Today’s average trail bike (“enduro,” “all-mountain,” or whatever) has made its mark on riding technique and component development. Both style and substance are increasingly borne out of downhill racing. So it’s not surprising to see companies offering platform-style clipless pedals, like Crank Brothers’ Mallet DH Race, which is versatile enough to belie its given name.
We found the Mallet to be well suited for all-around shredding, well beyond the realm of full-face helmets and Monster Energy Drink.
You’ve come a long way
The original Crank Brothers Eggbeater pedal was an exercise in elegant minimalism. You’ll still find these aptly-named pedals around the XC pits, fastened to cyclocross bikes masquerading as superlight mountain bike hardtails.
But over the years, the Laguna Beach company has greatly expanded its offerings. There have been several iterations of the Mallet pedal, but the DH Race is the most capable yet.
Not for everyone
As you can tell, the Mallet — and platform clipless in general — isn’t for everyone. Experienced riders who fret about component weight and only unclip when the car is in sight won’t want the extra heft.
However, we found that on sketchy downhills with technical moves and blown out corners, the extra platform was reassuringly easy to find with a blind foot. Similarly, we’ve noticed some novice shredders opting for the security of a larger platform.
Plus, the platform offers more than peace of mind. With most shoes, it provides additional support for greater stability, making your foot’s contact point less wobbly. This may interfere with clip-in and float if your shoe treads are aggressive. But we were happy to have extra support on trails littered with jumps and other pumpy maneuvers.
Speaking of jumps and shenanigans, we’ve often found ourselves reaching the end of the 6 degrees of float on Shimano pedals when our body English gets too aggressive. The Mallets, like all Crank Brothers pedals, provide either 15 or 20 degrees of float, ample for even the most extreme contortions.
A unique option
Speaking of comparisons, there aren’t many Shimano models that are direct analogs to the Mallet DH Race. The M545 also has a full-alloy platform, but it’s nearly 100 grams heavier. That’s fine for true lift-serve, but tough to stomach if you earn your turns.
The XT Trail M785 pedal is similarly priced ($150 to the DH Race’s $140 MSRP), but its platform is significantly smaller. Naturally, that means the XTs are 61 grams lighter than the 479-gram Mallets. However, from what we’ve seen, the XT’s extra platform rarely contacts the rider’s shoes, negating the benefit of extra stability that the Mallet enjoys.
For downhillers and those who love downhills
Indeed, the Mallet DH Race is true to its name. The gravity set will love the pedal’s durable, elegant design and healthy float. Throughout a summer’s worth of trail riding, enduro racing, lift-serve, and pedaling around the neighborhood with the dog (yep, big platforms are great with flip-flops!), we found them to be versatile and capable.
Pros: Extra platform and float for when things get hairy. Competitive weight.
Cons: Too chunky for lighter-duty riding, shoe-pedal interface may be snug.
The Bottom Line: As trail riding borrows more from downhill, you’ll want a capable set of pedals, unless your rides aren’t as rugged.