A mountain bikes pedals are one of the three touch points you have with your bike. Along with the grips and seat, the pedals are a very personal choice. Manufacturers have caught on to the fact that putting standard flat pedals or just not including them has not influenced whether someone will buy their bikes.
Generally, you will find that a mid to high-range mountain bike will show up without any form of pedals, as they expect you only to buy a new set or use your existing pedals from your old bicycle.
You may find that your mountain bike comes with basic flat pedals. However, if you want to make the most of your new bike, you should upgrade them to clipless pedals anyway.
So why don’t mountain bikes come with pedals? Mountain bikes don’t come with pedals because they will be changed anyways, its less work for the customer, and as a result it also allows them to sell the bike at a cheaper price. Keep in mind though, this is just a rule of thumb, as you likely will find that inexpensive mountain bikes actually do come with pedals standard!
Lets dig into each of these points a little bit more!
1. They will be changed anyways
This is by far the biggest reason that mountain bikes don’t tend to come with pedals from factory (at least mid-range and up bikes).
It’s because the pedals will end up getting changed out anyways.
Why is this? Because everyone has their specific feel and quality that they like their pedals to be, and any pedal that could come on a mountain bike is likely to alienate 90% (made up stat) of the people that are buying the bike.
Because of this, manufacturers find that is is just better to not supply the pedals, and allow their customer’s to choose their own.
2. Less work for upgrading the pedals
A great bi-product of not including pedals on the bicycle, is that this now means less work for the customer when they are setting their bike up for the first time after purchase.
Instead of taking the time to remove the pedals from the bike, and then add the new ones, they now only have to add the pedals without spending the effort and time it takes to remove the ones that came with the bike.
3. Better pricing on the bike
The less components that are on a bike, regardless of the quality present, makes the bike cheaper. Because of the above reasons of customer preference of pedals, and the need to upgrade right away, manufacturers are able to easily save money both on the product itself, but also the labor for install when making their bikes.
That then can translate into being able to lower the prices just a bit to give themselves an edge.
Why do cheap bikes come with pedals?
Now, most people will likely wonder why if more expensive bikes don’t come with pedals, why would cheaper bikes tend to come with pedals? A quick walk down the Walmart isle will show you that all of the bikes come with pedals.
The answer is simple, people who are buying cheaper bikes tend to have no desire to upgrade or do anything to that bike. This is a combination of that they just don’t know how, but also that they just don’t know how.
If these bikes did not come with pedals, most people would likely not purchase, as they wouldn’t know how to do this upgrade on their own.
The barrier for purchase is much higher on these less expensive bikes, and a manufacturer will tend to take that cost, and cut it elsewhere that isn’t noticed by a novice.
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What type of pedals should you get?
If you do not already have some pedals kicking about from your old bike, it is your perfect opportunity to start building your bike up to be your own.
Even if you have not tried out clipless pedals, use this as your opportunity to level up and experience why all the pros and experienced mountain bikers use them.
Alternatively, flat pedals are probably the most common type of mountain bike pedal on the market today!
This common type of mountain biking pedal is one of the most popular type of pedal on the market today.
It is extremely simple, and you can jump on the bike without having to have any special shoes.
As my favorite option (especially these ones right here), you can even buy these pedals at a great price, and their are tons of different styles and quality to choose from.
Generally there will be pins that come off of the pedal, that grip onto the tread in your shoes, and this keeps your pedal from slipping off. By the way, these pins are completely replaceable when they wear down.
The main downside to this type of pedal though, is that it does take more energy from you to keep on the pedal than the clipless option, and you also do run the risk of slipping off the pedal, which can result in injury in some cases.
There are several different brands, with Shimano SPDs still being the most popular, but rather than talk about the pros and cons for each manufacturer. Here is a quick overview of the benefits of using clipless pedals
Firstly, your feet are connected to the pedals. This means that you can make use of all your leg muscles throughout the pedal stroke. Not only does this increase performance, but it can also help fight off muscle fatigue as you are relying on more than just your quads to get you up the hill.
Thanks to your feet being fixed, clipless pedals are also more comfortable, especially on longer rides. You may not notice, but your feet move around a flat pedal, increasing the risk of aches and pains from your joints.
Counterintuitively riding clipless pedals are safer while mountain biking. Especially on technical trails, as you do not risk your foot slipping from your pedal, nor do you have to worry about your foot getting stuck in a toe clip. You soon get used to the motion of twisting your ankle to release your foot, leaving plenty of time to put your foot on the ground before you tumble over.
The best mountain bikes will not come with pedals as you will only replace the bog-standard cheap ones that are usually attached.
If you do not already have some, invest in some clipless pedals to make the most of your new ride on the trails.