It wasn't so long ago that flat pedals ruled the world of downhill. Under the stewardship of Hill, Rennie, and Fairclough, flat pedals won medals. As courses have evolved and racing becomes ever more professional, so too the balance has swung and clipped pedals are the weapon of choice for most racers.
For the flat pedal die-hards though, there's never been a better selection. When shaving milliseconds off the clock isn't the end goal, flat pedals are our go-to choice and we've put plenty through the ringer to find our favourites.
When deciding what set of flat pedals to buy, there's actually more to consider than you might think. Shape, size, and profile will all effect that all-important under-foot feeling, while pin placement and bearings will influence just how good a set of pedals are at keeping your foot glued and longevity. Afterall, there's not much use upgrading pedals if they don't do the job.
So without further ado, here they are, the cream of the flat pedal crop...
DMR Vault and Vault Midi
The DMR Vault pedals are a benchmark design and although they’ve been around for many years became an instant hit with us and have remained so. These quality flat pedals have taken a place in the Dirt 100 from the year they launched to the current 2018 line-up.
Shape, depth and pin placement are the qualities that make this pedal a winner. The 6061 aluminium platform is a great length and width combo (105mm x 105mm), and the profile is also ‘just right’ with a 17mm deep concave footbed area.
The Vaults come in a range of options, from the standard model to the Brendog and Lacondeguy signature models. These are superb flat pedals for downhill, trail, or enduro use. Just take a look at our personal bikes here at Dirt; they’re a very popular choice.
PRICE: From £115 (Vault), £100 (Vault Midi)
Nuke Proof Horizon Sam Hill Pedal
It’s the standard Horizon Pro pedal that hits the sweet spot for us and will be the model for most budgets. With a large concave platform, the shape is pleasing and works well with most shoes designs.
The Horizons sit low to the axle with excellent placement of the pins and there’s no ‘bearing bulge’ on the inner side near the crank arm, to interfere with foot placement either.
With ten pins on each side, traction is a given but these can be easily removed from behind and height adjusted with the supplied washers. Bearing and bushing quality is up to snuff for messy UK conditions too.
This is a well sorted pedal design with excellent spares back up. You can’t go wrong with these flats.
Sam Hill Horizon: £79.99, £174.99 Ti axle
Horizon Pro: £69.99, £169.99 Ti axle
Chromag Scarab Pedals
Chromag are based in Whistler and us such do not mess about when it comes to designing and manufacturing products that work well for us here at Dirt. Their bars and stems have earned plenty of respect from us over the years and now these Scarab pedals have joined this list.
These pedals spin on silky smooth bearings and you can rely on the Chromag's wet Pacific North West testing grounds as proof that they'll be up to our UK climate. If you’re spending just over one hundred notes on a pair of pedals they need to last well and not rattle themselves loose after a few months.
The Chromag Scarab is a high quality pedal, from a brand with a reassuringly hardcore pedigree. If you're not familiar with this brand then check them out.
Bontrager Line Pro
As always, we've seen plenty of flat pedals roll into Dirt for testing over the last year. These Line Pros from Bontrager, Trek’s component and equipment brand, have been fitted to test bikes and remained there, a sure sign of a favourite.
Traction comes from ten adjustable thru-pins with removable washers to tune height - they are easy to replace from behind when damaged. The Cro-mo axle spins on sealed cartridge bearings and have 15mm pedal spanner slots as well as 6mm Allen key fixings on the back to attach or remove them from the crank.
These Line pro flats are the only pedals in Bontrager’s range but we can tell they’ve had plenty of development time to nail the details. Not the cheapest on the market and not the flashiest either but they have shown a good mix of durability, great shape with plenty of grip.
NS Radiance Pedals
'Stay true!’ it says on these NS Radiance pedals… and sure enough this Polish brand never deviates from its core focus of dirt bike action. From DH to dirt jump, NS make kit for the hard-hitting rider; and they know a flat pedal as well as anyone. They speak our language.
The Radiance pedal is relative newcomer here at Dirt, but it has soon become a favourite. We quickly fell for the shape; its size, feel, and profile having a winning combination, regardless of which shoes we were wearing. It has a very clean design with little fuss. It’s a stylish looker too.
The weight of the Radiance is low too, without sacrificing reliability. At just under 200g for each pedal we may well have expected compromises but these pedals have kept spinning smoothly and have yet to miss a beat. A tough, well designed pedal with a winning shape.