14 Hard-Charging Clipless Mountain Bike Pedals Scraped Up and Reviewed

The most popular clipless mountain bike pedals tested by Singletracks product reviewers.

Hands and feet are our only control points once the saddle is slammed, making pedals and grips some equally important and quickly forgotten bits of the bike. The best pairs disappear as dependable components we don’t have to think about.

A quality set of clipless pedals is easy to attach to and eject from, sheds mud well, fits comfortably in the cleat channel of your favorite shoes, and provides an emergency platform for your foot when the need arises. Like any good components, they should include simple and infrequent service that can be sorted in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee.

Over the years Singletracks product testers have pushed and slid around on all of the most popular clipless pedals to learn the advantages and hangups each pair has to offer.

Chromag Pilot BA clipless pedals

Pedal Tester: Sam James

The Chromag Pilot BA clipless pedals feature a generous platform that incorporates four pins per side for maximum grip, whether you’re clipped in or tentatively plotting your next move. For those looking for something a little different made by a reputable brand run by actual mountain bikers, with reliability and serviceability, the Pilot makes a solid choice. Read the complete Chromag Pilot BA clipless pedal review.

  • Price: $189
  • Buy from Amazon.

Crankbrothers Mallet E LS

Pedal tester: Gerow.

Having raced cyclocross for too many years on the famously mud-shedding Crankbrothers Eggbeaters, I was excited to try one of their more substantial pedals. I have some pink tattoos from those smaller pedals on my shins but fortunately didn’t receive any new ones from this pair. Every good gear roundup needs a few superlatives and the Mallet E LS is the most customizable pedal in this lot by a long shot. “Traction Pads” on either side of the engagement mechanism can be swapped out to increase or decrease release pressure, and the six adjustable traction pins per side can create whatever amount of sole connection you prefer.

Crankbrothers Mallet E LS pedal specs

  • Customizable platform
  • 15° or 20° of float with shims included
  • 6 adjustable pins per side, customizable float and release angle
  • Weight: 221g per pedal
  • Price: $169.99
  • Buy from Wiggle and Amazon

Clipping in and out of these pedals is smooth no matter the conditions. I set the cleat retention a smidge on the loose side knowing that I’d be riding through some thick mud with these, and they are some of the most intuitive feeling pedals I’ve used for crappy weather. The muck on shoes and pedals squishes through the large opening in the middle, allowing it to clear out while the rider is clipped in and rolling.

Sole grip on the Mallet platform is rather impressive for a clipless shoe. In addition to the six adjustable pins on either side, the pedal has a decent amount of texture to help shoes stick when things get spicy and you’re not quite able to clip in before the next impact. I have been thankful for that added traction on multiple occasions throughout the winter, and when the trails are dry it cleans out nicely to keep the pedals looking fresh a little longer than some.

I have added the included cleat shims with a few pairs of shoes that have deeper cleat channels, and it’s great that those spacers are included with the cleats so you can further dial in their pedal interaction. Given this added bonus I’m not sure if there is anything else about the pedals that could be adjustable. Maybe their 57mm Q-factor could slide in and out? That seems excessive.

I was able to ride the Mallet E LS pair until they needed a service, and I’m happy to report that the clean ‘n’ grease process is as easy as ever. They weren’t ready for a bearing or bushing replacement yet, but having performed the full swap in the past I can say it won’t challenge the skills of most home mechanics.

As with the trusty Eggbeaters, these brass cleats still don’t seem like they’ll last as long as a Shimano set, but for folks who want top-shelf customization this pedal is the way to go.

Crankbrothers Mallet Trail

Pedal tester: Jeff Barber

The Crankbrothers Mallet Trail pedals fit in between the brand’s larger platform Mallet E pedals and more compact Candy pedals. Like all the pedals Crankbrothers peddles, the new Mallet Trails feature four-sided entry designed to shed mud better than a Husky sheds fur ahead of the summer. The Crankbrothers Mallet Trail pedals offer a good, mid-size platform for clipless pedal riders and delivers a flat pedal feel with the 6° float cleats. Get more details and read the full Crankbrothers Mallet Trail pedal review.

Funn Mamba S

Pedal tester: Gerow.

These latest Mamba S pedals from Funn are an updated version that adds a dual-sided retention option, where the former model was only available with a cleat interface on one side and a traditional flat pedal on the other. Like the Shimano Saint pedals, the Mamba is essentially a flat pedal with a cleat interface in the center. While its alloy chassis looks fairly straightforward there are some cool little features to note.

Funn Mamba S pedal specs

  • Easy upkeep
  • Weight: 238g per pedal
  • 5° float, 18° release angle
  • Colors: Black, grey, orange, green, blue, red
  • Price: $110 single-sided, $115 dual-sided, pictured.
  • Buy from Amazon

Engagement with the Mamba S is similar to a Shimano Saint, with clear clicks in and out that can be adjusted via a 3mm screw on either side. The range of adjustment is broad, and with the four traction pins riders should be able to find the level of attachment they prefer. I added one turn of tension and there is a lot of tightening available from there. There’s no texture on the body, so folks may want to add longer pins for emergency grip when the going gets wet.

In muddy conditions the Mamba fairs well, thanks in part to its raised cleat attachment and broad holes in the body that allow softer mud to fall out easily. It will still pack up if you’re riding in clay, like any pedal, but in most other conditions it cleans up nicely.

With a single outer bearing and inner bushing, the Mamba is a breeze to service. The best part: there’s a grease port at the bushing that allows riders to add lube without taking the pedal apart. So, if you’re riding laps on your favorite jump line and a pedal starts to answer the squirrels’ calls you can stop at the car and add a little lube for a silent afternoon. I haven’t heard a peep out of them so far, though I did crack the GRS screw open to give it a go and there’s nothing to it. Remove the screw, press some grease inside, replace the screw, wipe away excess grease, and off you go.

The GRS port should help these pedals last a long while, while the lower price and competitive weight might be what it takes to swing some riders in the Funn direction.

HT T1 clipless pedal

Pedal tester: Gerow.

If you want a pedal that functions similarly to the classic XT platform but offers a wider range of cleat options and a stiffer ejection click, the HT T1 could be the ticket. With four different cleat options and a set of shims to please your tread height there’s a wide variety of float and release angle options to accompany the thirteen possible colors for the alloy body. There are also two traction pins per side, though they don’t seem to affect engagement. With the provided cleat shim these were easy to dial in to any shoe, and very little of the pedal actually contacts the sole of most kicks.

HT T1 pedal specs

  • Lightweight and wide range of colors
  • Weight: 187g per pedal
  • Four float settings from 4-8°
  • 13 color options
  • Price: $135-$159
  • Buy from evo, Backcountry, and other online retailers

I tested the T1 pedals with the second lightest clip-retention cleat which provides 4° of lateral float. While most of these pedals can be cinched down tighter than I would like, the T1 feels more useable at tighter settings than the others. Folks who truly like to be welded to their pedals can go as tight as they like without becoming truly stuck to the bike and dancing like a flipped turtle every time they try to stop.

The svelte pedal body is a welcome element on rocky trails, where a pedal strike can arrest momentum and leave a rider walking or worse. The T1 has a slightly smaller body than any of the other gravity platforms tested here, tapered at the edges to keep it from catching on things. There is an important quantitative difference between the rock strikes I experienced with these pedals compared to larger platforms like the Funn Mamba S, Shimano Saint, and even the somewhat bulkier Time Speciales.

For no apparent reason, the T1 pedals don’t seem to clear mud as well as some others. I regularly have to stop and clear the mud from my cleats before clipping in which would be aggravating in a sloppy race. Some shoes worked better than others with muddy engagement, indicating that the issue may be spacing between the cleat and the sides of the shoe’s cleat-channel, but on my control shoes, these didn’t fare so well in wet weather.

Like many of these pedals, the T1 cage spins on a single outer bearing and an inner IGUS bushing that are both easily replaced by following the included instructions. There is already a wiggle in the drive-side pedal, leading me to believe these might require more maintenance than the others tested here. I tried to tighten them up with the internal 8mm axle nut which helped a little, but there is still some movement from wear.

While the color and adjustment options on the T1 are admittedly sweet they may be better suited to riders who don’t pedal through the winter, or at least folks who don’t mind maintaining their pedals about as often as they replace a chain.

Hope Union TC clipless pedals

Pedal tester: Matt Miller.

The Hope Union TC pedal has a dual clip mechanism where both sides of the retention system flex for easy engagement, and it uses proprietary cleats so cleats from other brands won’t work with the pedal. Hope offers two cleat options: a 4°/ 5° float and a 12°/13° option. The pedals have a decent amount of adjustability within the cleat mechanism and there is room for the retention to be softer or more firm. Read our full review of the Hope Union TC clipless pedals.

issi Trail pedal

Pedal tester: John Fisch

iSSi Trail pedals is available in silver, black, yellow, red, pink, blue, orange, and green. If you’re into customization, then iSSi offers the opportunity to do this in your clipless pedals in a way that is usually reserved for large platform pedals. They are a perfectly-suitable pedal for anybody seeking outstanding clipless performance with the added security of a platform.  Read the full issi Trail pedal review.

Look X-Track Plus Ti and Carbon Ti

Pedal tester: Gerow.

When people ride a Fox Float 36 or 38 Factory fork, with its beer-colored stanchions, there’s always talk of butter and silk. The X-Track pedals from Look are the foot equivalent of that supple performance. A similar level of smooth interaction moves through the Look X-Track Plus Ti and Carbon Ti pedals. I included them both here because they function similarly, with the main difference being traction between the pedal body and sole. They both have some traction, but the “trail” version includes a few pins and a larger platform for shoes to flex into as the bike encounters impacts.

Look X-Track pedal specs

  • Smooth cleat interaction
  • Weight: 195g per pedal
  • Included cleats 6° of float and 13° disengagement angle, Easy cleats available
  • Price: $270
  • Buy from JensonUSA.

Apart from their fluid action both of these pedals work very similarly to a Shimano M9120 model in terms of mud management. You’ll still get clipped in with a fair amount of crap on your feet, and the Plus body with two sharp pins provides a similar amount of grip when you can’t. The pins don’t interact with the shoe soles too much without pressure from the rider or trail, but they do engage when you want confident foot placement to hit a jump or compress into a turn. Traction on the Carbon Ti set is better than I expected when used with a rubber-soled shoe. The textured carbon fiber and cleat engagement mechanism bite just enough to stand midfoot on them if you have to, though the larger platform is undoubtedly better for emergency stomps. With a pair of carbon-soled XC shoes — it’s ice-on-ice as per usual.

It’s almost impossible to find service instructions for these pedals, but fortunately, they come apart like all the rest. There is a dust cap on the outside covering a nut that’s tightened on the end of the axle. The dust-cap requires a proprietary tool, but I was able to get it off by jamming the tips of needle-nose pliers in the slots like tiny claws. Inside you’ll find the usual bearing and bushing setup that’s easy to clean and replace.

While both of these pedal sets feel fantastic to clip in and eject from there are far less expensive models from Look that should work similarly. If you don’t need the weight savings, you can pick up a set with Chromoly spindles for about half the price.

The spindles can be loosened with a traditional pedal wrench or 8mm hex tool.

Nukeproof Horizon CS

Pedal tester: Gerow.

Nukeproof is well known for their Sam Hill signature flat pedals, and they also make some sweet clips. The Horizon CS pedals have a smaller platform and four pins per side, where the heavier Horizon CL have six pins and a larger platform that’s intended for DH racing. The standout feature of these pedals is simply that they feel solidly built to last. After almost a year of spinning them on my hardtail, the bearings and bushing in each side are as smooth as they were new.

Nukeproof Horizon CS pedal specs

  • Durability focused
  • 221g per pedal (192g with Ti spindle)
  • 4° or 8° float available
  • Price: $101.99
  • Buy from Wiggle

The Horizon CS pedals interact with cleats and shoes at least as well as my Shimano control pedals, and they deal with mud as well as you would expect from a UK-designed product. The body is slim enough to keep its rock strike count low while the pins do well to provide foot friction when you want it. I found the engagement plenty tight in the lighter settings, so this will be another good pair for folks who like to crank the tension down.

When these pedals finally do need a service, it will be a pleasant process, with no proprietary tools to purchase or improvise. Given their low profile and a clear focus on durability I would recommend these to friends who are on a tighter budget. For just over $100 you get all the benefit of the market’s best pedals, in the color of your choice, with seemingly long service intervals.

Shimano XTR M9120

Pedal tester: Matt Miller

The Shimano XTR line always represents a combination of light weight, performance, and durability and these latest pedals are no different. The XTR M9120 is more of a trail pedal with a large platform for extra stability. They’re a pricier option, but I expect the XTRs to last a long time without slowing down. Read the full review of the Shimano XTR pedals.

Shimano Saint M820

Pedal tester: Gerow.

The Shimano Sait M820 pedals pack all their industry-leading goodness into a large, DH-oriented platform that offers plenty of grip with four pins per side and a larger floor to stand on. These pedals do sacrifice some ground clearance, and if your trails are tight enough the difference will show itself quickly. It may surprise you how closely you have been coming to pedal strikes on local trails once those large square edges are beneath your feet.

Shimano Saint M820 pedal specs

  • Weight: 277g per pedal
  • 4° of float with other options available
  • Price: $159.99
  • Buy from Amazon.

The Saint pedals also don’t offer any surprises, as their internals and attachment system are the same as XT and XTR gravity pedals, and their body shape is otherwise similar to most industry-leading DH clips. The element of these pedals that impresses me most is how smooth they still feel smooth after about two years of use. For one of those years I was riding them every day, roughly six days per week. Now that’s some impressive build quality.

One of my friends has had different luck with these pedals. The body spun off while way out in the backcountry, requiring some creativity to get home. Admittedly, the pedals hadn’t been checked since they were first mounted, and the loose body likely could have been noticed with a little more careful bike maintenance, but this is definitely not an issue you want to deal with when the trail is several hours form a road. The pedals were warrantied, and now we all have a fun story to tell. We also don’t forget to check out pedals before heading deep into the forest anymore.

Time Speciale 12

Pedal tester: Gerow.

Last only by alphabetic order we have the Time Speciale 12. This pedal has a racey look and feel, and I have a few friends who swear by this platform. One of them has been riding Time Attack pedals for over twenty years. The body feels burly, with a sizable wedge of aluminum backing up the rear cleat engagement bail. With four pins and hollow steel spindle, the weight remains rather impressive as well, at just 206g per side.

Time Speciale 12 pedal specs

Out on the trail, it took a long time to adjust to these pedals. With their lightest engagement setting and the cleats situated for a 13° release angle, they were difficult to clip in or out of. I tried adjusting them tighter, thinking the spring might be stuck and then moved the spring back with virtually no change. It’s not only hard to clip in and out, but the level of difficulty is inconsistent, occasionally leaning toward impossible. The engagement is so tight that my foot actually got stuck a few times and I had to stop against a tree and unclip using both hands and my leg. It’s not only hard to clip in and out, but the level of difficulty is inconsistent. The overly tight engagement made these unusable in anything other than dry conditions.

I searched for forum threads about this issue but wasn’t able to find any fixes. I also tried to contact Time and their new owner SRAM, but neither replied to my query. One of the tension grub screws eventually fell out, and that side of the pedal is still more difficult to use than any other pedal in this roundup so I’m fairly confident there is an issue with this particular pair. I asked those dedicated Time pedalers and they said they have not experienced this issue. If you have any ideas, or have experienced issues with Time pedals yourself, please share them with us in the comments below.

Pedals are a component that most folks keep around for a long while, and finding the right pair is clutch. Please share your experience, good or otherwise, with any of these pedals — or pairs we didn’t test — so other readers can choose a set that best suits their style and budget.