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Crankbrothers Mallet DH Clipless Pedals

Average User Rating: (Very Good) Vital Rating: (Excellent)
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Tested: Crank Brothers Mallet DH/Race Pedals

Rating: Vital Review

by Noah Sears

It's no secret that Crank Brothers products have a reputation for emphasizing style over longevity, so when the new Mallet DH/Race pedals arrived in the mail I was excited yet skeptical. They looked great, but would they perform?

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The Mallet DH/Race pedals debuted early this year to much fanfare, and were seen throughout the 2012 season on a number of World Cup race bikes. The original Mallets built a legion of followers, but each generation since has been less and less heralded. In their most recent variant Crank Brothers utilized a half polycarbonate two-piece design and a much smaller platform. Over the years the pedal has gotten smaller and lighter - more all-mountain, less DH. With the Mallet DH/Race Crank Brothers has gone big and metal, a welcomed return.

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New vs Old. The Mallet has seen a number of revisions since the original version (right), and we're happy to see it taking a turn back toward the wide-bodied DH design with adjustable pins. The new designs is about 100 grams lighter than the original.

Mallet DH/Race Pedal Highlights

  • Extruded/machined aluminum platform
  • 300 series spring steel spring
  • Forged scm435 chromoly steel spindle
  • Q factorincreased 5mm per spindle vs most recent design
  • Needle + cartridge inner bearings
  • Cartridgeouter bearing
  • Replaceable 8mm adjustabletraction pins
  • 15 to 20-degree release angle
  • Premium brass cleats included
  • Red color only
  • 5 year warranty
  • 479 grams per pair
  • $140 MSRP

Curious what else is new and exciting, or perhaps how they came to be? Click through this First Look slideshow for a chat with Colin Esquibel, the man who took the new Crankbrothers Mallet DH/Race pedal from sketches to production:

On The Trail

First, a little backstory on me... I've been riding clipless pedals again for a little over a year. Previous to that I was on flat pedals for five years following a heinous crash that left my right elbow in several pieces, large and small. I was a little scared of being mechanically bound to my pedals after that, and it was only as I began to take Enduro racing more seriously that I decided to come back to the dark side.

Previous to this review, the only clipless pedals I'd used were Shimano SPDs. I'd most recently been riding Shimano's PD-M530 "trail" style pedal - basically a barebones SPD with a small platform. I had no complaints with the bombproof SPD system - but apparently only because I didn't know any better!

Switching to the Crank Brothers pedals, the first thing that was immediately noticeable was the increased contact between the sole of the shoe and the platform - it truly felt like the best of both worlds (clipless and flat). The cleats provided enough float that I could put some english on the pedals like I would with platforms, but I had that locked-in, efficient feel of a clipless interface. I've tried these pedals with a variety of skate-inspired clipless shoes; SixSixOne Filters, Five Ten Minnaars, and the new Teva Pivot, and they've all given that sensation. The adjustable pins only add to the stable sensation, and have the effect of making it easier or harder to unclip depending on how far out they are. I can't speak to the added width of the cage having not tried the previous versions, but the feel is quite secure and stable. When I find myself unclipped in techy situations, the platform gives sufficient traction to navigate just about anything comfortably.

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Long Term Durability

Durability-wise, the pedals have taken a beating without issue over the past few months. There have been several occasions where I've pedaled squarely into a rock and thought for sure those dainty little EggBeater springs would be toast, but that hasn't been the case. The new spring is holding up just fine, despite quite a few hard hits. The anodized finish does scratch very easily, however.

The pins have worn down considerably, but they're replaceable. I do however wish all of the pins threaded in from the bottom like the better platforms on the market. As is, only four per side have allen heads that are protected, and the remaining four have tool interfaces that look pretty mangled. It'll be a joy to get them out.

Finally, the left pedal has developed a little play, but I only noticed this as I inspected these for the review. A quick turn of the wrench and it was gone. Quite a simple fix considering all the time I've had on them.

What's The Bottom Line?

So do I like them? Yeah you can say that, I'd go so far as to say I'm now a convert to the Crank Brothers system. I've even got another set of Mallet DH/Race pedals on order. The pedals seem to be the best compromise of flat pedal feel and clipless efficiency, and the recent improvements are just that - improvements. With an additional neutral color choice, a more durable finish, more robust pins, and bearings that didn't need adjustment after a few months, Crank Brothers would have a five-star product. As is, though, the Mallet DH/Race pedals are hard to beat.

For more details, cruise over to www.crankbrothers.com.


About The Reviewer

Noah Sears eats, sleeps, and breathes mountain biking. During the decade he has been in the bike industry, he has managed a well-known destination bike shop, written for several publications, been a sponsored rider and product tester for various manufacturers, and is currently leading the marketing and product development efforts at Mountain Racing Products. A Colorado native and now Fruita local, there is no shortage of idyllic singletrack right out his back door. He has been racing downhill and super-D events since 2006, but thinks he has found his calling with enduro. His hammer and plow style of riding puts the hurt on his equipment - and his body. The amount he has spent to fix broken bones and replace broken parts over the years likely exceeds the GDP of a small country. He's all but sworn off 26-inch wheeled bikes, preferring to ride wagon wheels or at least 'tweeners. He also freaking loves Strava.

Platform Support With Clipless Performance

Rating: Featured Member Review
The Good:

Huge platform surface with excellent grip, 5 year warranty, great customer service

The Bad:

Screw on left pedal starting coming loose, no tension adjustment on clipless entry

Overall Review:

Purchased the Crank Brothers Mallet DH/Race pedals about a month ago and after several rides on them, here are my two cents on their functionality, performance, and value.

Out Of The Box

The first thing that came through my mind when I opened the box to these pedals was "wow, these things are gorgeous." The craftsmanship of them is top notch. Handling them, I could really tell how much heart and sole Crank Brothers put into making these things. Everything was made out of metal, no "high quality" plastic waiting to get smashed and shattered in your local rock garden (**cough** Shimano..)

The next thing I noticed was the platform. The real estate these things offer is certainly near (if not the) largest platform you can get in a clipless pedal. Crank Brothers didn't just want to make a huge platform, they wanted to make sure you stayed on as well. Equipped with 8 regular platform pins that stick up about 2-3mm above the platform itself, you should probably start calling this a platform pedal with clipless entry instead of the other way around.

On The Trail

The Crank Brothers Mallet DH/Race pedal is nothing short of confidence inspiring. They are certainly one of the most supportive pedals for DHers, Enduroites, and even AM riders looking to lock their feet on the bike. I really noticed this while descending down some of the more "butt-puckery" sections at my local resorts. I was able to clip out, rest my foot on the platform itself, and have my foot remain there throughout the entire section. My biggest fear is not being able to clip out if need be and being able to clip out and just ride the platform really helps with that fear. I have to give Crank brothers credit, putting platform pins on a clipless pedal was brilliant.

Clipping is was a little tricky at first given the amount of resistance the platform pins give but after a few hours of clipping in and out, I quickly learned the sweet spot. Crank Brothers use their unique egg-beater design with these pedals. They work very well and are easy to clip into. I have only two complaints. First, there isn't any tension adjustment with them so what you see is what your get. This is just fine for me but for someone new to clipless or wants adjustability, you won't get it from Crank Brothers. Second, Murphy's law states "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." Having 4 bars to an egg beater means that 2 of them will be facing up while the other 2 will be facing down while clipped in. I can totally see how bashing a rock with your pedal could hypothetically bend or break on of those bars. I would like to see these bars somewhat better protected but not sure how that would work given that you still need them to clip in. And although this hasn't happened to me yet, it is still a concern.

After about 15 hours of riding, I checked all the pins and screws that hold these pedals together. Everything was tight they way they should be except the platform screws on the left pedal. These screws are found on the inside of the front and rear part of the pedal and can be tightened by using a generic multitool. Since then, I haven't had any issues with them coming loose.

Other Insight

As for weight, Crank Brothers state that the weight of these pedals is 468 grams. The actual weight is 487 grams, slightly heavier but relatively pretty close.

They are certainly heavy in regards to clipless pedals but are pretty acceptable in DH given the amount of effective platform surface they offer.

Crank Brothers have been around for a very long time. They have helped push the industry to where we are today. When pushing the industry, it is common to have products break and malfunction. Crank Brothers has a reputation of having this happen. Reason why I bring this up is because some people have a really bad taste with this company due to "bad apples" that have come from their factories. That being the case, when looking at a company, keep in mind the past but focus on the now. Crank Brothers offers a 5 year warranty on these pedals which is over twice as long as the majority of Shimano pedals. When dealing with their customer service, they have been easy to get ahold of and quick to make things right. That being said, I have little doubt that I will have any issues with being stuck with a broken pedal, if it were to happen.

Bottom Line

I purchased these pedals because I wanted ultimate traction but with the performance perks of being clipped in. They took a little time to get used to how grippy they were have fallen In love with them since. The left pedal screws that hold the platform together came loose but after tightening them, have remained tight. Made of high quality medal (no plastic), excellent grip, and a 5 year warranty, I really can't see how anyone could go wrong picking these pedals up. I would recommend these pedals to anyone.

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Excellent overall with one or two minuses

Rating:
The Good:

Durable, flat pedal feel, with the added benefit of being clipped in.

The Bad:

a bit tricky to set up, clicking in not as positive as other pedals

Overall Review:

I've been running the same pair for 2+ years on my DH bike doing about 25 or so days of riding a year. That is probably closing in on 400 runs for about 800,000k of vertical.  The pedals are still working flawlessly without any servicing.  These perform excellently in the mud and the wet.  We have very clay like soil here and I can clip in, even with gunk all over my shoes, though I do have to take a bit more care.

What I really like about them is the way they feel like flats. I feel solidly connected to the bike and feel I can really push into the pedals in the corners, in the air, everywhere.  None of that metal on metal slippy feeling you get with some other pedals.  Why not flats then?  Because these also take away a margin of error in the really rough stuff, or when you are pushing your abilities. You don't have to think about foot position at all or worry about your foot coming off in a rock garden when you take a half pedal stroke to keep you momentum going.  

Depending on your shoe, you will likely have to spend a bit of time getting everything set up right.  There is a shim that comes with the pedal if you need a little more room (I could barely get off the pedal with my 5.10 districts before installing the shim.  And you will likely need to play with pin height to get the right feel, but once you do get it set up it really does feel like the best of both worlds.

The one other disadvantage these have is that clipping in is a bit vague compared to the Shimano XTs I have used.  They do not have that lovely Shimano click.   In muddy conditions and one or two other times I have thought I was clipped in when I wasn't. Good news is you still have a good connection to the bike.  Bad news is you can find yourself riding one footed if your technique gets sloppy.

This might be offset by the fact that you can clip in pretty much however you want.  Just put the cleat on the clip and push, so stomping down works very well!
Anyway.  I love these pedals and will run them on all my DH bikes (I ride trail on flats).

Crank Brothers Mallet DH

Rating:
The Good:

Durable, Strong Spindles, Nice Platform, Low Maintenance, 2 Year Warranty

The Bad:

None I Came Across

Overall Review:

I decided to get into clipless again when I was doing quite a few local DH races to help in the gnar we have here on the East Coast. I decided to go with these pedals as they had some good initial reviews and all else failed Crank Brothers provided these with a two year warranty. I paired them up with some 510 shoes. I used them throughout a solid season of DH racing and general rides. They have gone through dry and very muddy weather and they have not been taken apart once. They still spin freely and smooth. If I could change one thing, it would only be to have a slightly stiffer spring to make unclipping a bit harder. I do not have any issues with them coming unclipped while riding, but I just feel like this would be nice. These are one of the few items I would pick from CB, but it does appear like they are working to make better products.

Very Poor Products

Rating:
The Good:

Look good and worked well for 12 weeks

The Bad:

Fell apart after 12 weeks - approx 36hrs only

Overall Review:

Wow! got these pedals 12 weeks ago and one fell off. Yep, bearing crapped itself and the pedal actually fell off. I'm sure it would have been a pleasant experience if I was in mid flight, but luckily I was on the flat telling my mates how great they were.... What a joke these are and we all had to laugh... Top price, worst quality part I have bought in 15 years. Took back to shop who said water damaged!! What, so you can't ride with these if it's wet? Pedals had done less than 40hrs and although used in wet conditions, never was it raining or the pedals submerged... Look cool but anyone who can actually ride should stay well clear of any crank brothers product. Hadn't used a product of theirs for 10 years before giving another go.....12 weeks later $260 New Zealand dollars gone - you can buy a whole bike for that much!

Specifications

Product Crankbrothers Mallet DH Clipless Pedals
Riding Type Downhill, Freeride / Bike Park
Pedal Platform Size Large Platform
Pedal Platform Details Concave platform for secure foothold
8 adjustable pins per side for grip
Traction pad technology customizable interface
Ribbed body for better traction when unclipped
Chamfered edges to reduce rock-strikes
Body Material Body material: 6061-T6 aluminum
Wing material: 17-4PH stainless steel
Spring material: 300 series stainless steel
Bearing Type Inner: Igus LL-Glide Bearing
Outer: Enduro Cartridge Bearing
Spindle Spec Forged SCM 435 Chromoly Steel
Cleat Type Premium brass cleats with shims included
Float 6° float; 15° or 20° release angle
Colors Red, Black
Weight 1 lb 0.9 oz (479 g)
Miscellaneous Wide 57mm Q-factor for stability at speed
Hex alloy endcap for durability
4 sided entry for superior mud shredding
Double seal system
5 year warranty
Price $169
More Info

crankbrothers.com

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