It’s no accident that gravel biking is taking a cycling world by storm and gaining more and more popularity each day. Set in the sweet spot between mountain and road biking it brings to the rider the best of both worlds. The versatility as seen in mountain bikes makes gravel bikes perfect for all off-road enthusiasts and adventurers.
At the same time, while endurance similar to road bikes makes them convenient for commuting and long rides. Of course, they excel in muddy gravel trails and bridleways. The sheer broadness of options when choosing your cycling route and openness of the off-asphalt roads are the main reasons why they are so popular. Not to mention that peak time for gravel biking is in the cold and wet weather, usually a dead season for cyclists.
In order to truly enjoy gravel riding, you need to have a solid bike and proper gear. And for your comfort, for power and durability, the right pair of pedals are vital. They present the most essential point of contact between you and your bike.
Choosing the best gravel bike pedals is not easy. There’s a variety of options available on the market. Picking the right ones is especially important for gravel bikes since your pedals are going to be constantly pummeled by mud, dirt, and grit. Also, they need to make getting off the bike and walking easy and comfortable since you’ll often have to resort to “bike-hiking”. In these situations, you’ll go on foot and carry your bike over a creek and river crossing, or walk up the extremely steep rise.
To make things a bit easier for gravel riding enthusiasts, we compiled a list of what we feel are the best gravel bike pedals currently available. Take a closer look at each one and find the pedals that best suit your needs and your budget.
Shimano Deore XT M8020
Crankbrothers Candy 3
Time ATAC XC8
Time ATAC MX2
HT Components Leopard M1
Look Cycle X-Track
iSSi Flash III
Crank Brothers 5050
Race Face Chester
Funn Python Flat Pedal
Best Gravel Bike Clipless Pedals
Probably the best-selling clipless pedals in the world, Shimano PD-M520 has achieved near-legendary status among cyclists. They are suitable for a range of bikes including those intended for a gravel ride. PD-m520 boasts a similar double-sided entry and release mechanism as more expensive Shimano counterparts from XT and XTR series. The mechanism features simply adjustable release tension. As with all Shimano pedals, you can do it with 3mm Allen wrench. This will allow you to clip out quickly in need of emergency and clip in just as easily without even looking at your shoes.
On the road, these pedals have proven to be extremely and durable. Mud, dirt, and debris are shredded with ease. Cope and cone bearing system makes them easy to access and replace, without the need to see a mechanic.
If you are on a budget PD-M520 is probably the best choice you can make, especially for the entry-level rider.
- durable and reliable
- the cheapest in class, great value for money
- adjustable and easy to enter/exit with the double-sided Platform
- simple to maintain
- no problem in shedding mud
- a bit heavy for their size
- some won’t like a somewhat outdated design
Another high-quality Shimano product. These pedals are dual-sided, with SPD clip-in design on one side and a flat platform on the other. This removes the need to change the pedals depending on wearing shoes with clip cleats or flats. You can even easily ride in your every-day shoes. The platform features eight traction pins allowing for a strong and safe grip even in extremely wet conditions. Release and entry settings on the clip-on mechanism are adjustable. It features SH56 multi-release cleats for simple unclipping in all directions.
With a body made from aluminum, these pedals are surprisingly light, only 383g. Sealed cartridge bearings contribute to reliability and longevity.
- very comfortable
- clipping mechanism is easy to use the flat platform has a solid grip
- spring tension might be too weak for experienced riders
- narrow platform
Shimano Deore XT M8020
One of the best gravel bike pedals, XT M8020 is robust, strong and durable. This doesn’t mean that it’s not pleasing on the eye, the first thing you notice is its slick and smooth design. Besides mere aesthetics, the design is responsible for excellent mud-shedding and rock deflecting properties,
The wide curved alloy platform provides a lot of contact between the pedal and the shoe. It surrounds the SPD mechanism, allowing guiding your foot to the pedal. An integrated cage at each end provides extra support for the foot. Engagement and release are smooth and adjustable. A bit lower platform contributes to stability while pedaling.
The axle and bearing system are made of hardened steel for extra reliability and durability. It also makes these pedals low maintenance.
- perfect for rough riding
- suitable for the wide range of bikes
- extra wide platform provides extra comfort and stability
- reliable and durable, even on the hardest terrain
- easy and instant clipping
- great value for the money
- can be used with plain sneakers for short rides
- not the easiest installment out there
A fantastic choice for those who enjoy riding fast and aggressive. Simple in design, without an extensive platform and made from double-cast stainless steel, Eggbeater is virtually unbreakable. Double sealed massive bearings only add to Eggbeater’s longevity. The lack of an extensive platform also makes for an easy foot lock-in from any direction. Due to their four-sided entry, these pedals excel in mud and dirt shedding and are also very accessible and easy to clean up. Furthermore, stainless steel means that you won’t have to deal with rust, which is particularly important for gravel biking which is usually done in wet conditions.
The Eggbeater comes in several versions. 11 is a high-end titanium model, which is more than reflected in its price. 2 and 3 are mid-range versions, with 3 a bit lighter and more durable. The Eggbeater is a basic model with a stamped steel finish. It’s also the cheapest one.
- minimalist, slick design
- extremely durable
- very light, around 280g
- fantastic mud-shedding
- 4 entry points for easy locking
- double-seal system
- customizable float and release
- non-adjustable spring tension
- minimal foot support, but this is mainly to the personal preference
Crankbrothers Candy 3
The third version of Carankbrothers’s Candy series is a lightweight aluminum-made pedal (with cast-steel wings) which is a great choice for those new to the Crankbro’s products. The main difference from the Eggbeater is the small platform that provides extra support while riding.
These pedals offer plenty of tuning options to find the perfect fit for your shoe. The release angle can be set to from 10 to 20 degrees by simple switching of cleats from left to right and vice-versa. A four-sided clipless entry mechanism helps engagement and release and increases the mud-shedding ability. You’ll probably be able to lock your shoe on the first try. Also, when unclipped, the ribbed body can provide some traction. Double seal system and premium bearings are the guarantees that you won’t have to service very often, and anyway, Crankbrothers offer a 5-year warranty.
- very customizable
- decent range of float
- mud clearance like no other
- effortless shoe locking
- a bit more expensive than the competition
Crankbrothers Mallet Enduro
One of the favorites of the professional riders. And for a good reason. Extremely tough and durable, even in the hardest ride conditions. High adjustable clipping mechanism offers a lot of stability and freedom of movement. Also, the 4-sided entry is very easy to clean. This is a hybrid pedal, which means that you can unclip at any time during the ride and use wide platforms with traction pad technology. Or you can just ride around the neighborhood without the need for special shoes.
6 degrees float and 15 or 20 degrees release angle will provide more comfort, easier navigation and lessen the stress on your knees. Mallet Enduro is available with two different axle lengths, per your preference – 52 or 57mm.
The aluminum body and double seal system ensure longevity and optimal performance even in the extremely wet weather.
- very secure
- easy to maintain
- plenty of available adjustments
- top-notch mud-shedding
- excels in bad weather
- wide platform for more support
- slightly on a heavier side
Crankbrothers Doubleshot Hybrid
Another hybrid on our list after Shimano XT M8020. A bit cheaper than its Shimano counterpart, Crankbrothers Doubleshot also has one side with a flat surface and Eggbeater clipping mechanism on the other giving you security and stability for long and rough rides, but also the opportunity to ride in your normal footwear for shorter distances. The entry and release tension settings of the clipping mechanism are adjustable. Admittedly, they are a bit stiff at the beginning so it takes some time to break them in. Molded pins and ribs offer some grip on the flat side, but maybe not enough for the really rough weather.
Double seal system, premium bearings, brass cleats, and aluminum and stainless steel construction make these pedals very durable and resistant to wear and tear.
- more affordable than the competition
- plenty of float and great feel
- reasonable weight
- great at the mud-shedding
- flat side can be too slippery in bad weather conditions
- breaking them in takes some time
Time ATAC XC8
With its carbon body and hollow steel axle, ATAC XC8 is one of the lightest professional pedals on the market. The lightness does not come at the expense of the strength and durability, quite the contrary. Inner mechanism and bearings are shielded by strong metal parts.
ATAC XC8 mechanism offers plenty of float and features adjustable tension release. It can be easily adjusted just by turning the screw on the side of the pedal. Engagement and release are easy and you hear a popping sound when you clip in so you’re sure you’ve done it right. The lateral float may take some getting used to, though, especially is these are your first Time pedals. But, in the long run, it’s more than good for your joints. They offer Mud shedding ability has shown to be top-notch.
- extremely lightweight
- competitive pricing
- easy to install
- a great choice for longer rides
- plenty of lateral float
- strong and durable
- some might find them to be a bit high
Time ATAC MX2
The bread platform of ATAC MX2 makes them an excellent choice for longer rides. Its functionality, float and auto adjustable tension all contribute to the comfortable ride. Great pedal for beginners, but also for experienced riders who like to enjoy the relaxed ride without too much hassle. Composite body and steel axle make them able to endure even the longest rides. Time’s standard float eases the strain on knees and ankles.
As with the other Time products, ATAC MX2 boasts entry and release mechanism with reassuring clicking sound once the shoe is set. It ‘s also easy to maintain and clean; when you step into the pedal the lever clears any dirt and mud remains.
- the broad platform adds to the stability
- easy and simple maintenance
- clipping takes some time getting used to
HT Components Leopard M1
Durable aluminum construction makes Leopard M1 a great choice for those looking for a pedal that will serve for a long time and stand the test of rough trails and foul weather. Their built, titanium spindles and small platform make them one of the lighter pedals in class. Although light, they are surprisingly sturdy and resistant to rocks and debris. Mud-shedding performance is flawless. Tension settings are customizable and a two-click clipping mechanism gives you an extra sense of security. The open design proves to be excellent for shedding mud.
HT Components managed to incorporate the best features of Shimano and Crankbrothers pedals and incorporate them into their own original design. The result is a reliable and light product suitable for pros and amateur riders alike, that deservedly holds its place among the best gravel bike pedals.
- plenty of customizing options and easily adjustable float and tension with 3mm hex key
- superior mud-shedding
- easy engagement and release
- the small platform may bother some riders
Look Cycle X-Track En-Rage Plus
Sturdy and durable, X-Track En-Rage Plus is designed to resist the harshest challenges of gravel bike riding. Wide surface, high contact-to-weight ratio, and textured pins on the side provide great stability and security. Aluminum body, Chromoly spindle, and double weather-resistant seal ensure longevity and reliability at any condition. On the other side, the large platform can accumulate mud and debris making engagement sometimes a problem.
X-Track En-Rage Plus features Shimano SPD-like clipping mechanism, allowing you to use, besides Look Cycle originals, any SPD compatible cleats. Adjustable release tension and intuitive mechanism make for easy engagement and release. Maintenance is easy and almost all parts are replaceable
- stabile and secure
- wide platform for better contact between foot and pedal
- SPD compatible clipping mechanism
- very durable
- easy to service
- higher profile than most would like
- somewhat heavy
- could be better at the mud-shedding
iSSi Flash III
iSSi’s Flash III is versatile and suitable for all kinds of rides, including gravel biking. Featuring double-sided SPD mechanism pedals are compatible with all SPD cleats. Highly customizable clipping is very easy to use once you get used to it. Getting in and out of the pedal is fairly simple and secure. Plenty of adjustment settings make this pedal perfect for both beginners and professionals.
Chromoly spindle and ED coated hardware make sure that your pedal won’t be affected by adverse weather and train conditions. The triple-bearing system is reliable and easily serviceable and provides smooth rotation.
- various spindle length options
- good mud-shedding capabilities
- sturdy and durable
- low maintenance
- wide platform
- suitable for all purposes
- slick and minimalist design
- not a very long-lasting paint-job
Best Gravel Bike Flat Pedals
VP Components Vice Pedal
A durable and lightweight flat pedal for great biking experiences. The body consists of aluminum metal. It is easy to adjust the settings, which is one of its best features. The small steel pins make it easy to adjust the set- up to your personal preferences. Furthermore, it comes with flat paddle assist making it easy to maneuver your bike with precision. This is a great option for novices and good value for your money. The ease of use and durability will not disappoint any starters riding on gravel bikes.
This budget option is surprisingly good in quality as well. The durability and sturdy parts make this a great option for beginners. Even more, the 5-year warranty makes this a safe investment. If something is wrong with the pedal just bring it back to get a replacement. The grip is superb even when going out in wet conditions. Optionally you can buy extra mud and water protection parts to be fully equipped for rainy days. On top of this, the platform makes your foot-clips well protected.
Although this flat pedal is made from plastic it is just as good or even better than its metal counterparts. Ten plastic pins will provide you with all the grip that you need. Even muddy conditions are no problem for this high-quality plastic option. If you feel the need to upgrade your pedal you don’t even have to buy new ones. Several upgrades and customization kits are available to make the adjustments you deem fit. An absolute gem when it comes to plastic flat pedals.
Crank Brothers 5050 xx Flat Pedals
The most amazing feature of the Crank Brothers 5050 xx Flat Pedals is the ease of modifying with several available parts. Also, when a part is damaged you only have to replace the damaged part. No need to buy a completely new set. A feature that will save you a lot of money in the long run. The lightweight pedals will give you all the grip you need and even more parts for extra grip can be added. It is hard to discover any downsides of this premium pedal. Customize your pedals until it is exactly what you want. Great value for your money if you want the best quality and many adjustable options.
Race Face Chester
A lightweight flat pedal made of nylon that is pretty wide and thin, weighing only 340 grams. With 8 pins you will have enough grip for even the toughest conditions. The platform gives you the stability you need even when bouncing from obstacles. There are many colors available making it easy to match with your bike. The pedals are easy to use and extremely durable as well. Last but not least they easily perform the same as most flat pedals of double the price. Which makes them a great option to get the most value out of your money.
Funn Python Flat Pedal
The ultimate flat pedal for the “aggressive” biker. This pedal perfectly suits downhill mountain bikers who want to go all the way. 12 pins on each side of the pedal give amazing grip. The pedal is super thin but the material is so strong and solid it will feel robust. The relatively large surface of the pedal will provide you with the perfect grip. An absolute must for the adventurous gravel biker. This pedal will be worth your investment easily. This pedal is made from the premium quality material 6061 aerospace grade alloy and you will experience the premium performance.
Pedalist Innovations Catalyst Pedals
The width and thickness of these pedals are pretty standard. In contrast, the length of this pedal is what makes it stand out from the crowd. The pedal is very long with its 128 mm. Instead of positioning the ball of your foot on the pedal, you place the middle part of your foot on this pedal. This increases the downward motion and makes it possible to create more power. The large surface of this innovative pedal and 18 pins on both sides keep your feet securely in place with all the grip you need. The relatively high weight of 505 grams is easily compensated by all its benefits. A great option for people who want to keep up with new innovations of gravel bike pedals.
A Buyers Guide: How to Choose the Best Gravel Bike Pedals for You
The products in the list above are not sorted in the order by quality. Each of the pedals has its drawbacks and advantages. Which one is right for you depends on your needs, budget, experience and preferred type of rides. When you decide to buy a bike pedal there are many factors you should take into account. Careful examination and gathering of available information will save you from buyer’s remorse. we will go through the main things you’ll need to consider before deciding on the right pedal for you.
If you are into gravel biking you probably won’t be able to get by with bottom-of-the-line, cheapest pedals. Riding on gravel (and often in bad weather) means a lot of mud, dirt, debris, rocks or even snow on your pedals. So, you’ll need a product able to withstand all of these. But, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to splurge big bucks to get a suitable pedal. There are perfectly reasonable priced pedals available, especially if you are a beginner, or plan to ride less demanding trails. Pedals such as Shimano PD-M520 provide great value for your money and will serve you long and well. This means that even starting at 30 or so bucks, you can get a reliable and durable product. Of course, as your skill and demands increase, so will the need for more advanced and expensive gear. For professionals, heavy-duty pedals able to answer the most extreme riding styles and the longest rides are essential. Premium gear means premium prices, going up to $500.
Platform vs Clipless Pedals
Clipless pedals (a misnomer in a way) feature a mechanical accessory that clips onto the cleats on the bottom of specially designed cycling shoes. These mechanisms are placed on both sides of a pedal. The advantages
of clipless pedals are extra power transformed from your legs to the bike, giving you increased speed, and better security and stability. The contact surface is usually smaller than with the platform pedals, making them easier to manipulate. The downside is a higher price and the need for adjusting to fit your foot. But, once you get the feel for it, you will be doing it without thinking.
Platform pedals feature flat surfaces on both sides. These surfaces are usually ribbed or equipped with several pins for a better grip. Although contact surfaces are larger to stability, they do not offer the reliability and efficiency of clipless counterparts. Flat pedals advantages, though, are cheaper price and lighter weight compared to clip-ins.
There’s the third option available. The hybrid pedals such as Crankbrothers Doubleshot or Shimano XT M8020 feature flat platform on the one side and clipless mechanism on the other.
Again, choosing the right type of pedal depends on your needs and plans. You might get by with flats if you plan to ride less demanding trails, but, for gravel biking, due to its nature, we do recommend using clipless pedals. If you plan to ride gravel roads, but also use your bike for commuting to work and riding around town, a hybrid pedal might be a good option. It will allow you to use your normal shoes for leisure rides and preserve your cycling gear for more adventurous trails.
Besides stability and durability, the most important factor for choosing the best gravel bike pedals is the feel and comfort during the ride which can be different for each rider. For this reason, it might be smart to choose the pedals with the most adjustable and customizable features. Being able to adjust float and tension can greatly impact how much you enjoy the ride.
The degree of float determines how much your foot can pivot while clipped into the pedal. Depending on the pedal type, floatation can rangefrom0 to 15 degrees. Pedals with plenty of float allow more freedom and comfortability to the rider. Also, a higher floatation degree is better for your knees and ankles.
On the other hand, tension defines the resistance needed to disengage your foot from the clip. More experienced riders prefer stiffer tension enabling more control and connection with the bike, while the looser setting is suitable for beginners, especially since it’s easier to unclip your foot in case of fall.
You should also pay attention to the stack height of the pedal and the size of the pedal. The height can influence the efficiency of the ride because the closer your foot is to the axle, the more powerful your stroke will be. In terms of size, wider platforms offer more stability and the larger point of contact but increase the weight of the pedal. So it mostly boils down to personal preference.