2019 Flat Pedal Roundup

Based on the popularity of last year’s flat pedal roundup, it’s safe to say that more and more gravel/adventure riders are making the switch from clipless to flat pedals. Why? There are many reasons, but as I mentioned in Part-I of the 2018 roundup, modern flats are bigger, grippier, and offer support that rivals–and in some cases, exceeds–clipless pedals’ performance. OK, but what makes one pedal better than another? The answer is, it depends. Some riders want maximum grip, others favor light weight, while some place more value on ground clearance. Whatever your criterion, though, you’re bound to find at least one flat pedal that meets your particular needs.

The pedals featured in this year’s review were measured using the same methods outlined in Part-II of the 2018 roundup. This year, however, I included more bicycles in the test pool (gravel, mountain, cargo, e-bike), as well adding flat-pedal shoes from Ride Concepts and Specialized. Weights are actual, verified using the pedals’ stock pins.

Model Weight
(pair, grams)
Number of Pins
(per-side)
MSRP
(USD)
45NRTH Heiruspecs 352 8 $99.00
Deity Bladerunner 374 10 $143.00
Deity TMAC 438 14 $169.00
NS Bikes Radiance 412 11 $119.95
Syntace NumberNine2 Titan (L) 304 11 $295.00
Xpedo ZED 384 8 $99.00

45NRTH Heiruspecs

Known for their fat bike tires and winter footwear, it’s only natural that 45NRTH would offer a pedal that’s optimized for harsh weather. Constructed from 6061 aluminum, the Heiruspecs‘ platform features an open body designed to shed snow and slush. To help prevent wear and tear on the soft rubber soles commonly found on winter boots, 45NRTH specs non-aggressive alloy pins instead of the pointier steel pins found on competitors’ flats. 45NRTH’s pedals roll on a combination of sealed cartridge bearings and DU bushings, and can be installed with a 15 mm pedal wrench or 6 mm hex key.

While I wasn’t able to test the Heiruspecs with winter boots, I found that the pedals’ minimal concave and short, broad pins worked best with soft-soled shoes such as Vans or Converse. Harder soles had a tendency to slip on the Heiruspecs‘ alloy pins, but soles with widely spaced tread elements gripped well, regardless of the materials’ hardness. Due to the pedals’ compact platforms (the smallest of all pedals tested), riders with very large or wide feet may find the Heiruspecs better suited to commuting and urban use. If orange pins aren’t your style, 45NRTH offers replacement pins in red, blue, black, pewter, silver and green.

Platform size (L x W) 100 mm x 100 mm
Pin-to-Pin (L x W) 85 mm x 78 mm
Platform height 17 mm
Bearings Sealed cartridge bearings and bushings
Pin type Top mount
Install 15 mm spanner, 6 mm hex

Deity Bladerunner

The Bladerunner may be Deity‘s thinnest flat pedal, but like its beefier siblings, the svelte pedal features 6061-T6 aluminum platforms, chrome-moly spindles, and fully serviceable sealed bearings and bushings. To keep weight–and thickness–down, Deity removes any excess material, leaving only what’s needed for strength and durability. The Bladerunners’ bottom-mounted pins are complemented by the platforms’ machined traction grooves, and are available in eight anodized finishes, as well as white powdercoat.

My personal gravel and mountain bikes both have very low bottom brackets, so I really appreciated the Bladerunners’ thin profile. While not immune from the occasional rock strike on technical, off-road trails, the slender Deity pedals offered noticeably more clearance when cornering on paved and gravel roads. Because the Bladerunners’ platforms are thickest directly above the spindle, riders who pedal with the ball of their foot centered on the pedal may detect a slight hump when wearing soft-soled or overly flexible shoes.

Platform size (L x W) 106 mm x 103 mm
Pin-to-Pin (L x W) 95 mm x 81 mm
Platform height 12 mm
Bearings Sealed cartridge bearings and DU bushings
Pin type Bottom mount
Install 15 mm spanner, 8 mm hex

Deity TMAC

Tyler McCaul’s TMAC signature pedal is the result of more than two years of development. The TMAC’s unique, non-offset design delivers greater contact with the pedal while maintaining more equal weight distribution relative to the spindle. Like Deity’s Bladerunner, the TMAC is extruded and machined from 6061-T6 aluminum using the company’s proprietary molds. The pedals’ top-mounted pins are pre-applied with Loctite threadlocker, and the TMACs rotate on a combination of sealed micro-bearings and DU bushings.

When it comes to traction and support, it’s hard to beat Deity’s TMAC. Between the platforms’ concave and the pins’ ultra-wide spacing, the result is a flat pedal that delivers near-clipless-like security. If you’re the type of rider who likes to change foot position on-the-fly, however, you may just find the TMACs to be almost too grippy (until the pins begin to wear down). If McCaul’s signature pedal has one drawback, it’s the platforms’ increased thickness, making them slightly more prone to rock strikes than more slender competitors.

Platform size (L x W) 110 mm x 105 mm
Pin-to-Pin (L x W) 97 mm x 92 mm
Platform height 18.5 mm
Bearings Sealed cartridge bearings and DU bushings
Pin type Top mount
Install 15 mm spanner, 8 mm hex

NS Bikes Radiance

I have to admit that the first thing that drew me to NS Bike‘s aptly named Radiance pedal was the striking oil slick finish. There’s more to the Polish company’s premium pedal than good looks, though. Constructed from CNC-machined 6061-T6 aluminum, the Radiance features dual sealed cartridge bearings (and bushings), chome-moly spindles, and eleven removable pins (per-side). And if the oil slick finish just happens to clash with your bike, NS Bikes offers the Radiance in more subdued colorways.

The combination of the Radiance’s concave platform and varying pin heights translate into an extremely comfortable pedal. There’s enough grip to keep your shoe in place, but you don’t have to lift your foot to fine-tune or change position. Interestingly enough, I did notice that my feet tended to gravitate towards the outer edge of the platforms compared to other pedals. Thanks to the Radiances’ slender (13 mm) platforms, there’s plenty of clearance for road or off-road use.

Platform size (L x W) 112 mm x 98 mm
Pin-to-Pin (L x W) 97 mm x 84 mm
Platform height 13 mm
Bearings Sealed cartridge bearings and bushings
Pin type Top mount
Install 8 mm hex

Syntace NumberNine2 Titan

Syntace set out to design the most stable–and lightest–flat pedal with the best power delivery possible. The result of their hard work is the company’s NumberNine2 Titan. Available in small (shoe sizes 35-42), medium (38-45), and large (43-50) sizes, the Titan features 7075 aluminum alloy bodies, titanium spindles, three precision bearings (per-pedal), and steel or alloy pins. Built-in grease nipples enable quick servicing of the Titan’s bearings. Like Syntace’s other products, the Nine2 is available in any color, as long as it’s black.

Most so-called flat pedals feature some sort of concave to help secure/position the rider’s foot. Syntace’s NumberNine2, however, is essentially flat (fore/aft), and relies on the pedals’ pins to create a virtual concave. The German-made pedal is also unique in that it’s the only one to feature a pin at the center (of the platform). When paired with sticky-soled shoes such as Five Ten’s Freerider Pro or the Specialized 2FO Flat, the resulting traction and support is second only to Deity’s TMAC model.

Platform size (L x W) 105 mm x 118.5 mm
Pin-to-Pin (L x W) 95 mm x 81 mm
Platform height 15.5 mm
Body material Aluminum alloy
Spindle material Chrome-moly steel
Bearings Precision cartridge bearings
Pin type Top mount
Install 6 mm hex

Xpedo ZED

With more than half a dozen flat pedals in their lineup, Xpedo has a platform-style pedal for practically any discipline. Designed for all-mountain, downhill or dirt jumping, the company’s 384-gram ZED model features CNC-machined 6061-T6 aluminum bodies, chrome-moly spindles, and DAX top-mount traction pins. The ZEDs’ cartridge bearings and DU bushings can be serviced in the field with a single TORX® driver (not included).

When I reviewed Xpedo’s SPRY pedals a couple of years ago, I was impressed by the affordable pedals’ light weight and smooth bearings. The SPRYs proved more than adequate for gravel and urban riding, but I found them lacking the traction needed for technical off-road conditions. With their larger platforms and more aggressive pins, Xpedo’s ZED offer noticeably more traction and support, while still maintaining the necessary clearance to avoid frequent rock strikes.

Platform size (L x W) 110 mm x 110 mm
Pin-to-Pin (L x W) 95 mm x 81 mm
Platform height 13 mm
Body material Aluminum alloy
Spindle material Chrome-moly steel
Bearings Sealed cartridge bearings and DU bushings
Pin type Top mount
Install 15 mm spanner, 8 mm hex

Disclosure: Each of the aforementioned companies provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.

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