Riding technical trails clipped in isn’t for everyone - being able to drop a foot on a tight corner or bail out of a crash is definitely easier with flat pedals. But if you do prefer being clipped in, the new Crankbrothers' Mallet E pedals are certainly worth a look; easy to get into, easy to get out of, they're well suited for technical riding.
The not-so-minor details
Crankbrothers Mallet E
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Slimmer and lighter version of the popular Mallet.
Tuneable shoe interface.
Tight-fit interchangeable pads, hard to change.
The Mallet E (for Enduro, naturally) is a slightly paired down version of the Mallet downhill pedal. It’s a bit smaller, and a bit lighter, with shaved edges to reduce pedal catches. It retains the same ‘eggbeater’ clip in system as all other Crankbrothers pedals, and the same left-right specific cleats. Unlike the bulky Mallet downhill, the E looks great on a trail bike, without adding much weight to your expensive carbon frame.
Another unique element of the The Mallet E is its interchangeable plastic ‘track pads’, designed to provide the best fit with any brand or style of clipless shoe. Ideally, you want your shoes to have the right amount contact of with the platform for support, but if the spacing is too tight it can be too hard to clip in. The track pads are small plastic shims that slide in on either side of the cleat on the pedal body. Varying in one and two millimeters in height, these adjustments help your shoes and pedals play better together.
The track pads are are a bit tight to get in and out though, and best done with a clean and dry pedal.
Riding Mallet E
The cleat seems to find the mechanism easily, and all you need to do to connect is to press down. It’s certainly easy to get into, but it doesn’t give the solid ‘click’ feedback of a Shimano pedal, which takes some getting used to. (We’re going to compare these guys to Shimano pedals as that’s what we generally use, and they’re the most popular design on the market.) Importantly, these pedals offer a good platform even if you’re not properly clipped in.
There’s plenty of space and grip thanks to the pins – 3 at the front and 2 at the rear – and the interchangeable pads to support your feet.
Clipping out feels different to Shimano pedals too. It seems to happen more progressively, rather than the clearly defined ‘snap’ of exiting a Shimano. Again, it doesn’t take long to master – with a bit of practice, these pedals release easily when it matters. What’s great about this design is that the release is consistent even in crappy conditions, which is a hallmark of the egg beater spring design, they’re resistant to gumming up.
We paired the Mallet E with the Specialized 2FO Cliplites (reviewed here), but they’d also work really well with any modern flat-soled clipless shoe (like the new Shimano AM9 for example). Having a shoe that gives you contact with the pedal body (not just the egg beater mechanism) is the key, so you’ve got that/shoe friction too as well as the cleat connection.
Overall, the feeling of connectedness with the bike is dramatic – corners feel solid, and descents controlled; it’s a different ride feel to what we’ve been experiencing for years and we like it! With only a few rides under our belt on the Es, no news yet on its reliability or longevity. Crankbrothers claim they’ve made these pedals a lot more reliable than their predecessors, plus they come with a five-year warranty – time will tell.
Do we like these pedals? In a word, yes. If you ride steep and fast, but like being clipped in, and want a different feel to that offered by Shimano then consider these.