Crankbrothers Mallet E Pedal and Shoe Combo Review: Made for Each Other but Play Nicely With Others Too

crankbrothes mallet e shoes and pedals

I have a history with Crankbrothers and it goes like this: I don’t historically like, want or need egg beaters in my mountain bike repertoire. To say I have a bias against the original, no frills, eggbeater platform would be an understatement of epic proportions. I don’t enjoy the tiny, almost non-existent pedal surface underfoot. Nor do I often ride in, or need to “shed mud,” because PSA: riding through mud destroys the mostly clay trails here in Colorado (you’re welcome IMBA).

That being said, I recognize my bias stems from eons ago before Crankbrothers had platform options and I consider myself a “woke” woman, open to changing my mind when presented with new information.  Well, consider it changed. The Crankbrothers Mallet E (short for enduro, see what they did there?) pedals are as versatile as they are confidence inspiring. It is truly the surprise of the century, that I really like the Mallet E pedals and shoes. Let’s dive into both.

Crankbrothers Mallet E pedals

crankbrothers mallet e pedals

The Mallet E really changed my mind about Crankbrothers pedals. This relatively lightweight (420g per pair), compact clipless pedal is made specifically for enduro riding and racing with a slim profile, wide platform, and six adjustable traction pins that can be inserted at different heights for a more or less aggressive feel. The slightly concave pedal shape is said to cradle shoes, specifically the matching Mallet E shoe. The addition of polyurethane traction pads enhance grip in the event a cleat connection isn’t made on time. The eggbeater-style spindle is known for shedding mud and gunk and optimal for those riding in wet conditions. Unfortunately, wet conditions don’t really exist here in semi-arid desert land where fires ravage the landscape in the dead of winter, so I cannot attest to that specific feature. Though I can confidently say, riding through copious amounts of dust has not been an issue. I trust that those in the PNW can provide wet-condition reviews with much more accuracy.

In my free time I rotate through clipless and flat pedals, never having had the pleasure of riding a platform with a spindle. I consider myself a technical rider, averse to pedal strikes when I can avoid them. The Mallet E has chamfered edges, which make this far less likely to happen. I love having a platform underfoot in the event I get knocked out of a pedal yet still need my feet for control. This pedal is a great compromise between flat and clipless, offering the climbing efficiency of a clipless and stability of a flat.

The egg beater style spindle is said to be have four-sided entry but the surrounding platform essentially makes this more akin to two-sided entry similar to most clipless pedals. It’s easy to connect to the Mallet E pedals, though unlike other pedals, the shoe/pedal connection isn’t as noticeable; the classic “click” is a subtle.  This is a feature I had to get used to, but have grown to love. For many rides I found myself clipping and unclipping, to get used to the feeling and to be sure I was making the connection. When connected, the six degrees of float in the pedal is nice, but can also lead to confusion, making it difficult to tell if you’re really in, or just sitting atop the platform. Even when I was unsure if I was connected, I found comfort knowing the platform would provide support regardless.

Clipping out is pretty straightforward, however again with the amount of float, it was sometimes hard to tell if my foot was simply moving a bit or disengaging completely, as there seems to be no hard stop before a complete exit. To help remedy this indistinct feeling, Crankbrothers designed the pedals in such a way that the release angle can be set to either 15 or 20 degrees by reverse mounting the cleats. It’s also possible to swap between 1mm and 2mm traction pads to adjust the amount of friction/contact your soles have with the pedal. The thinner traction pad makes the cleat exit more definitive, but also decreases the shoe/pedal interface and possibly stability.

The pedals are lightweight, low profile, nice looking and work with any clipless shoe. They provide a nice compromise between clipless and flats. They do run on the expensive side at $179.99, but I think it’s worth the cost for the versatility and enjoyment of the ride.

Party laps

  • Lightweight
  • Low profile
  • Good blend of clipless and flat features

Pros and cons of the Crankbrothers Mallet E pedal

Dirt naps

  • Pricey

Crankbrothers Mallet E Speed Lace Shoes

crankbrothers mallet e shoes

Riders looking for a  do-it-all shoe that looks sleek, performs well climbing and descending, and withstands nature’s elements and human blunders will certainly be pleased by the Mallet E Speed Lace shoe. Designed for downhill/enduro riding, but perfect for, well, everything, these shoes exceeded my expectations for clip-in shoes and are my current favorite mountain bike shoes by far. I have already recommended them to anyone who will listen, and I don’t even own the BOA version.  While I’d prefer to have the Boa lace system in these shoes, the speed lace is a close second in terms of favorite fastening types. There is an easy pinch and pull plastic fastener and an elasticized mesh pocket at the top of the tongue to stash the laces securely and discreetly on the outside of the tongue.

First and foremost, you may be wondering, “do I need to have Crankbrothers pedals to use these shoes?” and the answer is no. The Mallet E’s come pre-installed with Crankbrothers cleats, and though the Mallet E shoe/pedal combo is pretty baller, as the kids would say, any type of cleat can be installed by simply removing the shim. I tested the Mallet E shoes with both the Crankbrother cleats and SPD cleats/pedals and they work seamlessly with both.

All the narrow footed people in the crowd should be Googling these shoes right this second because the Mallet E was made for YOU. I’m not saying the shoe won’t accommodate a normal foot, whatever that means. I am saying if you have ultrawide feet, these may not be for you. The Mallet E is the most narrow shoe I’ve tested thus far and I am here for it.  The easy-to-tighten speed lace closure system coupled with the narrow foot/toe box; heavy padding around the ankle, tongue, and heel; and velcro strap over top is the recipe for a snug fit. Crankbrothers doesn’t make women’s specific shoes, so I had to convert my size to men’s 7.5, which computes to the correct women’s size, and I am of the opinion they fit true to size.  Style-wise, these remind me of simple skate shoe: well padded and comfortable immediately.

One of my favorite features is the grippy rubber dots lining the heel cup. These lil’ guys grip your socks and help keep your heel from slipping out when pedaling, especially when heading down rough, chatter-filled downhills. High heel designers take note – this is an underrated shoe feature. I was worried the Mallet E would be hot due to the padding and all-black color scheme. To my surprise, these are amazingly breathable thanks to mesh vent windows on either side of the foot.  There’s also considerable padding and cushioning throughout the interior of the shoe and upper, resulting in hike-a-bike-ready comfort. The Mallets are reasonably light for a downhill shoe; my size 7.5s weigh 416g (14.7oz) a piece, with the cleats. By contrast my other second favorite riding shoes, the women’s Ride Concepts Traverse, weigh a whopping 550g, which feels significantly heavier when walking or hiking.

The front of the shoe is stiff, perhaps due to the “mid-friction rubber compound,” reinforced toe, and wide cleat box which is referred to as the Matchbox.  The theory behind the matchbox is multi-faceted. One, it matches the Mallet E pedals specifically.  Two, it makes clipping in and out easy breezy and provides notable lateral stability. Three, it allows a large range of fore and aft cleat adjustability. I wouldn’t go so far as to say these are too stiff for every day pedaling, which is lovely because though I dabble in Gravity, I pedal more often than not and by no means would I consider myself a “Gravity rider.” That being said, I did slam my cleats all the way back into the “Race Zone” for a bit and they felt very stable downhill, though not as enjoyable on the knees in the interim. Those who are planning to pedal on all day adventures,may opt for a more neutral position.

The Mallet E Shoes are fairly lightweight, narrow, easy to tighten, well made, versatile, durable and comfortable the moment you slip them on. Any type of cleat can be affixed to the shoe so you can run whatever style pedals float your boat. I highly recommend trying the combo platter; you won’t be disappointed. The Mallet E Pedals come in three fastening flavors, traditional lace ($149.99), speed lace ($169.99), and BOA ($199.99).

Party laps

  • Lightweight
  • Durable and comfortable
  • Good fit for narrow feet
  • Versatile

Pros and cons of the Crankbrothers Mallet E Speed Lace shoes

Dirt naps

  • None noted

Mallet E shoe plus pedal combo

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the Crankbrothers Mallet shoe/pedal combo. The platform and build of the pedals coupled nicely with the Matchbox cleat channel on the shoe and made for a pleasant ride climbing and descending. Trust me when I say this was unexpected.