It’s a pretty safe claim that the Crank Brothers Mallet DH/Race clipless pedals are the most popular on the World Cup DH race circuit amongst both factory riders as well as privateers. Aaron Gwin, Danny Hart, Stevie Smith and Greg Minnaar are just a few names that come to mind right off the bat. What is it that makes these pedals so darn popular? We reached out to Crank Brothers for a set to test so that we could come to our own conclusions.
First off, here is a basic rundown of the Mallet’s specs :
weight : 479g/pair
retail : $150/pair
release angle : 15° – 20°
max rider weight : no restriction
q-factor : 57mm
warranty : 5 years
With 8 mid length pins per side that thread into their unique two-piece outer cage, the Mallets are known for being the grabbiest clipless pedals on the market. Their design almost makes them easily mistakable for flat pedals. The thin cage and minimalist “wings” helps to keep the rider’s ground clearance optimal. Also, on the side the foot is engaged to, that nice low profile provides more leverage at the cranks by making them effectively longer, whereas a big blocky pair of pedals would decrease leverage. The newest iteration of the Mallets also feature a wider cage than in past models, helping to provide a more stable platform. Now that we’ve run through the basics, let’s see how they performed out on the trail. Wait, we almost forgot something that will make a lot of people happy- they are finally available in black!
Engagement and release are perhaps the most important features on a pair of clipless pedals. If you aren’t comfortable getting into and out of your pedals, that quickly becomes a safety issue – especially with pedals such as these which are clearly intended for the gravity crowd. Depending on which way you mount the brass cleats, these pedals can be set up to provide either 15° or 20° of float before they release. While unfortunately there isn’t any way of actually adjusting the spring tension, we felt that they were “just right”…Some may disagree. It’s worth mentioning that the pins do serve as a bit of resistance in terms of getting into and out of the pedals. Theoretically, one could use less pins to make it easier to get in and out, or they could use taller pins to make it more difficult. Regardless of conditions, the Mallets perform through and through. They don’t pack up with mud and become difficult to get in and out of. The widely spaced wings and openings for mud clearance definitely come into play here. Their consistency is likely a reason that they are so popular on the World Cup circuit. When precious seconds are on the line, elite racers don’t have time to fuss with jammed up pedals.
Crank Brothers really hit the nail on the head this time with creating a pedal that lasts a long time and can endure multiple rock strikes and big G-outs. Regardless of how hard we beat on the Mallet’s they kept functioning perfectly. When you take a good look at the stainless steel wing and spring setup, they don’t appear to be all that burly, but believe us – they’re nearly indestructible. The large two piece aluminum cage has proven to be well beyond sturdy, and all of our traction pins have remained intact, despite frequent contact with rocks and various other trailside surprises. Additionally, the cro-moly axle and needle roller bearing/cartridge bearing combination has also proven to be both strong and durable. In the event that some maintenance was needed, it’s incredibly easy to fully disassemble and rebuild them. Lastly, Crank Brothers backs the Mallets with a 5 year warranty and excellent customer service.
In terms of traction, it’s pretty indisputable that these are the king of caged style clipless pedals. As mentioned before, the 8 pins per side and wide cages add an enormous amount of grip. If you’re dropping into a tricky tech section and want to leave a foot or two out, fear not…It’s possible to do so without putting yourself at risk. One thing that really is worth mentioning is that the Mallets(and all Crank Bros pedals) are unique in a sense that the user can engage when the cleat is positioned toward the front of the pedal, or from behind the pedal. Our tester remarked that this proved to be quite advantageous in the hairy sections. He also mentioned that he became quite accustomed to having this option and rather liked being able to pull his foot back down into the pedal to lock in.
Overall, we rate these as the best clipless DH pedals out there – certainly for racing. There is a reason they are the top choice among seasoned athletes. Are the Mallets a top choice even if you aren’t racing World Cup downhill? Absolutely. We think they’re an excellent option for enduro racing, heavy duty trail riding, park laps or just about anything where your bike is pointed down more often than up. Even with a fair bit of climbing thrown in the mix – they’re competitively lightweight, and your feet will thank you for having a little more material to rest on. The Mallets are a fantastic product.
Rider : Luca Cometti