This post compares the advantages and disadvantages of plastic and metal flat pedals.
The Advantages of Plastic Pedals
The table below compares the weight of popular plastic and metal pedals.
|Plastic Pedals||Weight||Metal Pedals||Weight|
|CrankBrothers Stamp 1 Platform Pedals||299g||Xpedo Face Off 18 Platform Pedals||385g|
|bc basic Platform Pedals||370g||CONTEC 2Black Platform Pedals||420g|
|DMR V6||327g||DMR V12 Platform Pedals – 2021 Model||430g|
|3min19sec Composite Platform Pedal||345g||Xpedo Traverse 9 Platform Pedals||296g|
|e*Thirteen Base Flat Platform Pedals||388g||Procraft Freeride Pro Platform Pedals||440g|
|NC-17 Sudpin Zero Pro Platform Pedals||339g||XLC PD-M14 Platform Pedals||318g|
|HT Nano-P PA 01A Platform Pedals||345g||CONTEC Rapid Platform Pedals||243g|
|Race Face Ride Platform Pedals||330g||Hope F20 Platform Pedals||390g|
|Supacaz Smash Platform Pedals||180g||OneUp Components Aluminium Platform Pedals||365g|
|Odyssey Twisted||411g||crankbrothers Stamp 7 Platform Pedals||345g|
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.
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.
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.
A quality metal pedal lasts longer and is less susceptible to external damage.
The Downside of Metal Pedals
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.
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:
- 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:
- 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:
- 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.