OK, the "top 5" or "top 10" idea is thrown around a lot in online reviews. But many of the products listed are simply the first ones that the reviewer will come across in a quick Internet search. Well, I'm trying to avoid that here.
I'm not familiar with all the individual platform pedals out there, and I'm sure you might have a slightly different view on this, but this review and top five list is based on my personal experiences, professional experiences and the input of a lot of other riders I consulted.
Let's get one thing clear: I am not here to argue the use of platform pedals vs. clip-in style pedals in this hub. Riders choose to run platform pedals for a variety of reasons, and honestly, the decision is often based on the riding style. You definitely lose some wattage from not being clipped in, but you can put your foot down (dipping) and many riders feel more comfortable on jumps with platforms. A lot of riders choose platforms for downhill, free ride, or all-mountain riding where purely XC riding drifts towards clip-in style.
That being said, the characteristics that define a good platform pedal and the ones used to write this top five are the following:
- First the pedal must be grippy. This means the foot cannot slide off easily even in tough technical sections.
- The pedal must not flex on the axle and should be long and wide enough to provide a stable platform without pressure points.
- The pedal must spin smoothly and easily on the bearings. Cartridge or sealed replaceable bearings are preferred.
- Other characteristics that define any type of good pedal such as durability, bearing life and aesthetics are also considered.
All of the pedals on this list range from approximately 50 to 100$ (USD). This pretty much eliminates the plastic / formed cheap-metal garbage pedals, and the $170 "wish I had the extra money for those" pedals. These are the pedals and price bracket that most riders will consider for an upgrade or when building a bike.
Have less cash to spend? Check out my article on the best platform pedals under $50.
1. Tioga MX Pro Pedals
- MSRP - 70$ to 95$
These pedals absolutely rock. Although they are not the lightest pedals at 460g a pair, they make up for it in every other category. They are scary grippy, having so much grip that when riding with a pair of Five-Ten shoes I occasionally get a heart in throat moment when my foot doesn't come off as easily as I would like.
The concave design is great for long rides and getting good power transfer. The Tiogas are durable beyond belief and have a ton of pin placements (32) for your preference. Sealed cartridge bearings are a huge plus and make maintenance or replacement a snap meaning that you can ride these pedals for years to come. I don't have much bad to say about these as they can usually be found online for around 70$ which is a steal for a top-quality pedal like this.
A brief note: I do think this is the best product that Tioga makes, outperforming their spyder and the surefoot 8 pedals easily.
2. BlackSpire Sub 4 Pedals
- MSRP 79 $ - 99$
These are a close second in this reviewer's opinion to the Tiogas and are a relatively new pedal to the market. The advantages to the blackspire are their light weight (360g a pair) and slim (17mm) profile. They come in a greater variety of colors (from green to purple) and look as sexy on your bike as the Tiogas. They have sealed bearings, spin well, have awesome grip and are very durable. However, the pin placement options, the concave of the Tiogas and the fact that these pedals tend to be about 20$ more expensive puts them just below in second place. If you have concerns about weight, and a few extra dollars these might be the best option for you.
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3. Easton Flatboy Pedal
- MSRP - 74 $ to 99$
These legendary pedals are at the top of the price range in this category. However, they have years of field testing and downhill stories to back them up. They are big, beefy, heavy and pretty much bombproof pedals. They spin well, have great bearings and the preloaded 'O' rings are awesome when your feet are off the pedal. The preloading rings prevent the pedals from spinning around when free. This means you can dip and stick your foot back on incredibly fast. At 570g they are the heaves pedal on this list, but they are super durable and grip like crazy.
I prefer these to the comparative Truvativ Holzfeller because the pins are not as long or thin—basically, they don't break off as easily. The Easton pedals also spin a bit smoother when pedaling. If you can find these for a decent price you will not regret it!
4. DMR V12 Mag Pedals
These are a staple on many bikes that come into the shop with platform pedals. The sealed cartridge bearings are wonderful and easy to replace, the pins are well placed for traction and the magnesium makes these pedals lighter than they look. At 432g they aren't super heavy, but are very durable. The concave of the pedal also makes them able to maintain good power transfer and they stick to your foot like glue.
The downside is that they are a bit thick, which can lead to the occasional scrape on a rock or snag. The other is that magnesium will actually break easier than aluminum in the event that you were, say, to smash these pedals into a rock on a fast downhill portion. Still, for the price they are hard to beat in terms of longevity.
5. Truvativ Holzfeller Pedals
- MSRP 75$ to 99$
These bad boys are definitely a top 5 pedal. Legendary for being bombproof, super super grippy, and concave for good power transfer. Like the Flatboys they are heavy (560g a pair) and will last you many years. The oversized bearings give them great durability however, they don't spin as smoothly as the other pedals on this list, not to say they aren't great for riding.
They are a bit thick and can ding rocks here and there. This is not a huge deal, but since the pins are also thin, they break off more easily than the other pedals on this list. The thin pins can also turn your shins into hamburger if (and that's a big if) you ever lose a foot. If you want a pedal that will last a lifetime, wait till you find a sale and pick these up.
Popular pedals not in the top 5....
- Crank Brothers 5050: Although they have a new model for 2012, which I have not yet seen, these pedals have more problems than most others I have seen in the shop or on a bike. Crank brothers makes awesome high-end platform and clip-in pedals, but these are just not up to par with the rest.
- Azonic 420: Look nice, great grip, but man do they have axle and bearing issues. They simply are not durable enough to warrant a top 5 and constantly get creaky and stiff.
- Shimano Deore MX30: Nice grip and good pin placements, but like the Azonics the axle is weak. For the Shimanos, the bearings are also not up to par with the top 5 pedals. I have seen several times where these pedals come in with bent axles and a very unhappy rider.
Butterfly on January 08, 2015:
It's great to find an expert who can exlpain things so well
lewis11 on February 10, 2013:
So which one do you think had the most grip?
DJ on April 24, 2012:
Thanks for getting back to me. These are going on my commuter so straps could be helpful. The Tiogas are proving very difficult to find though - no one has them in stock.
charlesspock (author) from Vermont on April 22, 2012:
I know that the power grip straps are made to bolt on to most very basic metal pedals pr those specifically designed for it. The Tiogas were not designed to be used with straps per say, but they still may fit as they have holes in the side of the pedal but I am not sure.
here is a good diagram of how power grips straps connect http://www.jensonusa.com/Straps/Power-Grips
it might be of some help.
I can't say I have ever seen them on any of these platform pedals.
Dj on April 21, 2012:
I bought the Tiogas based on your recommendation (great article). Do you know if Power Straps or something similar work on these?