$50 Flat Pedal Roundup

It used to be that there were two kinds of flat pedals: the fancy ones sporting alloy platforms and metal pins; and the more basic, composite models with molded-in pins. If you wanted lots of traction, that meant ponying up for the pricier, all-metal pedals. But then, manufacturers figured out how to combine replaceable metal pins with more affordable composite platforms–a win/win for thrifty (or crash-prone) riders. In addition to being less costly, composite pedals are often lighter than their metal counterparts, and many companies now spec nylon-bodied pedals with the same high-quality bearings and spindles found in their pricier, alloy models.

Different manufacturers often measure pedals in their own unique ways. For consistency, I measured each pedal as illustrated below. The pin-to-pin measurements were taken center-to-center from the farthest points (either side/side or front/back). Height was measured at the front and rear of the platform, which, in my experience, is where the majority of pedal strikes occur. All weights are actual, using the stock pin configurations.

Brand/Model Weight
(pair, grams)
Number of Pins
(per-side)
MSRP
(USD)
Bontrager Line Elite 360 10 $49.99
Crankbrothers Stamp 1 (large) 328 9 $49.99
Deity Compound 347 8 $48.99
iSSi Thump (large) 375 9 $50.00
OneUp Composite 366 10 $49.00
Race Face Chester 367 8 $49.99

 


Bontrager Line Elite

Bontrager components and accessories don’t always get the respect they deserve. Some riders (incorrectly) equate Bontrager gear with the generic house-brand components found on other companies’ bikes. That’s definitely not been my experience, though, and Bontrager’s Line Elite pedals are no exception when it comes to quality and performance. With ten replaceable pins and a slightly offset platform, the Elites offer plenty of grip for urban, gravel, and off-road riding. Pair them with sticky-soled shoes such as Five Ten’s Freerider Pro, and you’ve traction for the rowdiest of trails. The Bontragers’ 18-mm-height does make them slightly more prone to rock strikes, but the same can be said for other pedals of similar height/thickness. External seals help keep water and grit out of the pedals’ cartridge bearings and bushings, and should they eventually require servicing, it’s easily done using only a 9 mm socket and 6 mm Allen key. And like Bontrager’s other aftermarket products, the Line Elites come with a 30-day unconditional guarantee.

Platform size (L x W) 113 mm x 101 mm
Pin-to-Pin (L x W) 90 mm x 84 mm
Platform height 18 mm
Bearings Sealed cartridge bearings
Install 15 mm wrench, 6 mm hex

 

Crankbrothers Stamp 1 (large)

Nineteen. That’s the number of Stamp flat-pedal variants offered by Crankbrothers as of this writing. The company’s newest addition–the Stamp 1–comes in two sizes: large for US shoe sizes 10-15 (43-49 EU), and small for sizes 5-10 (37-43 EU). Opting for the large size (which measured a whopping 111 mm wide), the Stamp surprised yours truly by being the lightest pedal in this test. Although similar in shape to Crankbrothers’ alloy-bodied models, the composite Stamp 1 utilizes a slightly different, asymmetrical pin arrangement (five in front of the spindle, and four behind the spindle). While that type of pin arrangement isn’t unique to the Crankbrothers pedal, the height difference between the center (19 mm) and the edges (13 mm) of the newest Stamp’s platform makes it most suited to an arch-over-spindle foot position. And although the Stamp 1 is Crankbrothers’ least expensive model, it shares the same forged chrome-moly spindle and Enduro/Igus bearing combo found on the company’s pricier models.

Platform size (L x W) 114 mm x 111 mm
Pin-to-Pin (L x W) 95 mm x 95 mm
Platform height 13 mm
Bearings Enduro cartridge bearings & Igus LL-glide bearings
Install 8 mm hex

 

Deity Compound

Deity’s all-metal Bladerunner and TMAC were standouts in April’s pedal roundup, so I was more than a little curious to try the company’s sub-$50 Compound model. Featuring the same internals as Deity’s $113.99 Black Kat pedal, the Compound utilizes low-profile platforms constructed from injection-molded nylon fiber to keep the price (and weight) down. And at 347 grams for the pair, the colorful Deitys were the second-lightest pedals that I tested. In use, the Compounds felt similar to Crankbrothers’ Stamp; favoring a foot-forward, or arch-over-spindle position. Despite having only six metal pins (per-side), traction was much better than expected. The pins’ wide spacing, combined with the pedals’ low-profile platforms, make the Compound feel like a much larger pedal in actual use (but without the annoying rock strikes that often plague bigger pedals). While it’s too soon to comment on long term durability, the Compounds are easily disassembled with a 9 mm socket and 5 mm hex key. And if you happen to bend a spindle, break a pin, or wear out the Compounds’ bearings, Deity offers reasonably priced replacement parts.

Platform size (L x W) 105 mm x 100 mm
Pin-to-Pin (L x W) 84 mm x 80 mm
Platform height 13 mm
Bearings Double micro sealed bearings & DU bushings
Install 6 mm hex

 

iSSi Thump (large)

As a big fan of iSSi’s alloy Stomp XL pedal, I was thrilled when iSSi announced their $50 Thump nylon-composite model with replaceable metal pins. Like its pricier sibling, the Stomp is available in two sizes: large for bigger feet; size 42 (US men’s 9 / women’s 11) and up; and small for sizes 42 and under. Both sizes feature nine rear-loading steel pins (per-side), chrome-moly axles, and roll on sealed cartridge bearings and nylon bushings. The Thumps’ concave platforms proved comfortable for a variety of pedaling styles, but felt most secure with a slightly foot-forward position. Riders seeking even more traction can remove the 2 mm washers under the pins’ heads, increasing the stock pin height from 3 mm to 5 mm. The Thumps feature slightly narrower platform than the aforementioned Stomps, but I never felt like there wasn’t enough support for my size-11 shoes. As an added benefit, the narrower Thumps were far less prone to rock strikes.

Platform size (L x W) 119 mm x 99 mm
Pin-to-Pin (L x W) 95 mm x 84 mm
Platform height 18.5 mm
Bearings Sealed cartridge bearings & nylon bushings
Install 15 mm wrench, 6 mm hex

OneUp Composite

Like the company’s pricier alloy pedal, OneUp’s composite version boasts a large, grippy platform, ten rear-loading traction pins (per-side), and a unique convex profile. Yes, you read that correctly, convex. OneUp pedals forgo the traditional concave platform in favor of one that’s thicker in the middle. If concave pedals are so popular, why offer a convex profile? More grip and reduced rock strikes, according to OneUp. The raised center acts like an arch support, cradling your foot. That sounds great for aggressive off-road descents, but what about normal pedaling (on- or off-road)? Well, it turns out that OneUp’s thinner-at-the-edges platform works really well for practically any pedaling style. I generally position the ball of my foot somewhere between the spindle and the front of the pedal, and I didn’t experience any slippage or discomfort with OneUp’s composite pedals. Rock strikes were also noticeably less frequent with the OneUp pedals

Platform size (L x W) 114 mm x 105 mm
Pin-to-Pin (L x W) 100 mm x 90 mm
Platform height 13 mm
Bearings Cartridge bearings & DU bushings
Install 15 mm wrench, 6 mm hex

Race Face Chester

Race Face’s Chester was one of the viable alternatives to all-metal MTB pedals. The latest version features added traction treads (and slightly longer pins), but the rest of the pedal remains largely unchanged. That’s a good thing, too, as the Chester built a well-deserved reputation on durability and serviceability. Case in point: the Chesters that I reviewed last summer have endured a season of rain, snow, and mud without requiring any servicing. And while the platforms show the scars from a couple of crashes, the pedals are ready for another season of commuting and exploring. As flat pedals become more specialized, Race Face’s Chester has what I would describe as a neutral profile. The platform features enough concave to keep your foot centered when pedaling, but it’s not so deep that you can’t change foot positions when the need arises. And although I find the Chester’s 100-mm-width to be a little narrow for extremely technical off-road use, it’s more than adequate for commuting, gravel, and back road exploring.

Platform size (L x W) 110 mm x 100 mm
Pin-to-Pin (L x W) 89 mm x 79 mm
Platform height 14 mm
Bearings Cartridge bearings & DU bushings
Install 15 mm wrench, 6 mm hex

Summary & Recommendations

When shopping for flat pedals, foot position can affect pedal choice as much as intended usage and terrain. If you pedal with the balls of your feet over the spindles, pedals with pronounced concave such as Bontrager’s Line Elite and the iSSi Thump are good choices. Riders who favor a more foot-forward position would be well served by the OneUp Composite or Race Face’s Chester. And if you ride with your arches centered over the spindles, consider Crankbrothers’ Stamp 1 or Deity’s Compound. These are merely suggestions, however, as you will definitely find some overlap between different pedal shapes/profiles and foot positions.


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

2 thoughts on “$50 Flat Pedal Roundup

  1. At last, the comparison I’ve been searching for. Thank you. The HT PA03A is the only composite pedal I have an interest in that was not included in your review.

    1. Glad to hear you found the article useful. The HT PA03A looks like a good pedal, but with an MSRP of $69, it wouldn’t have made the (price) cut for this roundup.

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