Flat Pedals for Bike Touring and Bikepacking

There are plenty of reasons for using platform pedals rather than clipless options when trail riding, bikepacking, and touring. Here’s why – plus 8 of our favourite models, each long-distance trail tested and reviewed.

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While there hasn’t been much change in the world of clipless cleat retention systems – a market long dominated by the likes of Shimano and Crank Brothers – the flat pedal market has been positively burgeoning. Perhaps this is a result of the growing trend of experienced riders trying out flat pedals for trail riding. Or maybe its down to the improvements in sticky rubber MTB shoes. Either way, flat pedals are holding their own as reliable and efficient tools for all types of riding. It only makes sense that this trend carries over to bikepacking, and even dirt road touring.

For bikepacking and trail riding alike, flat pedals have four points of appeal. The most obvious is that you can instantly release from the bike without fail, easily leverage slick corners, or toe tap when technical sections that supersede your ability. Equally evident is the fact they facilitate off-the-bike exploits; of the kind that would normally require a second pair of shoes, in addition to stiff and often cumbersome SPDs.

Thirdly, they’re a far safer and more comfortable option for hike-a-bikes – so often an ingredient in the best bikepacking trips. The fourth and more intriguing appeal is that flat pedals promote a style of riding that’s fluid with the terrain and the bike. Instead of pulling and hopping the bike, gravity, body english and mechanics become the driving forces. By not being locked to the pedals, a rider is forced to employ proper preloading and weight-shifting techniques to manage contact and position on the bike. These tactics allow you handle the bike in a flowing manner and build riding skills that might otherwise be forgotten.

Flat pedals for bikepacking and bike touring, platform pedals

8 Platform Pedals, Trail Tested

As you’ll find in each of the pedals we selected for this roundup, there are a few important features to consider. Firstly, choosing the right size platform for your feet is crucial. Q-factor is another trait to look at, although it’s not an official term for pedal width; some offer a more tight stance, while others spread out your feet; some claim that a more narrow stance improves comfort and pedaling efficiency over the long haul. You’ll notice that the pedals below with reduced Q-factor have shorter axle length by eliminating hex wrench accessibility. We also like pedals that have recessed pin screws or heads that are screwed in from the nooks on the non-traction side; this prevents allen heads from getting bashed by pedal strikes, which can render them inaccessible and difficult to replace. Another feature to look for is the availability of a rebuild kit. On an extra long trip, it may be worth carrying spare bearings or bushings.

Below you’ll find 8 of our top pedal picks that we trail tested and reviewed, listed by weight. If you have a favorite platform pedal that’s not listed here, let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page…

Race Face Atlas

Race Face Components, BC, Canada

The folks at Race Face have a local proving ground at their disposal that includes the likes of Whistler and the North Shore. So it should be no surprise that they are familiar with the abuse that rugged terrain and hard riding can dish out on a pair of pedals. Like other components in their premium Atlas line, these pedals were designed with such rigors in mind, and ultimately meant to share duty with both trail style riding and downhill hammering alike.

Race Face Atlas Pedal Review, Bikepacking Flat Pedals

  • Race Face Atlas Pedal Review, Bikepacking Flat Pedals
  • Race Face Atlas Pedal Review, Bikepacking Flat Pedals

The Atlas 6061-T6 aluminum body is distinctively svelte. It’s the lightest pedal listed here and features an alien-like molded double-concave platform measuring in at 101 by 114mm at a thickness that goes from 12mm at the spindle to 14mm on the outer edge. These numbers are fairly consistent with other pedals here, save a slightly longer length. In addition the large industrial bearing on the crank side, and lack of axle wrench facing, affords a decently narrow Q-factor. Other than the large sealed bearing, the Atlas also has three sealed micro bearings per pedal. The pedals are fully serviceable via a pedal rebuild kit that includes both the outer and inner bearings as well as a bearing press, seals and other parts.

Like all of the other pedals mentioned here, the Atlas has bottom loading pins to ensure they can withstand the abuse that rocky tracks can dish out. One feature unique to the Atlas is the way the pins are aligned at the fore and aft of the pedal. There are ten traction pins total, but the outer eight are angled slightly inward, which Race Face claims offers even more grip. Unlike many of the other pedal options listed here, the Atlas has no center pin. But, on our rough and tumble Trans-Uganda ride, so far this hasn’t been an issue. The pair I brought along is green, but they are also available in black, red, blue, purple, and orange.

  • Race Face Atlas Pedal Review, Bikepacking Flat Pedals
  • Race Face Atlas Pedal Review, Bikepacking Flat Pedals
  • Footprint: 101x114mm
  • Thickness: 12-14.5mm
  • Weight per pedal: 6.2oz/175g
  • Rebuild Kit Available: Yes
  • Bushings/Bearings per pedal: 1 crank side sealed cartridge bearing/3 micro bearings
  • Country of Manufacture: Taiwan
  • Price: $153.00 (online)

BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “I’ve put the Altlas pedals to a beating on over 1,500 miles on the Trans-Uganda and a ride in Rwanda, some of the bumpiest dirt roads and trails I’ve ridden to date. The only issue I’ve found is a tiny amount of side-to-side movement between the pedal platform and the axle when moving the pedal back and forth in the direction of the axle. This was evident when they were new and hasn’t gotten worse throughout the ride, but it is noticeable from time to time. Otherwise, the Atlas’ grip is paramount and I really like the longer length of the platforms. Overall, this is a pedal that was designed to be beaten and still perform over longterm abuse.” – Logan

Spank Oozy

Spank Industries, Washington, USA

Spank came on the downhill and free ride scene in 2011 with their hit Spike pedal, one of the most successful flat pedals introduced in recent years. The Spike was known for it’s large platform and extremely thin profile. Several years later they introduced the Oozy Trail pedal with the same general size and stature, only 58 grams lighter. The pedal’s aluminum body has nine pins per side and measures 111 by 111mm with a 12mm profile, numbers that translate into a thin platform with plenty of sole sticking real estate. In addition, the well thought out, beveled, angled, and polished outer profile of the platform helps eliminate pedal strike in rocky and rooty terrain.

Spank Oozy Trail Pedals for bike touring and bikepacking

  • Spank Oozy Trail Pedal Review, Bikepacking Flat Pedals
  • Spank Oozy Trail Pedal Review

Although seven of the traction pins screw in from the non-traction side of the platform, the three center pins do not. The two center pins aren’t much of a factor considering that the majority of pedal strikes occur on the outer edges. But the single outer-center pin is in a location that could be mauled by the stray baby-head. That said, after 1,500 miles of rough dirt roads on the Trans-Uganda, we haven’t had an issue. Even if we did, the pin design uses a hex nut drive design and could be removed with a pair of pliers in a pinch. Also, regarding pin design, Spank used slightly shorter pins for the center area to mimic a concave design for added grip.

  • Spank Oozy Trail Pedals for bike touring and bikepacking
  • Spank Oozy Trail Pedal Review, Bikepacking Flat Pedals
  • Spank Oozy Trail Pedal Review, Bikepacking Flat Pedals

The Oozy Trail’s platform spins on a chromoly spindle via a single sealed cartridge bearing and an outboard IGUS bushing, which is sealed from contaminants by a rubber o-ring and a stainless steel cap. IGUS bushings are made from a self-lubricating plastic material that’s not only hard enough to resist impact damage, but also easy to replace if need be. By eliminating the wrench accessibility from the pedal axle and leaving mounting duties to an 8mm allen key, Spank reduced the spacing between the sealed industrial bearing and the crank. This not only lessened the leverage on the bearing, but reduced the Q-Factor spacing between the riders feet. With the oversize bearing design, it’s necessary to use pedal washers to prevent the aluminum body from being inhibited at the crankarm. Like its predecessor, the Oozy is available in emerald green, silver, black, blue, and red.

  • Footprint: 110x110mm
  • Thickness: 12mm
  • Weight per pedal: 6.4oz/182g
  • Rebuild Kit Available: Yes
  • Bushings/Bearings per pedal: 1 sealed industrial bearing (crank side) / 1 IGUS bushing
  • Country of Manufacture: Taiwan (in-house facility)
  • Price: $130.00

BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “My set of Oozy Trail pedals have held up extremely well over 1,500+ miles in Uganda and Rwanda. In addition, they have a nice grip, even wile wearing a pair of Keen shoes that have not-so-sticky rubber soles. When they were new, there was a little resistance built in to the pedals because of the IGUS bushing, but it quickly broke in and is not evident when pedaling. Overall, the Oozy is a reliable pedal that’s amazingly light for it’s platform size. In addition, it’s taken a beating and is still spinning perfectly.” – Virginia

VP Harrier

VP Components USA, California, USA

VP’s Harrier pedals stand out primarily for their size. At 120mm wide, and 110mm front-to-back, these pedals are among few out there capable of properly supporting size 13 sasquatch feet. Riding shoes intended for flat pedals often lack the stiffness of SPD equivalents, and even for my average men’s feet (10 US), the support afforded by these pedals greatly reduces foot fatigue on long, rough descents. After spending time on these pedals, I can’t help but feel that mountain bike pedals are chronically undersized. It will be impossible for me to go back to something smaller. At 366g for the pair, the size doesn’t come with a weight penalty. Instead, the Harriers’ minimalist design leaves lots of space for shedding mud, while still offering category-leading support and strength. Only riders with especially small feet are likely find the relatively large gaps in the platform a detriment.

VP Harrier Pedals, Bikepacking and Bike Touring

Their thin, 12mm profile also helps lend these pedals a great feel – thinner pedals make your bottom bracket height feel lower, and feel more stable, while keeping rock-strikes to a minimum. The completely flat profile may turn away believers in concave pedals, but I honestly could not notice any down-side on such a large pedal. Though I’ve played around with removing some of the middle pins, the feel of the Harriers as they come out of the box, with 10 pins per side, is among the best I’ve found in a flat pedal. The fact that there is no inboard bearing bulge means the “sweet spot” on these pedals extends right to the crank arm allowing for a narrow Q, but also forgiving almost any rushed, desperate foot placement on janky trails.

  • VP Harrier Pedals, Bikepacking and Bike Touring
  • VP Harrier Pedals, Bikepacking and Bike Touring

Any doubt I may have at these pedals is directed at the polymer bushing used in lieu of an in-board bearing. The use of a bushing allowed VP to avoid the bulge of a large in-board bearing, or the vulnerability of small bearings (a weak-point when it comes to big impacts and durability). The down-side is that a small amount of play will develop in the pedals as the synthetic bushing material is compressed after the first hundred or so hours of use. This play cannot be felt while riding, but can be detected by hand.

  • Flat Pedals for Bikepacking, VP Harrier
  • Flat Pedals for Bikepacking, VP Harrier

At this point, it’s not clear to me how the life expectancy of a bushing should compare to bearings, but it’s reassuring that the pedals are extremely easily serviced, requiring no shaved-down titanium socket to remove the lock-nut, as is so common with other pedals. An 8mm Allen key, an 8mm wrench and some grease are all that’s needed for a full pedal service. Replacement bushings are available from through most bike shops. The pedals are removed with an 8mm hex – the strongest tool included on most multi-tools – so that pedal removal for travel and extended hike-a-bike is easy.

  • Footprint: 120x110mm
  • Thickness: 12mm
  • Weight per pedal: 6.5oz/183g
  • Rebuild Kit Available: Yes
  • Bushings/Bearings per pedal: 1 Igus t-flange bushing / 1 DU bushing / 1 Teflon thrust bushing
  • Country of Manufacture: Taiwan
  • Price: $120.00
BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “I’m always uncomfortable writing a glaringly positive review – everything has its trade-offs, and I don’t like to just write a sale’s pitch. But, VP has played a sly game by sending me these pedals for review. Who knew I was so fed up with sore feet on small platforms, annoyed at breaking 6mm Allen keys trying to remove dusty pedals for hike-a-bike, and furious at having retired pedals because the tool needed to pull them apart cost as much as new pedals? The Harriers address all my annoyances with other flat pedals. After about 1000km, I pulled apart the pedals in about 30 seconds, to check for wear. One pedal was lacking a bit of grease and some water had contaminated what grease remained on the outboard bushing (after at least 10 river crossings). Packed with fresh grease and reassembled, the play that I’d been able to detect by hand all but disappeared. I’ve come to appreciate the use of bushings for their simplicity. The bushings can wear, and it’s possibly they’ll do so at a rate faster than a bearing, but they cannot break catastrophically like a bearing. For me, the ease of service wins out on a long tour. The only mode of catastrophic failure I can imagine would be a broken spindle, and pedals designed for DH and freeride are as strong as they come.

UPDATE: The seals on the Harriers are really simple and don’t go a great job, so the longevity of these pedals is dependant on very regular maintenance, especially after exposure to water. After giving my Harriers a service, I found that one of the bushing race surfaces on the axle is pitted and worn. Unfortunately, I retract my shining recommendation, given I’ve been more diligent than your average person to keep them packed with grease, and they’ve still only lasted 2500 miles. The seals on both ends have proven to be pretty bad at keeping out contaminants. That said, according to VP, the latest version (2016) has a new axle system that should be even more serviceable and tougher.” – Skyler

Blackspire Sub4

Blackspire, BC, Canada

The Sub4 (now Sub420) was a classic pick to go in this group, for one reason: it was my first pair of flats and I rode them for over 7,500 kilometers from Cape Town to Tanzania, then Morocco and Southern Spain. Of course one had a nice rumble to it at the end of our journey, but after a fairly painless rebuild, it was like new, save a few dings and scratches.

Blackspire sub420 pedlais or bikepacking and bike touring

  • Blackspire sub420 pedlais or bikepacking and bike touring
  • Blackspire sub420 pedlais or bikepacking and bike touring

It’s worth pointing out that my stance on this pedal has changed a bit since the original review. The Sub4s have the smallest platform of the group reviewed here; I’ve since had my opinion swayed by larger platforms for my average size 10 shoes. That said the 92 by 92mm real estate is perfect for those with smaller shoe sizes. The smaller platform, of course, translates to a lighter package.

  • Bike Touring Pedals - Blackspire Sub4
  • Blackspire sub420 pedlais or bikepacking and bike touring
  • Blackspire sub420 pedlais or bikepacking and bike touring

Even with the slightly smaller platform, the Sub4 (now Sub420) has 10 pins per side and offers excellent traction, albeit not the best in this group. The true benefit to these pedals is reliability. Each Sub4 platform moves on a chromoly spindle via two sealed micro cartridge bearings and a single DU bushing. After nearly 5,000 miles, Gin’s pair was still spinning with no issues at all. One of mine had a bad bearing, but it still got me where I was going. After the fact, all that was required was a quick swap of the bearings from a $25 rebuild kit (which actually services 4 pedals). It was a fairly simple task and now they are good for the next trip.

  • Footprint: 92x92mm
  • Thickness: 17mm
  • Weight per pedal: 6.5oz/186g
  • Rebuild Kit Available: Yes
  • Bushings/Bearings per pedal: 2 sealed cartridge bearings / 1 DU Bushing
  • Country of Manufacture: Canada
  • Price: $116.00

BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “After an obsessive amount of research trying to find the perfect pedal that would tick all the boxes, and had proven reviews, I landed on Blackspire Sub4s for our 2013 Africa trip. Their size and weight were perfect, and after 7,500 KMs, they proved both reliable and durable. They are also fairly easy to rebuild. After doing so, they are still running smoothly.” – Logan

Deity Bladerunner

Deity Components, Nampa, Idaho

The Bladerunner certainly has the raddest name of the four pedals made by this Idaho based company, and perhaps the best name in this roundup. But that’s not the only reason it stood out as one to shakedown over an 800+ mile rugged bikepacking trip in southern Spain.

Diety Bladerunner Platform Pedals for Bikepacking

  • Diety Bladerunner Platform Pedals for Bikepacking
  • Diety Bladerunner Platform Pedals for Bikepacking

The Bladerunner has a goldielochs sized 103x100mm 6061 T6 aluminum platform (not too big and not too small). Each body spins via three sealed micro bearings and one DU bushing on a polished chromoly axle, which interestingly enough can be left on the crank while the pedal is serviced. The pedal can be removed or tightened with an 8mm allen key or a standard pedal wrench. Even with the pedal wrench nut, the Bladerunners have a Q-factor that’s narrower than most in this group. This is probably more due to the squared off profile of the platform, but is definitely worth considering for fat bikes or rider preference.

  • Diety Bladerunner Platform Pedals for Bikepacking
  • Diety Bladerunner Platform Pedals for Bikepacking
  • Diety Bladerunner Platform Pedals for Bikepacking

The platforms are not concave, but the center pins are slightly shorter, which creates a concave profile. The 10 threaded pins per side are removable from the side opposite the traction, which protects the allen head from deforming rock bashes. The Bladerunner is available in anodized black, red, green, blue, or purple.

  • Footprint: 103x100mm
  • Thickness: 11mm
  • Weight per pedal: 6.6oz/188g
  • Rebuild Kit Available: Yes (with socket)
  • Bushings/Bearings per pedal: 3 micro sealed bearings/1 DU bushing
  • Country of Manufacture: Taiwan
  • Price: $143.00

BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “I wanted a pedal that was big enough to stay comfortable, with pins long enough to stick to the shoes. The Bladerunner offered both in a very attractive package, plus it has solid internals that stood up to the long and rough trip, with no play or bearing wear to speak of.” – Virginia

Hope F20

Hope Tech, Lancashire, England

Hope’s legendary CNC machining is coveted within mountain biking circles. True to form, the F20s are indeed a handsome pair of platform pedals, available in a range of 6 colors to suit all tastes. But the beauty of these pedals is undoubtedly more than just skin deep. Built for the downhill market, they’re extremely well made, with a gentle concave shape and a generous platform that feels supremely comfortable under foot.

Worth noting too, is that the 20 removable pins are more pronounced than many others, making them well suited to a more traditional hiking shoes, as well as more tacky footware from the likes of Five Ten et al.

Hope F20 Flat Pedal Review

  • Hope F20 Flat Pedal Review
  • Hope F20 Flat Pedal Review

In terms of servicing, you’ll need a socket wrench to access the M5 locknut, behind which nests three sets of bearings, with a bushing on the inboard side. Hope’s website includes a useful exploded diagram of the pedals, so you can easily figure which bits go where, and any replacement parts you may require. Bear in mind there are no spanner flats to these pedals, so you’ll need an 8mm Hex key to fit them – make sure the threads are well greased to avoid that last minute panic at the airport.

  • Hope F20 Flat Pedal Review
  • Hope F20 Flat Pedal Review
  • Hope F20 Flat Pedal Review

Pricing-wise, F20s are in no ways on the budget end of the spectrum. But given the quality of their build and their serviceability, it’s money well spent.

  • Footprint: 105x100mm
  • Thickness: 14mm
  • Weight per pedal: 6.9oz/195g
  • Rebuild Kit Available: Yes
  • Bushings/Bearings per pedal: 3 sealed bearings and a norglide bush
  • Country of Manufacture: UK
  • Price: $160

BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “I absolutely love the F20s. Their long and stout pins – extending 5mm from the platform – mean almost any pair of shoes I wear feel securely anchored in place. Even ones with lugged hiking soles. By the same token, just beware of the hike a bike, as these pins are prone to gouging calf flesh! After several months of hard use, bearings are still running buttery smooth. It’s also reassuring that a couple of friends have used them on multi-month, long distance journeys with nary a cause for complaint.” – Cass

Specialized Boomslang

Specialized Bicycle Components, California, USA

The Boomslang pedal was originally designed for sponsored downhill rider Sam Hill. Then Sam left Specialized, and the rumored new pedal went silent, until fall of 2014 when it started popping up in the blogosphere. The Boomslang stands out from the crowd for numerous reasons. The first and most obvious is its amorphic shape and clean lines. The Boomslang has a nice oval footprint that is fairly large at 110mm by 108mm. It also boasts a cambered thin side profile at 10mm at the spindle which flares out to 15mm at the edges.

Specialized Boomslang, Platform Pedals for Bikepacking

  • Specialized Boomslang, Platform Pedals for Bikepacking
  • Specialized Boomslang, Platform Pedals for Bikepacking

Specialized’s approach to traction pins also offers several standout features. Like the other pedals reviewed here, they screw from the non-traction side, which preserves their allen head. But the hourglass shaped pin design is the most unique. Specialized claims that this offers “clipped in performance without cleats”. I won’t argue; I found the Boomslangs, paired with Freerider Contacts, to have magical glue-like properties that kept my shins pretty throughout 800 miles of the gnarliest rocky tracks in southern Spain. In addition, one of the most innovative features on the Boomslang is the spare pin storage. Four extra pins are screwed directly into the side of the pedal which make for easy trail-side replacement, should one become damaged on the platform.

  • Specialized Boomslang, Platform Pedals for Bikepacking
  • Specialized Boomslang, Platform Pedals for Bikepacking
  • Specialized Boomslang, Platform Pedals for Bikepacking

Another innovative feature unique to the Boomslang is the bearing and spindle system. Rather than the traditional side-inserted needle bearing, the bearing is inserted through an easily accessible trapdoor in the top of the platform. The Boomslang also features a completely smooth spindle with no threads or bevels, which are what typically weakens a spindle. This design keeps the pedal body thin without sacrificing strength, as might be the case with similarly thin models (although, this may not be as important unless you are a downhiller to the likes of Sam Hill). It’s worth noting that the outboard sealed bearing is snugged up against the crank arm. This makes for a good, narrow Q-factor, but eliminates the ability to remove the pedal with a traditional pedal wrench. Not a factor, in my opinion.

  • Footprint: 110x108mm
  • Thickness: 10mm
  • Weight per pedal: 7.7oz/217g
  • Rebuild Kit Available: Yes (Specialized retailers)
  • Bushings/Bearings per pedal: 1 Large Sealed Cartridge Bearing / 1 Bushing
  • Country of Manufacture: Taiwan
  • Price: $180.00

BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “Out of the 4 pedals in this group that I tested, the Boomslang was my personal favorite. Although most of the options here have really good traction properties, the Boomslang took the cake. And, after over 800 miles of rough riding, there were no issues to speak of. It’s the highest priced and one of the heaviest pedals here, which may be its downfall, but with the extra pins, a solid bearing and spindle design, and excellent traction, the Boomslang is a well thought out pedal built for performance over the long haul.” – Logan

Shimano Saint MX80 Flat Pedal

Shimano Cycling, California, USA

Successors to the popular DX series of yesteryear, the MX80s are Shimano’s latest flat pedal offering for the downhill crowd.

Unlike most other high end pedals on the market, Shimano favours the more traditional cup and cone bearing approach (as with their hubs), over new fangled sealed cartridges and bushings. This is both a good and a bad thing. On the one hand, it means the MX80s can be readily serviced on the road, without the need for any specialist parts and tools. But on the downside, keeping on top of their maintenance is especially important – run them loose for too long, and you risk damaging the cones. Servicing them is a touch fiddly, given all the greasy bearings, but it’s relatively easy. In fact, it’s worth given them a service upon purchase, both to familiarise yourself with their innards, and because the bearings benefit from extra grease.

On the plus side, the Chromo axle is standard to Shimano’s other pedals, so replacements are relatively easy to come, should you accidentally damage one.


Saints have a pleasant concave design that cups the foot nicely. In terms of grip, the pins themselves are relatively small. Their depth can be adjusted through the use of spacers; jettisoning them definitely makes for a much grippier feel. Note that they have spanner flats. This means they’re a little wider than the other pedals in this roundup, but they’re easier to remove.

On the scales, the MX80s are a little portlier than some, reflected in part by their more affordable price point. In fact, price is where the Saints score best. It’s impossible to ignore the variety of great deals to be found online, making them a solid option for anyone seeking a quality flat pedal at the more ‘budget’ end of the market.

  • Shimano Saint MX-80 pedal review
  • Shimano Saint MX-80 pedal review
  • Shimano Saint MX-80 pedal review
  • Shimano Saint MX-80 pedal review
  • Shimano Saint MX-80 pedal review
  • Footprint: mm
  • Thickness: mm
  • Weight per pedal: 8.6oz/245g
  • Rebuild Kit Available: Yes
  • Bushings/Bearings per pedal: Loose bearings
  • Country of Manufacture: TBC
  • Price: $90.00 (many deals online)

BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “I ran platform Saints throughout South America. Broadly speaking, I’ve been happy with them; they’re certainly comfortable underfoot and solidly made. Given the choice though, I’d actually prefer sealed bearings. Having neglected to service the first set I bought, I pitted the cones as a result – these pedals are now retired to my commuting bike. Lesson learned. I’ve been more cautious with my second set, with no issues at all. ” – Cass

Flat pedals for bikepacking and bike touring, platform pedals

  • adamgnewman

    I’ve used a few of these and the Harriers are still my favorite, especially on my fat bike. HUGE platform for winter boots and lots of room to clear snow.

  • Nice. The simplicity of the VPs is really nice… no bearings to shatter.

  • Smithhammer

    Good review, and I agree on your points about the advantages of flat pedals. In addition, I think that the “efficiency” argument for clipless over flats is a little overblown. Yeah, flats may not be as efficient if one tries to ride them with the same technique as you would a clipless pedal, but adapt your technique and the difference is minimal. Balanced against the advantages of a “normal shoe’ for touring and all the time spent off the bike hiking, in camp, etc. and I’m sold on flats.

    But I’m a little surprised no composite pedals were included in the review. The RF “Chester” and Fyxation “Mesa MP” are both really good, durable choices for touring, and both include replaceable metal pins. Plus, for touring in cold weather, they don’t conduct cold the way that metal pedals do.

  • Interesting point about cold weather riding… I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks!

  • Mario M-A

    While the article was a good read, the price range is a bit rediculous. You can find sealed bearing bmx bike pedals for $50 – $100. Bmx bike pedals take more abuse than a mtb pedal ever would. Anybody that is going to spend $150 -$200 on pedals is getting suckered. It seems there are cheaper good pedals out there like fly bikes and odyssey etc, a lot of readers on this site probably won’t be able to benefit due to the high price points analyzed

  • Yeah, most here are pricey; there are options shown at $90 and $120 though. BMX pedals are tough. We were focused on MTB pedals that had a good balance of a slim design, lightweight construction, a sizable platform, recessed pin heads, and solid bearings.

  • Cycle Wisco

    Living in WI, I actually switched to clipless for winter riding. I use Saints the rest of the year, but they act as a heatsink in the winter. After 20 minutes when it’s in single digits Fahrenheit, my toes would go numb no matter how many insoles I used. They just have too much thermal mass to use in the winter. So, cheap plastic platforms or clipless is what has worked for me. I think the lighter the metal pedal the less of a problem this would be though as it would be less mass drawing heat from your foot.

  • Don’t know about flats. Spent 20 something years riding flat pedals then the next 20 something years riding clipless and now I totally can’t get flats. I keep trying because of the raves about the advantages but end up taking them off and putting back in the cupboard. Even if there is no power advantage and the shoes are a bit of a pain sometimes, I still prefer the fixed feel!

  • Dann Golden-Collum

    Rode metal flats all year in Alaska because I thought winter clipless boots were too expensive and, according to reviews, didn’t last very long. Rode with Muck brand boots, 1 pair silk, 1 or 2 pairs merino wool socks. Only when -30 did I get the “heat sink” feel. I also liked the Muck boots as they were tall, and in the spring during break up, one never knew how deep the water puddle was beneath that thin layer of ice that just might break!

  • RJ

    Several of these pedals can be found for significantly less than MSRP if you’re patient and shop around. For instance, VP Harrier pedals are currently on sale for $59.00 on Competitive Cyclist & Backcountry.

  • Smithhammer

    Muck boots rock, for sure. I haven’t ridden in winter with them, but now I’m intrigued. ;-)

  • Harry Major

    10 months into our tour in Asia, both pairs of Hope F20s are as new. Awesome pedals. We adore.

  • Jason

    For those that like the bigger pedal body check out Pedaling Innovations Catalyst pedals. I’ve been running a pair since December and they are great. It’s like standing on the ground.

  • r1Gel

    Re: VP, 183g x 2 = 362g?
    Re: Boomslangs, “ovular footprint”??? Don’t you mean oval?
    Those aside, thanks for the article. Good info.

  • Good catch on the oval, thanks. Two different scales (mine and Skylers) on the VPs.

  • Good long term feedback, thanks.

  • I’m back and forth, but the more I ride flats, the more I like them. I’m definitely committed for long trips.

  • Christophe Noel

    I hear you. I bought my first pair of Look clipless road pedals in 1987 and my first SPDs, which I still have, in 1989. My brain is so hardwired to clipless every time I try flats it just feels off. I need to get over that.

  • Rob Grey

    i’ve been using branded wellgo pedals for the last three years on my mountain bike and have destroyed one pair via rock strike after about 7000km; they were still running like new with zero maintenance when they retired. my current pair have had no issues ever since (13000-ish kms). i ride quite a bit in any weather (read: cascadian winter slop), and the simple sealed bearings just keep working. i haven’t had to replace them yet, but the service kit is only $8, easy to carry, and foolproof. also, the price for the pedals is more than right, at about $50.

    my only concern about them is the fact that a single rock strike can take them out; it punched a pin out and cracked the platform as it went, cracking more and bending away gradually until i was left with half a pedal. i was 35km from home when it happened, and pedaling on half a platform for that distance caused some severe hotspots and foot fatigue. could happen to anyone, though, i suppose.

    cnc machined 6061
    cro-mo axle
    320g/pair (claimed)
    8 pins per side (no slip issues with 5.10 shoes)

    i also have a pair of saints that a friend so graciously gifted me. used them a few times, but didn’t like the feel underfoot.

  • Mario M-A

    Sounds good, thanks bikepacking and RJ

  • I’m not giving up, it’s kind of like learning to ride a bike!
    Some of my issue is Saint pedals which don’t excite me. Combination of Q Factor and feel, maybe get some different pedals and I may feel the love you rave of.
    Interestingly it’s the long rides 8 – 10 hours, when tired legs start flailing that I like the clipless security.

  • Mark

    Any body making a good quality flat pedal designed for toe-clips and straps? All I can find are cheap rat-trap pedals that don’t hold up very well and have primitive bearings. If I could design my own pedal it would be small and thin to avoid rock strikes. Thanks!

  • Dann Golden-Collum

    No longer living in Alaska, but rode three winters with the Muck boots. The soles held up very well to the rough texture of the pedals, too.

  • John Gipson

    Check out DMR’s Vault pedals. Solidly made and work with foot retention straps but probably not toe clips.

  • Aly

    Teflon pedals are tough enough and hqs 4 advantages over aluminum or titanium metal pedal.
    1 they are lighter
    2 they provide more grip with rubber shoes. (The older it gets with more scratches the better grip)
    3 they have no heat sink problem in winter
    4 it does not cut your skin when it hits you (eventually it will) when you =handle the bike or haul it

    The only disadvantage is they may break with very strong impact but I never saw it happen yet

  • Patrick Reimonn

    Mid-high quality plastic BMX pedals from brands like Eclat give great grip, durability, weight, and style options. They also probably won’t run you more than $40. Metal pedals are over-rated.

  • billiam

    Let’s bring back ovular!

    JOSEF: (sarcastically) Ovular?
    INSPECTOR 1: We can’t not write it down just because you say we shouldn’t.
    JOSEF: Ovular isn’t even a word.
    INSPECTOR 2: You deny there’s an ovular shape concealed under this rug?
    INSPECTOR 1: He denies everything.

  • Mike Tatreau

    I’ve been hearing a lot about the Canfield Crampon Ultimate pedals, and I’m thinking about getting a pair. From the reviews I’ve read, it seems that everyone who has them ~ loves them. Is anyone here familiar with them?

  • Andrew Spurlin

    Would like to be another voice for plastic flat pedals. I’ve barely given clipless a chance and I’ve only ridden about 4 sets of flats. The Saints were alright but I really like Deity Compounds. Lighter, cheaper, and the pins, spindle, and platform can all be replaced. Almost an exact copy of the Fyxation Mesas mentioned below. I’m a clumsy rider and have been striking rocks all over Texas, the Divide, and Oregon for over a year now and the only problem I’ve had is one or two pins falling out. Can be ordered from Deity or found at any hardware store.

  • Conley bones

    Race face Chester pedals in purpz!

  • Ben O’Brien

    MKS Lambda/Grip Kings are pretty great for the price ($56 from Rivendell), and Riv has an tip on making them ‘grippier.’

  • Wow, 13k without a service!

  • They look pretty nice. Ridiculously light. I’ve had no experience with them though…

  • The Compounds do look nice. I would definitely be swayed to try plastic pedals for domestic bikepacks or winter exploits. For big trips, or overseas ventures, I’d personally stick with metal. Good to know they’ve held up from some rock strikes though. Note that photo of the Blackspire with a massive dent on the spindle area. I am pretty sure that would have killed a lot of weaker pedals and left me scraping for a solution in Lesotho.

  • I know a couple people who ride those, Joe Cruz included.

  • Rob Grey

    to be fair, they’re starting to feel a bit rough, and have been for the last couple months. but an $8 service kit should have them feeling new in no time.

  • Katakun

    Ergon pedals should be considered. Pro: long platform, no pins to shred sandals or shins, bushings, half price of metal, maintenance free Con: maintenance free. The right type of plastic can be as tough as metal if it is not used just to make a cheap pedal. As to use in poor countries. Easier to replace a pedal than a disc brake, rohloff hub, 32 spoke rims or shifter mechanism if it fails. Had mine since they came out (4 years?) in the PNW. There on all my bikes now. I love ’em.

  • David B

    Great reviews. Thanks for sharing.

    +1 on the Deity Compounds. While I haven’t done any multi-month trips on them, they have taken numerous beatings and held up as well as metal pedals I have used but at a much lower price and weight. The platform is probably on the small side which could be a factor for longer trips. Overall, I’m very pleased with them.

  • Nick

    Hey guys, usually don’t do this but I’ve had quite the experience with Blackspire as of late. A few days into the Tour Aotearoa (and a week into riding on them) my Blackspire Sub420’s developed a LOT of play, I contacted them and was told to re-grease them and that would stop the deterioration, unfortunately it did not. The pedals have a ton of play in them now and customer service told me to go to a few shops in NZ for purchased replacements. Both shops said they never carried the parts or said they’d have to special order (6-8 weeks lead time) at a price that was only thirty dollars or so cheaper than a new set of Sub420’s. So I emailed Blackspire back and got the equivalent of a middle finger. I’ve run their chainrings for years and was quite stoked on them and the pedals before they started to go, I was hoping for better support seeing that I had maybe 200 miles on the pedals when very noticeable play developed. Long story short, if you’re planning a long bikepacking adventure it might be best to look elsewhere for a solid pedal, not knocking Blackspire, sure I might have gotten a “bad batch.” But man could they use a better touch with customer service, nothing like a bad experience with that to throw a repeat customer into jeopardy.

  • Ah, bummer Nick. I had a pretty good experience with those, as noted above. But bad customer service is tragic.

  • Here’s my latest on flats for anyone like myself who is not quite feeling at one with them. I ditched the Saints I had persisted with but was feeling no love for and bought the first pair of flats on this list, the Race Face Atlas. Things began to feel good already but to commit to the change fully I also got some Five Ten Freerider Contacts. 600 odd km later, including some pretty technical riding with loaded bike and I am sold on the flat pedal idea! Thanks much for all your writings and reviews that have headed me in the right direction many times now.
    As an aside: I noticed the Freerider Contacts were already developing cracks in the side, toe area material after only this much use. I was a little dismayed so contacted the NZ distributor with my concern. I received an email reply almost immediately with the message along the lines of; ‘Splits don’t look too serious but shoes shouldn’t do this. Keep riding with them, keep us in the loop and if they get worse we are happy to sort this for you’. How’s that for outstanding customer service!

  • Good to hear Andrew! I love my Contacts. Tour Aotearoa?

  • Unfortunately no Tour Aotearoa, just finished a busy summer of work and autumn adventure beckons!

  • Francois Ca’va

    Thanks for the tip Jason. I’ve been looking for a longer pedal for years as I experience numbness in the ball of my left foot after a long ride. I ordered a pair this morning. Hope they do the trick.

  • Euphorbia73

    I just received my pair…Wow. Just one little ride, but it is like I have a turbo or overdrive on every gear. The hill up beside my house I usually use the granny ring for, I didn’t even think of switching to, just thought about how I wasn’t… My 5.10 free riders stuck like glue, and I am pretty sure my 12.5 feet are going to be so much happier over the long hauls.

  • Matt M.

    My VP Harriers developed a lot of play and made noise after 6 months of use. I did service them, which was easy, but the problem continued. I contacted VP and was told the Harriers had been redesigned to eliminate the play. Received a new pair today at no charge. Hopefully they work out because I’ve got no other complaints about the pedals.

  • Dave McIrvin

    Been riding with Canfield Crampons for a year (1600 miles riding cross country, Moab, Fruita and my CO trails) on my 52 week a year fatbike and can only mention nothing but good about them.
    They can take rock and tree branch hits and have been great coupled with some 510s.
    For my more technical XC riding, I will never ride anything other than platforms (can attempt new stuff with more confidence and experience far fewer dings to my exoskeleton).
    Riding the GDMBR N-S with a tour group (support van will carry tent, bag, gear, food, water refills most days) this summer and since it is pretty much non-technical two tracking with some extended periods on pavement I’m thinking of bringing along my old Crank Bros Candy/cleated shoes for backup and those long pavement filled days….

  • Dave

    The Black Ops Nylo-Pro pedals on Amazon for $39.99 are exact copies of Deity Compounds. My wife uses them and they’re great. Super durable.

  • Dave

    Keep trying flats! I’m also a longtime SPD rider. Been on flats now for a couple months and absolutely starting to love them…didn’t at first. The only downside is that I can’t pull off my cheater bunnyhops (using SPD’s to pull up the rear of the bike with my legs) anymore, but that’s forcing me to learn to do it the right way. The upside is it’s far more fun to do manuals, tricks, etc. on flats.

  • Dave

    If you need shoes for flat pedals: Adidas Terrex Trail Cross SL. Use that exact model, because other non-bike Adidas shoes have very similar names. They’re AWESOME. I’d previously tried 5.10’s and Giro Jackets but the Adidas are FAR more comfortable and dry much faster. Adidas owns 5.10 so these shoes have that great 5.10 rubber!

  • Got the feel of them now Dave! Been riding flats solid for the past year and am now at ease and loving them. A convert!

  • Could not be happier with the Shimano Saint MX80. Easily shrugs off mud/ice and makes my feet happy on longer rides. Thanks for the suggestion

  • Joe

    Nice try but…. You missed the best ones – Chromag Scarab’s. Quality, weight, size, comfort, location of pins and high/low settings.

  • Will Ashe

    I’d also consider the VP Thin Gripsters (aka 001) Rivendell sells, or the VP Vice, if you’re on a budget.

  • Shane Kweens

    Love my used Spank Spikes I got free with my wifes used bike. I cleaned them up and took the middle pins out. Amazing pedal!

  • OldSchoolReloaded

    Thanks for the great reviews! I bought the VP Harrier Flat Pedal based on your reviewers and can’t wait for my new 29er plus build to be done so that I can try them out. Great write ups and equally nice pictures.

  • Thanks! Glad you found it useful…

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  • Bryan Young

    I have the Blackspire sub420 pedals. I’m currently cycling Scotland, I’m 9 weeks into a world tour and the bearings are already done! The pedals are still new!!! I emailed Blackspire requesting a warranty solution, so we’ll see how their customer service is… if they don’t do anything, I’ll buy a cheap temporary pair to get me by. Probably will try Hope pedals next, I use their hubs and love them!

  • Oh wow, that’s a shame. We must have just had good luck with ours. I know Cass has been really happy with the Hopes. Another to check out is the Crank brothers Stamp. We have a lot of miles on two pairs without issues… and I’ve heard of others going for a really long time.

  • Bryan Young
  • Bryan Young

    Blackspire offered to send parts to me here in Scotland. I appreciate their great warranty service and quick reply. They back their product!

  • Ron Winsett

    So just a note. I purchased a pair of the Specialized Boomslangs after reading this article. The shop assured me that there were rebuild kits available for them, not quite. They are great pedals, but there is no rebuild kit for them. My pair got sloppy after about a year of riding, so I asked my local shop about the rebuild kit. I guess Specialized doesn’t make one, or even plan on making one. I was able to find the inner most bearing and replace it, but the outer bushing is not available. I called Specialized, even they confirmed it was a pedal that was supposed to have rebuild kits, but they don’t have them and don’t plan on having them. What a joke, $180 flat pedal you can’t buy parts for. I would not recommend the Boomslang, false advertising.

  • Oh man, that’s a complete bummer. I still use mine and they haven’t quit on me yet, but that sucks… they are one of my favorites. Is the outer bushing unique to that pedal?

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  • Grant Henderson

    I had a similar experience with the Blackspire customer service…a new set of pedals gave out (play and creak) after 2 weeks on the Baja Divide – on returning I called up and was told that I was “down in the Baja in the sand and the sh*t, not maintaining them properly and that will ruin bearings” – I mean if it wasn’t for the $130 I paid for them I’d find his candour as a customer service representative hilarious. After questioning the quality of his product he said he wouldn’t hear of it and hung up the phone. The no brand $15 pair from the Mexican shop 4 times as long.

    Apologies for the Yelp-esque review but another thumbs down from me.

  • disqus_emLVD2Gkee

    Ha, what a great follow up post after a year!

  • Silt Sunrise

    The ergon’s are garbage. Little grip to start with and it wear on in no time. Dangerous. Read amazon reviews. They’re mostly bad. I didn’t get to read them before buying on a tour, unfortunately.

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