Tips for choosing the best pedals for mountain biking

Estimated read time 7 min read

Although it may not seem like it, the pedals are one of the most important components since it is where we transmit all the force to the bicycle and it is one of the points of contact we have with it. However, many cyclists forget this importance and do not pay attention to their pedals.

On many occasions, we simply left the pedals that came with the bike and never worried about them until they started to cause us problems. In the tough train, the pedals of the mongoose 26 mountain bike provide better stability. How should we choose some pedals that are useful for mountain biking? In this article, we will give you some simple tips to find pedals that suit your pedaling style and personal taste.

Change the pedals

As a rule, we must remember that bicycles must go on the market with pedals. However, they generally bring low-end generic pedals, which are inexpensive for brands. The problem is, these pedals won’t give you the support or resistance that mountain biking demands. Therefore, our recommendation within mountain biking is to change them immediately, either for old ones that you have or not, new ones just for this bike.

Choose by type of modality

To choose the best pedals for MTB, you must know what type of modality you will practice and what type of tennis or shoes you are going to require. Certain pedals will have specific benefits for a certain mode. For example, a person who practices XC is more useful contact pedals than platform shoes. On the other hand, you will never see someone who practices Freeride “hooked” on the bike as they require taking their feet off the pedals for many of their stunts.

Choose some pedals according to your experience on the bike

If you come from road cycling, you may be used to “clipping.” However, it will depend on how you feel on the mountain and over what type of terrain you are going to descend to encourage you to “clip” or not. If you enter XC, most of them, from the beginning, put clipless pedals on it. In the case of this modality, they are very efficient since carrying contact pedals helps to lower the ascents. But, if you are inside the All Mountain or DH, you could feel more comfortable with the platform pedal to react quickly in case of lowering your foot. Therefore, it will depend on your experience and your comfort in using clipless pedals in mountain biking.

The pedals are not versatile

If you think that you can use them with platform pedal shoes when buying contact pedals, you are in a serious error. Many clipless pedals do not have any relief or platform for your tennis to rest on. You will not be able to pedal well, nor will you be able to put your foot on the pedal well.

There are clipless pedals for All Mountain or Downhill that do have a platform with which you can at least pedal, but they will not give you grip since the mechanical system is in contact with the sole and the tennis shoes tend to slip.

Pedal types

There are several types of pedals for mountain biking:

Clipless pedals for XC

The clipless pedals or contact are easy to distinguish. They have a mechanical system that opens and closes to hold the cleat, a plate that is screwed to a special shoe for mountain biking. This process is also known as anchoring.

There are different systems:

  • Shimano SPD (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics)
  • Crankbrothers

Shimano SPD pedals are characterized by having the system on both sides of the pedal. They have a screw to regulate the pressure with which they are held. They come in different widths and shapes. Some only have the mechanical anchoring system, common in the Cross County and other pedals, used for descent, which in addition to the anchoring system on both sides, include a platform to improve support. There are different brands that use the SPD system.

On the other hand, the Crankbrothers system is distinguished by its mechanism with 4 anchoring faces in most of its pedals. The cleat is very different from Shimano. Therefore these two systems are not compatible.

MTB shoes are used for both pedals. They are very rigid on the sole, often made of plastic or carbon, in which they have the space to screw the cleat.

Platform Pedals or Flats

There are two types of platform pedals: for beginners and for descent. The difference is very noticeable since the pedals for beginners do not have metal pins. Most are plastic, with some elevations simulating pins. Downhill pedals are characterized by their prominent metal pins.

Platform pedals are preferred for descents, so they are the most used in modalities such as All Mountain, Enduro, Trail, Downhill.

Its surface is generous and wide, allowing to rest the foot in a good range of the pedal. The metal pins are distributed around the perimeter of the pedal and some in the center. These pins are responsible for improving grip by fitting into the sole of the shoe. These pedals allow you to easily release your foot if required.

Although the pins are less than half a centimeter high, they can be a terror for your shins when your foot slips off the pedal because when it collides with your shin, the first thing that comes into contact is the screw, leaving you a probable injury (every cyclist of the mountain at least has a pedal scar). Our recommendation to use these pedals is to use a high sock or, in any case, a shin guard.

The shoes that they deal with must be of the type for skateboarding (rubber sole and smooth) so that the pins grip better. There are special tennis shoes for MTB that have this type of rubber sole with adequate rigidity to recharge the foot on the pedal without the foot curving into the pedal’s shape.

Clipless pedals for All Mountain and Downhill

These pedals have the same automatic or contact system as the clipless XC pedals. The big difference is that they are also wide platform pedals with metal pins. These pedals are mostly used in Enduro and Downhill racing. Since they need to have the advantages of the contact pedal for the climbs in the case of Enduro, and the anchor for very technical roads or jumps in which the automatic pedal gives you the advantage of “pulling” the bike to be able to have greater momentum in the case of DH.

The shoes designed for this type of pedal are similar to the shoes for platform pedals, except that these come with space to screw the cleat into a small box that separates them inward from the sole. They have toe protection and have a slightly stiffer structure than platform shoes. These shoes can be used both for platform pedals and for these automatic downhill pedals.


Hybrid pedals can be considered versatile, but like everything versatile, they do not fully cover the demands of each type of pedal. These hybrid pedals on one side have a mostly smooth platform and on the other side, they have a mechanical system. They can be found from the Shimano brand and from Crankbrothers and other brands that have ventured to market this type of pedal. These pedals are used more for entertainment; to learn to use clipless pedals, or they are even used on city bikes.

We hope that these little tips will be useful to you and help you choose good pedals for mountain biking.

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The writer of this article currently manages his own blog moment for life and spread happiness and is managing to do well by mixing online marketing and traditional marketing practices into one.

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