to provide a little more space inboard, which means the new pedal will play nice with crank boots as well. The Atlas V2 has also grown a bit. It’s a few millimeters longer and 5 millimeters wider than its predecessor, while retaining the same thickness and concavity. The extra real estate also means that the pins can be spread out around the perimeter of the pedal, which in turn has added 5 millimeters to the crucial Pin-To-Axle (PTA) measurement. The flat pedal market is hotter than it’s ever been, and it is becoming increasingly more difficult for brands to find a way to upset the pecking order at the top of the rankings. Race Face has managed to do just that, by building on the strengths of the Atlas while addressing the weaknesses. The new version is wider and longer than the one that came before it, and that has made all the difference. With better grip and a more real estate to play with, our feet are really feeling at home on this one.

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ANVL Tilt

The Tilt pedal takes inspiration from some of the best flat pedals currently on the market, but with an identity that remains its own. The pedal body is machined from a block of 6061 alloy, with a mix of smooth edges and CNC tooling marks that gives it a “polished industrial” look. The edges are moderately chamfered to help the pedal slide over obstacles, with a generally open design that should help clear mud easily during the wetter months. At 105x105 the platform is a little bit smaller than some of the other pedals tested here, while the Pin-To-Axle number remains a highly respectable 110mm. On the trail, the Tilt offers lots of grip and a very positive feeling underfoot, while thanks to a relatively compact overall profile and a well-designed shape, we’ve found the Tilt helps us sneak through tight spots where bigger platforms would sometimes seem to get hung up. We also found that it works quite well even when you get your foot placement wrong. Cherry on the cake: it's among the least expensive pedals of all the front runners.

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Burgtec Penthouse MK5

Burgtec’s Penthouse flats have been around for a long time, and while we’ve always appreciated their general feel and robustness, the previous iterations came up a bit short in terms of size and weight. For the MK5 version, the Penthouse has been stretched outwards, which results in a 3 mm increase in the PTA measurement. At the same time, the pedal has been made slightly more concave and it has also lost an impressive 70 grams in the process (for the pair). The shape features square edges with each side of the platform offset against the other. The overall profile is thin, but Burgtec still managed to squeeze in an inboard bearing without needing to resort to any extra bulges in the pedal body. On the trail, the MK5 doesn’t quite close the gap to the widest and flattest options out there, but it’s not far off either, and it strikes a nice balance between size and overall profile that still lets it sneak by trail side obstacles or fit into tighter trails. The lower weight in another bonus point, the MK5 now sits towards the lighter end of the rankings in contrast to the MK4 which was one of the heaviest pedals in this test.

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Nukeproof Horizon Pro Sam Hill

When you want the world’s most famous flat pedal shredder to put his name on your product, you better make sure it’s worthy of the label. Nukeproof’s Horizon Pro pedal is everything Sam asked for; big, grippy, and flat. A gently concave profile and some nasty pins do the rest, making sure your feet stay in place when you get loose - this is one of the grippier pedals in this test, full stop. Note that there is also an Enduro version of this pedal available now, which uses the exact same pin placement but with more chamfered and machined edges that reduce the overall size of the platform to improve clearance and lose a little bit of weight.

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Gamut Podium

UPDATE: The Gamut Podium appears to not be sold anymore, but we've left it here for reference.

Thinnest may not always be best, but thinner is certainly good, and at that little game, no pedal gets close to Gamut’s Podium. Gamut acquired the original, innovative Podium pedal when it bought up PointOne Racing in October 2014, and they wasted little time bringing some further refinements to the design before releasing the third iteration of the famous super thin footrest, now simply referred to as the Gamut Podium. At just 8 to 10mm thick, it still manages to spin on actual bearings thanks to a clever two-piece axle design, and it sports a set of aggressive looking pins to strike fear into shins the world over. Despite being very thin, the pedals retain an overall concave profile, thanks to the body shape and pin placement. Overall, we were impressed with the level of grip and support on offer, especially from such a low profile pedal, even though it presents a small PTA and consequently not a lot of real estate on the platform.

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OneUp Aluminum Pedal

With a thin and wide design that provides plenty of grip and stability, the OneUp Aluminum pedal offers great performance in a durable and easy to maintain package. In terms of the overall score, the modest amount of concavity kept it from charging the podium, but it still provides excellent performance on the trail.

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Race Face Atlas (V1)

The original Race Face Atlas combines a fairly big platform with a lightweight, thin pedal body, and features heavily chamfered edges and an offset design to help it squeeze by trailside obstacles that others might get hung up on. It offers very good grip, although the pins are just a bit on the short side and the effective platform can feel a just a bit small under your feet sometimes. It is also prone to developing a bit of lateral play along the axle, not enough to become a nuisance immediately, but something that requires more frequent rebuilds to keep completely at bay.

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Chromag Dagga

Developed with none other than legendary flat pedal shredder Chris Kovarik himself, the Dagga is Chromag's biggest pedal to date. Measuring in at 115x115 mm, the body lacks any concavity but features an impressive 12 pins per side, and not just any pins. These dual-threaded monsters will make short work of your shins if you even as much as look at them the wrong way, and that's before you remove the washers behind them to make them even taller! The lack of concavity and the relatively imposing weight kept the Dagga from finishing higher up in the pecking order here, but if you are looking for a massive platform that delivers plenty of grip and a very reassuring feel under your foot, look no further.

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E*Thirteen Plus

You might remember that e*thirteen was in the flat pedal game a few years ago, with their unique LG1 pedal that featured an alloy/plastic sandwich construction and a “Spin Control” feature that allowed riders to tune in how easily the pedal would spin on its bushings. That pedal offered a lot of grip, but it was also heavy and a bit thick. E*thirteen is now back at it, with the Plus and Base pedals. The Plus pedal is made out of anodized aluminum and comes in three colors. It keeps the pin pattern of the original LG1 pedal, but the body is now significantly thinner and flatter. It features angled edges to help ward off rock strikes, and it spins on a full complement of bearings – a larger bearing on the inside, and two smaller ones on the outside. On the trail, the Plus pedal provides a stable and grippy platform for your feet. The large inboard bearing sits in a bulge, so if you like to place your feet very close to the crank, this one is not for you. If you prefer a wider stance however, we found the foot placement very natural and confidence inspiring.

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Chromag Scarab

The Scarab was developed together with Brandon Semenuk, so first things first: it’ll put up with some abuse. It features a big, sturdy platform offering a heavily concave shape, but although it tapers to just 13mm in the middle, it is still among the tallest pedals on test here. Uniquely, the Scarab allows you to play around with the exact placement of many of its pins, which should help even the most discerning rider dial in the grip to his or her liking. We got the best results by removing the washers installed from the factory to benefit from the full length of the pins at the front and rear, but the Scarab still fell just a little short of the class leaders in regards to grip and feel.

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Loaded Precision AMX

Another very thin pedal, Loaded’s AMX platform is also among the lightest on test. Upon first inspection it appears a little lacking in concavity, but tall, well-placed pins give it very good levels of grip on the trail. It’s big enough to let you get away with being a bit sloppy with foot placement, but it falls just short of the class leaders with regards to overall support.

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TAG Metals T1

The T1 aluminum pedal comes in two sizes, a “normal” 110x100mm platform and a massive, 115x120mm version (tested here). The pedal layout is very open, with tons of space for mud to clear and features a slightly offset, chamfered design to help it slide over obstacles more easily. The platform itself is ever so slightly concave, and with the 4mm cone-shaped pins we tested the overall concavity is relatively modest (8mm pins are available as an option should you be looking for more). The T1 features a number of extra holes both around the edges as well as in the middle of the pedal, allowing you to customize your pin placement pretty much just how you want it. On the trail, the large platform and class-leading PTA measurement will provide an advantage for riders who like to move their feet around a lot or who prefer a wide stance. The cone shaped pins used by TAG are somewhat less grippy than the classic grub screw, but the pedal still provides more than enough grip for all your shenanigans.

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Burgtec Penthouse MK4

Burgtec started making pedals because the founders were sick of having trouble finding something that would hold up to a few seasons of the best of the worst British weather, and keep your feet on the pedals while doing it. In its fourth iteration, the Penthouse pedal delivers great grip in a simple, robust platform. It was one of the heaviest pedals we tested here and it also has one of the shortest Pin-to-Axle measurements which kept it from contending one of the top spots (note that its successor, the MK5, has placed much higher).

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Spank Oozy

Spank’s Oozy pedal is a more heavily machined version of its well-regarded Spank DH pedal, and it aims to save a little weight in a more “trail-friendly” package. The grip has not suffered however, as the Oozy punches well above its somewhat modest measurements on the trail. At only 12mm thick and sporting aggressive angles, the Oozy is one to consider if a low profile is among your top criteria.

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Specialized Boomslang

Specialized are big believers in research and development, and they typically spare no effort when they’re on the hunt for a performance product. The Boomslang is just that, with its innovative approach to combining a super thin (10mm in the middle) pedal body with a full complement of needle and ball bearings. The Boomslang may be one of the most expensive pedals on test here, but it also delivers outstanding amounts of grip and a great feel on the trail. Only its weight and somewhat modest Pin-to-Axle measurement kept it from charging the podium in this shootout.

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VP Harrier

The Harrier was a British fighter jet known for its ability to take off and land vertically. VP’s Harrier is not exactly the size of an aircraft carrier, but it’s not too far off either. Combining a huge platform, a massive Pin-to-Axle measurement, a modest weight and a very thin profile, it is the most “extreme” pedal of this test. This translates to good performance on the trail too, although the Harrier comes in just short of delivering that fully locked-in feel required to contend for one of the top spots in the test.

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Look Trail Roc+

The Trail Roc+ is a wholly new pedal from Look, tested in rather extreme conditions as Thomas Genon was actually riding the prototypes already in the 2021 edition of Red Bull Rampage. If you prefer your pedals on the compact side and like to place your feet close to the crank arms, you'll find they deliver good grip and a positive feel. The lack of concavity in the pedal body itself holds the pedal back a little in really rough or wet conditions, and for $170 USD, we think Look could have done a little more in this regard. On the flip side you get a sturdy design with bearing dimensions that should provide good longevity, and the pedal does feel quite solid under foot, so that could be a trade-off some riders are willing to make.

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Bontrager Line Pro

Bontrager’s Line Pro features a robust design with a concave shape that generates a lot of grip, in a package that retails for a lot less than some of its rivals. A slightly thinner profile would help it challenge for a better ranking here, but as it stands, it’s still a very good option for those looking for an affordable pedal that can take a beating. Note that Bontrager issued a voluntary recall in 2018 following a few incidents of snapped spindles.

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E*thirteen Base

Unlike the full bearing E*thirteen Plus pedal presented earlier in this article, the Base pedal spins on a combination of bushings and bearings, and it uses a simpler type of pin. On the trail, we’ve been very impressed by the grip on offer – there really isn’t much in it between the more expensive Plus pedal and this great value Base version. In our experience, composite pedals do tend to fail earlier than their alloy counterparts, and they can sometimes feel a little less secure in really wet and muddy conditions, as plastic is inherently more slippery than alloy, but when it comes to price, they are hard to beat.

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Deity Bladerunner

The Deity Bladerunner is what the TMAC would have become if it wasn’t for TMAC. At just 11mm, the platform is one of the thinnest on test. It runs on micro bearings and bushings, but with such a thin platform, that inevitably meant that the axle area is the thickest part of the body. To compensate for this, long pins were placed around the edges to help create an overall concave shape. Overall, the grip is satisfying and the Bladerunner is among the lighter pedals we tested – one to consider if clearance and grams are on your mind.

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PNW Components Loam

Everybody has their vision of what a flat pedal should look and behave like. PNW Components wanted to design “a pedal for the everyday trail rider,” and in doing so they went with an unorthodox design that doesn't measure up too well against the scoring criteria of this face off. The Loam pedal is comfortable under the foot and produces quite a bit of grip in the dry, while allowing for quick foot adjustments if needed. The modest amount of concavity makes it less dependable in really muddy conditions, but overall this pedal will be a good companion for most kinds of riding.

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Hope F20

As you would expect from the CNC masters at Hope, the F20 has been cut from a single billet of aluminum and it looks every bit the part, too. There is hardly a square millimeter on the whole pedal body that hasn’t been subjected to some kind of elaborate shaping, and in usual Hope style, the finish is absolutely top class. Spec-wise, the F20 delivers with a Norglide bushing and three sealed bearings per pedal, to give the pedal a chance at surviving the worst that the British weather has to offer. The stainless steel pins are very strong but come in just shy of the best in class when it comes to grip. We got better results once we removed the pins in the center of the pedal. (Note that the F20's successor, the F22, is currently occupying the 2nd place in this face off ranking!)

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Yoshimura Chilao

Yoshimura's first foray into the world of mountain bike components has produced an impressive piece of kit that performs better than its placing in this ranking would suggest - its score is held back by the short PTA and relatively modest effective concavity. On the trail however, the shape delivers plenty of grip and a very secure feeling under your feet. The compact form factor allows it to sneak through tighter trails, while the strong leading edge and sealed axle system will help with longevity. It sits very close to the crank arm which may not suit riders with bigger feet or a wider stance, and it is certainly quite expensive, but the finish, quality and performance are there to match the price tag.

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Crankbrothers Stamp (Large)

The Stamp pedal is one of two pedals in this test available in different sizes. The size L we tested features one of the biggest and thinnest platforms of all of the contestants, and that translates to a very comfortable pedal in use. Even with the standard, shorter pins installed the Stamp surprised us with good grip on the trail, although it did come up just a little short compared to the best in class in this aspect. The thin profile makes it a good choice for those with big feet who still worry about rock clearance.

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Canfield Crampon Mountain

With the Crampon, Canfield went all in at the thin pedal table. Opting out of the classic concave shape, Canfield gave the Crampon a convex profile that leaves a leading edge of just 6mm – pretty much your best bet if you hate the mere idea of your pedals ever hanging up on anything, anywhere. Canfield believes "the unique convex shape contours naturally to the foot, aiding in grip and placing your foot as close to the spindle as possible for maximum pedal stroke efficiency, eliminating dead spots." This choice was not without consequence though, as the raised axle area ends up at the same height as the pins at the edges, which in turn can create a slightly disconnected or floating feeling – especially if you get a bit sloppy with foot placement. If you have big feet, we’d say look away.

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KORE Rivera

KORE looked for thin leading edges on the Rivera, but they left a thick axle area in the middle which creates an overall flat profile – not conducive to good grip. The raised axle makes itself felt under the foot, and as a flat aluminum surface is a whole lot less grippy than a pin, this causes the foot to want to float around a bit sometimes. With your heels down and your eyes on the prize, the Rivera is functional enough, but don’t get sloppy and don’t take these out when it rains.

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Want to browse EVEN MORE flats pedals? Check our Product Guide!


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 50 // Years Riding MTB: 18 // Shoe Size: 12 US (46 Euro) // Weight: 190-pounds (88kg)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

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