Best Overall Mountain Bike Pedal
The Shimano M530
quickly became the favorite of several of our testers. The common cleat and inexpensive price are attractive features right off the bat. A set of these pedals won't set you back much and it is likely that you might already have a pair of shoes set-up with the correct cleats. Additionally, this pedal has adjustable tension that allows a rider to choose how difficult it is to get in and out of the pedals, which is a clear advantage over any of the Crankbrothers pedals, which do not have adjustable tension. This pedal is incredibly versatile and can work on any trail bike, from a hardtail to a six-inch bike, so we feel it will be the best choice for the most riders.
Best Bang for the Buck
The Shimano M520
is perhaps the most common and most easily recognizable SPD pedal. It does not have a cage or platform but still has twice as much surface area as the platform-less models from Crankbrothers. Even this simple model has adjustable tension, and it is overall easy to use and welcoming to those new to clipless pedals. Plus this pedal is inexpensive. It is by far the least expensive pedal in our review, but it is far from the worst performer. For the money, you can't get anything better.
Top Pick for Enduro and Downhill Riding
Crankbrothers Mallet 3
If your preferred style of mountain biking is more gravity oriented, and you prefer either downhill or enduro riding and riding shuttles and lifts more than pedaling, then we think you can't go wrong with the Crankbrothers Mallet 3
. It is a full platform pedal with 6 adjustable traction pins per side. This platform guides your foot to make for quick engagement with the spring and also provides a place for your foot to rest and balance if you don't clip in immediately. We prefer the Mallet 3 to its close competitor, the Mallet DH Race, because it weighs 42 grams less per pair, and we think it is plenty of pedal, even for aggressive downhill riding.
Top Pick for Weight Savings
Crankbrothers Eggbeater 2
For those racers and riders who obsess about how to reduce weight on their bikes, the Crankbrothers Eggbeater 2
is the most likely choice for you. It is the lightest weight pedal in our review, weighing in at only 278 grams per pair. With no platform or cage at all, this pedal is minimal and utilitarian. It can be difficult to clip into, requiring very precise aim, but that is a technique that can be learned with practice. The Eggbeater is also the best at shedding mud of any of the pedals we tested, and we highly recommend this model for cyclocross racers for that reason alone.