May 16, 2017

davem's avatar

By davem

Paradigm Caliga 2.0, locally made in Colorado, above.

Paradigm Caliga 2.0, locally made in Colorado.

To some, flat pedals are a thing of the past. Pointless, cheap pedals for the most entry level of riders, the kind of thing found on department store bikes.  Real mountain bikers ride clipped in! 

Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, many MTBers have found that the freedom of riding flats allows them an enhanced sense of safety.  No more "going down with the ship" if a crash arises.

Flats have never left the industry, and instead, have found some serious common ground with their doubters. There is great value in investing in a great pedal. From concave platform designs to removable pins with some having pattern customization, you can find plenty of grip and comfort without coming off the pedals. But what gives a flat pedal grip?

Race Face Atlas Pedal shows how the pins are angled, increasing grip and reducing slippage, above. 

Race Face Atlas Pedal shows how the pins are angled, increasing grip and reducing slippage.


To increase grip, companies have been changing the shape of pedals, and ultimately, how the foot sits in them. There are a couple ways of achieving this. One is by giving the whole pedal a concave shape. By cradling the ball of the foot and allowing the shoe to conform to the concave shape, the rider is able to generate a greater amount of down force while still feeling stable. Another is to just increase the height of the toe and heel pins, increasing the distance between the highest and lowest point of the pedal. 

Race Face Atlas has a platform size of 101x114mm and weighs 355g

Race Face Atlas has a platform size of 101x114mm and weighs 355g, above.


I’ll be the first to admit that not every flat pedal fits every rider perfectly. When it comes to choosing a pedal, looking at the physical measurements can narrow your search down to pedals that better fit your foot profile. Vital MTB took it upon itself to come up with the terminology for measuring surface area. Their Pin-to-Axle method measures the distance from the outermost pin to the crank arm. If you have a wider foot or wear high volume shoes, you can look to this measurement to see the differences in the pedals and get something that will give your foot the right amount of space to on which to rest. Not to mention, if you’re a rider who likes to have their feet a little further out from the bike, the wider measurement can come in handy. Too narrow and you might find your feet slipping off the edges; too wide and your feet might not make contact with the pins in the right spot and possibly causing you to get hung up on pedal strikes.

A close look at the removable pins on the Caliga 2.0

A close look at the removable pins on the Caliga 2.0


Having removable pins on your flat pedal will allow you to bring back grip lost through wear and tear. If you find that you’re starting to slip on the rough sections or even when accelerating, it might be time to change your pins. The beauty of this is, not only can you bring grip back from the dead, but you can also change the sizing of pins you reinstall, thus changing the shape of the pedal to better fit your foot and/or ride style. If you feel that the pins might be too tall, maybe you’re feeling the rock strikes higher up in your pedal stroke, you can opt for shorter pins, creating a better feel for judging when the pedal will strike an obstacle. Too short, and you might feel that the pedal isn’t cradling your foot as much as you want.


Whether you’re a novice or seasoned rider, flats can prove to be a great option in modern day mountain biking. Pedals that are lightweight with high grip are readily available and make riders reconsider the value flat pedals may have for them. If you find one that keeps its grip through the roughest of sections while always having that option to put a foot down whenever you need to, they can inspire a lot of confidence, no learning curve required!

Stop by today to explore flat pedal options along with the proper shoes to go with them.