CRANKBROTHERS MALLET E PEDAL REVIEW
Review by Max Rhulen
If you are a rider looking for a clipless pedal with a platform, but you are not willing to commit to the full-on DH model, Crankbrothers has the Mallet E to cater to your needs. E in this case stands for enduro, not electric, and we have been putting the Enduro mallets to the test for a while now. We have been left quite impressed, but they are not perfect. Read on to find out why, and to get help with figuring out if Crankbrothers pedals are for you.
The Mallet E is a spinoff of Crankbrothers famous Eggbeater clipless design, which features a mid-size platform at 94mm x 75mm to offer extra support and security. The Crankbrothers Mallet-E platform has a concave mold with 6 pins per side for grip. These pedals feature chamfered edges to minimize rock strikes and double sealed, premium bearings. The platform itself is made up of aluminum to keep weight low, and the Eggbeater clip mechanism “wings” are made of stainless steel. Weighing in at 419 grams for the pair, the weight of the Mallet E is certainly competitive, as is its price tag at $179.99.
There is a 4-sided entry with the Eggbeater design, giving you more chances for that cleat to catch when pushing off. The standard cleats that come with the Mallet-E pedals require 15/20 degrees of rotation to release depending on how you decide to mount them on your shoe. These cleats allow for 6 degrees of floating. This small amount of movement can help with pivoting on the bike or allowing some movement for rider specific body kinematics. However, Crankbrothers does offer multiple other cleat options. Some have 0 degrees of float for more power transmission, and some are easier to release only requiring 10 degrees of rotation. Having a cleat that only requires 10 degrees of rotation can be advantageous to those first switching to a clipless setup.
For the last few years Crankbrothers has been offering the Mallet-E in a traditional short spindle version with 52mm Q-factor, or the Mallet-E LS, which is the long spindle offering with a 57mm Q-factor. We got the long spindle version in for test, however, Crankbrothers has now changed their traditional Mallet-E offering to feature the longer spindle as they found most riders preferred this model. If you prefer the shorter spindle, a conversion kit will be available on their website moving forward. Figuring out whether you want to run the short or long spindle depends on a few factors. The first factor in this decision would be the q-factor of your bike. The q-factor is the distance from the outside of one crank arm to the other. The q-factor is affected by the bottom bracket width, chain stay length, and tire clearance. So, this measurement differs across bike brands and disciplines. Other factors in deciding between the different spindle lengths are body structure and cleat placement on your shoe. Ideally riders need to find a stance that creates the best hip, knee, and foot alignment. That will optimize riders pedaling motion and reduce strain on joints/ligaments. Aside from the body kinematics, a benefit of the longer spindle is that it creates a wider, more stable stance when out of the saddle and there is more space between your shoe and the crank arm. Having more room between your shoe and the crank arm allows for more clearance when rotating your foot to release the cleat and reduces the chances of foot rub on the crank and frame.
Over my 17 years of mountain biking, all of which have been spent riding clipless pedals, I have only stepped away from Crankbrothers for a few years. During those few years I chose to ride a different pedal because I was having an issue with snapping off the wings on the Eggbeater design. This may have been due to my poor line choices! Since switching back to Crankbrothers about 5 years ago I have not had any issues and I have smacked my pedals into many, many rocks. These pedals have suffered some abuse too! From rock strikes, to mud and ice, to super fine dust the Mallet-Es are still spinning like day one.
During this test I ran the Mallet-E in the configuration that they came in, as I was happy from the get-go. I kept the standard traction pads fitted, however, there are 1mm and 2mm traction pad options to better suit a rider’s specific shoe interface. Unlike other pedals where you can change the resistance it takes to release on the actual unit, the Mallets do not have that ability. If you would like the cleat to release easier from the pedal, you need a separate cleat. I orientated my cleats to release at 15 degrees of rotation and I ran the plastic spacer underneath the cleat to make engagement a bit easier, at the expense of security.
These pedals performed great in dry conditions. When clipping in and out of the Mallet-E, the pedal would provide auditory feedback “SNAP” letting me know that I was secured. It was only in wet conditions, where I had some minor issues. When riding on muddy trails the pedal itself sheds dirt and debris very nicely. The cleat, however, seemed to hang onto grime. This would occasionally require some chiseling to free up mud and ice – testing conditions, of course. When conditions were wet, clipping in seemed to take less effort and whatever dirt was still clinging to the cleat would muffle the auditory feedback of the cleat snapping into place. This left me wondering if I was secured in the pedal. Two pedal strokes down the trail and my suspicions would be put to rest. That said, throughout the test I did not have one unexpected unclipping, and generally clipping in and out was snappy.
The Mallet-E platform has great traction with the 6-pin design and ribbed body, so when I found myself riding a section of trail unclipped it was manageable. Having the platform outfitted with ribs, traction pads, and pins is nice when navigating trails unclipped, but those features caused my shoe to hang up a bit at times when trying to clip in. It was not often, but occasionally I was dancing around on the pedal trying to align the shoe properly to engage. Lowering the pins or removing them would make getting in and out of the pedal much easier, but then you lose that additional grip on the platform – there is a bit of give and take here that will depend on your style and preferences, and I was happy with the extra security for the majority of the time.
Once clipped in, the connection between shoe and pedal felt secure. I like the 6 degrees of float and the ride feel it provides – I am not a fan of feeling superglued to my pedals. I like to feel secure, but not stuck in place. I find being able to shift around more freely is advantageous when pivoting your body to corner. During the test I ran both a stiff-soled shoe and a softer soled shoe with these pedals. For obvious reasons, the pedal feel with the stiff-soled shoe was minimal, but when running a softer soled shoe, the platform provided nice support during heavy compressions. In those instances, I could feel the platform meet the shoe and the pins grab the rubber sole. A softer soled shoe with this pedal offers up a nice feel, almost like you are riding on a flat. Best of both worlds? Perhaps.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Overall, the Crankbrothers Mallet E pedals have been excellent. The float is advantageous for certain ride scenarios, and the platform supports softer soled shoes effectively during big compressions. The cleat engagement might not be as snappy as an SPD pedal, but it is strong and secure, only feeling duller in wet conditions.
Weight: 419 grams