Flat pedals are available in a dizzying array of colors and sizes. As their popularity has increased, manufacturers have developed a number of lighter, thinner, and larger models. In recent years, they've also experimented with a number of different materials and internals to help increase grip and longevity, but the basic design has remained the same.

Interview: Crankbrothers, Spank and Syntace

This year, two manufacturers have launched what may be the newest trend in flat pedals. Their new "size specific" platforms are designed to perform best within a specific range of shoe sizes. To learn more about the origins of the concept and how it's been executed, we reached out to Spank, Crankbrothers and Syntace.

Too cold, too hot, and just right. The new Spank Spoons pedals are served up in three different sizes.

Too cold, too hot, and just right. The new Spank Spoons pedals are served up in three different sizes (click to enlarge).​

What are size specific pedals?

Crankbrothers: Size specific pedals offer the optimal interface between pedal and shoe; maximizing grip and stability, eliminating unnecessary weight & excess material that can cause rock-strikes, crashes, etc

Spank: Our size specific pedals are the Spoon Flat Pedals Spoon 90 / Spoon 100 / Spoon 110). They all measure 115mm from front to back. This means that all sizes provide sufficient support along the base of the foot (more for younger riders comparatively), and allow a comfortable range of foot placement fore/aft. The width of each size ranges from 90mm to 100mm, to 110mm (hence the names).

Syntace: Size specific pedals are pedals with different platform area size. We offer small, medium and large size pedals.

Both Crankbrothers and Spank worked closely with brand like 5.10 to create the optimal shoe and pedal interface.

Both Crankbrothers and Spank worked closely with brand like 5.10 to create the optimal shoe and pedal interface (click to enlarge).​

Where did the concept originate?

Crankbrothers: One of our main objectives for the 2016 pedal line was to engineer the optimal interface between pedal and shoe. We achieved this on our clipless pedals by introducing integrated traction pad technology (on Mallet E and Candy 7 & 11 pedals) that allows for customization of the contact points and optimization of the fit and feel for any clipless mtb shoe.

When it came to the Stamp, we set out with the same goal: to engineer the optimal interface. However, with flats, what you're really talking about is the surface area that comes into contact with the shoe. Our pro riders, as well as the riders here in the office, have shoe sizes ranging from 8 to 15, so we understood the challenge. We set out to find the optimal surface area that would maximize traction and stability while minimizing weight and rock-strikes for a variety of sizes. We analyzed the width and contact surface areas of mtb shoe sizes 5-15. That exercise led to the discovery that one-size-fits all is not the best approach, and that size-specific pedals offer optimal pedal/shoe interface for flat pedal riders.

Spank: The concept originated when we started to support a small team of up and coming kids riders. We spent a lot of time talking with the parents and kids, about what bugged them most about their bikes/builds. A few things came up over and over again....overweight under spec'd wheels, oversized pedals, cockpit controls meant for bigger hands, etc. So, we started with pedals and wheels. With pedals, everyone hoped that riders of all sizes to have the ability to put their feet down on the pedals without too much attention, and always hit the sweet spot for traction and support (rather than constant readjustment to find your comfort position).

Interestingly enough, once we started to work on pedals of various sizes just over a year ago, and discussed that with our adult pro riders, a few of them commented that they also wished they had pedals which were more aptly sized to their feet. Some considered that grip would improve, and some simply were tired of pedals that hung out beyond the sides of their shoes all the time, catching on objects. This confirmed that 3 sizes would be required to fit everyone as perfectly as possible.

Syntace: Its just common sense. You also can't have only one frame size for all riders. Different riders have different shoe sizes. Bigger shoes need more support than small shoes. It is also a matter of your riding style. If you ride in technical terrain and want the best possible grip and foot support you can choose a bigger pedal.

The VP Harrier comes in one size, Large. Dimensions  are 120mm wide and 100mm long.

The VP Harrier comes in one size, Large. Dimensions are 120mm wide and 100mm long (click to enlarge).​

How did you test their effectiveness?

Crankbrothers: Richie Schley and Hans Rey were both involved in product development and feedback. We also work with a network of test-riders around the world to test pedals in a wide variety of environments, and integrate their feedback into our development process.

Spank: To find the right sizes, we worked with international shoe sole standards, as well as with samples from 5.10. The goal was to find the right widths to optimize traction with the given pin pattern, with clear shoe size ranges. The Spoon 90 was designed to work with shoes sizes 6 (USA mens) and under, which we found matched up with the widest range of younger or female riders' foot sizes. The Spoon 100 is the same width as our Spike pedals, and will work best with sizes 7-10. Then for guys with bigger feet/shoes, we made sure that the Spoon 110 was wide enough that even a size 12 or 13 shoe will be fully supported, but works perfectly with sizes 11 and up. Of course we had to test both fit here in the lab, and fit/function in the field with various riders of different sizes before going to production.

Continue to page 2 for more from Crankbrothers, Spank and Syntace on size specific pedals »



The new Stamp pedals are available in two sizes - both of which include an integrated bottle opener.

The new Stamp pedals are available in two sizes - both of which include an integrated bottle opener (click to enlarge).​

Do both the smaller and larger versions pass the same level of strength testing? Or are the larger pedals tuned for heavier riders?

Crankbrothers: The Stamp Small and Stamp Large both pass the same level of strength testing. The size specific concept is based on shoe size and outsole surface area, not weight of the rider. Heavier riders with smaller feet can feel confident with the Stamp Small. The Stamp pedals are designed to pass an industry standard fatigue test established from the specific governing bodies (BS, ISO, JIS, etc) in which a 198 lbs load is applied to each pedal as the axel rotates at 100 rpm for 100,000 revolutions. Furthermore, in standard impact tests, the Stamp spindle has proven to be even stronger than our Mallet DH spindle, which itself has never had a failure even under the extreme impact forces of World Cup DH.

Syntace: All our pedals are developed for highest possible strength and safety. There is no difference in strength between the different sizes and they are all tested to the highest level and offer the Syntace 10 year warranty. We have a rider weight limit of 130kg for all three pedal sizes.

What makes these size specific models perform better than your standard platform(s)?

Crankbrothers: The Stamp Small, designed for shoe sizes 5-10, maximizes grip and eliminates problems like excess weight and rock strikes caused by platforms that are too large. The Stamp Large, designed for shoe sizes 10-15, maximizes grip and eliminates stability problems caused by platforms that are too small.

Spank: To answer your question about the performance VS our current platforms, it is important to clarify, that the Spoon pedals are positioned below the current models Spike and Oozy. Spike and Oozy pedal assemblies have evolved a lot over the past 4 years, with the greatest leaps forward being, moving all production in-house and achieving aeronautic tolerances in machining, improvements to the forged axles, axle coatings, and friction seal system, as well as improved Teflon bearing lubrication from Finish Line. The Spoon pedal is targeted at consumers looking for impressive traction, durability and performance at a lower price point.

Syntace: It fits better to your individual shoe size and riding style.

Instead of starting a size war, Spank and Crankbrothers have tried to create pedals that cater to different sized riders.

Instead of starting a size war, Spank and Crankbrothers have tried to create pedals that cater to different sized riders (click to enlarge).​

How can a smaller pedal possibly offer the same traction and stability as a larger one?

Crankbrothers: The Stamp Small offers optimal traction and stability by interfacing with the full outsole width, on average, of US shoe sizes 5-10. The Stamp Large offers optimal traction and stability by interfacing with the full outsole width, on average, of US shoe sizes 10-15. In both cases, the Stamp pedal maximizes grip and stability through optimal interface with the corresponding shoe size and outsole profile.

Spank: Sized pedal benefits are multiple. First is of course traction, second support, and third clearance. Pins work best if they are dispersed over a wide area of your foot, distributing load to and supporting the outer edges of the sole, as well as the center. If a pedal is too big for a rider, commonly the edge(s) of the sole can fall between pins, or at least position in a way that support and traction are unevenly distributed.

Too much real estate on pedals also results in more difficulty in finding the right riding position on the fly, which can be troublesome if the traction between shoe and pedal is high. Clearance is an issue for many flat pedal riders, and although brands have successfully achieved thinner and thinner pedals (Spike pedals measure max 12mm thickness), a quick look at any rider's flats will show you its often the outermost edges which take the most abuse. By reducing any excessive width from the pedal based on rider's foot size, we thus lessen the chance and severity of impacts.

Syntace: For a rider with a bigger foot, it can't! This is the reason to choose the right pedal size to your shoe size and riding style.

Syntace from Germany is one of the first manufacturers to extoll the virtues of size specific flat pedals.

Syntace from Germany is one of the first manufacturers to extoll the virtues of size specific flat pedals (click to enlarge).​

Do you think we will see more and more manufacturers begin to offer size specific platforms this year? Do you see this idea crossing over into clipless pedals?

Crankbrothers: This concept has been present in our clipless pedals for a number of years, especially on the gravity side. DH riders/racers with smaller feet, like Jill Kintner, have chosen our smaller Mallet 3/2 pedals instead of the larger Mallet DH pedals for these same reasons. On the other hand, downhill racers with larger feet, like Greg Minnaar & Steve Peat, prefer the large platform of the Mallet DH for the increased stability. In both cases, the riders have chosen the smaller or larger pedal platform based on the optimal interface with their shoe size. In regards to our new products - we designed our new Mallet E pedal to be smaller than the Mallet DH for enduro riders, but we know it will also be adopted by DH riders with smaller feet.

Spank: It's hard to say if this concept will have enough pull that all pedal makers see the light. As you have pointed out there are a few already following suit. Clipless pedals I would argue are quite trim already for the most part, and tucked away under the shoes, so my guess is sizes are not so advantageous.

Syntace: There are alredy some companies out that do offer different pedal sizes. It's hard to say if there will be more companies in the future. It's expensive for the manufacturer to have more pedal sizes since less number of units for each model increases the unit costs. We started our three size concept as one of the first in 2011.For us it is the right way to make the best possible components to fit perfect for every rider.

For clipless pedals with shoe support this is also thinkable for riders with bigger shoe sizes.

To see a summary of popular pedals and their dimensions and weights, see our article on The best new flat pedals.