The 10 Best Clipless Mountain Bike Pedals (from XC through Enduro to Hybrid) 2021

The Best Clipless Mountain Bike Pedals

This is a selection of the best mountain bike clipless pedals from manufacturers like Shimano, Crankbrothers, Time, and more. It includes pedals for cross country, trail, enduro, and also casual mountain bikers.

I spent more than 9 hours researching this topic – I talked to friends who ride mountain bikes, evaluated customer reviews, and read forum threads to save your time.

To help you orient better amongst various types of pedals, I sorted them into 3 categories:

  1. Clipless MTB pedals without platforms
  2. Clipless MTB pedals with platforms
  3. Hybrid MTB pedals (clip-in + platform)

In this article, you find out who are individual categories of pedals suitable for, how to choose MTB clipless pedals, what are their benefits compared to flat pedals, and much more.

NOTE: This selection includes clipless MTB pedals only. If you look for platform pedals, read the best mountain bike flat pedals article.

What Are the Best Clipless Mountain Bike Pedals?

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Crankbrothers Mallet E

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Shimano M520

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Shimano PD-EH500

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Below, you find the main features, pros, and cons of the pedals I selected. To find out more about individual features to look for when buying clipless MTB pedals, feel free to read How to buy clipless MTB pedals first.


The Best Clipless MTB Pedals Without Platforms

This category of clipless MTB pedals is ideal for cross-country-like terrain, casual mountain bikers, cyclocross, or gravel riders.

These pedals allow you to shed mud easily. In addition, they are relatively light and durable. However, due to a lack of platform, they don’t provide much foot support. I recommend using them with stiff mountain bike shoes.

Shimano M520 SPD (Best Clipless MTB Pedals Overall)

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Main Features

  • Adjustable spring tension
  • Very durable
  • Good mud-shedding ability
  • Cleats included

Technical Specifications

  • Weight: 0.86lb (380g)
  • Material: Aluminum and steel
  • Recommended cleats: Shimano SM-SH51 or SM-SH56

Shimano M520 SPD are legendary pedals popular among mountain bikers who ride cross-country-like terrain, cyclocross, gravel, and casual riders. Let me explain the reasons for that.

First, they are made of aluminum and stainless steel. They are durable and almost maintenance-free so that they will last you for years.

You can set their release tension based on your preferences. I recommend lower tension for beginners for easier release. You avoid crashes caused by an inability to clip out on time.

Finally, they will provide you with good mud-shedding ability so you can ride even after or during rainy days.

They come with a pair of durable recessed cleats compatible with a 2-hole cleat configuration. All these features are packed for a very affordable price.

Their biggest downside is their weight which is much higher than the weight of 0.86lb (380g). If you want lighter SPD style pedals, go for Shimano PD-M9100 (XTR) instead. They weigh just 0.68lb (310g) and offer the same features.

Also available at jensonusa.com, rei.com, performancebike.com, and wiggle.co.uk


You might also be interested in this selection of the best pedals for a gravel bike.


Venzo MTB Clipless SPD Pedals (Best Budget)

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Main Features

  • Adjustable spring tension
  • Sturdy clip entries for robust retention
  • Good mud-shedding ability
  • Cleats included

Technical Specifications

  • Weight: 0.79lb (359g)
  • Material: Aluminum and steel
  • Recommended cleats: Shimano SM-SH51 or SM-SH56

Venzo clipless pedals are very like Shimano M520. But, they are more affordable, so if your budget is tight, these are for you.

They offer the same features – entry from both sides, you can adjust the release tension, and they are good for mud shedding.

But, they are about 0.7 oz lighter (20g) which is good news if you care about the weight. The main difference is their price which is much lower than the price for M520.

Just keep in mind that the quality of these pedals is not as high as the quality of Shimano M520. But when we consider their price, they are a tempting choice for beginners.


Crankbrothers Eggbeater 11 (Best Lightweight)

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Main Features

  • One of the lightest clipless MTB pedals on the market
  • Excellent mud-shedding
  • Float (depending on cleats)
  • No spring tension adjustability
  • Rotating spring design
  • Cleats included

Technical Specifications

Eggbeater is a line of Cranbrothers’ clipless pedals that include several options based on your budget and demands. 

The Eggbeaters 11 are top of the line titanium pedals that are one of the lightest pedals on the market. At just 0.39lb (179g), you will almost forget that you have them on your bike.

Just remember, they come with a weight limit of 200lb (90kg), so they are not suitable for heavier riders.

Their design provides an exceptionally great mud-shedding ability. So, if you enjoy riding in mud, these are a perfect choice.

Crankbrothers’ rotating spring design (Shimano has fixed clip in entry) takes some time to get used to, but it allows you to clip in from every side.

The good news is that if Eggbeater 11 are too expensive for you, you can go for Eggbeater 1, 2, or 3 that are a little bit heavier but provide you with similar features.

With Crankbrothers, you also get float depending on the type of cleats you use. This feature is not common among Shimano SPD pedals.

The main downside of Crankbrothers’ clip-in mechanism is that you can’t adjust the spring tension.


PRO TIP: Combine Crankbrothers or Time ATAC pedals with Crankbrothers shoe shields. They will protect your shoe insoles so they will last you longer while maintaining the same level of cleat’s adjustability.


Time ATAC XC8

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Main Features

  • Angular and lateral float to ease pressure on your knees
  • Adjustable spring tension
  • Easy to enter and exit
  • Very good mud-shedding
  • Cleats included

Technical Specifications

  • Weight: 0.63lb (286g)
  • Material: Carbon and steel
  • Recommended cleats: Time ATAC

Time ATAC XC8 pedals function like the Crankbrothers Eggbeater 11 pedals, besides a few differences.

They have an angular float of +/-5° and lateral float of 6 mm to ease the pressure on your knees. They also come with two release angles of 13 and 17-degrees, allowing you to set an angle that suits you best.

At 286g, they are a convenient choice for anyone looking for light clipless MTB pedals. While they may be slightly challenging to grasp when switching from Shimano SPD pedals, they are a good choice for mountain bikes.

Owners praise their durability and reliability. These two features are very important if you are tens of miles away from home. You can rely on XC8 at any time.

According to some users, they have even better mud-shedding ability than the Shimano SPD.

Also available at performancebike.com


Don’t miss this selection of the best mountain bike shoes for clipless and flat pedals.


The Best Clipless MTB Pedals With Platforms

Clipless MTB pedals with platforms are suitable for enduro and trail riders because they provide them with additional foot support.

These pedals are heavier than clipless MTB pedals without platforms. You can clip into them from both sides and use them with clipless MTB shoes or casual shoes with softer soles.

Crankbrothers Mallet E (Best Clipless MTB Pedals With Platforms)

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Main Features

  • Adjustable pins
  • Large platform
  • Excellent mud-shedding
  • Float (depending on cleats)
  • No spring tension adjustability
  • Rotating spring design
  • Cleats included

Technical Specifications

Crankbrothers Mallet E line of pedals is suitable for – yes, you guessed it – enduro (Mallet DH pedals are for downhill).

Thanks to their large platform, you get sufficient foot support in every situation. It will increase your confidence and the ability to control your bike.

Crankbrothers pedals have float (depending on the cleats you use), which is a feature that some riders love. Some don’t. However, it is something that differentiates them from Shimano pedals.

To improve your grip, you can also adjust the pins, which is a huge plus compared to Cranbrothers Candy, for example.

Also remember, that Crankbrothers’ pedals have a rotating spring design which takes some time to get used to. It is not fixed as on HT Components T1 pedals.

If you want the same pedals made of titanium, go for Mallet E 11. They take the Mallet E line to a whole new level.

Also available at performancebike.com, and wiggle.co.uk

HT Components T1

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Main Features

  • Large platform
  • Good mud-shedding
  • Float (depending on cleats)
  • Adjustable spring tension (better than Shimano)
  • Available in plenty of colors
  • Cleats included

Technical Specifications

  • Weight: 0.81lb (368g)
  • Material: Aluminum and steel
  • Recommended cleats:
    • HT X1E
    • HT X1
    • HT X1F
    • HT X2

HT Components pedals come with their unique clip mechanism that combines some features of Shimano and Crankbrothers pedals.

I like these pedals because they will “remind” you that you are about to unclip. They also allow your feet to move a bit, thanks to the 4° or 8° float cleats.

When I compare them with Shimano PD-M9120, they are a little bit lighter. You can also choose from a larger color variety and tighten the spring tension more so you won’t unclip when you don’t want to.

Speaking of the spring tension, I don’t recommend these to beginners or riders who don’t like too strong engagement. You will struggle to unclip. T1 pedals are better for performance-oriented riders and racers.

Keep in mind that these pedals come with a 176lb (80kg) weight limit. So if you are a heavier rider, look elsewhere.

Also available at performancebike.com


Shimano PD-M9120

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Main Features

  • Large platform
  • Good mud-shedding
  • Adjustable spring tension
  • Available in plenty of colors
  • Cleats included

Technical Specifications

  • Weight: 0.88lb (398g)
  • Material: Aluminum and steel
  • Recommended cleats: Shimano SM-SH51 or SM-SH56

Shimano PD-M9120 are very like HT Components T1, but I would say these are more beginner-friendly. This is because you can adjust the release tension to be easy, so you don’t have to put as much effort into unclipping.

The platform shape of these 2 pedals is very similar and provides your feet with enough support when needed.

One of the main differences is in the weight, which is higher compared to T1. On the other hand, PD-M9120 are more durable and suitable even for heavier riders.

Shimano pedals don’t have float as HT Components pedals. This can be an advantage for you if you don’t like float and prefer a fixed-foot position.

Both pedals will provide you with similar mud-shedding ability making them perfect not only for enduro but also for gravel, cyclocross, or cross country riders.

Also available at wiggle.co.uk

Crankbrothers Candy

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Main Features

  • Small platform
  • Excellent mud-shedding
  • Float (depending on cleats)
  • No spring tension adjustability
  • Rotating spring design
  • Cleats included

Technical Specifications

Crankbrothers’ Candy pedals offer great value for the money. However, they are not as suitable for enduro but rather for XC/trail riding because of the small platform (Compared to Mallet E).

They are pretty lightweight, so if you look for lightweight, clipless MTB pedals with a platform, you may consider getting a pair of these.

The Candy line of pedals is very versatile, also thanks to a large number of variants. You can go for affordable Candy 1 or pay more for advanced models like Candy 2, 3, 7, and 11, depending on your budget and needs.

The more expensive versions of Candy pedals are lighter and made of more premium materials like titanium.

Just remember, with Crankbrothers pedals, you get float based on cleats you use and no possibility to adjust the spring tension.

They have platforms that may offer your feet support if you miss clipping in on time. And, the spring clip provides a minimal surface for mud to occupy. As a result, they allow you to clip in with ease in any weather.

One downside of Candy is that they don’t have any pins, so you don’t get a good grip as with Mallets.

Also available at rei.com, performancebike.com, and wiggle.co.uk


The Best Hybrid MTB Pedals (Clip-in + Platform)

The following ‘hybrid’ pedals allow you to clip in from one side and use normal shoes on the other side, thanks to the platform. They are ideal for people who commute or take casual trips combined with walking/hiking.

These pedals are also much heavier than clipless MTB pedals without platforms. You can clip into them from one side and use the platform on the other (ideal for shoes with softer soles).

Shimano PD-EH500 (Best Hybrid MTB Pedals)

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Main Features

  • Adjustable pins
  • Adjustable spring tension
  • Large platform
  • Good mud-shedding
  • Cleats included

Technical Specifications

  • Weight: 0.84lb (383g)
  • Material: Aluminum and steel
  • Recommended cleats: Shimano SM-SH51 or SM-SH56

Shimano PD-EH500 are hybrid pedals perfect for demanding riders who need adjustable pedals. Not only that you can adjust their spring tension but also their pins to get a better grip.

They have a slightly smaller platform than the Crankbrothers Double Shot 2, but if you don’t have elephant feet, you will be fine.

Thanks to the SPD mechanism, you can shed mud easily, so you don’t have to be afraid of riding in mud or snow.

Remember, you won’t get any float with Shimano pedals. You can only choose from 2 types of cleats that have different exit mode (learn more).

PD-EH500 are perfect for good for enduro, cross-country-like terrain, gravel bikes… Simply for anyone who wants high-quality hybrid pedals for their mountain bike.

Also available at wiggle.co.uk


Crankbrothers Double Shot 2

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Main Features

  • Large platform
  • Excellent mud-shedding
  • Float (depending on cleats)
  • No spring tension adjustability
  • Cleats included

Technical Specifications

If you are a demanding rider who doesn’t want to spend as much money on a pair of good hybrid pedals, Doubleshot 2 are a good alternative to Shimano PD-EH500.

They are more affordable, so they lack one important feature – they don’t offer adjustable pins. They have studs only. This means you won’t be able to adjust the grip level. But don’t worry, if you are a fan of Crankbrothers and adjustability, you can get Doubleshot 3 with adjustable pins.

Doubleshot 2 have a slightly larger platform for better foot support than PD-EH500. This makes them better for riders with larger feet or if you wear shoes with soft soles.

Crankbrothers pedals have a rotating spring clip-in mechanism that is perfect for mud-shedding. If you enjoy demanding terrain, you will enjoy these pedals as well.

Of course, you get float based on the cleats you use, and you won’t be able to adjust the spring tension. This is typical for all Crankbrothers’ pedals.

Also available at wiggle.co.uk


XEWEA MTB Clipless Pedals

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Main Features

  • Large platform
  • Adjustable spring tension
  • Cleats included

Technical Specifications

  • Weight: 0.66lb (300g)
  • Material: Aluminum and steel
  • Recommended cleats: Shimano SM-SH51 or SM-SH56

These hybrid pedals are highly affordable. So if you have a limited budget for hybrid pedals suitable for mountain bikes, XEWEA pedals should catch your attention.

Of course, they are not as durable and well made as the above-mentioned pedals from Cranbrothers or Shimano, but they are pretty good when we consider their price.

You can adjust their spring tension, shed mud pretty easily, and they are even lighter than Double Shot 2 and PD-EH500.

Their main downside is the build quality and used materials. I don’t recommend them for experienced and demanding riders. They are perfect for beginners or as a replacement for stock pedals.


My Verdict

Choosing the best clipless mountain bike pedals is not an easy task. Depending on your riding style, you can choose from different types of pedals. Go for:

  • Clipless MTB pedals without platforms if you want to ride in a cross-country-like terrain, gravel, or cyclocross,
  • clipless MTB pedals with platforms if you prefer trails, enduro, or downhills,
  • and hybrid MTB pedals (clip-in + platform) if you want to combine mountain biking with commuting, or hikes, casual rides, etc.

This is a very simplified guide to follow. If you want to find out more about individual types of MTB pedals, read the following section.


How to Choose the Best Clipless Mountain Bike Pedals?

In this section, you find out what to look for when buying clipless MTB pedals. I also compare clipless and flat pedals and explain, what are their benefits and disadvantages.

Material and Weight

Clipless pedals have to be durable to withstand the power you put into every pedal stroke. Therefore, most high-quality pedals are made of metals like aluminum, steel, or titanium or carbon/plastic composites.

The general rule of thumb is that the more expensive the pedals, the better and lighter materials.

For example, Crankbrothers Egg Beater 11 are made of titanium, reducing their overall weight to just 0.39lb / 179g per pair. However, they come with a rider’s weight limit (200 lb / 90 kg).

Check the following table that shows average weight of different types of bike pedals.

Type of PedalsAverage Weight (g/pair)Average Weight (lb/pair)
Flat3770.83
Clipless w/o platform3080.68
Clipless with platform4460.98
Hybrid (clip in + platform)4440.98

I calculated the average weights based on this list of pedals.

Release Tension

The pedal’s release tension indicates how easy/difficult it is to unclip. Manufacturers such as Shimano, Time, Look (and others) allow you to adjust it. This brings many benefits:

  • Beginners can lower the release tension so they can unclip easier in technical terrain, at traffic lights, intersections, etc.
  • Riders with knee problems also prefer lower tension to prevent knee problems caused by too strong tension.
  • Advanced riders and racers can increase the tension to avoid unintentional exit.

Crankbrothers pedals don’t offer the possibility to adjust it. This is probably one of their main disadvantages compared to the pedals of the above-mentioned manufacturers.

Cleats Release Angle & Float

Cleats release angle and float are sometimes mixed up together. So, let me explain how do these two features differ.

The cleat release angle is the angle at which the shoe release from the pedal (e.g. 10°, 15°, 20°).

To make things more complicated, there are also release modes.

Release mode means that you can release your feet from pedals with an outward movement only or by twisting your heel in any direction.

For example, Shimano SM-SH51 cleats allow outward release only, while SM-SH56 release in any direction. Therefore, SM-SH56 cleats are better for beginners who are not used to clipless pedals, while SM-SH51 for racers and performance-oriented riders who want to avoid unintentional unclipping. 

Cleat float allows you to move your heels sideways when you are clipped into the pedal. If you experience knee problems, you may benefit from cleats with wider float. They allow your heels to rotate a little bit.

The table below shows different Crankbrothers’ cleats, their release angle and float, as an example.

Crankbrothers cleatsRelease angleFloat
Standard 6°15°
Standard 0°15°
Easy 6°10°
Easy 0°10°

Source: Crankbrothers.com

Platform Size

The pedals’ platform provides your feet with additional support. The general rule of thumb is that the smaller the platform, the stiffer shoes you need because the force you put into pedals is focused on a smaller area (the pedal).

Stiffer soles help you spread the pressure across the larger area, preventing hotspots and discomfort. With larger platforms, you don’t need as stiff shoes because the pressure is already spread.

But, based on the pedal concave/convex shape and the type of shoes you use, your shoes sole may or may not touch the pins and the platform. This means that if the shoes and pedals don’t go well together, you won’t be able to take a full advantage of the larger platform.

How to decide whether or not to buy clipless MTB pedals with or platform?

The more technical terrain you ride, the more you can benefit from a larger platform for added stability. Therefore, clipless MTB pedals with platforms are great for enduro and trail riders. But, they accumulate mud, so if you want to ride cross-country-like terrain, SPD-style pedals will be better for you.

Clipless, Flats, vs. Hybrid Pedals

Thanks to the versatility of mountain bikes, they are not only perfect for difficult and technical terrain, but you can use them for commuting, all-day trips, maintaining your fitness, etc. You can use them with one of the following 3 types of pedals:

  1. Clipless (a clip-in mechanism)
    1. With a platform
    2. Without a platform
  2. Flats (platforms)
  3. Hybrid (a clip-in mechanism + platforms)

So which type is right for you? 

Clipless pedals allow you to take full advantage of pedaling in circles technique. You will feel like you are one with the bike. They are perfect for cross-country, cyclocross, or gravel riders.

It will probably take you a few rides to get used to them, but once you master the skill of clipping in and out, you will be able to take your riding to the next level.

There are 2 basic types – clipless with and without platforms:

  • The clipless MTB pedals without platforms are perfect for cross-country-like terrain, gravel, or cyclocross riders. They allow you to shed mud very easily.
  • The clipless MTB pedals with platforms are better for more technical terrain because they provide you with additional support. Their downside is they may accumulate more mud.

You may be interested in this selection of the best mountain bike shoes for clipless pedals.

Flat pedals or platforms provide you with better foot support than clipless pedals. They will also allow you to take your feet off the pedals when needed, which improves your security and confidence.

Platforms are not only suitable for beginners but also for ‘trail hunters.’ Thanks to their larger platform, you get a better idea of what the bike is doing and how to control it.

But, due to the lack of attachment mechanism, your feet may slip off pedals in some situations. Therefore, go for flat pedals with pins that improve the traction and your overall grip. 

To find out more about flat pedals, read my fully dedicated article on the best mountain bike flat pedals that includes a detailed guide.

Hybrid pedals have a clip-in mechanism on one side and the platform on the other. This means you can use them with casual shoes or with clipless bike shoes.

They are perfect for people who combine mountain biking with walking or hiking, or for commuters who need to often stop at traffic lights, intersections, etc.

Take a look at the following summary of the advantages and disadvantages of different types of bike pedals.

Type of PedalsProsConsRecommended for
Platforms (flat pedals)• You can use them with almost any type of shoes.
• You don't have to clip into them so you can take your feet of them easily. This increases your safety and confidence.
• You learn the right echnique and tricks more easily.
• You can't pedal in circles (you cannot pull up).
• Your foot can slip off more easily.
• Shin injuries from pins.
Beginners, commuters, BMX riders, MTB riders, downhill riders
Road pedals (clipless)• You will feel like you have better control over your bicycle.
• They are lightweight to lower your fatigue over long distances.
• You can pedal in circles.
• They are longer than MTB pedals, so they provide more support for your foot.
• You can't clip in from both sides.
• Expensive - You will have to buy pedals, road bike shoes, and cleats.
• It will take you some time to get used to them.
Road cyclists
MTB pedals (clipless)• You will feel like you have better control over your bicycle.
• You can pedal in circles.
• You can clip in from both sides.
• Expensive - You will have to buy pedals, mountain bike shoes, and cleats.
• It will take you some time to get used to them.
MTB and gravel riders, cyclocross riders
Hybrid pedals (flat + clipless)• You can decide what type of shoes you use (normal footwear or specialized cycling shoes).• They are heavier compared to clipless road and MTB pedals.
• They are bulky.
Commuters, bike packers, people who like bike trips and hiking, mountain and gravel bikers

Sources: mtbdirect.com.au, bikeradar.com


Mountain Bike Clipless Pedals FAQ


This post is regularly updated to provide you with the most up-to-date tips on products. If you find a product that is not up to date, please, contact me.

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