Recommendations: flat pedals


I’ve been searching for some good flats for xc and have tried Xpedo XMX13ACs. They had great grip and they were light, but they didn’t hold up very well. A few rocks and the frames were all bent up. I’m looking at another Xpedo pedal, the XMX11AC which it looks like it might offer more grip (two more pins), weigh a bit more and be more durable (the frame is has a more solid design).

Do you have any recommendations for a flat pedal. I’m not looking for a downhill flat as I don’t need a huge platform but I would like something durable and grippy.

Any recommendations on shoes that light and stiff for good drive and might hold up to to sometimes very wet and muddy northeast single-track. I have some bontrager shoes for my clips, they’re great but the tread pattern doesnt work well with the pinned flat pedals.


Hi Michael,

I’ve seen Xpedo pedals around, but I’ve never used them.

Pedals I’ve used and like

Answer Rove FR

Specialized Lo Pro Mag. I’ve been rocking two pair since 2004. Check out my review from back in the day. I liked these pedals then, and I’m still using them. Their low profile might work well for you.

Truvativ Holzfeller. Another solid set of pedals. They also have a pretty low profile, and the pointy little pins hold very well.

Answer Rove FR. I’ve ridden these almost daily since Captain America was born. They are pretty light. They seem very strong. They feel big and secure underfoot. And they are inexpensive.

Very few modern pedals suck, as long as you’re rocking decent shoes.

It’s the shoes

Montrail AT Plus. I am currently wearing this shoe. It fits my strange feet. It’s light. It works OK on pedals, but the little lugs are kind of squirmy.

Today’s flat-pedal standards are made by Five Ten. Their Stealth rubber soles make it easy for even XC nerds to ride flats. When I started riding Stealth soles, flats finally made sense.


They are not particularly light, and, unless you install insoles, they are not great for long days on your feet. I love riding in Five Tens, but walking and working in them … Blister Town USA. (Caveat: I have weak feet.)

You might look into light-hiking or approach shoes. Most are light, have sticky soles, offer great support and are made for weather. Look for:

• A flat sole (minimal rise at the arch).

• Big, low lugs (less wiggling on the pedal).

• Protection in front (for rocks).

Most outdoor shoe makers — including Five Ten — offer these types of shoes. As a matter of fact, I wore the Five Ten Mountain Masters (complete with Stealth soles) before they made a riding shoe. I’d also look into parkour or “freerunning” shoes.

Get a decent pair of pedals. Try on some shoes. Rip it!

— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

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27 replies
  1. Eric says:

    I strongly recommend the Kona WaWa pedals. They are strong, very low profile, and offer great bang for the buck. I’ve had a set for 2 years, and have only great things to say about them. One friend with them crashed and bent an axle and he was able to easily get a replacement axle.

    As for the shoes, go 5.10.

  2. Stan says:

    I rock the Wah Wahs on all my bikes now. Decent price (under $75 pretty much anywhere), light weight, strong and rebuildable. A lot of friends have told me they like the pedal, but just can’t get over the big KONA stamp across it. I, on the other hand, don’t care who makes them 🙂

    Matched them up with some 5.10 Sam Hill shoes (more support than other models) and my SPDs have been collecting dust for over a year.

  3. Matt Davis says:

    I have been using old school Atomlabs Trail pimp pedals on both my bmx bike and my dirt jumper. I was using some Shimano DX pedals on my Giant STP, but switched to the trailpimps and got some inexpensive Eastern BMX pedals and did the bmx plus metal pin trick for my bmx bike.

    I have two pairs of 5.10’s. The impact hi’s and a pair of enforcers (stealth desert shoe). I love them and wear them all the time. I wear them for 8-12 hours a day for work and play and love them. Get 5.10’s or some good HD Van’s, something with a flat sole works great.

  4. max says:

    I would take a look at Shimano Am41 shoe. It is much lighter than the Five Ten Impacts, not as bulky, has great sole stiffness, and is a nice shoe for long stretches in the saddle.
    The Five Ten Impacts are unrivaled when it comes to outright stickyness and durability, but man are they heavy and boatlike.

  5. Rex says:

    I’ve been riding my flat pedals with vans for a few years now and they hold up and grip to the pedal pretty well. They also have a good feel because the soles are thinner and they have a wide, flat footprint. They don’t seem to offer a lot of protection, though.

  6. Russ says:

    Lee, that’s great you’re using hiking/approach shoes. I’ve wondered how well a non five ten bike specific climbing rubber shoe would work. I just bought Garmont Sticky Dragon’s, not for mtb but for hiking/backpacking. I’ll give them a try on the bike too. I love my impacts, but it’s always good to experiment with different set ups. I can’t find a pair a pedals that don’t have tons of traction with 5.10’s. Obviously it’s the shoes more than the pedals there. You could probably stand on banana peels and hock up with 5.10’s.

  7. Robyn@VintageRedline says:

    Second on the Point One Podiums. Super slim profile, well made, grip well, a bit pricey. $160 at

    I have also used the Speedplay Drilliums for both DH, MTB and BMX for a few years now. Another great platform pedal, super durable, great stick.

  8. John says:

    I’m happy with magnesium DMR V12’s (haven’t tried the titanium axles). Would love to try Kona Wah Wahs. I wearing Five Tens – Sam Hills (I’m Australian) provide excellent contact and protection, but for longer rides (3 plus hours, enduros and 24hour race I’ve got a pair of Five Ten Tennie approach shoes which are lighter but use a similar tread pattern to the low impacts.

  9. Brian says:

    I have Poverty pedals from Danscomp on all my bikes. Only $30 with sealed bearings and never had a problem. I wear Vans Old Skool for bmx and dirt jumping and then some older 661 shoes for xc and downhill because they have stiffer soles.

  10. leelikesbikes says:

    Crazy how much interest this post generated. Thanks everyone for your comments.

    – Vans — the original standard — sure have been working for a long time.

    – Today I did 100 laps at the Superior Bike Park pump track with the Answer pedals and Five Ten Impact shoes. That combination felt awesome. Very secure. I never thought about my feet.

  11. bradley says:

    I bought some 5.10 freeriders and crank brothers flats this winter and have been super impressed with the grip of the two. But on long rides (2 hours plus), the bottoms of my feet tingle, go numb, or get sore. I suspect that this is why you suggest insoles. What type do you recomend? How does this compare with your comment about looking for a shoe with a flat sole? For what it is worth, I have high arches and my feet like a cushioned sole in hiking/running shoes.

  12. Michael says:

    Wow. This is great information you have all provided.

    Does anyone know the platform dimensions for the Answer Rove FRs? I looked on their site but it isn’t provided.

    In my clip-in shoes I have e-soles – very comfortable. They came with the shoes but I believe they are an independent product. The e-soles have a replaceable/changeable arch. My feet are pretty fussy and I believe that my-clip in shoes are more comfortable than my everyday wear.

  13. Jeff says:

    I’m in need of some nice flats for trials, XC, DJ.. everything. From what I see, all the high-end pedals use sealed cartridge bearings. If I go the cheap route (loose ball or possibly even plastic) how long do you think the pedals will last before falling apart?

  14. leelikesbikes says:

    Jeff: I think that depends on the rider and riding. Cheap pedals can for last for decades of smooth riding or a single rock smash. You put a part on your bike, it might be temporary.

    I’ve had a pair of cheapo $30 pedals for more than 15 years. They’re currently on my Intense 20. I rode them yesterday.

  15. Robyn@VintageRedline says:

    I tried a pair of the cheap plastic BMX pedals, and bent them in one day at the track. Not a fan. For the under $100 flat pedals, I would probably go with the Kona Wahwahs or Jackshit pedals. And they should be well under $100.

  16. chance says:

    Seriously if you’re riding flats over clipless you’re a bad ass. Are we really concerned over a half pound? Hit up James Wilson and do a couple extra DB combos! 5.10 impact lows are the best mtb shoe I’ve ever found! Just don’t think about it and shred!

  17. worldbtom says:

    It’s no surprise that you’re getting so much response on your flats post. Flats are back and here to stay! I prefer Vans mid-top skate shoes (TNT II) and the Kona Wah Wahs for long rides on my single speed.

  18. leelikesbikes says:

    Right on! Seems like the pendulum is swinging away from road/XC influence toward a more flowy/expressive riding style.

    I just finished a short trainer session. 2 x 10 mins at threshold … with flats. Taking the best from both worlds?

  19. WAKi says:

    There are small differences with 5.10 soles. The super grippy one is the one from Impacts and it is called Stealth S1. Other soles like the one on Guide Tennie or Deacent are exceptionaly grippy as well but the rubber rebounds faster. It is a good intermediate choice for those who believe Impacts have too much grip, yet they wish to have more grip than skate shoes provide. I own Impacts and I love them but I changed form clipless so i like being glued to the bike.

  20. WAKi says:

    aaa, and these answer pedals, I own a Wellgo version of them, and had to change pins because with 5.10 Impacts i couldn’t move my leg on the pedal at all. After I replaced them with the short ones they feel great. As far as I am concerned impacts should not be used with long pins. And short pins are nice to your shins…

  21. Farid says:

    Stephen: I tried a pair of the 5.10 Daescent a few years ago and dude they were funky. I wanted to rock them as a riding / everyday shoe. They did not work. Seems like they are more on the climbing shoe side of things.

    I’ve used bot the Teva B-1 (Vibram) & 5.10’s as a riding / everyday shoe. When I rock the 5.10’s I notice the Stealth Rubber is way sticker.

  22. Walt says:

    Yes, the 510 freerider is the very best shoe, period. I’ve had the 510 high top impact shoes and they are great but more for DH. Plus, the freerider is even stickier. I don’t know what Lee is talking about… other than weak feet he must have. You don’t want a stiff sole like clipless shoes or even hiking shoes when riding flat pedals. You want to be able to feel the pedals. Freeriders do that. They are like skate shoes but with 510 rubber. I like Azonic 420 pedals for xc/AM riding. They have good sealed bearings and are strong like all Azonic products. Don’t get Crank Bros anything… they are garbage. Plus the 420s weigh just that… well 430g, actually. But that’s still pretty light.

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