As a hardtail guy, I need every advantage I can get. A little foot slip here; a holdup there—they cost precious momentum when trying to keep up with the full-suspension crowd. That’s why I picked up the enduro-racing style Mallet E Pedals from Crankbrothers. Between a clip-in foothold and six traction pins, these suckers keep my feet locked in place and provide some serious power transfer—to the point of being a little scary. But that’s what mountain biking is all about, and any serious biker has a couple battle scars to show for it. I think it’s high time I earned a few of my own, which should be no problem while on the clipless-pedal learning curve this summer. But once I’ve mastered these babies, I have no doubt they’ll propel me to becoming a better rider. The amount of bike control I have is a night-and-day difference from flats, especially on the tail end of my cruiser. Being able to hop a rock or kick my back wheel around a log might not be that important on a full-suspension rig, but on my hardtail, it makes a big difference.
In terms of the hardware itself, these clipless pedals came with Crankbrother’s Standard Release Cleat Kit, which has a somewhat-forgiving 15-degree release angle (note that “clipless” is actually a bit of a misnomer—it’s a relic from the days of toe clips and straps, and now refers to metal cleats bolted to the sole of the shoe). With some practice, I have no problem snapping-out in a pinch when need be, but don’t have many accidental unclippings. Should it happen, though, the pedals have a mid-sized aluminum body, so there’s at least enough footing to get me to the next mellow spot. In terms of an entry-level clipless pedal, these suckers are about as good as it gets. $180; crankbrothers.com.