TESTED: Crank Brothers Mallet C

WHAT: Crank Brothers Mallet C Pedal
WHERE: www.crankbrothers.com
HOW MUCH: $100

The Mallet C is CrankBrothers All Mountain pedal. I suppose that sounds lame since Shimano was making large bodied clipless pedals since 1997 (back before anyone even coined the “All Mountain” phrase), but in a way, I think you can actually justify calling these "All Mountain" since they are sorta heavy (540 grams a pair), very rugged, great for steep, technical riding, and yet, not actually the best idea for stunt riding or dirt jumping (typical platform-style models are still the logical choice for any application where insta-bailing off your bike is a prerequisite). So, yeah, All Mountain pretty much describes the intended purpose.

Now, that I've covered the generic philosophy behind the pedal, I'll get to the specifics: chromoly spindle, a wide, aluminum platform, removable and steel traction plates.The clipless portion of the pedal is your basic Egg Beater mechanism and the Mallet takes the same cleat as all other Crank Brothers mountain pedals.

I've been riding these pedals, off and on, for two years. In that time, I've beaten them pretty good--couple meat-rending crashes, lots of me pedaling in rocky sections and banging them all to hell--that sort of thing. Durability-wise, the pedals have held up pretty well. No excessive bearing to report. No cracked platform.

The only thing that has given up the ghost is the replaceable traction plates. I've toasted two of them. In fact, the one of them is bent right now. No big deal since removing them just requires twisting a couple allen bolts and the pedals come with four replacement plates. The reason I'm bending them (I admit, I'm guessing here) is that the plates stick up a bit--which provides plenty of traction, but also kind of gives my foot a good bit of leverage with which to tweak those plates. Not a huge deal, but it'd be nice if they bent less frequently.

Entry is consistently simple. I routinely screw up, dab, sink my foot into a big pile of mud and then clip back into the pedal--no problem. The pedal doesn't shed mud as well as some super-minimalist model like, say, the EggBeater, but for a pedal with this much of a platform, it sheds muck surprisingly well.

I haven't been as pleased with the release. The wide cleat can be a bear to deal with if you have a shoe with copious amounts of tread. It's strange, the cleat really isn't that much wider than a garden variety SPD cleat, but a few millimeters makes a big difference. The first time I tried the pedal, I wound up getting stuck fast--going down fast on the rocky, steep terrain of Boulder City, Nevada. Not good. Some blood was spilled.

I eased things by placing some shims beneath the cleat. Crank Brothers actually includes cleat shims for this exact purpose. The shim helped make release a bit smoother, but the problem persisted. I was eventually forced to Dremel the hell out of my shoe tread--shaving big chunks of tread to make room for the "wings" on that Crank Brothers cleat. Having modified my shoe thus, I no longer encounter any of those "Oh, God, no!" moments when I need to snap out of the pedals. I kind of wish I didn't have to shave off so much shoe tread, but it didn't compromise my shoe's traction or strength, so it's really not anything I'm losing sleep over.

What else is there to say? Hmmmm....the spindle doesn't have any wrench flats, so you can only tighten or remove the pedal with a allen wrench. It'd kind of be nice to have both options, but if I were forced to choose between using a pedal wrench or an allen wrench, I'd have to go with the allen--after all, I don't carry a big pedal wrench with me on rides, but I always have an allen tool.

Weight? Well, clearly this pedal is too heavy for the weight weenie bunch. Me? I don't really give a damn--I'm more concerned with durability and the Mallet C is pleasing me plenty on that front. If you feel obliged to shave a few grams from your pedal package, you can always opt for the more expensive ($140) Mallet M pedal which uses a magnesium platform and weighs 76 grams less than the more affordable Mallet C.

Should you consider this pedal? Entry and exit are good (provided you've got some clearance around your cleat) and durability is good, so it's not a question of quality. The quality is there.

As with many component choices, it comes down to style--to be specific, does the pedal fit your riding style? Sure, you can use the pedal for cross-country applications, but the larger platform inevitably poses a weight penalty and really only shines in steep, dicey sections of trail that require occasional dabs during warp speed, out of control moments--that's when being able to stab down without actually having to actually clip into the pedal becomes a huge boon. Try doing that with a fly-poop sized XC pedal like an Egg Beater--not so easy.