Mountain bike pedals are a tough breed of component--they have to provide efficient power transfer and allow for fast and efficient clipping in, and they have to do so while putting up with the adverse conditions that come along with riding on trails. The best mountain bike pedals allow for quick engagement and disengagement, can withstand banging against rocks and other trail debris, and won't get clogged when the trail gets muddy.
Crank Brothers Eggbeater SL
With its minimalistic design, one might not expect much from Crank Brothers Eggbeater SL pedal, but when it comes to ease of use, they are hard to beat. The Eggbeater resembles its namesake with an open, four-sided entry that Bicycling.com's review said was "the best mud-clearing, easiest-engaging pedal for the sport, period." The Eggbeater's open design allows mud and debris to sluice through them, rather than getting clogged in the machinery, and its entry allows riders to clip in at any angle, making it apparent as to why Crank Brothers "practically owns the cross pedal market."
Shimano M647 DX
For people who want a clip-in pedal, but want a bit more platform, Shimano's M647 DX pedals feature Shimano's efficient SPD clip-in system with a sturdy resin pedal. The M647 is designed to allow mud to clear, and the resin pedal is lightweight, yet tough enough to bounce back after banging against trail debris. Noting its clipping efficiency and toughness, BikeRadar's Justin Loretz stated that "clockwork precision of the SPD entry and exit will delight Shimanoites," and the "resin body will slide over rocks rather than gripping and launching the rider over the bars," a feature that riders who have a tendency to catch their pedals will greatly appreciate.
Downhill mountain bikers are more likely to drag a foot than clip in, so platform pedals may be more ideal, and Speedplay's Drillium platform is a solid option. The Drillium's wide platform and precision pin placement ensure a solid grip when it's needed. Featured on Bicycling.com's Gear Guide, Bicycling's Ron Koch praised the Drillium's utility, remarking that its pine "provide outstanding grip" and "the large platform offers generous load distribution across the foot."
Article Written By Billy Brown
Billy Brown is an outdoor sports writer living in Northern California.
An avid rock climber and trail runner, he's been writing about outdoor activities, fitness and gear since 2005. He regularly contributes to "The Record Searchlight," uncooped.com, and Trails.com, as well as other print and online publications. Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Simpson University and is a NASM-certified personal trainer.