Product Courtesy of Hup Leong Company

Introduction

Any serious cyclist would know that having their feet secured to the pedal while riding drastically increases their pedalling efficiency, transmitting a greater amount of power to the wheels for the same effort. From the early days of caged pedals to the modern clipless varieties, many companies have come forward with what they think is the proverbial better mousetrap for clipless pedal systems. Today, we’re going to look at the Crankbrothers Mallet 3, a clipless downhill/ freeride pedal.

Crankbrothers first burst onto the mountain bike pedal scene in the early nineties with their famous Eggbeaters. Back when clipless pedals tended to suffer badly in mud, the four-sided Eggbeaters – with their simple cage frame which resembled their namesake – were truly a revelation. From that simple clipless pedal design, Crankbrothers expanded and implemented it for their entire range of pedals, save the 50/50. Cyclists of all disciplines seeking mud-friendly clipless pedals can choose from the minimalistic Eggbeaters to the downhill/ freeride Mallets.

First Impressions

Crankbrothers are the masters of product presentation, and the Mallet 3 is no exception. The entire packaging impresses positively upon anyone who lays their eyes on it. Every item is sitting snugly in its own foam cutout, and not simply stuffed into a box in small sealed plastic bags. The presentation somewhat resembles that of a rifle case, with the cleat mounting bolts looking like little bullets all snugly packed in their respective cutouts.

The Mallet 3 is the highest-spec pedal system in the Mallet range, and it shows in the materials used. The goal seems to be targeted towards weight savings, from the 6al/4v titanium wings to the aluminum kickplates, the pedals weighed in at 448grams on my digital weighing scale. Thankfully, the axle is of the same forged chromoly steel to preserve the much needed strength for downhilling and freeriding. The gold anodising might not be to everyone’s taste, and it’s a pity that Crankbrothers do not offer an alternative anodising scheme for people who might prefer a more subdued hue of anodising. Strange thing, because both the Mallet 1 and 2 are each offered with 2 different anodising schemes respectively.

The packaging includes a pair of premium brass cleats which promises better durability compared to the first-generation cleats, and mounting hardware for it. As each cleat has a release angle of 15 degrees in one direction and 20 degrees in the other, you can determine how you want the cleats to release by simply swapping them between shoes. There are also 6 set screws on each side of the pedal for situations which some riders might prefer to clip out and adopt a pure platform stance, e.g on technical downhill sections.

Riding with the pedals

Clipping in and out seems to be easier than the previous generation of Mallet, perhaps due to a change in thickness of the raised platform. Mud performance is still one of the best in the market, as it is essentially an Eggbeater with the added advantage of  a downhill platform. However, some riders might find the lack of an audible click when releasing from the pedal be of concern especially where you can’t  really feel the point of the release either. Most riders will have to learn from experience the exact point of cleat release.

On downhill sections with the pedal clipped out, the pins held onto my shoes nicely, but riders who use shoes with harder soles, particularly SIDIs, might have problems as the pins might not be able to bite into the soles properly.

Conclusion

The Mallets 3 are one of the lightest clipless downhill/freeride pedal with a full platform on the market.It is even lighter than some non-clipless platforms out there, and riders who like to ride extreme trails but are putting their bikes on a diet should take a look at these. The price might not be cheap, but the exotic materials and mud shedding prowess of the Mallet 3 goes some way in soothing the pain of the purchase. And thanks to the huge platform, an alternate benefit is that riders can use whatever flipflops or casual shoes and easily pedal their bikes around their neighbourhood should they not need to use the clipless feature.