For years, I had ridden clipless pedals exclusively. After experiencing severe Achilles pain during a bikepacking trip several years ago, I made the switch to flats for mountain biking. The ability to reposition my feet while riding gave me a newfound sense of freedom and confidence I hadn’t experienced before.
I learned how to rely on flat pedal pins and concavity to power through steep climbs, technical features, and jumps. I chose my first set of flats based on price alone, and quickly found that there are huge differences amongst flat pedals. Here is my rundown of five of the best flat pedals out there!
When it comes to customizing pin placement, Chromag is king! With 40 different spots to position pins per pedal, the Scarabs are a force to be reckoned with for flat shoes everywhere. I found them to be the best in show by a long shot.
With a footprint of 110mm x 105mm and a low profile, these pedals inspire confidence while barreling through the rockiest of trails.
The pins are definitely the highlight of the Scarabs. Each pin has a shear line which causes them to break away upon hard impact.
The pedals also have clean, chamfered edges which prevent rock strikes and maximize clearance. They weigh a respectable 430 grams, and come in six different colors. The Scarabs cost $147, but you can also get a composite version, the Synth for $65.
Crankbrothers takes a very unique approach toward their flat pedals. Rather than making a single pedal for everyone, they make them available in different sizes based on foot size. The large Stamp pedals that I tested are designed for US shoe sizes 10-15.
Measuring in at 114mm x 111mm, the Stamps are pretty huge. Using the same sealed bearings and Igus LL-glide bushings found on their other pedals, they spin insanely smooth.
The 10 adjustable pins provide ample traction, but I couldn’t feel any noticeable concavity at all. At times, the pedals felt like riding on giant square blocks. The large footprint also proved to be an issue when riding tight rocky trails.
The Stamps definitely saw the most damage of any pedals tested. Weighing in at 455 grams, they are reasonably light for their size. As with most Crank Brothers pedals, they are available in several different color, weights, and price options. The Stamp 3 Large pedals are the most affordable in this group, priced at $99.
Weighing a mere 403 grams, the Black Kat pedals by Deity take the award for lightest pedals tested. They also have the smallest body platform, measuring in at just 100mm x 100mm.
Using only 8 pins per side, the Black Kats lacked the grip and concavity of the other pedals in the test. They are the thinnest pedals I reviewed, but this comes at a cost.
The center of the pedal where the spindle goes through has a bulge that is immediately noticeable when riding. On wet trails I noticed my feet slipping around on the pedals and I never felt as confident as I did with some of the others.
The Black Kat pedals are available for $114 and in six different colors.
Using an extruded and CNC-machined body, the Vault pedals by DMR make a statement straight out of the box.
Weighing in at 430 grams, the Vault isn’t the lightest pedal out there, but the large platform, and thin profile make it a solid option for most riders. Measuring 105mm x 105mm wide with 17mm of concavity, they disappear under your feet when riding rough, technical terrain.
Each side of the pedal uses 11 reversible pins to fine tune the grip and feel no matter what shoes you’re wearing. Utilizing an outer sealed bearing and an inner DU bushing, they held up well during my tests, even in nasty conditions.
The Vaults are available in a ton of different colors, and run about $140.
Issi is a relatively new house brand of pedals from Quality Bicycle Products (QBP.) The Stomp is the brand’s first foray into flat pedals, and they clearly did their research.
The Stomp has a very large platform, measuring 107mm wide and 120mm long. The pedals certainly provide a ton of traction as well, with 11 reversible pins per side.
One of the coolest features is the full-length chromoly-steel spindle. This makes the pedals feel incredibly stable, and should prove beneficial for heavier riders. The only downside is this adds weight and thickness to the pedals. At 18mm thick, the Stomps are the thickest pedals I tested by far.
Also, at 470 grams they were the heaviest pedals. In use, neither the weight nor thickness affected my ride at all. I was mainly impressed with the smooth bearings, wide platform, and solid ride.
The Stomp pedals are available in four colors, and cost $115.
When it comes to choosing the right flat pedal, there are a lot of factors to consider. At the end of the day, it boils down to personal preference both in feel and aesthetics.
Personally, my favorite pedals in this group are the Chromag Scarabs. Between the performance and reliability, the Scarabs lead the pack by far, and they look pretty bad ass too. The nearly infinite level of pin customization also makes them the top choice when looking for a good flat pedal.
Honorable mentions go to the DMR Vault and the Issi Stomp. Each pedal was extremely solid, they just lacked the customization of the Scarabs.
Thanks to the brands included in this throwdown for providing pedals for review.