Best Bikepacking Pedals in 2020 (REVIEW GUIDE)


Best Bikepacking Pedals

What are the best pedals for bikepacking? The Shimano PD-GR500 is an excellent set for anyone just beginning to explore the realm of bikepacking.

They’re made of machined aluminum, have a great overall profile, and excellent traction spikes to keep a good grip while you’re barreling downhill.

Last update on 2020-10-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The sport of bikepacking requires some special considerations on your part. With all of the time spent on the bike, especially with the added weight of backpacking equipment, each part of your bike requires some special preparations.

I’m here to show you how to make sure you’ve got the right pedals today, so let’s break them down and we’ll get right to showing you the best bikepacking pedals.

In the end, it still boils down to a personal choice on your part. While the difference is sometimes small, the long hours bikepackers face on their bikes means that a perfectly tailored solution is required.

Let’s take a look at some great ones and then I’ll show you exactly what you should be looking for.

Reviews of the Best Bikepacking Pedals

1. Shimano PD-GR500 – Best Overall Bikepacking Pedals

Shimano PD-GR500

Shimano makes this excellent set of pedals that is easily the best for bikepacking. They’re available at an excellent price as well, making them one of the quickest ways to hop into the sport.

There are nine traction spikes per side on these machined aluminum pedals. They can all be set to three different heights as well, which allows for quite a bit of customization. For those new to flat pedals, these adjustments are invaluable, as they can point you to the next right set.

This particular set can be maintained while on longer treks as well, although you’ll need the right tools to do so. That said, they’re not as completely user-serviceable as some of the more specialized pedals that can be found.

These pedals are made to last. They’ll take some bashing, and I’m sure they’ll hold up fine for a few thousand miles before you even think about needing to replace them. The profile is nice and tends to skip off obstacles as well.

If you’re looking to get a great, entry-level set of bikepacking pedals, then you should make the investment. You may want something more specialized down the line, but the quality and ability to customize the traction pins is something you won’t be able to beat at this price.

Pros:

  • Machined aluminum body
  • Perfectly sized for most people
  • Adjustable traction pins
  • Pins remove from the back for easy replacement

Cons:

  • A bit expensive
  • Not fully user-serviceable

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2. Mzyrh 3 Bearings Mountain Bike Pedals – Runner Up

Mzyrh 3 Bearings Mountain Bike Pedals

These pedals are a close runner up to my favorite pair, but they’ve got some unique advantages in addition to just being the runner up. While the overall quality is just a touch lower, the moderate pricing makes up for it if you’re not sure about your commitment to bikepacking.

The main draw is the traction pins. While the Shimano pedals above have great grip, these have a stunning sixteen pins per side. That’s a total of thirty-two pins on each pedal, although they’re stuck at a set height.

These pedals are also lighter and extremely thin. That can be a good thing or a bad one, depending on how you feel about it. Personally, I’ve found that they felt slightly convex under my foot as well, which was disconcerting, but not a complete deal-breaker.

The build quality is incredible for the price, but they’re not anywhere near bigger name brands. You can expect a long lifespan out of these pedals, but not a lifetime of use. They’re also going to take a good chunk out of your shin if you slip, especially with the threaded spikes.

On the other hand, if grip is your primary concern, these are the way to go. I strongly recommend them for those switching to flats from gripless pedals, and the lower price may make them attractive to those completely new to the sport as well.

Pros:

  • Great value for the price
  • Sixteen spikes per pedal side
  • Low profile for higher clearance
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Traction spikes are threaded
  • They feel a bit convex under the foot

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3. LX LERMX 9/16″ Universal Mountain Bicycle Pedals – Budget Bikepacking Pedals

LX LERMX 9/16

At roughly half the price of my runner up, you’d be surprised at how well these ones work. Before I get into it, however, I’d point out these are budget pedals and I really only recommend them to someone who’s planning on going for a trip of less than a couple hundred miles, as a way to feel things out.

These pedals have eight non-adjustable traction pins on each side and a slightly concave profile that allows for maximal use of them. During my testing, the bearings seemed to work well, but they didn’t seem to spin as freely as the other two on this list.

They’re rather lightweight as well. The overall construction of the platforms is pretty solid, but I’m not sure how well they’ll hold up in the long run. Serious bikepackers often put thousands of miles on their bikes each year, and these aren’t up for that.

Still, the extremely low price makes up for it. Beginners don’t need to drop a fortune to get an excellent set of pedals if they go down this route. They’re also suitable for entry-level trail riders, so they’re still a great pick if you decide that serious bikepacking isn’t your sport of choice.

In the end, these are mainly here because of the price. They’re cheap enough that it’s not a serious investment, and they’re surprisingly high-quality when compared to others at this price point. If you’re unsure about the sport but need something suitable, these are a good way to go.

Pros:

  • Super cheap for the quality
  • Excellent grip
  • Concave platforms for better climbs
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Slightly inferior build quality
  • Non-serviceable

 View on Amazon

How to Choose the Best Pedals for Bikepacking – Buyer’s Guide

While bikepackers can learn a lot from touring riders, there are some important differences that I consider paramount to making the trip.

Related Article: Best Bikepacking Saddle

Go With Flats

The biggest decision you’ll need to make is whether or not to go with a “clipless” pair of pedals. I don’t, especially for bikepacking.

The biggest reason is safety. In my experience, mountain bikers and trail riders will have a slip up once in a while. Clipless can make something like hitting a corner too hard extremely dangerous, while if on flat pedals you can just dump the bike and roll it out.

Flats also encourage better riding technique. Clipless pedals don’t need as much technique; on flats, you’ll need to constantly adjust your weight and position on the bike. Basically… you can get bounced off the bike if you’re not careful.

In the end, I’d say they just make you a better rider overall. If you never learned, then go on a couple of trail rides with them first – you’ll be surprised at the difference. Flat pedals often offer a more comfortable experience overall.

Plus, you won’t have to carry specialized shoes in your gear and switch to something else if you hit a hike-a-bike portion of the trail.

Clipless pedals do have their place, but in my opinion, they should stay on the road and off the trails.

Related Article: Best Clipless Shoes for Bikepacking

Sizing Your Pedals

Your pedals will ideally be around 90-100 mm for the average-sized foot. If you’re rocking enormous feet, then I’d suggest that you look for something a bit bigger, but most of us fall into the 9-12 range for shoe size.

If you go too large, the pedals can feel cumbersome. More than that, you also risk more pedal bashing as you’re going down trails. Good flat pedals will take some bashing, but if you opt for something cheaper, then you may be in for a rude surprise when it comes to durability.

Stick With Metal Pedals

Metal, preferably aluminum, is the way to go with your flats. They take a hit much better than plastic; it’s very rare that a metallic pedal breaks down all the way.

You want to minimize the amount of plastic in the pedals you’re using. While all plastic pedals are fine for a couple of miles of commuting, if not ideal, on longer bikepacking treks they can break down and leave you hiking instead of riding for dozens of miles.

If you’re not properly prepared, that can also mean having to tightly ration the rest of your supplies. Take it from me on this one: just stick to durable aluminum pedals; if you have to go cheap, then opt for heavier steel pedals rather than plastic.

All of those I listed are made of aluminum. If you go off-script, then you’ll want to look for pedals that are made of machined aluminum. Cast aluminum is much weaker, and machining processes are cheap enough these days that only the worst will be made of inferior metal.

Consider the Profile

The profile that you’re using on your pedals often doesn’t come to mind for newer riders. Does it really make a difference if they’re oval, hexagonal, or square?

It does. You want the flat profile to have minimal edges sticking out. Edges that angle inwards, for instance, give you just a bit more room to clear rocks on thin singletrack. Squared profiles just end up hitting more, unfortunately. You’ll still need enough room for the width of your foot, however.

The side profile is also important. While most flats are flat, some people find themselves preferring a slightly concave profile. This is largely a personal choice.

Keeping Traction

Take a look at the traction pins on any pair of pedals that you’re seriously considering.

More pins make for better grip. While I’m not a big fan of clipless pedals in general, you still need to be able to kind of “lock” your shoes into the pedals, especially for bigger climbs.

You’ll also want to be able to easily replace the pins on the pedals. Traction pins will wear or break over time, even with the best of them, so being able to service them during a long trek is important.

Adjustable heights, extra pins, and the amount of them on each side of the pedal all affect how they work in the real world. Find something that looks right to you if you’re not used to using flat pedals, otherwise you most likely already have your preferences in mind.

My Choice for the Best Bikepacking Pedals

When it comes down to it, I think you’ll be well served with almost any set of flat pedals with decent traction spikes, but the best bikepacking pedals stand out a bit.

In my opinion, you really can’t go wrong with the Shimano PD-GR500. They’re lightweight, highly durable, and easily maintained on the road.

There are definitely some choices to be made, and these are just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re new to the sport, however, then just pick up the right set of pedals and keep getting ready for your next trip.

Top Rated Pedals for Bikepacking

Last update on 2020-10-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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