Offering a mid-sized platform that caters for gravel through to trail riding, the Crankbrothers Mallet Trail pedals offer more support than the Candy or Eggbeater without compromising weight. They certainly look the part and the feel when clipped in is impressive but a few small issues have impacted its position within the best mountain bike pedals.
- Best mountain bike pedals - the best options from XC to Enduro
- Time XC 8 pedal review
- Pedaling Innovations Catalyst flat pedal review
Crankbrothers Mallet Trail pedal - Technical details
Crankbrothers reckons the Mallet Trail is the most versatile pedal in the range as it bridges the gap between the Mallet E, and the Candy with a platform sized to suit gravel and trail riding. That platform then sets itself apart from the Candy with a pair of pins at the forwardmost edge.
Speaking of the platform, it’s made from 6061-T6 aluminium and it measures 78x74mm. The mechanism’s spring uses 300 series stainless steel.
And that’s not all this pedal benefits from. It has long 435 Chromoly steel spindles that result in a 57mm Q-factor for better shoe clearance and stability at speed and, similarly to the Mallet E, it gets replaceable traction pads that allow the rider to fine-tune the pedal’s interaction with a shoe. There’s a hex alloy end cap covering an Igus LL-glide bearing at the inner and an Enduro MAX cartridge bearing at the outer.
As expected from a Crankbrothers pedal, this one runs the famed Eggbeater system that offers four-sided entry, which also allows for more effective mud shedding. Then, thanks to the clever cleat design, the float and release angle are adjustable simply by swapping which shoe the cleat is on. With the cleat included, riders can choose from a 15- or 20-degree float.
The pair of pedals weighs in at 356g which is pretty impressive, given that it’s only 36g more than the Candy 7.
Crankbrothers Mallet Trail pedal - Performance
For me and the kind of riding I enjoy, the Mallet Trail has been a bit of a mixed bag. First off, I’m a big fan of the pedal’s engagement and float. Once clipped in, the float on offer allows for plenty of twisting in the pedal, which I find mega helpful when cornering. The fact that the float is easily tuneable is great and there are easy-release cleats on offer, too.
The level of float makes a lot of sense during long-distance gravel jaunts, as it boosts overall comfort on the bike. This is also where that slightly larger platform plays an important role. Compared to the Candy, or other minimal-bodied pedals, the Mallet Trail offers a little more support which I’ve found staves off fatigue when rattling down lumpy fire roads.
But true to the pedal’s design, it’s not all about gravel as that platform does the very same job on a mountain bike, making for a pedal that’s ideal for moving from bike to bike.
However, on a mountain bike, doing the kind of riding I do, it doesn’t quite stack up to the larger platform pedals around, for two reasons. Firstly, it simply doesn’t have the support of bigger pedals, such as the Hope Union TC. Those whose riding edges towards harder-going trail and enduro will definitely notice this, especially on longer descents.
Though the biggest issue I have with this pedal is that it’s really tough to clip into. Perhaps that's down to the smaller mechanism and platform but no other pedal system (platformless models included) has given me as much trouble clipping in. When riding slick and steep trails where quick dabs and pedal re-entry is necessary, this problem can’t be ignored and affects its versatility.
However, if you ride mostly gravel and light trail, you won’t be clipping in and out as often and I’ve found it to be right at home on my gravel bike, where I can take advantage of that extra float and support, without wrestling for entry. But I can't lie, sometimes the pedal's difficulty of engagement has plagued full gravel descents.
Niggles aside, durability is rather good. This pedal has seen everything from wet slop to dry trails with the usual pedal strike thrown in for good measure and it’s working exactly how it was when I pulled it out of the box. The traction pads are a handy tool to adjust how firmly the pedal interacts with your shoe’s outsole.
The smaller platform doesn't hinder performance much thanks to the wider Q-factor which can widen the rider’s stance over the bike and puts the pedal more central to the sole of the shoe. This boosts support more as there’s more pedal under the shoe where it’s needed.
Crankbrothers Mallet Trail pedal - Update
Since the publication of this review, Crankbrothers reached out offering a second pair of pedals due to the issues I came up against when clipping in. With this fresh set of Mallet Trails, my experience was almost night and day. Clipping in was far easier than before, requiring far less effort. My time riding both mountain and gravel bikes with a new set of pedals was elevated thanks to my newfound ease of engaging with the pedal. This is when testing using both Ride Concepts Accomplice BOA and Quoc Gran Tourer XC shoes.
However, it's still not perfect. I still spent some time hunting for the mechanism while clipping in but that's solely down to the size of the pedal. Before, I felt I had to put a lot of physical effort to force the cleat into the mechanism, now it's just a case of finding the bars, and pushing in as normal.
Crankbrothers Mallet Trail pedal - Verdict
There are a number of similar pedals on the market that utilise small mid-sized platforms that are a lot cheaper than the Mallet Trails, but not many have the build quality exhibited here.
But to compare with mid-sized offerings, Nukeproof’s Horizon CS pedal comes in at £110. It’s easier to clip into and it works with regular SPD cleats. They’re pretty durable, too, but weightier at 432g.
The HT T2 pedal weighs 378g which is impressive for its size but they will set you back £120.
If you’re looking for a smaller platform pedal for gravel or light trail riding, few pedals match the size and weight of the Crankbrothers Mallet Trail.
While the Mallet Trail doesn’t quite live up to expectations on the versatility front, if your feet don’t often leave the pedals, it may well be the right option for you. It offers a useful level of support to help stave off fatigue in a package that looks great and is pretty durable. They are pretty damn light, too, you’ll just have to put a lot of practice into clipping in.