When it comes to upgrading, it’s easy to concentrate on the sexy components: a new carbon handlebar, brakes powerful enough to peel the skin from the earth, or suspension units so sophisticated they make an F1 car look like the village idiot. But let’s not forget about the importance of good pedals! We reviewed the most popular flat pedals to find the best one for you.

The pedal is a fundamental connection between you and the bike – it defines the way you ride and how your bike interacts with the trail. Every berm, compression, jump, and corner is controlled through your interaction with the grips and pedals (or less if you are getting really loose). If your feet are blowing off in all directions at the merest sniff of rough terrain, or your knees feel like they belong to a seventy-year-old, it’s time to look at your pedal choice.

You are not sure whether you should ride clipless or flat pedals? Or you want to know more about our test criteria? Then head to the main article: Flats vs. Clipless: ENDURO Pedal Group Test and check out our Clipless Pedal Group Test

Overview

Model Price Weight Platform Size (mm) Thickness (mm) Grip
Burgtec Penthouse MK4 € 135 448 g 100 x 100 16 ★★★★☆
DMR Vault € 130 432 g 105 x 115 16 ★★★★★
Hope F20 € 165 416 g 100 x 100 14 ★★★☆☆
Nukeproof Horizon Comp € 50 321 g 100 x 100 17 ★★★★☆
RaceFace Atlas € 160 351 g 100 x 110 12 ★★★★☆
Reverse Black 1 € 120 312 g 100 x 90 14.5 ★★★★☆
Shimano Saint € 90 468 g 90 x 95 17 ★★★★☆
Superstar Nano-X € 50 444 g 101 x 110 17 ★★★★★

Burgtec Penthouse Mk4 – € 135

Burgtec Penthouse Mk4

The Burgtec Penthouse pedals have been on the market for longer than most of us can remember. Pioneering the thin design, they served as the ultimate bike jewellery for a generation of riders. The latest Mk4 pedal builds on that reputation with a thinner 16 mm body, oversized platform, and 1mm concave dish. With no horizontal cutouts, the solid-bodied 448g pedals have been absolutely bombproof: flat landings, rock strikes, and root hits have left them unfazed. In fact, if a gigantic meteorite hit the earth all that would be left would be cockroaches crawling over Penthouse Mk4 flats. The eight pins on each side are reassuringly burly, and although they don’t have the bite of the narrower pins, they have shrugged off impacts well and did not tear up our shoes. The new double-bush, single-bearing internals claim to boost reliability, which was already legendary. The Burgtecs look like works of art, and the only negative thing we can say is that the lack of a chamfered leading edge (it’s stepped instead) can cause them to hang up a little in rock strikes. The large platform feels exceptionally stable and secure, and all testers agreed the balance of feel and grip was just beautiful. The low-profile axle gives the narrowest Q factor in the test, which will suit those who like a tighter fit. If you are an aggressive rider, these will provide years of service.

Tops:

+ Hand down to your grandchildren
+ Blend of feel and control

Flops:

Wide pins aren’t so grippy
Heavy

For more information visit the Burgtec-Website.

DMR Vault – € 130

DMR Vault Pedal

At 432g, the DMR Vaults are middle-of-the-road when it comes to weight, but there is nothing middle-of-the-road about their performance. The deep concave shape and eleven sharp pins per side provide tenacious grip that strikes fear into the soles of flat pedal shoes. Wider at the front than the back, the pedal offers outstanding levels of grip, even when the terrain is super rowdy. The huge 105mm x 115mm platforms provide excellent feel on technical descents, and the open body allows for easy mud clearance. The reversible pins can be fitted either way to tune grip levels, from long and sharp to short and rounded. The pedals are installed with a 6mm Allen key to reduce the chance of over-tightening, and the sealing bearing at the outside and DU bushing have worked flawlessly despite some heavy wet-weather abuse. Regreasing is simply a matter of removing a 6mm dust cap, squirting in some grease, and then heading off to shred. The extruded 6061 aluminium body screams quality, and when it comes to secure footing, the pedals are second to none. The DMR Vaults were the most popular pedal in the test and were always the first to be checked out for testing – taking our Best in Test with ease.

Tops:

+ Perfect balance of grip
+ Excellent durability

Flops:

Price

For more information visit the DMR-Website.

Hope F20 – € 165

Hope f20 Pedal

When durability was a priority, the original Hope F20 was the king; we have a number of sets that have all easily passed 3000 km, and despite our best efforts to rip chunks out of them, they are still happily soldiering on. But for grip enthusiasts, the original versions were disappointing, as they had rounded pins that lacked bite. Hope was listening to the riders, and the latest versions now feature ten hollow pins per side that aim to offer more traction without tearing up your shoes. We found that the new pins are still not as aggressive as hardcore riders would like, but we cannot fault their durability, and for trail duties grip is sufficient. The body is carved out of a solid block of 2014 T6 aluminium and is a work of art, and the pedals spin on three cartridge bearings and a self-lubricating Norglide bushing per side. The weather sealing has proven exceptionally good, and the internals of the latest version are unchanged from the legendary original. In use, the very flat concave and scalloped surface gives a comfortable rather than aggressive feel, and unweighted readjustment is easy, but it does come at the expense of locked-in security. The Hope F20’s would be perfect for trail riders who value quality and longevity, but riders looking for super grip for gravity exploits may have to look elsewhere. At 416g, the Hope F20’s are not the lightest out there, but will provide a reliable and trusty pedal for many years.

Tops:

+ Works of art
+ Incredible bearing life

Flops:

Not grippy enough
Price

For more information visit the Hope-Website.

Nukeproof Horizon Comp – € 50

Nukeproof Horizon Comp

The Nukeproof Horizon Comps are the odd one out in this test, as they are made out of plastic – well, “reinforced nylon composite,” to be exact. Spinning on DU bushes and two sealed bearings per side to spread the load, the body is huge and open, allowing easy mud clearance. The platforms feature six removable pins per side, and four moulded plastic pins (though the outside two plastic pins snapped off within the first few rides). In use, we found the Nukeproofs provided great grip and feel, the big platforms provided bags of support, and the angled leading edge worked well to deflect impacts. The plastic body does flex a little under very big loads, but after a thorough thrashing, despite looking worn, they have soldiered on with no reliability problems. We like the provision of both an 8mm Allen opening and pedal wrench flats on the chromoly axle, and the price is a steal. At 321g, the Nukeproof Horizons are exceptionally light, and the big platform provides a much more secure footing than the basic pedals supplied with a bike. Only the crappy plastic outboard pins lost them the value win – great pedals for a great price.

Tops:

+ Great price
+ Durability

Flops:

Outboard pins snap off
Slight flex

For more information visit the Nukeproof-Website.

Raceface Atlas – € 160

Race Face Atlas

From the moment you get your hands on the Atlas pedals, one thing is clear: they are beautifully slimline, measuring from 14.5 mm thick at the edges to just 12 mm in the centre. The Atlas pedals are Race Face’s top-of-the-line model, and the design of the 6061 body is just beautiful. When it comes to bearings, in order to make the pedal as thin as possible, a huge inboard bearing is used and also three additional sealed bearings per side to spread the load. More bearings mean more care with servicing, but we found the sealing to be very good. We like that the pedals also feature a hidden pin grease port for easy maintenance. Ten aggressive pins surround the platform and (uniquely) are angled inwards for maximum traction and to help deflect rock strikes. In use, the Atlas was a test favourite when it came to feel; the low body feels perfect underfoot, and we loved the ‘inside’ the pedal sensation created by the thin platform. The body design results in an almost invisible feel underfoot, and the pins provided just enough traction to allow unweighted position shifting. They don’t have the ‘locked-in’ feel, but the pins bite well, giving you full confidence to get rowdy in the rocks. The big inboard bearing did cause issues with protective crank boots, but weighing in at 351g, the Race Face Atlas pedals are impressively light and feel amazing – it’s just hard to get past that price.

Tops:

+ Amazing feel
+ Easy to strip down

Flops:

Large bearing not compatible with protective crank boots
High price

For more information visit the Race Face-Website.

Reverse Black 1 – € 120

Reverse Black

The first thing that strikes you about the Reverse Black 1 pedals is the impressive weight or lack of it! The second thing you notice is the neat styling and clean lines, making for a very appealing pedal. Weighing just 312g, they are lightest flat pedals we have in the test. The 100 x 100 mm platform is smaller than some but offers a nice shape that is comfortable underfoot with no pressure spots. The pedals feature a DU bushing on the crank side and two sealed bearings on the outboard side and run on a chromoly axle. The ten pins on each side stand 4mm proud and offer a balanced grip that allows repositioning if required, but offers good grip when weighted. The open design clears mud well, and despite their featherweight appearance, the Reverses have shrugged off repeated rock strikes and scuffs well. In use it’s easy to see why they’re so light: the platform is small, and thus if you have big feet they may feel a little lost. For €119.90, the Black One is not cheap; however, the 14.5mm-thick pedals provide excellent bite and control, and would make perfect pedals for a smaller rider looking for super-lightweight trail pedals.

Tops:

+ Amazing weight
+ Stylish looks

Flops:

Small platforms
Big price

For more information visit the Reverse Website.

Shimano Saint – € 90

Shimano Saint

The Saint groupset is legendary in the downhill world and has always stood for exceptional rugged durability. It’s no surprise to see that the Saint pedals feel every bit as tough as you would expect, but so they should for the 468g weight. Shimano’s experience is evident in the details: sturdy pins screw in from the bottom and are all thread locked in, and we like that you can add or remove supplied washers to customise pin length (though it’s a pain of a job). The pedals feature nine pins per side, offering good grip, but on the trail, we had issues with the shape. The body is high around the axle and this was very noticeable underfoot, giving a very ‘on-’ rather than ‘in-the-pedal’ feeling. We also found that the platform is smaller than most, and would suit those with smaller feet. We did like the simplicity of servicing, though: the pedals spin on a heat-treated axle, and twelve loose 3/32” ball bearings spin inside a removable sleeve which is easy to service. We liked the rugged durability of the Saint pedals, and they will last forever, but the feel and small platforms mean they are outclassed in this tough field.

Tops:

+ Bombproof
+ Customisable pins

Flops:

Uncomfortable design
Small platforms

For more information visit the Shimano-Website.

Superstar Nano-X – € 50

Superstar Nano

The new Superstar Nano-X pedals are machined in the UK from extruded 6082 aluminium, and for the price we were blown away with the high-quality finish. Some of the pin threads were a little tight initially, but once fitted the pedals have a very nice feel. The 101 mm x 110 mm platform feels absolutely huge and is great for riders with big feet. The pedals come with both 8mm and 10mm pins, so you can decide upon your chosen grip level for the eight pins on each side. Be warned, though, with the 10mm pins fitted the grip is simply ridiculous and your foot is firmly rooted to the pedal, making slights adjustments difficult. We found the 8mm’s offered plenty of grip without damaging the shoe soles. The pedals spin on a steel axle using twin sealed bearings and a DU bush on each side. On the trail, the open body shed mud well, but we found that the very square shape did result in a few more pedal strikes on the front corner. The 17mm-thick platform feels good underfoot, and the slight concave works well to lock the foot in. At 444g they are not the lightest, but for the price they offer incredible performance and were a clear winner of our Best Value award. If you are running stock pedals, these will drastically improve your riding.

Tops:

+ Incredible price
+ Huge platform
+ Great grip

Flops:

Poor pin threads

For more information visit the Superstar-Website.

Conclusion

During this test we uncovered two revelations: the first was that pedals vary immensely in the level of grip on offer, and the second is that even the cheapest pedals in this test offered dramatic improvements over the crappy plastic pedals that come fitted to most new bikes. We could not fault the legendary Shimano Saint for build quality, but they were outclassed when it came to feel. For those with smaller feet, the Reverse Black 1 were incredibly light and provided excellent traction, the Hopes were perfect for trail riding, and the Burgtec Penthouse Mk4’s are a true modern-day classic. The Nukeproof Horizons were an excellent value and a great pedal, but we were most impressed with the Superstar Nano’s, which packed an amazing punch for such a bargain price – taking the Best Value Award easily. That left us with the DMR Vault and Race Face Atlas pedals, both offering incredible feel and durability. In the end, it was the balance of affordability, grip, and bombproof construction of the DMR Vault that impressed our testers the most and took a unanimous Best in Test Award.

You are not sure whether you should ride clipless or flat pedals? Or you want to know more about our test criteria? Then head to the main article: Flats vs. Clipless: ENDURO Pedal Group Test and check out our Clipless Pedal Group Test

Don’t miss our Guide how to remove and install pedals correctly