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Vital MTB Face Off: The Best Flat Pedals

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 MAY 2020: This article was originally published in late 2016, at that time it covered 17 pedals. In January of 2020, we updated it with a further 7 pedals, and another 2 were added in May of 2020 - bringing the total to 26. 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

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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 Worldwide Cyclery and Chain Reaction Cycles.

2nd Place: Deity TMAC

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They say nobody remembers who came second, 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, 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!

Shop the Deity TMAC at Jenson USA and Competitive Cyclist.

3rd, 4th, and 5th Place: Spank Spoon, Kona Wah-Wah 2, and ANVL Tilt / Burgtec Penthouse MK5

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This tasty group of flatties rounds out our Top 5. In 3rd place, Spank’s Spoon pedal is available in three sizes to suit any foot, and it delivers outstanding performance at a $95 price point that is among the lowest of the whole test. Coming in 4th, Kona's updated Wah-Wah 2 carries the torch passed on by its illustrious predecessor with pride, offering a wider and thinner platform and tons of grip. Finally, tied for 5th, ANVL's updated Tilt and Burgtec's updated Penthouse MK5 tick pretty much every requirement on the list of how to design a good flat pedal.

Shop the Spank Spoon at The Gravity Cartel, the Kona Wah-Wah 2 at Jenson USA, the ANVL Tilt at Transition Bikes, and the Burgtec Penthouse MK5 at Burgtec.

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 26 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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So what does it all mean then? Since our goal was to compare and rank these 26 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 not allowed 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.

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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.

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Our Picks

The best six 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.

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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 a previous pair 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, and when it comes time to replace them, 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 Worldwide Cyclery and Chain Reaction Cycles.

Deity TMAC – Runner-Up

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 snagging the first place 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 where 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. We’ve managed to bash them around on some ugly rocks, and although we did rip a pin 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 mess them up from the front). They 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. In addition to the pair tested here, we have also been running a long-term test under another rider, and they are still spinning smooth after a couple of years on the trails. Rebuild kits are available should that ever cease to be the case.

Summary

They say nobody remembers who came second, 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.

Spank Spoon – Third Place

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.

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Spank Spoon Highlights

  • MGR extruded alloy body, CNC optimized
  • Cold forged chromoly steel axle
  • 110 x 105mm platform with 12-16mm thick concave profile
  • 20 steel pins per pedal
  • Industrial sealed bearing, IGUS bushing
  • Shotpeen anodized, laser logos
  • Colors: Black, Red, Blue, Green
  • Weight: 422 grams per pair (verified)
  • MSRP: $95 USD

Initial Impressions

Pulling the Spoons from their box we were met with bright colors and a BIG platform. The Spoon 110 is the biggest of the three sizes available, and it certainly looks the part. The overall shape is sleek with a classic silhouette. Heavily chamfered edges and a low profile are meant to ensure that pedal can slide over obstacles as opposed to hang up, and the middle of the axle area has been machined down to further accentuate the overall concave shape. There are no bulges or protruding bearing houses on the surface.

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There are ten pins per side positioned around the edges, with taller, sharper pins front and back, and shorter, stubbier versions in the middle. The edge pins screw in from the back while the four middle pins are of the top-loading variety. There are no spare pins included in the box. The axle runs the entire width of the pedal body and spins on a combination of bearings and IGUS bushings. The colors are vivid, and the machining is precise – this may be the cheapest pedal on test but Spank did not use that as an excuse to cut any corners.

On The Trail

The Spanks show up with their pins in a little bag, so you need to mount them up yourself before you can hit the trails. It is not a very complicated thing to do, although we managed to destroy the little wrench that is supplied with the pedals after about three pins (put it down to our delicate workshop manners and torque-sensitive hands…). No biggie, an adjustable spanner will do the job too.

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.

Durability

The bearing/bushing combo is tried and trusted, although bushings can be prone to developing a little play. This was the case with the Spoons, but it is nothing out of the ordinary and not something we worry about (it remains barely perceptible and does not influence performance). The pedal body seems to hold up well to rock strikes and other assorted abuse, and the stainless steel pins can be removed from the rear should you manage to mangle one (which will take some doing). Different types of rebuild kits are available, from a bushing refresh to a full axle/bearing/bushing rebuild, priced at a very reasonable $35.90 USD.

Summary

Spank’s Spoon pedal is available in three sizes to suit any foot, something we think other manufacturers would do well to consider. Being able to select the pedal that best matches your shoe size seems like a fresh breath of common sense in the pedal world. Additionally, the Spoon looks sharp and delivers outstanding performance at a price point that is also among the lowest of all the contenders in this shootout.

Shop the Spank Spoon at The Gravity Cartel.

Kona Wah-Wah 2 - Fourth Place

When the Wah Wah hit the market over ten 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 ten years is a long time and by today’s standards the legendary Wah Wah had been left behind – until now, that is.

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Kona Wah Wah 2 Alloy Highlights

  • Forged and CNCed alloy body
  • 110x120mm platform
  • 16 replaceable pins per pedal
  • Steel spindle
  • Fully serviceable bearing system
  • Colors: Black, Blue, Green, Orange, Red
  • Weight: 428 grams (pair, verified)
  • MSRP: $120.00

Initial Impressions

Upon initial inspection, the Wah Wah 2 offers everything you would be looking for in a modern flat pedal. At 120x120mm it features one of the largest platforms available, while the flat shape retains enough concavity to promise good grip on the trail. Compared to the composite version, the alloy pedal features a stronger steel spindle that runs on a large inboard DU bushing (instead of a needle bearing), which is housed in a prominent bulge, while a set of much smaller bearings allow the pedal to be kept very thin in the middle. Kona says that the axle and bearing system upgrades were applied to ensure that the alloy version can take a bit more abuse compared to the composite pedal.

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Diving further into the measurements, the Wah Wah 2 is right up there with the absolutely biggest pedals available today, with the second longest Pin-To-Axle measurement of all the pedals tested here. It’s also among the thinnest, while retaining a wholly acceptable concavity score. The leading edges are heavily chamfered, to help the Wah Wah 2 glance off obstacles as opposed to hang up on them, while the strictly average pin length keeps the overall profile on the very low side.

On The Trail

Because of the inboard bearing bulge which sits flush to the crank arm, you may require a pedal washer or two depending on the design of your cranks or if you are running protective crank arm boots. Other than that, the installation just requires an 8-mm allen wrench and you’re good to go.

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.

Durability

The original Wah Wah was one of the more durable pedals we’ve known, so the bar is set high for this new version. So far so good, we've put in quite a bit of time on the trail with the alloy Wah Wah 2, with only a certain amount of scuffing to show for our troubles. The bearings and bushings are still spinning smoothly with hardly any discernible play in them at all, and we have yet to snap a pin. The pedals are fully serviceable, and the bushings and bearings can all be easily replaced when the time comes.

Summary

The original Wah Wah made quite a name for itself in the flat pedal world, so Kona had to make sure to do it justice when updating it. Mission accomplished – the Wah Wah 2 is a modern flat pedal which offers excellent grip and a positive feel in a suitably wide and thin package. A combination of bearings and bushings offer a solution for good longevity while keeping the overall profile slim, and the rear-loading pins are easy to replace if need be. The Wah Wah is back!

Shop the Kona Wah-Wah 2 at Jenson USA.

ANVL Tilt - Tied for Fifth Place

Transition’s young house brand ANVL has been making quality components for a few years now, but it’s fair to say that the original version of the Tilt flat pedal was not much to write home about. Fast forward to 2018, and a brand new version was set to ruffle some feathers, thanks to smart design and an aggressive price point. We've had a pair out on the trails for quite some time by now, and we’ve been quite impressed.

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ANVL Tilt Flat Pedal Highlights

  • 105mm x 105mm platform
  • Chromoly spindle
  • Full CNC 6061 alloy body
  • 2 oversized outboard sealed bearings / 1 inboard DU bushing
  • 17mm thick body
  • Pins: 10 replaceable, 9mm set screws
  • Color: Grey, Orange, Black, Blue
  • Weight: 405 grams (pair, verified)
  • MSRP: $99.99 USD

Initial Impressions

The new 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.

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How did ANVL manage to optimize the PTA while keeping the overall platform size in check? By placing the pins quite close to the edges, which allows them to provide a fairly wide effective footprint under the shoe without having the pedal stick out too much on the sides. To make sure the pedal is still strong enough in these critical areas, they’ve left a lot of material directly under and around the pins. In terms of hardware, the new Tilt spins on a chromoly axle with two outboard bearings and an inboard DU bushing. This is a proven design that should bode well for overall longevity, although we wouldn’t be surprised to see the DU bushing develop a bit of play after a while as that is often the case with this particular component. To help avoid premature wear, there is a rubber axle boot that sits up flush against the pedal body to prevent dirt and water from getting into the pedal from that side. The pins are simple set screws – great for grip, sometimes tricky to remove if you snap one.

On The Trail

Since the pedal body sits away from the crank arm, installing the new Tilt pedals requires nothing more than an 8mm allen key and you’re good to go. From the get go, it became obvious that the Tilt offers lots of grip and a very positive feeling underfoot. The generous amount of concavity on offer lets the sole sink into the pedal and allows the pins to really do their job, while the thin profile means that your foot is never at risk of rolling the pedal. Being just a little bit smaller than some of the other pedals required some adjustment, but it didn’t take long for our foot placement to become second nature again.

With 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: at $99.99, it's among the least expensive pedals of all the front runners.

Durability

After quite a few months on the trail by now, the Tilts are still going strong. The hardware design choices seem solid from a durability point of view, and the overall shape and form of the pedal body definitely inspire confidence for the long term.

Summary

Flat pedals keep getting better and better, which makes it harder and harder to challenge for the top scores. ANVL has done just that with the new Tilt, presenting a thin and wide pedal that offers plenty of support while keeping both the overall external dimensions and the price tag in check. The concave design generates plenty of grip, and the bushing/bearing-based design should stand up to abuse. One for the short list, especially if you want maximum platform real estate but tend to smack your pedals into obstacles a lot.

Shop the ANVL Tilt at Transition Bikes.

Burgtec Penthouse MK5 - Tied for Fifth Place

Burgtec’s Penthouse flats have been around for a long time, and while we’ve always appreciated their general feel and robustness, the previous iteration came up a bit short in terms of size and weight. Those issues have been addressed with the MK5, which sees it sneak onto the podium in shared 5th place.

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Burgtec Penthouse MK5 Highlights

  • Platform material: 7075 Alloy
  • Axle Material: EN24T Steel
  • Internals: 2 x Igus W300 bushings, single sealed bearing and inboard rubber oil seal
  • Colors available: Burgtec Black, Race Red, Deep Blue, Purple Rain, Kash Bronze, Iron Bro Orange, Rhodium Silver, Burgtec Bullion Gold, Toxic Barbie Pink (Available in stores only)
  • Weight: 381g (steel axle, verified)
  • MSRP: $150 USD (GBP 109.99)

Initial Impressions

The whole platform of the MK5 version of 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. The outboard side of the axle spins on 2 IGUS bushings and the whole thing is protected by a rubber oil seal.

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The 8 pins (per side) are placed around the edges, and they can all be accessed from the rear. This helps ensure that you’ll always be able to remove a broken pin, even if you snap it off clean to the pedal body. There is a reassuring amount of material left around each pin socket, which makes it less likely that one will bend and/or destroy the thread. The finish is excellent and the color deep and uniform (and what can we say about that “Toxic Barbie Pink” – we’re fans!)

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On The Trail

Burgtec reduced the diameter of the pins they use for the MK5, and that move paid off nicely. The grip is tenacious and confidence inspiring, and the pedal feels bigger underfoot than its predecessor. It’s easy to find the correct foot placement, and it will take a lot to move your foot once it’s planted. The extra real estate now available towards the outside is also a boon for people with bigger feet, as the previous version could easily feel a bit cramped when compared to the bigger options available. 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 strike 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 the heaviest pedal in this test.

Durability

The low profile and offset shape of the MK5 will help it stay out of harm’s way, even if the edges are still a bit square. Burgtec pedals have a great track record when it comes to reliability, and the MK5 looks set to carry that proud heritage forwards. The MK5 spins on 2 bushings and one bearing per side, and the excellent weather sealing was designed to help keep the elements at bay during the worst the British weather has to offer – and that’s saying something!

Summary

Ever since the first Penthouse pedal, Burgtec has always had a loyal flat pedal following. Now in its fifth generation, the MK5 has once again evolved to a point where it can go head to head with the best in the business. The MK5 is thin, flat, and robust, and it delivers great grip in any conditions. A whole range of great colors is the icing on the cake!

Shop the Penthouse MK5 at Burgtec.


Nukeproof Horizon Pro Sam Hill – Also Great

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. 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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Nukeproof Horizon Pro Sam Hill Highlights

  • Forged 6061-T6 alloy with CNC finishing
  • 100 x 110mm platform
  • Cro-Mo or titanium axle options
  • Two high quality DU bushings and four sealed cartridge bearings per pair
  • Black with polished face
  • Weight: 438g (Alu/CroMo, verified)
  • MSRP: $129.99 USD

Initial Impressions

The Horizon Pro means business. The body is heavily machined with a purposeful appearance, featuring a wide, flat platform devoid of any lumps or bearing bulges. It is not among the thinnest pedals we tested, but a slightly concave platform bodes well for grip and the full-length spindle is good news for longevity. On that topic, each pedal spins on one DU bushing and two sealed cartridge bearings, with a mud seal in place to help keep the elements at bay.

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The pins are placed around the edges, with rear-loading, longer pins front and back, and shorter, top-loading grub screws in the middle. The outer pins come preinstalled with a washer behind them which you can remove if you really hate your shins. There are no color options available (although you can get a green axle if you want to), but the black/silver combo looks good and will match up with pretty much any color scheme. The enduro version can be easily recognized by the different shape of the outer profile:

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On The Trail

Put your foot down and go. We usually insist on dropping your heels too, but the Horizon Pro will let you get away with getting sloppy. The grip is hard to fault, and despite being one of the tallest pedals on test, the foot feels “in” in the pedal and we never worried about the dreaded pedal roll. The wide platform is further aided by pins placed close to the edges, the result is another one of those pedals that will accommodate any size foot and placement preference. We never even considered removing the washers behind the pins, but know that the option is there if you live for riding in the mud or if you simply want to scare the living daylights out of your shins.

Durability

We’ve already had a pair of these going for just about a year now, and they have been nothing short of impressive in the durability department. Despite looking a bit worse for wear, the pedals are still spinning smoothly with no bearing slop whatsoever. That’s right, no play to be found here. The middle grub screws do tend to want to fall out, so make sure they are tight or add a drop of Loctite for more peace of mind. Of course, these are fairly standard issue and easy to dig up in a toolbox or at the bike shop. A few of the pins are also a bit bent by now, but overall we’re impressed with the durability on display here. When the time comes and you do need to freshen these up, there are full rebuild kits available.

Summary

Nukeproof’s Horizon Pro Sam Hill Signature pedal carried Sam Hill to his first Enduro World Series victory this year. Rest assured that Mr. Hill, the Flat Pedal Thunder from Down Under would not have put his name to it had he not been absolutely confident that it was up to the job. Don’t care about pro endorsement? Then you’ll be stoked to know that the Horizon Pro delivers lots of grip in a wide, comfortable platform that is more than ready to put up with abuse and come back for more.

Shop the Nukeproof Horizon Pro at Chain Reaction Cycles.

Gamut Podium – Best Ultra-Thin Pedal

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.

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Gamut Podium Highlights

  • Forged aluminum, machine finished body
  • Chromoly steel axle
  • 100 x 100mm platform
  • Custom hollow, silver alloy pins
  • Four sealed cartridge bearings per pedal
  • Weight: 303g (with alloy/steel pin mix, verified)
  • MSRP: $169.99 USD

Initial Impressions

The Podium is certainly thin – and light! At a hair over 300 grams for the pair, this pedal felt like it would float away in the breeze compared to some of its competitors. Gamut have managed to squeeze a full set of bearings into the pedal by placing a bulge near the crank side, and another, much smaller one at the end of the axle. The forged body is heavily sculpted to provide the most tapered edge design of all the pedals on test. The pins screw in from the back, and feature a special hollow point design that certainly looks like it might not be the kind of individual you want your shins hanging out with too often. There are 20 spares in the box, and you can also play with steel versus aluminum to decrease weight or increase durability.

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The short axle design leaves three big windows for mud to escape. The finish of the Podium is matte black and generally of high quality, although we noted that the small printed graphics have a rough side to them. A minor detail, and they have resisted wear so far.

On The Trail

The Podiums look pretty small once they’re mounted up on the bike. They sit close to the crank arm (so close that you won’t be able to run any of those little protective rubber crank arm booties with these pedals), and the Pin-to-Axle measurement validates the visual impression: these are a full 11mm narrower at the outermost pin compared to the biggest pedals on test. However, this does not translate to a particularly cramped feeling on the bike, as there is plenty of grip and support even if you let your foot hang off the edge a bit. Despite being very thin, the pedals retain an overall concave profile, thanks to the body shape and pin placement. Critically, your sole never really comes into contact with the pedal body itself, which is usually a recipe for bad grip.

Being so thin and fairly narrow, it came as no surprise that we were able to squeeze through some of the tightest passages on our home trails with ease. Whilst we stopped short of deliberately ramming them into the rocks, we did experience a couple of incidents where they deflected without us hanging up. These experiments led to a couple of crooked pins and some scuffs in the paint, but nothing worse than that. Overall, we were impressed with the level of grip and support on offer, especially from such a low profile pedal.

Durability

As mentioned above, our Podiums found themselves between a rock and a hard place more than once, and bar a couple of dented pins and some gouges to the pedal body, they are none the worse for wear. In addition to the pair tested for this shootout, we also have a set on long term review, and they have been through a lot over the last six months and while still going strong, bar a little roughness in one of the bearings.

Summary

Gamut acquired the Podium from Point One, refined the concept and came up with a pedal that proves that you can go super thin and still retain best-in-class levels of grip and performance. Clever engineering and good pin placement provide for an overall concave shape despite the almost flat body, and the Podiums offer grip and support beyond their seemingly modest dimensions. The best pedal on test if ultra-thin and low profile are most important to you (and if you can find one, since they are no longer being sold).


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.

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

The 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 all-new 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 the heaviest pedal 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 snagged a podium finish by tying for fifth place in this test).

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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 the most expensive pedal 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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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 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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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.

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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: 47 // Years Riding MTB: 14 // Shoe Size: 12 US (46 Euro) // Weight: 200-pounds (90.7kg)

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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