What’s in a pedal? More than you might think! Pedals are a critical link in delivering power from your leg to the drivetrain. You’re going to be leaning on them, standing on them, and hitting them on hard things, and you don’t want to slip off or have a pedal break! Many manufacturers use cheap pedals on built bikes, which makes a new pair of pedals is one of the most cost-effective upgrades you can buy. This list of the best fat bike pedals should help you choose the ones you need.
Fat bike riders have the same basic pedal options as any mountain biker. Flat pedals are easiest to get on and off and are best suited to heavy winter shoes. Clip-in pedals allow the most efficient energy transfer and are favored for touring or long rides. Clipped/platform hybrids give the best of both worlds, at the cost of some extra weight. Review the pros and cons of each type before making a decision! If you need more information or explanations of the terminology, see the sections at the end of this article.
For more of our top bike gear recommendations, check out the Best Fat Bike Tires.
Quick Answer – The Best Fat Bike Pedals
Race Face ChesterView at Amazon
Kona WAH WAHView at Jenson USA
OneUp ComponentsView at Jenson USA
Crankbrothers Eggbeater 3View at REI
Shimano Saint SPD M820View at REI
Comparison Table – Best Fat Bike Pedals
|Race Face Chester||340g||Flat||$||4.0|
|Kona WAH WAH||360g||Flat||$$||4.0|
|Crankbrothers Eggbeater 3||280g||Clip-In, No Platform||$$$||4.5|
|Shimano Saint SPD M820||546g||Clip-In with Platform||$$$||5.0|
Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.
Reviews – The Best Pedals for Fat Biking
Race Face Chester
- Weight: 340g
- Material: Nylon Composite
- Style: Flat
- Thickness: 18mm
- Platform Size: 110 x 101mm
- Eight Replaceable Steel Pins Per Side For Sure Grip
- Multiple Color Options
- Lightweight Composite Material
- Pedal Mutes Shock And Sound When Hitting Rocks
BEST BUDGET FLAT PEDAL
The Race Face Chester is a fat bike standard and one of the first items to come up when easy, affordable upgrades are mentioned. It’s a simple, practical, durable pedal that gives a wide, solid platform with minimal thickness and weight. The Chester is thin, sleek, and looks like a much more expensive pedal, and all those color options don’t hurt! Reviewers praised the pedal for its impact resistance and ability to take strikes quietly and without excessive shock.
If you’re planning on really aggressive riding you might want something with longer pins, but the upside of that is that the Chester is less likely to rip up your shins than some more aggressive pedals. Overall this is a very solid flat pedal at a very attractive price!
Kona WAH WAH
- Weight: 360g
- Material: Fiberglass Reinforced Composite
- Style: Flat
- Thickness: 13mm
- Platform Size: 120 x 118mm
- 7 Pins Per Side For Solid Grip
- Two Cartridge And One Needle Bearing Per Pedal For Smooth Spinning
- Plastic Composite Body Doesn’t Transmit Cold To The Foot
BEST WINTER RIDING PEDAL
Kona’s original Wah Wah pedal made a splash in the fat bike community and was immediately adopted as the winter pedal of choice for many riders. The huge platform and aggressive pegs give you a firm base and a secure grip in even the heaviest boots, and many riders feel that composites feel less cold on the feet than metal pedals. The Wah Wah 2 is lighter, wider, and thinner and carries on the model’s place as a wide, solid, high-grip pedal at a reasonable price point.
The large size of this pedal is the whole point for many people, especially riders who are wearing bulky cold-weather footgear and need a solid place to put it. That same width can get in the way and produce pedal strikes in warmer weather, especially on tight, rocky trails. You’ll have to decide whether the compromise is worth it for you!
- Weight: 355g
- Material: Aluminum
- Style: Flat
- Thickness: 8 mm (leading edge)
- Platform Size: 115 x 105 mm
- Four Sealed Cartridge Bearings Per Pedal For Smooth Spin
- 20 Rear Loading Custom Adjustable Hexagonal Pins Per Pedal For Ultimate Grip
- Wide Platform Design For Stability
- Thin Leading Edge Deflects Off Obstacles
BEST FLAT PEDAL
What is there to improve in a flat pedal? Flat pedals have been around as long as bikes, so shouldn’t they have been perfected a long time ago? Apparently not. The OneUp aluminum pedal may not have a flashy name, but it has certainly made an impression on the market. This thin, wide, ultra-grippy pedal has gotten rave reviews across the bike spectrum and is rapidly becoming the new flat-pedal standard. They aren’t the cheapest flat pedals around, but they aren’t the most expensive either, and the best of anything tends to cost a bit.
A few reviewers did complain that a shoe could deflect off the prominent outside bearings, but that’s a consequence of a design that also provides very easy access for maintenance. That balance has to be evaluated according to your own priorities! The prominent pins can also do some damage to your shins. They are adjustable and you can make them less prominent, but if you want to keep maximum grip, a pair of shin pads may be in order!
Crankbrothers Eggbeater 3
- Weight: 280g
- Material: Aluminum
- Style: Clip-In, No Platform
- Thickness: N/A
- Platform Size: None
- Comes Packaged With Cleats And Shoe Shields
- 4-Sided Entry For Easy Clipping In
- Sheds Mud Or Snow Fast
- Double Lip Seal For Durability
BEST ULTRALIGHT CLIPPED PEDAL
If you like to ride clipped in and you’re looking for a minimalist, lightweight, platform-free pedal, the Crank Brothers Eggbeaters will be among your pedals of choice. These are made for all-day rides: riding clipped in allows maximum transfer of power from foot to pedal across the entire pedal arc, and the unique “floating” design allows your foot to find its most comfortable position, reducing fatigue.
The Eggbeater is essentially just a spindle surrounded by a four-sided spring-loaded clip, which allows minimal weight and sheds mud and debris instantly. That simplicity has made it one of the most popular pedals on the market for touring and distance riding.
As with other minimalist pedals, some riders find that it’s hard to orient the foot and locate the clip without a platform. That problem typically passes as you get accustomed to the pedal. If you’re in the habit of hopping on your bike for a quick run to the store in whatever shoes you’re wearing, these probably aren’t your pedals as they are designed for use only with cleated bike shoes.
Shimano Saint SPD M820
- Weight: 546g
- Material: Aluminum
- Style: Clip-In with Platform
- Thickness: 21 mm
- Platform Size: 98 x 77 mm
- Open Binding Flushes Mud As You Clip In
- Combines Cleated And Platform Pedal Features For Maximum Control
- Four Height Adjustment Pins
- Adjustable Tension For Safe, Secure Clipping
- Four Pins Per Side For Grip With Flat Shoes
BEST HYBRID CLIPPED/PLATFORM PEDAL
If you’re looking for a pedal that combines the assets of flats and clips and will take any beating that anyone is capable of throwing at it, look no further. Shimano has mated a sturdy aluminum platform to the ever-reliable SPD cleat to come up with a true all-purpose pedal, and built it beefy enough to stand up to World Cup downhill races.
Everything about this pedal is quality. The cleats are easy to find and clip-in is solid and marked by an audible click. Clip tension adjusts to suit your needs. There are even four adjustable pins to provide extra grip if you choose to use the pedals with flat shoes!
Saint has been Shimano’s downhill/freeride range for years, and like everything in the Saint lineup, these pedals are made to take a beating. That leaves them potentially overbuilt for day to day use, and they are not the lightest platform/clip hybrids on the market. If you don’t need burly, try Shimano’s venerable XT. But if you want a pedal that can take everything you can and more, the Saint is the ultimate hybrid pedal.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING FAT BIKE PEDALS
Pedals aren’t the first thing you notice on a bike, but few components take more of a beating and few are more essential to enjoying your ride. The pedal has to spin, constantly and smoothly, under heavy loads.
It has to provide a secure platform for your foot, keeping contact when you want it without preventing you from getting off. Because it’s only attached at one end, the load on a pedal is asymmetrical and the bearing and attachment come under enormous stress.
Pedals often hit hard objects at high speed. Still, we don’t notice them until they break or until we slip off one at the wrong time!
Because pedals don’t get a lot of attention, many fat bike manufacturers try to save money on their factory builds by using relatively low-quality pedals. That makes pedals one of the first things to consider upgrading on your new bike: a good pair of pedals can give you a noticeably better ride without spending a fortune.
Let’s appreciate the lowly pedal, and let’s consider some of the things we look at when choosing pedals for your fat bike.
There are three basic types of pedals.
Flat or Platform pedals give a simple flat surface. They often have a rough surface or a set of pins to keep the shoe in place and avoid slipping. Flat pedals provide the easiest possible dismount and are traditionally favored for riding on rough surfaces.
They can be used with any shoe and are also preferred for “around town” riding. Choosing the right set of flat pedals for your fat bike can be tricky, but many riders prefer them for riding on easier terrain around town.
Clip-in or Cleated pedals are designed to mate with a specific type of bike shoe. The shoe has a cleat that locks into a mount on the pedal. These pedals are sometimes confusingly known as “clipless” pedals: once upon a time riders “clipped” their whole feet into pedal cages, which cleated shoes avoid!
Cleated pedals lock the foot to the pedal and allow power transfer through the whole arc of the pedal. They are very efficient and are preferred by racers, long-distance riders, and riders who climb a great deal. You dismount from a cleat by twisting your foot outward. This soon becomes second nature but there may be some awkward dismounts until you’re used to it.
Some clip-in pedals are little more than a clip for a cleat mounted on a spindle. These are extremely light, but can only be used with cycling shoes.
Hybrid pedals combine both a clip to receive cleated shoes and a platform to use if you aren’t wearing cleated shoes. They are the most versatile type but are also typically heavier and more expensive than the other types.
Most mountain bike pedals are made from aluminum or composite materials.
Composite pedals are often made of various plastics, though nylon, resin, and fiberglass are often blended. These are usually mounted on a steel spindle for strength. Composite pedals once had a reputation for being easily broken, but modern composites are very strong and the higher grade composite pedals hold up very well. Many riders prefer composites for winter use, claiming that they feel warmer on the foot.
Aluminum pedals are still the industry standard for rough use. They are light, strong, and can be worked into almost infinite variations in size and shape.
Many of the pins, sharp teeth and other devices used to provide grip on flat pedals can also do damage if they snap around and hit your shins, or if you snag them while carrying the bike. If you’re using pedals with very aggressive pins or points a pair of shin-guards can be a good investment.
REI has an informative guide to choosing bike pedals and Bike Radar has a buyer’s guide to mountain bike pedals.
In pedal world, thin is in. The thicker a pedal is, the more likely it is to snag on obstacles underneath you. Many designers pay particular care to the thickness of the pedal’s leading edges, reducing it to deflect impacts. The first time you snag a leading edge on a rock, you’ll understand why!
Larger pedals provide more gripping surface and more stability. They may also be more likely to hit objects as you pass by, but if you have large feet or want maximum stability that may be a risk worth taking. Oversized platforms are often preferred for winter riding, as riders tend to wear warmer, heavier footgear that takes up more space on the pedal.
Steel pins are used in different arrangements to help secure shoes to pedals. Many pins are replaceable, as they can break when they hit rocks, and some can be screwed in to adjust for height. Remember that while aggressive pins provide a secure mount for your foot they can also do damage to the shins!
Pedals spend their working lives spinning around under heavy loads, and the bearings are critical to performance. Manufacturers use different types of bearings in different arrangements to give a smooth, durable spin, and many higher-end pedals allow access for servicing or replacing bearings.
Pedals go with feet and feet go with mud. Pedals often pick up a lot of mud, dirt, or even snow, which can clog them up and make them slippery. Manufacturers add special cutouts and other design features to shed mud and prevent pedals from fouling.
The post Best Fat Bike Pedals of 2020 appeared first on The Adventure Junkies.