Why Do Mountain Bike Pedals Have Spikes? Explained.

As a mountain biker, I’ve always wondered why mountain bike pedals have spikes. After all, road bike pedals don’t have spikes, so what’s the deal with mountain bike pedals? Well, after doing some research and talking to other mountain bikers, I’ve come to understand that the spikes on mountain bike pedals serve a very important purpose.

Mountain bike pedals have spikes to increase the traction between a rider’s foot and the pedal. This enhances a biker’s control in particularly tough terrain. Unlike tracks and the road with a relatively hassle-free path, mountain bikes are often exposed to rugged roads and tough climbs.

The spikes on mountain bike pedals help to keep the rider’s foot securely in place on the pedal, even when the terrain gets rough. This is especially important when going downhill, as it allows the rider to maintain control and stability on the bike.

The Purpose of Pedals

As a mountain biker, I know that the pedals are one of the most important components of a bike. The pedals are the interface between the rider and the bike, and they play a crucial role in controlling the bike.

In this section, I will explain the purpose of pedals and the different types of pedals available.

Flat Pedals

Flat pedals are the most common type of pedals used in mountain biking. They have a large surface area that provides a good grip for the rider’s shoes. Most flat pedals also have little spikes that help to grip the rider’s shoes. These spikes may seem dangerous, but they make all the difference when you’re descending and throwing your weight around the bike.

Flat pedals are a good choice for beginners because they allow the rider to easily put their feet down when they need to. They also allow the rider to adjust their foot position quickly, which is important when navigating technical terrain. However, flat pedals can be less efficient than other types of pedals because they don’t allow the rider to pull up on the pedal.

Clipless Pedals

Clipless pedals are a popular choice among experienced mountain bikers. They have a mechanism that attaches the rider’s shoes to the pedals. This allows the rider to pull up on the pedals as well as push down, which can make pedaling more efficient. Clipless pedals also provide a more secure connection between the rider and the bike, which can increase control.

Clipless pedals require special shoes with cleats that attach to the pedals. This can be a disadvantage because it means that the rider needs to have specific shoes for mountain biking. Additionally, clipless pedals can be difficult to get used to, and they require a bit of practice before the rider can use them effectively.

Are Flat Pedals Better Than Clipless?

I have been asked many times whether flat pedals are better than clipless pedals for mountain biking. The answer is not straightforward since both types of pedals have their pros and cons. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each type:

Flat Pedals

Flat pedals are simple and easy to use. They don’t require any special shoes, and you can wear anything from sneakers to hiking boots. They are also less expensive than clipless pedals, and you don’t need to worry about cleats or adjustments.

Flat pedals provide a larger surface area, which gives you more stability and control, especially when you need to quickly put your foot down or bail out. They also allow you to move your feet around, which can help reduce fatigue and prevent hot spots.

On the downside, flat pedals don’t offer as much power transfer as clipless pedals. Your feet can slip off the pedals if you don’t have good grip, especially in wet or muddy conditions. You also need to be more careful when jumping or doing technical maneuvers since your feet can bounce off the pedals.

Finally, flat pedals can cause more strain on your calves and Achilles tendon since you need to constantly lift your feet up to avoid hitting the ground.

Clipless Pedals

Clipless pedals require special shoes with cleats that clip into the pedals. They provide a more secure connection between your feet and the bike, which can increase your efficiency and power output. You can also pull up on the pedals during the upstroke, which can help you maintain momentum and control.

Clipless pedals are also more suitable for longer rides since they can reduce fatigue and prevent numbness.

However, clipless pedals are more expensive than flat pedals, and you need to make sure that your shoes and cleats are compatible. They also require some practice to clip in and out, and you can fall over if you forget to unclip.

Clipless pedals can also be less forgiving if you make a mistake since you are more attached to the bike. Finally, clipless pedals can cause knee pain or injury if your cleats are misaligned or if you don’t have good pedaling technique.

Why Do Mountain Bike Pedals Have Spikes?

As an avid mountain biker, I have often wondered why mountain bike pedals have spikes. After researching and testing various types of pedals, I have come to understand the benefits of spikes and why they are so important for mountain biking.

Traction and Grip

One of the main reasons why mountain bike pedals have spikes is to increase the traction between a rider’s foot and the pedal.

The spikes provide a secure grip that prevents the foot from slipping off the pedal, even in the roughest terrain. This enhanced grip is especially important when riding on steep climbs or descents, where a rider needs to have complete control over their bike.

Mobility and Bunny Hops

In addition to providing better grip, spikes also allow for greater mobility when performing tricks and maneuvers. When executing a bunny hop, for example, the spikes help to anchor the foot to the pedal, allowing the rider to generate more power and lift the bike higher.

The Benefits of Spikes

Overall, the benefits of spikes on mountain bike pedals are numerous. They provide better grip and traction, which enhances control and safety when riding in rugged terrain. They also allow for greater mobility and performance when performing tricks and stunts.

While some riders may prefer pedals without spikes, it is clear that spikes offer significant advantages for mountain biking. If you are looking to improve your riding experience, consider investing in a pair of pedals with spikes to enhance your grip, mobility, and performance on the trails.

Better grip and tractionMay cause minor injuries if not used properly
Increased mobility and performanceMay not be suitable for all types of riding
Enhanced control and safetyMay be more expensive than pedals without spikes

Different Types of Spiked Pedals

When it comes to mountain bike pedals, spiked pedals are a popular choice among riders. These pedals have spikes or pins that protrude from the pedal body to provide extra grip and traction between the pedal and the rider’s shoes.

In this section, I will discuss two popular spiked pedals: the Spank Spike and the Race Face Chester.

Spank Spike

The Spank Spike is a well-known and widely used spiked pedal among mountain bikers. It is designed with 12 pins per side, which are strategically placed to provide maximum grip and traction.

The pins are made of durable steel and are replaceable, so you can easily swap them out if they become worn or damaged.

One of the unique features of the Spank Spike is its chamfered leading edges, which help to reduce the chances of the pins snagging on rocks or other obstacles.

The pedal body is made of lightweight alloy and has a concave shape, which provides a comfortable and secure platform for your feet.

Race Face Chester

Another popular spiked pedal is the Race Face Chester. It features 8 replaceable pins per side, which are made of tough and durable steel. The pins are spaced out evenly to provide a good balance of grip and stability.

The Race Face Chester has a large platform that is made of nylon composite, which helps to keep the weight down while still providing a solid and sturdy base for your feet. The pedal body has a concave shape, which helps to keep your feet in place and prevent slipping.

One of the unique features of the Race Face Chester is its fully sealed bearing and bushing system, which helps to keep dirt and debris out and ensures a smooth and consistent ride.

Other Considerations When Choosing Pedals

When choosing mountain bike pedals, there are several other factors to consider beyond the presence of spikes. In this section, I will cover three important considerations: platform size, weight, and crank boots.

Platform Size

The platform size of a pedal refers to the area where your foot will rest. A larger platform size can provide more stability and support for your foot, which can be especially beneficial for riders with larger feet or those who prefer to ride with flat shoes.

However, a larger platform size can also add weight to the pedal, which may not be desirable for riders looking to minimize weight.


The weight of a pedal can have a significant impact on the overall weight of your bike. If you’re a weight-conscious rider, you may want to consider pedals that are made from lightweight materials such as aluminum or titanium.

However, it’s important to balance weight with durability and functionality. A pedal that is too light may not be able to withstand the rigors of aggressive riding.

Crank Boots

Crank boots are protective covers that are placed over the ends of your crank arms. They can help to prevent damage to your crank arms from rocks, roots, and other trail hazards. Some pedals come with crank boots included, while others require you to purchase them separately.

If you ride in rocky or technical terrain, crank boots can be a worthwhile investment to protect your cranks from damage.


In conclusion, mountain bike pedals have spikes for a good reason. They increase the traction between a rider’s foot and the pedal, providing better control in tough terrain. This is especially important when riding on rugged roads and tough climbs.

While some riders may prefer clipless pedals for racing, flat pedals with spikes are a great all-rounder for local trails and bike parks alike. They provide a more natural feel and allow for easier foot placement, making them ideal for technical terrain and jumps.

It’s worth noting that maintenance is important when it comes to mountain bike pedals. Regular cleaning and lubrication can help prolong the life of your pedals and prevent screeching or other issues. If you do experience problems with your pedals, it’s important to address them promptly to avoid any safety hazards.

Overall, mountain bike pedals with spikes are a great choice for riders looking to improve their control and performance on tough terrain. With proper maintenance and care, they can provide years of reliable use and help you tackle even the most challenging rides with confidence.


Do I need a wider spread of gears on my MTB to handle the tougher terrain?

You can fit both lower and higher ratios on your MTB for the best mountain biking experience. Downhill bikers usually need 7-10 cogs, whereas cross-terrain riders need about 12 on the back and 2 on the front wheels.

Should I set my seat higher or lower on my MTB?

Your riding preferences should dictate your seat positioning. However, mountain biking will often require the rider to remain standing to ensure better control of their bike.

Patrick Flinch

Patrick Flinch is a professional cyclist, according to him, cycling is a sport that also helps people stay in good shape. Cycling takes many forms, and styles and so does the cycling equipment, however, this information is not available to everyone and that is why Patrick thought it wise to consolidate the most important information about cycling on “For the Bike Magazine.” Beginner, intermediate and professional cyclists will be furnished with useful insights. They will be able to understand the differences and benefits of both online and physical cycling. Apart from Cycling, Patrick is a family man, he is passionate about cycling and when not on duty, he loves to enjoy biking with his crew.