Why don’t Mountain Bikes come with pedals? Reasons, Types, and Options

My Mongoose Alta from Dick Sporting goods came with a pair of Mountain Bike Pedals. I was a bit shocked at first when my Specialized Fuze didn’t come with anything. This got me wondering why not all Mountain Bikes come with pedals.

So why don’t all Mountain Bikes come with pedals? Pedals are one of the most universal and rider-specific parts of the mountain bike.  Local Bike Shops and Retailers will often put the cost towards better parts on the bike. This allows riders the ability to swap pedals from one of their other rides.

Looking around for my son’s first REAL mountain bike I was finding the same thing. When I started by looking at the inexpensive bikes at the big box stores I found that all of those bikes came with pedals.  

When searching online at the manufacturer sites or local bike shops, I found that the bikes often came without pedals. When talking with the different owners/managers I found out some interesting things.

Reasons why not all Mountain Bikes have pedals

There are two common reasons why various brands of bikes don’t come with pedals; costs focused elsewhere on the bike and pedals are one of the most rider-specific components of a mountain bike.

While there may be other additional reasons, these were the main two that came up in my research.

Looking for mountain biking related gift ideas? Check out our article on Mountain Bike Gift Ideas: Pre-ride, Post-ride, Accessories & Unique.

Focusing costs on components instead of Mountain bike pedals

Now, this is something that is harder to quantify but it has been said that by disregarding pedals on the higher end bikes, they can focus more on higher-end components.  It is harder to quantify this because the components vary quite a bit on the different brands of bikes.

Other options if your mountain bike doesn’t come with pedals

When I picked up my Specialized Fuse a few years back it didn’t come with pedals. So I had several options.

The first option, I could have simply transferred over my clipless pedals from my old bike and I almost did this. However, I had been wanting to try out flats again so that led me to options two and three.

The second option was to purchase a pair of flat pedals to have installed on the bike before I took it home. I had just dropped $2k on this new bike and wanted to have a bit more time before dropping even more money on pedals that I want to last as long as my old clipless pedals. This led me to option three.

The third option, and the one I went with, was to ask the local bike shop mechanic if they had any stock pedals that they could throw on the bike because I was looking to potentially switch back out to flats.  

They had a bin in the back of stock Specialized pedals, being that they are an authorized retailer for Specialized. So I was able to walk out with a pair of flats with the bike while I waited to decide which flat pedals to ride with.

Mountain bike pedals are one of the most rider-specific components

Ask 10 mountain bikers and you are likely to get a mixed bag of answers.  Don’t know 10 mountain bikers, then take a quick search any forum where they are talking about pedals.

When I got my first mountain bike back in 05, it came with a set of cheap flat pedals that I rode forever.  These did me well initially but simply didn’t hold up to the rougher terrain.

After digging into the web, talking with my buddies and comparing prices of various products I found that there were two standard pedals that mountain bikers gravitate towards.

Different types of Mountain Bike Pedals

So what are two standard mountain bike pedals? They are flat pedals and clipless pedals.

Some mountain bikers will stick with a single brand or type while others will swap back and forth between. I am one that is currently swapping back and forth.

Mountain Bike Flat Pedals

These are what I first started out on. In part because that is what came on my first bike from Dick Sporting Goods.

They were a cheap set of stock plastic pedals which were fine for the first year or so as I was starting in mountain biking. When I started getting into the more technical trails I found the factory pedals to be severely lacking in grip and the rocks and roots tore them up pretty good.

After about with clipless pedals, more on this in the next section, I came back to some new flats recently. The new flat pedals were awesome in comparison to the stock ones due to the studs that helped with grip.

These Race Face Chester Composite pedals I got from JensonUSA made me feel a lot more comfortable on certain portions of the trail. They also reminded me that by switching to clipless pedals early on, I had actually lost some of the skills I had earlier on.

Mountain Bike Clipless Pedals

Clipless pedals are not just for roadies.  When I initially started researching new pedals for my old bike, my research led me to try clipless pedals.

It seemed to be where everyone was headed at that time. One of my buddies actually made the statement that only true mountain bikers rode clipless.

So I broke down and bought this set of Shimano clipless pedals that I had originally purchased from a physical Performance Bike shop long before they closed all of their brick and mortar locations. To find out more you can check them out at this link.

This pair of clipless pedals and shoes served me well for over 10 years of biking. They helped me feel more comfortable in different sections of the trail and really helped improve my climbing ability.

The downside of these pedals is if they aren’t maintained properly you could run into issues with your shoes popping out of the pedals when you want to stay clipped in.  The opposite is also possible as I have run into issues where I ended up crashing when I couldn’t unclip in time.

Related Questions and Posts

What are some of the common problems and questions with Mountain Bike pedals?

The common problems that come up with pedals are cross threaded cranks, worn out studs, and loose or sticky clipless pedals. These are problems that most mountain bikers have run into at some point.

The common questions are surrounding how to choose the right pedal, whether or not they are universal, and whether or not they are reverse threaded. We cover these problems and questions in this post, check it out for more detail!

So why don’t mountain bikes have kickstands?

Growing up, most of our bikes had come with kickstands. I, as well as others, initially wondered why.

While you will find some mountain bikes with kickstands the higher end ones don’t typically come with them.  If you walk into your local big-box store, like Walmart, you are likely to find bikes in the racks or hanging around with kickstands on them.

The higher-end bikes are catered to actual true mountain bikers who want to get more out of their bikes. While there is still the need to prop up your bike while on the trail, true bikers have plenty of tricks.

Check out our article here to find out why Not all Mountain Bikes have kickstands; uses, reasons, and options.

Why don’t Mountain Bikes Mudguards come standard?

While I am not a proponent of riding on wet trails, sometimes you come across a mostly dry trail with a section or two of dampness. That, or you have a section of trail with a creek crossing. 

So why don’t mountain bikes come with mudguards? While mountain bike mudguards are fairly inexpensive, they are typically rider specific in that they come in various styles, shapes, and sizes. 

Instead of having your local bike shop add it onto your new ride if you are buying one, purchase a set online and try to install them yourself first. If you want to learn more about mountain bike mudguards, check out our article here where we go into the reasons in more detail as well as aftermarket and DIY options.

Either way, I can’t stop recommending them enough.  It took me a while to jump on the bandwagon but I am so glad I had put them on my wish list for Christmas last year.

John Orr

I am a husband and father of two who loves to unwind by getting on my mountain bike gear and heading out for an awesome adventure in the woods. When I am not able to do that I enjoy trying to create my own back yard trail and working on skills necessary to become a better rider.

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