Dirt Rag Magazine

Point/Counterpoint – Clipless pedals for downhill

By Justin Steiner,

Crankbrothers recently announced a new version of the Mallet dh. According to Crankbrothers, rider and racer feedback lead them back to a pedal with a larger platform and more traction. The first two versions of the Mallet both had a fairly larger platform, while the third iteration, launched in 2011, offered a narrower platform. Generations two and three offered six adjustable and replaceable traction pins apiece.

For this 2013 redesign, Crankbrothers increased the pedal body size back up to that of the original Mallet and incorporated two more adjustable and replaceable traction pins for a total of eight. The body is more open for better mud clearance, while the Q-factor has been increased by 5mm per pedal for a wider stance. The retention spring has also been beefed up for more positive entry and exit. The claimed weight is 479 grams.

In terms of durability, the spindle is said to be 50 percent stronger, and sealing has been improved for better bearing life. These are positive changes, as bent spindles and roached bearings have long plagued Crankbrothers pedals. According to crankbrothers, these recent changes have brought warranty claims down to less than one percent. 

I haven’t yet ridden these new pedals, but they’re certainly very visually appealing for DH riding and racing, or even aggressive trail riding. The platform is big without being cumbersome, and I really like the idea of the adjustable and replaceable traction pins. Look for a full review in an upcoming issue of Dirt Rag. For now, let’s take a look at some of the other clipless DH pedals on the market.

Shimano PD-M647

The M647 pedal has been with us for quite some time. Though Shimano technically classifies this as a BMX pedal, you’ll see a fair number of these pedals on the DH racing circuits from amateur to World Cup levels. As with all Shimano pedals, they tend to be dead reliable, but a hefty impact will break the resin platform. I’ve always been a Shimano pedal guy, and currently run these on my DH and trail bikes. Shimano claims 568 grams per pair.

Compared to the new Mallet DH, the M647 pedals offer a smaller platform and less grip due to lack of traction pins.

Time ATAC DH4

Time’s ATAC DH4 pedals are perhaps the most similar in design to the new Mallet DH, with a large and burly platform. I don’t have any direct experience with the DH4 pedals, but we all know how much Time users love their pedals. I imagine these pedals are a wise choice if you ride Time pedals on your XC bike. Time claims 517 grams per pair.

Like the new Mallet DH, these pedals have a large platform, but again do not offer traction pins.

Xpedo G-Force 1

Though I haven’t heard much talk about folks using the Xpedo G-Force 1 for DH riding and racing, it doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch. The magnesium body is similar in size and shape to the M647, and it does include some built-in traction pins. Xpedo claims 465 grams per pair. Anyone out there riding these pedals? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or on facebook.

Compared to the Mallet DH, the G-Force 1 has a smaller platform and the traction pins are not replaceable.

Comparison

After researching the above pedals for this blog, it’s easy to image crankbrothers continuing to gain market share in the clipless DH realm. This is the only clipless pedal currently on the market to offer adjustable traction pins. The overall package looks good and appears to be highly functional. So long as they hold up for the long haul, crankbrothers will have a winner on their hands.

Of course, we haven’t even touched on the clipless vs flats debate for DH riding and racing. Having transitioned to DH from a XC/trail background, I’m a fan of running clipless. My muscle memory has evolved to count on being clipped in, for better or worse. That said, this season I’m going to work on riding flats more to become a more well rounded rider.

I’m curious about your thoughts on the flats vs clipless debate. Tell us what you prefer in the comments below.

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