Wil and the clip-in crew have spent the last few months trying to work out which are the best platform clip-in pedals. For this group test, they took eight of the latest platform clip-in pedals to see what each brand has to offer. Each pedal has been tested under various riders with a variety of shoes and in a range of conditions, to determine four category winners: Best Feel, Most Durable, Best In Mud, and Best All Round.
Best In Mud : Crank Brothers Mallet DH
Mud (aka ‘wet loam’) is an inevitability of UK mountain biking. For many clip-in pedals that test just peachy in lab conditions and on dusty trails though, mud can be kryptonite. When mud starts clinging to your pedals and lathering the underside of your shoes, it can jam up the clip mechanism, reducing your fancy pedals to a scarily unstable metal ornament.
Well, that’s what normally happens. Unless you’re running Crank Brothers Mallet DH pedals.
Crank Brothers sold its very first Mallet pedal way back in 2003, but it wasn’t until 2013 before it released the red anodised Mallet DH. Since then, the Mallet DH has gone on to become one of the winningest pedals on the World Cup Downhill circuit. In our experience though, this pedal is just as good for everyday trail riding as it is at winning races.
Compared to the standard Mallet and Mallet E, the Mallet DH is bigger and burlier. It uses a huge two-piece alloy platform that measures 91mm long by 78mm wide, and that makes it heavier – 480g was the confirmed weight for our test pair of pedals (without cleats).
Traction grooves are machined into the body, and each side gets eight adjustable steel grub pins. The cromoly steel spindle is longer than other Crank Brothers pedals, which gives a wider 57mm Q-factor for a more stable stance on the bike. The increased clearance between bulky shoes and the crank arms also reduces the chance of jamming a foot when trying to unclip.
The function of the simple Eggbeater mechanism remains the same, with four-sided engagement from the stainless steel wings. The mechanism rotates independently of the platform, which can feel odd at first, but is easy enough to get used to. Combined with the two gaping holes in the pedal body, this rotatable mechanism means the Mallet dumps mud exceptionally well.
Entry and release itself is super easy. The Eggbeater has a fluid action that’s even smoother than the Time ATAC system, with minimal force required to clip in. As such, these are the pedals I’d recommend for anyone new to clipping in. The tension isn’t adjustable, so if you want a crisp and more audible click you’ll have to look elsewhere. That said, Crank Brothers sells a 0° race cleat that offers a more direct feel for those who prefer less wiggle.
The stock brass cleats deliver 6° of float, and swapping them between shoes gives you a 15° or 20° release angle. I’m well accustomed to clip-in pedals, so I prefer the 20° release angle. It means I can shift my feet around on the pedal bodies more, just as you would with flat pedals.
On the note of cleats, every shoe we tested required a shim to provide enough clearance between the shoe sole and the pedal body. We never felt the need to change the stock plastic Traction Pads, though thicker inserts come supplied for fine-tuning.
Once set up properly, the concave profile of the Mallet DH pedals provides a secure and supportive platform. They aren’t quite as big as the HTs, nor as grippy when you’re unclipped, but they’re still one of the grippiest on test. Paired to a nice sticky rubber shoe sole, the pins provide excellent traction that increases as you push your weight down into the pedals. I ran the pins high to maximise grip, though I’d suggest starting out with these wound down all the way, and gradually bring them up as you get used to the feel.
Compared to the previous version, the new Mallet DH gets chamfered outside edges that have shrugged off countless rock strikes. The internals have also been upgraded, with a new double seal system protecting the Igus LL-Glide bearing and Enduro cartridge bearing inside.
After five months of testing, I pulled everything apart to find the left pedal clean as a whistle. However, the right spindle did have some corrosion present, which appeared to have been caused by contamination. The new sealing is a vast improvement over older Crank Brothers pedals, but it still isn’t impermeable to wet weather riding and regular blasts from the hose. If you regularly ride in wet conditions, or you’re a bit liberal with high pressure water when you’re cleaning your bike, servicing is a must. If you neglect these pedals as we did though, there’s a greater chance of water getting past the seals where it can sit inside the pedal and cause corrosion.
Thankfully the Mallets are hella easy to service at home, so it’s worth checking them on a regular basis to keep them running in tip-top condition. Since servicing our test pedals, both have been spinning nice and smooth, with no noticeable play or roughness present.
The second generation Mallet DH builds upon the success of the original, with the Eggbeater mechanism delivering silky smooth engagement and unparalleled mud shedding. They aren’t cheap, and the light action won’t suit all tastes. Given the adjustability for dialling in the grip levels for the conditions, however, it’s easy to see why so many top-level riders depend on the Mallet DH.
Want to know more about all the other pedals on test? You can get your hands on the full feature from Issue #117 of Singletrack Magazine, which includes all reviews of the winning pedals along with a guide on what goes into making a high performance clip-in pedal. Head here to get a preview of the magazine, then get it shipped right to your door!
|Product:||Mallet DH Pedals|
|From:||Extra UK, extrauk.co.uk|
|Tested:||by Wil & The Test Squad for 6 months|
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Surely pedals shouldn’t need servicing after 5 months to keep them running nicely? Previous Time and Shimano clipless pedals have never needed servicing to still run ok after more than 5 years for me….
@joebristol – It’s difficult to say, because there are so many factors to consider. The frequency of riding, the conditions, and your general cleaning and maintenance habits will all contribute to how much servicing your pedals will require over time.
To be fair, we deliberately subjected these pedals to both horrid winter riding conditions and excessive washing to accelerate any potential wear and tear. As mentioned in the review though, if you avoid using high-pressure water, then you’re much less likely to get contaminants past the main seals.
I’ve personally had pedals (both clip-in pedals and flats) experience contamination and significant bearing play within a shorter space of time than this, but then I’ve also had Time pedals that seemingly require servicing. That said, they’re also designed to be a fully sealed design that isn’t user-serviceable in the first place. Not that that seems to be a problem – the ATAC DH4 pedals took out ‘Most Durable’ for a reason 🙂