Guide to Mountain Bike Pedals

At first glance, many riders may believe that there is only one type of bike pedal. However, that statement is far from true. There are actually multiple bike pedals, which all serve a different purpose. 

As a cyclist, it’s essential to understand what each mountain bike pedals offers you because it makes a difference when you’re cycling. Certain bike pedals can help provide more control for consistent pedaling depending on the terrain. If you want to get the most out of your next cycling journey, it’s beneficial to understand the differences.

There are two main types of bike pedals you’d use for mountain bikes, clipless and flat. This article lists which version is generally better for off-road and mountain biking.

Types of Mountain Bike Pedals: Flat vs. Clipless

Two types of bike pedals are used for mountain biking, and each has its own pros and cons. Of course, knowing the design and use of each pedal can help you make the correct choice for which pedal would best fit your cycling journey. Below, we’ve listed the design and use of each type of mountain bike pedals.

Mountain Bike Flat Pedals

Mountain bike flat pedals are designed with a large surface area, including metal pins. Essentially, flat pedals are a double-sided platform strategically placed to help your feet grip. The pins also help support foot placement and weight by helping keep traction between cycling shoes and the pedal. 

This can be useful when you’re out on a mountain trail as it ensures your foot stays on the pedal even through rocky terrain. Additionally, the small pins help create strong traction, which prevents your foot from sliding off or to the side. As you can imagine, when you’re in the mountains having complete control is key to having a safe and enjoyable ride.

Mountain Bike Clipless Pedals

Clipless pedals are slightly different from flat pedals, and there are also multiple types. First, the two main types are single-sided and double-sided pedals. In short, a ‘clipless’ pedal has built-in metal rods that attach to cycling cleat shoes. 

Single-Sided Clipless Pedals

Single-sided clipless pedals only have attachment clips on one side. They are generally used on roads and have a broad platform. The wide platform helps aid stability and can help reduce the amount of weight due to its lightweight design. However, the main downside is that they are hard to ride if you’re not using cycling shoes.

Double-Sided Clipless Pedals

On the other hand, double-sided clipless pedals have metal pins on both sides of the pedal. The pedal has multiple-sized platforms and is large enough to use with or without cleats. The main benefit is that you’ll be able to adjust the tension of the cleat and attach it to either side of the pedal.

Benefits of Mountain Bike Pedals

Whether you’re an expert or just a first-time cyclist, understanding what type of pedal suits what terrain is crucial. Not only do pedals highly impact what gear you need, but it also changes how the ride will feel. You can bet you want to have the best stability and control on rocky mountain terrain.

The Benefits of Using Flat Pedals

Using flat pedals for mountain biking has the following benefits:

  • Flat pedals do not require cleats and are compatible with any type of shoe. This means you won’t have to invest in extra gear and can even use regular walking shoes or your favorite sneakers to ride. This can be beneficial for mountain bikers who don’t plan to stay on their bike the whole trip.
  • Dismounting a bike is quicker with flat pedals because you won’t have to struggle to unclip. Instead, you can quickly move your feet around as necessary, which makes it easy to get on and off your bike at a moment’s notice.
  • Flat pedals are also more cost-efficient and budget-friendly compared to clipless. Mainly, the pedals are cheaper because you won’t have to invest in extra cycling shoes with cleats.
  • Flat pedals are lightweight and sleek. If you’re looking to gain speed and control while biking, flat pedals yield the best result. Additionally, the flat pedals are also more comfortable.
  • Flat pedals work well in wet weather conditions. Being able to easily lift your foot off the pedal can help you control the bike in wet riding conditions. Plus, if you need to shift your bike or adjust your positioning, you can easily do so without having to unclip from the pedals.

The Benefits of Using Clipless Pedals

Using clipless pedals for mountain biking has the following benefits:

  • Takes less effort to pedal and transfers more energy. Since your foot will be attached to the pedal, there is less sliding. Additionally, minimal sliding can help push you further with each stroke efficiently.
  • Better control on rough or rocky terrain. The added safety of clipping onto the pedals helps reduce the chances your foot misses the pedal. This is extremely useful in rocky terrain where your body may be bouncing.
  • It’s easier to ride up steep terrain. Due to the clipless pedals being smaller, it’s much easier to pedal uphill. The pedals have less added weight which causes you to ride further with each stroke.
  • Increased power as you pedal. Studies have shown that clipping in cycling shoes can help increase the maximum power. If you’re pedaling hard out on open terrain, then you’ll get more for your efforts using clipless pedals.
  • Double-sided clipless pedals are better for mountain biking. While you can use single-sided clipless pedals, double-sided provide much more stability. They also don’t require you to constantly look down to make sure your clips are on the right side of the pedal.


Overall, the best type of pedal will be based on the terrain you’re biking and the style of riding you do. For example, flat pedals are good for on-road or bike trails because they give you more control. On the other hand, Single-sided clipless pedals are decent for city travel because they lock you in and allow you to pedal more efficiently. Lastly, double-sided clipless are suitable for mountain biking because you can unclip and clip very quickly.

About the Author Daniel Atlas

With Rydoze, I just want to share my experiences and help you along on your cycling journey. I’m putting the answers to all of your biking questions in one place. From the most basic to the advanced. You’ll find the information you need.

follow me on:

Leave a Comment: