Deity T-Mac | $160
The new T-Mac pedal from Deity is one of the most interesting flat pedals I've ridden. The unique size and shape are a radical departure from the thinner-is–better trend. The T-Mac presents a theory that mixing thick and thin in all the right places is the best approach. That said, it's no surprise that the pedal's most noticeable characteristic is size. It's big. And that's a good thing.
The 110×105-millimeter footprint is complemented by a concavity of 2.5 millimeters per side and it's a slim 14 millimeters thick at the axle. My foot settles right into the deep concave to match up like two pieces of a puzzle.
This unique characteristic makes the T-Mac feel incredibly stable. Add a generous arrangement of 14 tall pins and it seems next to impossible to slip a pedal. Even though the T-Mac may look like it takes up more real estate underfoot, I didn't feel as though this translated into more pedal strikes than normal. It's hard to identify negative attributes to the larger size, except possibly weight. At 409 grams, these won't be the lightest pedals available, but the confidence and stability they provide is next level. —Anthony Smith
DMR Vault MG Superlight | $350
You don't need to spend $350 on a pair of pedals. You also don't need to spend $8,000 on a bicycle. And yet, I've been told that people do.
What kind of pedal does $350 buy? One made of exotic materials like magnesium and titanium, or course. But the Vault is much more than the sum of its posh earth metals: Underlying its feathery 300-gram weight is an uncompromised commitment to grip, fulfilled by 11 pins that punctuate a generous 105-by-105 millimeter platform.
The Vaults are middle of the pack for concavity, with the Bontragers and T-Macs both dipping deeper. Plenty of grip is on tap though, even in those jarring climbing moments when most pedals will let an unweighted foot slip off the front. The large, mildly concave platform is Cadillac comfortable while descending, cradling and supporting the foot with incontrovertible grip, no matter how chunky the terrain.
There are myriad reasons why magnesium isn't used in more bike parts, chief among them are cost and durability. Riders who frequent rocky trails would be wise to stick with aluminum: The magnesium Vaults, though fairly slim at 17 millimeters, were marred after just a few rides. One of the pins even gouged into the surrounding pedal body instead of bending or breaking off after shaking hands with a rock. Thankfully, a lower-end version of the Vault is offered for $147 with an aluminum body and chromoly spindle. They're heavier, but come with the same level of comfort and grip. —Jonathon Weber
Bontrager Line Pro | $100
Subjectivity is the only constant in riders' preferences for contact-point components, so the flat-pedal market is ripe for experimentation. The making of a pedal was in itself an experiment for Bontrager, though, so it's no surprise that the Line Pros are fairly conservative.
These 10-pin pushers are carved from ubiquitous 6061-T6 aluminum, a process Bontrager highlights by leaving the tops of the pedals unfinished, exposing an industrial countenance that emphasizes their straightforward design. Those 10 pins thread in from the unexposed side of the platform via Allen-key heads, and can be adjusted in height by removing the washers that come installed underneath. The axle spins on sealed cartridge bearings.
The Line Pros' topography is ambitiously concave for their small 100-by-100 millimeter platform, resulting in an absence of support in the center of the pedal. This was exacerbated when the pins were run in their long setting, though overall traction was best in this configuration. The platform is just large enough to support my size 10.5s, but anyone with bigger feet will be better off with a more spacious pedal.
Little is ventured in the way of design here, and little is gained in return. That's not necessarily a bad thing. In their conservatism, the Line Pros should appeal to riders accustomed to more traditional pedal designs, especially the type that would feel at home on a BMX bike. —J.W.
Loaded AmX Signature Pedal | $110
The Loaded AmX signature pedals offer the sleek, thin profile that you want in a modern set of flats. They have been a striking complement to any bike they’ve lived on, but there is more the them than their clean, sophisticated look.
Enter the Q-factor. Not a consideration many flat-pedal riders think about, but Loaded has attempted to give the AmX pedals the narrowest stance possible. The most notable claim Loaded makes is that this will increase strength and durability, and I'd have a hard time disputing that.
After several months of hard riding, the AmX pedals feel as smooth as they did on day one. Perhaps this can be attributed to the three sealed bearings in each pedal, or maybe the narrow Q-factor really is responsible. Either way I'm impressed. And at only 361 grams, these are also one of the lightest—only beaten by the DMR Vault—of the six we tested. That's not bad for a pedal with an alloy body and a chromoly spindle along with a generous footprint of 100 millimeters wide by 110 millimeters long.
Need more? They are also one of the least-expensive pedals we tested. That's the golden trifecta: light, cheap, strong. And if you're familiar with the Loaded brand, it won't come a surprise that you'll have plenty of color options to play matchy-matchy with as well. —A.S.
Crankbrothers Stamp Large | $150
We don't all have the same size feet, so why should we all ride the same size pedal? That's the rhetorical question behind a new trend of pedals that come in multiple sizes. Only a few brands are pushing this philosophy so far, one of which is Crankbrothers.
I tested the larger of the two sizes in which the Stamps are available, since I prefer larger platforms. The Stamps aren't just the largest of the pedals tested here, at 114 by 111 millimeters, they also boast the narrowest Q-factor of the bunch, and run neck-and-neck with Loaded's AmX pedals for thinnest. Narrow Q-factors can spell frame and crank-arm clearance issues, but the Stamps are large enough that most riders will have plenty of room around all but the widest seatstays. They weigh in at a reasonably light 377 grams.
The platform feels very, well, platform-y. A comfortable spot is easy to come by with such a large, uniform surface, and traction was plentiful once the grub screws were cranked out a few turns from their stock setting. It's possible to coax some concavity out of the pins by leaving the two on the axle lower than those on the perimeter.
The Stamps spin smoothly on a combination of Enduro and Igus bearings, which are protected by a double-seal system and a comforting five-year warranty that Crankbrothers hopes will allay concerns with its durability record.
You won't find the cradling sensation offered by the more concave Vaults here, nor the same level of traction. You will find a great deal of clearance and comfort, though—especially if most pedals feel too small for your clodhoppers. —J.W.
HT Nano AN14A | $130
With its massive array of unique shapes and colors, it would be hard to argue that HT isn't going to have a set of flats to suit your visual taste and riding style. Despite having so much choice, I stuck to what I know and honed in on one of the most subdued designs in the line: the flat-black HT Nano AN14A.
Keen observers may recognize these pedals from my 2016 Editors' Choice bike, a Transition Patrol Carbon. The pedal's subtle aesthetics looked beautiful on that dream build, but it was the longevity that really made me smitten after thrashing around on these for the last six months. They now wear the scars of a season well spent, but are still spinning smoothly with no noticeable play and a full complement of pedal pins. There's nothing worse than a loose set of pedals making your dialed bike sound like a bag of nails. I've experienced some undesirable bushing play and annoying squeaking develop over time with some of HT's slimmer, EVO pedals, but the dual-sealed bearing, DU bushing combo on the Nanos has performed impressively. Everything is still running tight, smooth and, most importantly, quiet.
Even though the Nanos sport a traditional footprint of 94×100 millimeters, it's a profile that's proven, and one that I've become comfortable with over the years. I was able to focus on the terrain rather than focusing on the pedals underfoot. At 475 grams, you wouldn't say that these HTs are the lightest flats on the market but I tend to favor durability and reliability over a bit of added weight. —A.S.