Many times you you will hear some fairy tails from local bike stores that you need clipless pedals and nothing could be further from the truth. Each type of mountain bike pedals has its own place in the industry and will heavily depend on what kind of mountain bike riding you do and how confident you are on your bike. In fact flat pedals tend to be more popular and are picked more frequently by mountain bikers. Clipless and flat (platform) mountain bike pedals are two different types that generally are most popular and most widely used in mountain biking. Type of pedals you have on your MTB will make a huge difference in how you ride, and how your bike performs. After all, pedals are the most important connection between the rider and the bike. Here are some tips that will help you choose mountain bike pedals suiting trails you ride and your riding style.



Clipless pedals use cycling-specific shoes and metal cleats that bolt on underneath. Cleats stick to the pedals like a lock-and-key and usually have a spring-loaded devices which will release riders foot with a simple twist – if needed or if one crashes. They are preferred by XC and trail rider where stable connection to the bike allows to pedal more efficiently. Although they are used by experienced downhill racers too, we wouldn’t recommended them for beginners on difficult and technical downhill trails.


  • Functionality- Keeping the cyclists foot secure and eliminating the risk of ankle roll.
  • Efficiency- Stable connection to the bike allows you to pedal more efficiently. Clipless pedals do a great job allowing for the use of max amount of power transference from the legs to the pedal, which will help you maintain your stamina.
  • Less Weight- They are usually lighter than flat pedals. Clipless pedals of similar quality flat pedal, weigh usually half as much.


  • Safety- Clipless pedals can be really dangerous in situations when you need to remove your leg of a pedal very quickly and are not recommended to use on offroads by those new to mountain biking.
  • Price- They tend to be more expensive and will require from you to purchase special shoes.


One of the most important factors to consider when looking at clipless pedals will be adjustability: Pedal tension settings (the amount of force it takes to clip and unclip) and Float (the degree to which you can rotate your foot when clipped in). The more adjustability the better. Mountain bike clipless pedals also come in different platform sizes and are based on type of shoes you wear. So it’s important to choose one of them based on what type of footwear you’ll intend to use and how much walking you’ll be doing. The lightest and most compact traditional clipless pedals are usually used with race-type cross country shoes with very stiff midsoles. A mid-sized ‘trail’ clipless pedals fit well with semi-flexible trail shoes. Full-sized models with larger and more stable foundation for your feet do well with even softer and more flexible skate-type shoes. It’s also a good idea to choose a solid material. Great mountain bike pedals will endure the abuse of multiple rock strikes and scratches for many years. Mud shedding ability in clipless pedals are also something to take into consideration. Look for open spaces where mud can be pushed out when you put your feet on the pedals.



As the name indicates pedals are flat, and although they can be used with virtually any type of conventional footwear, sharpened cage plates and/or traction pins work really well with skate-kind of shoes with particularly sticky soles. Generally flat pedals are very handy for beginners and are often used by gravity and downhill riders who prefer larger surface and the freedom to instantly pull them off.


  • Freedom- You can instantly remove your foot which many times can save you from a serious injury.
  • Safety- Flat pedals will definitely be the safest ones to use, however in wet conditions they won’t offer the same level of functionality as clipless pedals, and if the pedals become wet, you will find it quite easy to slip off them, which in turn will present its own safety risks.
  • Better Feedback- Keeping your body tight will quickly become apparent when you start bouncing all over the pedals. A good sign to keep your body more relaxed and supple. Flat pedals definitely won’t allow you to cheat when learning tricks such as rear wheel lifts and bunny hops. This can be valuable when learning proper technique.
  • Price- Entry level flat pedals are usually cheaper than clipless pedals and you won’t need special kind of shoes for them.


  •  More Weight – Flat pedals tend to be slightly heavier.
  • Pedaling- Pedaling efficiency is compromised. This becomes apparent on technical climbs.


Flat pedals will also differ by the level of traction with larger platforms giving more room to bite and ultimately offering more grip. Sharper ones with more pins or teeth will provide a better grip but they can be dangerous if you slip. Another important factor to consider is the thickness of the flat pedals. Fatter pedals can feel clunky under your feet but thinner ones can sometimes come at the consequence of bearing durability. Also try to think about your style of riding, how often the pedals will hit the ground. Choose models with multiple seals and the ones that can be easily disassembled for servicing. It’s also handy if not important, that the traction pins are replaceable (preferably from the back so that they can be removed even when ground down). Same as with clipless pedals look for more open spaces in flat pedals so the mud can be easily pushed out.



Combination mountain bike pedals combine wide paltform of flat pedals with a clipping mechanism of clipless pedals. The main trade-off in picking a combo is often a large weight penalty and the clips being somewhat harder to engage than on a clipless-only pedal.


Cage mountain bike pedals have similar design to flat pedals, but have a small cage for the foot to keep in place. Not a great choice to use as mountain bike pedals for safety reasons, we recommend to stay away from them for off-road cycling.

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