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Is There a Sweet Spot for Flat Pedal Pin Height?

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4/4/2018 1:48 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/4/2018 3:03 AM

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Sam Hill continues to prove that flat pedals win medals. He's been doing this forever, and as someone who has never gone to clips, I always pay attention to what he's up to...now more than ever, as he's pedaling more than ever.

Historically, Hill has always had a ridiculous set up regarding his pin height. So much so, that even after a lot of searching, I never quite found the set/grub screws that would do the job...Jacee is a wizard of a mechanic and I'm sure has some inside knowledge which helped.

Vital did a Flat Pedal Face Off, which garnered a lot of comments. But I'm curious about the Forum's hive mind, what are your thoughts?

Back in the day, the long-pin option was common, with Burgtec offering a long-pin kit - which they discontinued after their pedal revision slimmed the body and the overall height of the pins was increased relative to the pedal; CrankBros had some for the 50/50s; Azonic, Straightline...there were a host of other brands too.

In the modern age of relatively thin(ner) pedals, is there a sweet spot for pin height on flats? Do you like some float, or to be locked in? It's a daily topic on group rides with the crew, so I thought I'd pitch the question(s) on here! (I know shoe combo is a big factor too).

On my own personal level, I'm stoked because DMR just unveiled their King Pins. I've been running the Vaults for a while now. There are a host of damn good pedals, with the likes of Burgtec, Nukeproof, HT, and Deity all have pretty long pins stock too.

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4/4/2018 6:29 AM

Gotta have grip and float both! I'm one of those riders who likes to move my feet around a lot when I ride, and too grippy pedals will make me feel sluggish on the bike. Also, like so many of us, I like to ride loose corners foot out. I also tend to place my foot back wherever. With a bit less traction, I can correct my foot position on the pedal(s) without completely losing my focus/speed/flow on the trail. I know this is a big reason for many riders to avoid flats, but with proper shoes and pedals it's completely negligible.

For my personal preference a good pedal consists of large enough platform, nice concave shape and a few (7-8) replaceable, medium height alloy pins. If I was a real gnarly rider I'd probably prefer something more meaty, but for a rider like me this setup fits well.

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4/4/2018 6:49 AM

Personally I am still a huge fan of the E13 pedals that are no longer produced. Luckily I could snag an almost new pair for my DH-bike. I think they are the best feeling pedal underfoot. Maybe with standard grub screws and normal bearings it would be the perfect pedal out there.

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4/4/2018 7:09 AM

i have been on the answer rover r2 pedal. its an older shape but it feels perfect us the standard pins in the middle and went to hardware store and bought 10mm grub screws. feels perfect

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4/4/2018 7:10 AM

I always source pins from the hardware store and prefer 12-14mm of exposed pin at the front and back, with 3-4mm in the center. This pin set up is for DH riding when I need to know my foot is secure on the pedal no matter where I place it after dropping a foot.

Wearing my trusty old size 13 2012 5.10 Impacts this set up provides nearly no movement on DMR Vaults or the old E13 pedals. I hate having my feet move in any direction and that's why I don't like clipless.

For XC riding I use the same shoes but standard pins in DMR vaults, the long ones catch on rocks and rip out too often but I don't like being able to wiggle my foot around, maybe a smaller shoe would help with this.

Extra long pins are a game changer for anyone wanting to race DH on flat pedals with Impacts or comparable shoes. The relief of not having to worry about your feet no matter how rough the trail is worth a few seconds on a proper DH track.

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4/4/2018 7:16 AM

Sam Hill is a great guy to watch and I always pay close attention to his bike checks etc to check out his personal tweaks. He is one of few riders at the top of the sport who really seems to understand (whether he consciously thinks about it or not) how the relationship between himself and the bike works.

I have tried some of his setups and I’ve tried long pins because I like feeling locked to the pedals but for me and my usual Five Ten Freeriders it was too much. I actually found I had better ‘feel’ with mid sized pins. I didn’t really think I had more grip, it was the same but I didn’t feel like enough of my foot was contacting the pedal and just didn’t feel properly connected to the bike.

For me I’d sooner look at the pedal shape for more grip than just use longer pins.

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4/4/2018 7:31 AM

E13 long pins the best,
DMR vaults with the brendog pins pretty good
Tried TMACs with so long pins MEH
Honestly I found that I don't really like set screws for pins

Tried the ONEUP pedal probably going to be my replacement for when my E13 blow out.

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4/4/2018 8:01 AM

personally i've found that pin diameter is as if not more more important than height. my HT's with 3mm pins have more outright grip than my spanks with 4mm pins at the same height. my wah wah's before that had 3mm pins at about half the height of the HT's and spanks and still had more grip than the spanks.

pedal thickness also plays a role as i have much better grip and control regardless of pins on the current crop of 11-12mm thickness pedals than any of the old school 17mm+ pedals that wanted to roll so easily.

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4/4/2018 8:11 AM

however, if you use long sharp pins (something like M3), you'll have a hole in your 5.10 sole .... sad

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4/4/2018 8:20 AM

Personally, I've found that 5-10's with even short metal pins have too much grip for my riding. With 5-10's I use cheap plastic BMX pedals and am happy to bash them into rocks all day long without worry as to how much that last rock just cost me. For standard skate shoes I tend to run the standard pins and don't really like getting my foot stuck in an awkward position on long pins. I place more emphasis on proper pedal position (Dropping the heels and such.) for my traction.

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4/4/2018 8:56 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/4/2018 8:58 AM

My preference depends on the application, like some of you here I have the no longer produced e13 pedals on both my trail bike and dh bike and i run the mid sized pins on the trail bike and mid sized in the middle on the dh with the taller ones on the leading and trailing edges. I have found the needle like pins are especially susceptible to breaking particularly on the long ones.

I have a love/hate relationship with those pedals, performance and grip wise it doesnt get any better but I dont like proprietary anything(the pins can be hit or miss for replacements and are unnecessarily expensive) and the complicated axle and tension system can be a pain in the ass. my next pedals will hopefully offer similar feel with a more un-complicated axle and standard grub screws.

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4/4/2018 9:56 AM

Im super super picky when it comes to my pedals and luckily my friends and the people i see on the trails tend to have a wide variety of options. Im the person that will shamelessly ask you if i can ride your bike around the parking lot because you have pedals i havent tried yet. Yes. Im sorry if i've done that to you. The answer to this question is definitely YES to me though. I think there is definitely a sweet spot for pedal pin height but it combines with pedal body height, body size, and pin layout.

The only 2 pedals ive ever had that truly felt amazing were the original Point1 Podiums with "custom" hardware store extra long pins and the current stock deity t-macs. loved both for different reasons. The point 1s feel awesome underfoot, they truly understood the concave profile that my foot prefers and although they are a little small for my size 12 foot, they are the perfect pedal to be comfortable in any position. I went to a hardware store and got extra long pins which felt amazing but tended to break alot so i got really good at getting twisted pins out. They also did a couple things that most other pedals dont seem to do which is that they left the center completely pin free so your foot kind of "Settles" into the pedal. Another bonus was that because of the overall low profile, your center of gravity is lowered by a millimeter or two, not the biggest difference i realize but talk to me after you swap from flat pedals to shimano dx spds and suddenly the bike doesn't corner the same way

The deity t-macs i love because they are straight stock and they feel perfect. Perfect size, perfect concave profile, no need for extra long pins to get the security that i want. Only downside is the height and the blocky profile. But from a pure "feel" sense, no pedal feels better than the t-macs. I havent truly destroyed myself getting the pedal caught on something but i have hit more stuff than i normally do. The height also means that when i swap back to my point1's - i notice that im slightly lower than with the t-macs and the bike "feels" slightly better in the corners. Maybe thats nostalgia for the trusty point1s because it goes away after a ride and the bike still corners amazingly regardless... Perks of having an evil insurgent in x-low with a push shock i guess. I would still ride OG point 1s if i could still get replacement parts, i stocked up on replacement kits but im on the last set so i got the next best pedal to replace them.

I'd like to also point out that what works for me definitely wont always work for someone else. But at the same time, here are a few 1 sentence-ish pedal reviews taking all the factors mentioned above into account (pin height, pin layout, body size, body height)

Point 1 Podium 2's, now Gamut pedals --> Supposed to be more reliable? but really just ruined the pin layout and the body size for the stupid extra angled edge. The comfortable spot to stand on them isnt in line with the pedal axle so they feel super funky and really small.

Canfield --> LOL NO

Race Face Atlas --> actually really good, better than i expected but t-macs still feel a little better underfoot, need slightly longer pins

Deity bladerunners --> need longer pins but feel really good, have to remove all the pins in the center to maximize the concave profile

Crankbrothers 5050 --> possibly the worst pedals ever made - heavy, horrible pins, horrible size, too tall. Horrible. Still dont fully understand how sam hill won with these. (even with custom extra long pins) He's obviously a wizard.

Crankbrothers Stamp large --> feel ok, need longer pins and they're crankbrothers so you know they'll break without warning really early on for something silly like "i pedaled and the axle twisted" or exactly what happened to me when i briefly rode mallets "popped the bike on the lip of a jump and the axle snapped in the air" Mallets do feel awesome height wise though.

I could rant on the topic of pedals for a long time but i think that's enough for now. Cheers to those who read this far.

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4/4/2018 10:21 AM

Shoes definitely play a role for me. Longer pins feel better on shoes with deeper lugs (Impact). When I use a Freerider Pro (etc) on longer pins, it gets too squirmy for me. I prefer a shorter pin for those.

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4/4/2018 10:44 AM

chup29 wrote:

Im super super picky when it comes to my pedals and luckily my friends and the people i see on the trails tend to have a wide variety of options. Im the person that will shamelessly ask you if i can ride your bike around the parking lot because you have pedals i havent tried yet. Yes. Im sorry if i've done that to you. The answer to this question is definitely YES to me though. I think there is definitely a sweet spot for pedal pin height but it combines with pedal body height, body size, and pin layout.

The only 2 pedals ive ever had that truly felt amazing were the original Point1 Podiums with "custom" hardware store extra long pins and the current stock deity t-macs. loved both for different reasons. The point 1s feel awesome underfoot, they truly understood the concave profile that my foot prefers and although they are a little small for my size 12 foot, they are the perfect pedal to be comfortable in any position. I went to a hardware store and got extra long pins which felt amazing but tended to break alot so i got really good at getting twisted pins out. They also did a couple things that most other pedals dont seem to do which is that they left the center completely pin free so your foot kind of "Settles" into the pedal. Another bonus was that because of the overall low profile, your center of gravity is lowered by a millimeter or two, not the biggest difference i realize but talk to me after you swap from flat pedals to shimano dx spds and suddenly the bike doesn't corner the same way

The deity t-macs i love because they are straight stock and they feel perfect. Perfect size, perfect concave profile, no need for extra long pins to get the security that i want. Only downside is the height and the blocky profile. But from a pure "feel" sense, no pedal feels better than the t-macs. I havent truly destroyed myself getting the pedal caught on something but i have hit more stuff than i normally do. The height also means that when i swap back to my point1's - i notice that im slightly lower than with the t-macs and the bike "feels" slightly better in the corners. Maybe thats nostalgia for the trusty point1s because it goes away after a ride and the bike still corners amazingly regardless... Perks of having an evil insurgent in x-low with a push shock i guess. I would still ride OG point 1s if i could still get replacement parts, i stocked up on replacement kits but im on the last set so i got the next best pedal to replace them.

I'd like to also point out that what works for me definitely wont always work for someone else. But at the same time, here are a few 1 sentence-ish pedal reviews taking all the factors mentioned above into account (pin height, pin layout, body size, body height)

Point 1 Podium 2's, now Gamut pedals --> Supposed to be more reliable? but really just ruined the pin layout and the body size for the stupid extra angled edge. The comfortable spot to stand on them isnt in line with the pedal axle so they feel super funky and really small.

Canfield --> LOL NO

Race Face Atlas --> actually really good, better than i expected but t-macs still feel a little better underfoot, need slightly longer pins

Deity bladerunners --> need longer pins but feel really good, have to remove all the pins in the center to maximize the concave profile

Crankbrothers 5050 --> possibly the worst pedals ever made - heavy, horrible pins, horrible size, too tall. Horrible. Still dont fully understand how sam hill won with these. (even with custom extra long pins) He's obviously a wizard.

Crankbrothers Stamp large --> feel ok, need longer pins and they're crankbrothers so you know they'll break without warning really early on for something silly like "i pedaled and the axle twisted" or exactly what happened to me when i briefly rode mallets "popped the bike on the lip of a jump and the axle snapped in the air" Mallets do feel awesome height wise though.

I could rant on the topic of pedals for a long time but i think that's enough for now. Cheers to those who read this far.

What about OneUp pedals ?

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4/4/2018 11:03 AM

razorree wrote:

What about OneUp pedals ?

they look the closest to the original point 1s so i would be super curious to try them out. I havent had an opportunity to actually put my feet on them though so i cant offer an actual opinion. I like the size and most of the pin placement though. I would just take out the pin in the middle.

the other modification that i would do is try to source some different pins so i could run longer pins if i needed to. I dont like rear loading pin systems if you have to run longer pins to make the right amount of concavity because its a fairly big pain to remove bent pins through the rear. Luckily you can just top load the pins with some locktite if they use a standard size so i would try to do that.

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4/4/2018 1:19 PM

I run some old welgo pedals with short worn out pins , with 510s they grip nice and allow for easy movement.

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4/4/2018 1:25 PM

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Fearons 2 different pedal set ups, the 2nd on had 7.5mm pins but the look cut or maybe there just smashed up a bit.
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4/4/2018 1:44 PM

chup29 wrote:

Im super super picky when it comes to my pedals and luckily my friends and the people i see on the trails tend to have a wide variety of options. Im the person that will shamelessly ask you if i can ride your bike around the parking lot because you have pedals i havent tried yet. Yes. Im sorry if i've done that to you. The answer to this question is definitely YES to me though. I think there is definitely a sweet spot for pedal pin height but it combines with pedal body height, body size, and pin layout.

The only 2 pedals ive ever had that truly felt amazing were the original Point1 Podiums with "custom" hardware store extra long pins and the current stock deity t-macs. loved both for different reasons. The point 1s feel awesome underfoot, they truly understood the concave profile that my foot prefers and although they are a little small for my size 12 foot, they are the perfect pedal to be comfortable in any position. I went to a hardware store and got extra long pins which felt amazing but tended to break alot so i got really good at getting twisted pins out. They also did a couple things that most other pedals dont seem to do which is that they left the center completely pin free so your foot kind of "Settles" into the pedal. Another bonus was that because of the overall low profile, your center of gravity is lowered by a millimeter or two, not the biggest difference i realize but talk to me after you swap from flat pedals to shimano dx spds and suddenly the bike doesn't corner the same way

The deity t-macs i love because they are straight stock and they feel perfect. Perfect size, perfect concave profile, no need for extra long pins to get the security that i want. Only downside is the height and the blocky profile. But from a pure "feel" sense, no pedal feels better than the t-macs. I havent truly destroyed myself getting the pedal caught on something but i have hit more stuff than i normally do. The height also means that when i swap back to my point1's - i notice that im slightly lower than with the t-macs and the bike "feels" slightly better in the corners. Maybe thats nostalgia for the trusty point1s because it goes away after a ride and the bike still corners amazingly regardless... Perks of having an evil insurgent in x-low with a push shock i guess. I would still ride OG point 1s if i could still get replacement parts, i stocked up on replacement kits but im on the last set so i got the next best pedal to replace them.

I'd like to also point out that what works for me definitely wont always work for someone else. But at the same time, here are a few 1 sentence-ish pedal reviews taking all the factors mentioned above into account (pin height, pin layout, body size, body height)

Point 1 Podium 2's, now Gamut pedals --> Supposed to be more reliable? but really just ruined the pin layout and the body size for the stupid extra angled edge. The comfortable spot to stand on them isnt in line with the pedal axle so they feel super funky and really small.

Canfield --> LOL NO

Race Face Atlas --> actually really good, better than i expected but t-macs still feel a little better underfoot, need slightly longer pins

Deity bladerunners --> need longer pins but feel really good, have to remove all the pins in the center to maximize the concave profile

Crankbrothers 5050 --> possibly the worst pedals ever made - heavy, horrible pins, horrible size, too tall. Horrible. Still dont fully understand how sam hill won with these. (even with custom extra long pins) He's obviously a wizard.

Crankbrothers Stamp large --> feel ok, need longer pins and they're crankbrothers so you know they'll break without warning really early on for something silly like "i pedaled and the axle twisted" or exactly what happened to me when i briefly rode mallets "popped the bike on the lip of a jump and the axle snapped in the air" Mallets do feel awesome height wise though.

I could rant on the topic of pedals for a long time but i think that's enough for now. Cheers to those who read this far.

razorree wrote:

What about OneUp pedals ?

chup29 wrote:

they look the closest to the original point 1s so i would be super curious to try them out. I havent had an opportunity to actually put my feet on them though so i cant offer an actual opinion. I like the size and most of the pin placement though. I would just take out the pin in the middle.

the other modification that i would do is try to source some different pins so i could run longer pins if i needed to. I dont like rear loading pin systems if you have to run longer pins to make the right amount of concavity because its a fairly big pain to remove bent pins through the rear. Luckily you can just top load the pins with some locktite if they use a standard size so i would try to do that.

I got some of the One Up composite pedals for early season trail riding this year and been really happy with them, Im not sure when or if I’ll even take them off to go back to clips. Ive has a few sets of the straitline defactos that have been religiously on my dh bike for years, and questioning them now to

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4/4/2018 1:46 PM

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4/4/2018 3:14 PM

literally wrote:

personally i've found that pin diameter is as if not more more important than height. my HT's with 3mm pins have more outright grip than my spanks with 4mm pins at the same height. my wah wah's before that had 3mm pins at about half the height of the HT's and spanks and still had more grip than the spanks.

pedal thickness also plays a role as i have much better grip and control regardless of pins on the current crop of 11-12mm thickness pedals than any of the old school 17mm+ pedals that wanted to roll so easily.

This is my tip/trick as well: narrower pins found on the Diety and DMR pedals work much better than wider/volcano pins. Sometimes narrow pins grip too much! Which is why I often end up removing the center front and center back pins. This also makes the whole pedal more concave, which helps suck your foot into place nicely smile Pins on all 4 corners, plus pins near the crank arm (a less common MTB feature, but can find lots of options in mid-school BMX pedals, like the Fly Bikes Ruben pedals) is all you'd need with the narrow-type pins.

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Things I like: @rideshimano @fox @dietycomponents @scgshoes @teamrobot

4/4/2018 4:52 PM

I've got the same Nukeproof Horizon pedals that Sam runs on my DH bike and the standard pins are super long.
Pretty sure Sam's setup is the standard pins with the spacer washers removed to make them full height.

I've left the spacer washers in and finding there is plenty of grip with Five 10 impacts.

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4/4/2018 5:41 PM

thegromit wrote:

E13 long pins the best,
DMR vaults with the brendog pins pretty good
Tried TMACs with so long pins MEH
Honestly I found that I don't really like set screws for pins

Tried the ONEUP pedal probably going to be my replacement for when my E13 blow out.

Running the ONEUP's and stoked with them, will run them in the bikepark as as well this summer.

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4/4/2018 6:37 PM

i think it also has a lot to do with pin positioning, i run the nuke-proof pedals with the center (inside of the pedal) pins removed. i find this helps give me that balance between floating above the pedal but still being able to move my foot.
on top of that its the same way Sam himself runs his pedals!

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4/4/2018 11:05 PM

After years of BMX One thing I look for in a pedal over pin length is a very deep concave. I find it way more important for the 'feel' of the pedal as well as control, kinda like your hands on the grips you're not death gripping all the time. For a nice table you have to loosen your hand an twist around the bar... Well, same with pedals an a nice concave is great for that control. Grip is important but too much can feel nasty. I've usually run thicker pedals for that concave but lately I've been impressed with the thinner pedals that use varying pin lengths to achieve that concave. My friends HT's feel a LOT better than they look an I recently got some plastic nukeproofs for a cheap park bike that impressed the hell outta me that I may put them on all my bikes. Cheap, grippy, controll an light as magnesium pedals.

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Callous Hands an Bloody Shins since 1979

4/5/2018 7:57 AM

I used to ride clipped in, and over the past year I experimented with being clipped in vs. not, and then also with foot placement on flat pedals. Eventually I switched back to flats full time. I began to gravitate towards mid-foot placement on flat pedals for stability, control, and power. It seems much more natural to me than pedaling with the ball of my foot.

Is there a particular pedal design or pin length that any of you favor as mid-foot riders?

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4/5/2018 12:56 PM

Coming from bmx background, I'm quite ok even with cheap Odyssey pedals with low plastic pins, under the wet conditions it is good to have something grippy, however it is more matter of practice, you can adopt to any of them

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FUN

4/5/2018 1:49 PM

Long pins are nice until you destroy you 5/10s in a couple of months.. regular size pins for me.. no matter how long my pins are I'm never gonna ride like Sam.. so regular sized pins do the trick for me

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4/5/2018 7:30 PM

I run clips for XC and Flats for everything else.
Have always experimented with different setups over the last 10 - 15 years and my personal rule of thumb are;

Slight concave to the pedal - something that had been lost a little with the new wave of skinny pedals
Smoother concave line - some eg the HT black pictured can really feel the ridges of the front and back of the pedal
Can only be as skinny as the axle - again the change in the smoothness of the concave can feel after time
Pins need to screw in from the bottom - with exception of central pins. They will never survive over time with strikes
Pins with a thread - seem to somehow offer a better connection. I could be imagining it but would seem. I have modified pins with different shapes and spikes over the years with little success.
Pin length good at 5mm for everyday use - If i was trying to win WC or Enduro I could understand going longer but..
Platform needs to be suitable for foot size - being able to have at least 85% of your foot on top of pedal (not shoe)

Old school big chunky cheap pedals were great. then the industry went for small an light. A little to far in my opinion.
DMR V12 were great for so long. Ultra flat pedals just didn't seem quite right. NS made a nice pedal but platform was a little small. Crankbrothers offering different sizes was a great move but the Sam Hills are right on. A little chunkier than the rest but this is what save fatigue over longer rides and sessions again IMO. There is a little more platform in front of the axle than behind which I found strange to look at but isn't noticeable when riding and I guess makes sense when pointing downhill.
I threw a spare set of NS pedals on a new DH bike I had laying around yesterday for its first runs and I'm sure suspension setup may be at fault a little but I got blood on the calf hehe.
Wait for another set of Nukeproofs to turn up now.



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4/6/2018 12:31 AM

I ran Shimano Saint with "long" pins. That was good. Then I ran (and run) some TMac's, with standard pins (not that long in my opinion) and those are astonishingly grippy. Even too much grip in certain conditions (to replace the feet for example).
I run some SuperStar Nano-X too, with long pins (and those ARE long ! from memory about 8mm above the surface of the pedal, and so thin my shins are afraid just looking at them), and I have the feeling there is a little less grip than on the TMacs (with a lot more pins, but shorter and fatter...).
I just ordered some plastic OneUp too, didn't tried yet. And I run the most standard plastic pedals you can find on many, many brand (Deity Compound among others) on my trials and street/trials. Good grip in general, maybe a little lack of it on some heavy springiness moves but at least I can eject my foot from the pedals easily.

SO, I think more than a sweet spot for pedal pin height, maybe there is some magic formula between the pin height, their number, and the concavity of the pedal.

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4/6/2018 11:51 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/6/2018 11:55 AM

I'm surprised Sam isn't going with some of the new slim design pedals, and has very little concave to them. Either way keep winning. I have experimented with diffent pin heights for many years to create more concave feel, even drilled and installed pins in a set of poly-plastic perdals that worked great. There is something to be said about sticky 5 10's feeling a bit too glued to the pedal, specially for street riding. DH glue me right in. Trail riding is kind of the middle road as climbing is involved. Sometimes foot placement needs to be tweaked a bit and longer pins make that difficult. I still feel that all pedals should have some amount of concave, at least feels right to me. It's a very easy and cheap experiment for most pedals. Unscrew old pin,,, bring to Lowes/ Home Depot,,, use the thread finder they all have and try out multiple pins until you find what you like. It really comes don to that,,, how does it feel to you. For me completely flat pedals feel terrible and don't give me the traction I'm looking for,, specially in the wet conditions. Currently running Xpedo SPRY pedals on trail and DH bike. Considering how thin they are, very strong construction. Just the right amount of concave and pin height, didn't change a thing,,, and they weigh almost nothing.

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