Learn The Differences Between Plastic and Metal Pedals

This post compares the advantages and disadvantages of plastic and metal flat pedals.

The Advantages of Plastic Pedals

1. Lighter

The table below compares the weight of popular plastic and metal pedals.

Plastic PedalsWeightMetal PedalsWeight
CrankBrothers Stamp 1 Platform Pedals299gXpedo Face Off 18 Platform Pedals385g
bc basic Platform Pedals370gCONTEC 2Black Platform Pedals420g
DMR V6327gDMR V12 Platform Pedals – 2021 Model430g
3min19sec Composite Platform Pedal345gXpedo Traverse 9 Platform Pedals296g
e*Thirteen Base Flat Platform Pedals388gProcraft Freeride Pro Platform Pedals440g
NC-17 Sudpin Zero Pro Platform Pedals339gXLC PD-M14 Platform Pedals318g
HT Nano-P PA 01A Platform Pedals345gCONTEC Rapid Platform Pedals243g
Race Face Ride Platform Pedals330gHope F20 Platform Pedals390g
Supacaz Smash Platform Pedals180gOneUp Components Aluminium Platform Pedals365g
Odyssey Twisted411gcrankbrothers Stamp 7 Platform Pedals345g
Weight Comparison

Conclusion: On average, the plastic pedals in the table are 29.8 grams or 8.9% lighter.

However, as you can see in the table, some aluminum pedals are actually lighter than the composite ones. Ultimately, the weight depends on the model.

2. Cheaper

On average, plastic pedals are cheaper. Some companies even make plastic versions of their best-selling metal pedals to reach an audience that doesn’t want to invest a lot of money into a set of pedals.

For example, the DMR V6 pedals are a plastic version of the DMR V8 alloy pedals.

3. Less Sharp

The pins on plastic pedals aren’t as sharp as those found on metal pedals.

Therefore, it is expected that the pedal would inflict less damage if it hits the rider’s shin. Having said that, plastic pedals can still cause a lot of pain.

4. More Color Options

BMX plastic pedals come in a variety of color schemes which appeal to people who want their bikes to look more artistic.

The Disadvantages of Plastic Pedals

1. The Pins Wear Down Faster

The pins of 100% plastic pedals wear down faster than those of metal pedals. The wear results in less grippy pedals. (Note: This effect is accelerated when the bike is used for grinding.)

Also, most plastic pedals have non-replaceable pins. Once the pins are worn, the only way to “recover” the grip of the pedals is to buy a new set.

Plastic pedals with metal pins are an exception to this rule as they use the same replaceable pins as metal pedals. However, plastic pedals with metal pins cost more.

2. Weaker

Plastic pedals, especially the cheaper variants, are weaker than their metal equivalents. Metal simply beats plastic when it comes to strength.

In practice, however, average people are highly unlikely to break a plastic pedal, especially one designed for BMX riding as those are thicker and extra strong.

3. Mediocre Bearings

Most plastic pedals have cheap non-sealed/greasable bearings that do not rotate as freely as those found on more expensive metal pedals.

In contrast, metal pedals often come with sealed cartridge bearings that rotate smoothly and last a long time.

That said, greasable bearings do have a major benefit – they’re easily serviceable. All you need is grease and replacement ball bearings.

The Advantages of Metal Pedals

1. Extra Strength

Metal pedals are inherently stronger than plastic pedals. Of course, the quality of the pedal has a strong impact on strength. A well-made plastic pedal will be stronger than a cheap/fake metal pedal. But if the quality is on the same level, then metal pedals will provide more strength.

Also, some of the higher-end metal pedals have stronger axles than those found on plastic pedals. For that reason, some heavy riders prefer metal pedals.

2. Extra Grip

Metal pedals come with metal pins that are removable most of the time. Metal pins dig deeper into the sole and thus offer superior grip. People who switch from metal to plastic pins often feel like the new pedals are slippery. The difference is particularly pronounced when riding in wet conditions.

The ability to remove and replace the pins increases the longevity of the pedals. That said, metal pins are very likely to last years unless there’s grinding on ledges involved.

3. Superior Bearings

High-end pedals come with silky smooth cartridge bearings that can take a lot of abuse.

4. Longevity

A quality metal pedal lasts longer and is less susceptible to external damage.

The Downside of Metal Pedals

1. Expensive

Metal pedals cost more. If you’re on a tight budget, this could be a problem as you may have to funnel funds into more important purchases.

2. Bloody “Shinners”

Getting hit in the shins hurts no matter the pedal. However, metal pedals are the ones inflicting the most damage as the pins literally stab you in the shin and create a painful bloody situation.

Hence why many riders put on shin guards when riding with metal pedals.

3. Heavier

On average, metal pedals are a bit heavier. Ultimately, however, the weight varies with the model. Some plastic pedals are heavier than some metal models.

4. Fewer Color Options

Metal pedals come in plain, “non-artistic” colors. If you’re going for a unique look, plastic pedals offer more options.

5. Don’t Grind As Well

The pins on metal pedals create more friction. For that reason, some riders remove the pins on one side (the one in contact with the ledge) while keeping the other intact.

Summary: What You Need To Know

The pros of plastic pedals are:

  • Cheaper
  • Potentially lighter
  • Potentially less damaging to the shins or pants when a “shinner” occurs
  • Grind better
  • More colorful options

The cons of plastic pedals are:

  • Weaker
  • Wear down faster
  • Non-removable pins unless you pay more
  • Mediocre bearings

The pros of metal pedals are:

  • Superior bearings
  • Strong grip in all conditions
  • Longevity thanks to the metal construction and the removable pins

The cons of metal pedals are:

  • Expensive
  • Potentially heavier
  • Can cause severe damage to the shins
  • Don’t grind as well

Final words: Ultimately, both types of pedals get the job done. If you’re on the fence, you could go for the cheaper plastic pedals at first and then replace them with more expensive metal ones as they wear down.

If you want to purchase one set of pedals and use them for as long as possible, then it makes the most sense to buy full metal pedals or plastic pedals with removable metal pins.

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