Crankbrothers makes some of the most popular clipless pedals, but can it transfer this master knowledge into the world of flat pedals? Join Bike Perfect as we hit the trails with the Stamp 3 to see how they perform against the best MTB flat pedals.
The Stamp collection contains five pedals ranging from affordable plastic composite models to totally boutique-feeling, sub-300g titanium spindled numbers. We’ve opted for the mid-range Stamp 3, which we feel offers sensible features for the relatively competitive price.
Design and aesthetics
The Stamp 3 uses a 16mm magnesium body with the aim of reducing overall weight. As with any rotating part, weight is an important consideration when selecting the best MTB flat pedal. The magnesium body spins on a premium double cartridge bearing system, which is said to be well sealed against the elements. Keeping things in place and attaching the Stamp to the cranks is a forged 415 chromoly steel axle, which in the past we’ve never been able to bend, despite numerous questionable rock strikes and harsh landings.
Crankbrothers offers the entire Stamp flat pedal range in two different platform sizes - small and large - with recommended shoe sizes for each platform size. The small is aimed at riders with EU 37-43 shoes while the large caters EU 43-49. Being a size 41, I fell in the middle of the small pedal size range, so went with the manufacturer's recommendations. The size-specific platform is said to provide the optimal shoe-to-pedal interface for every rider, and it’s something I feel makes sense on the trail.
Regardless of platform sizes, there are 10 adjustable and removable pins per side. My small Stamp 3 pedal hit the scales at 391g, and anything under the 400g mark gets the green light from me. At $129.99 / £119 the price is about right in today’s premium flat pedal market too.
Right out the box, the Stamps have a presence of quality. The bearing tolerances feel dialed, the grade of the high-quality materials used is obvious, and the way the finished pedal is machined is pleasing to the eye.
On the trail, the recommended size small platform felt well-suited to my shoe size. There is enough platform to feel secure in the on-bike attack position, but things aren’t so big that they stop the shoe from wrapping around the pedal to further enhance feel and traction. The low-profile design also offers a noticeable improvement in ground clearance over some other chunkier pedals. This is especially noticeable on some technical climbs I frequently ride where pedal catches aren’t uncommon.
On a whole the Stamp 3s provide good levels of traction, however, I never felt fully at one with the pin set up or relatively flat design. The shallow pins never fully cement themselves into even the best MTB flat pedal shoes, and due to their top-loaded design, getting a hex key in to adjust things isn’t easy once they’ve seen the mud. This does mean shoe relocation is easier than some of the grippiest pedals, but it also translates to a less secure feel when charging through choppy sections of trail.
Adding to the slight perched feel is the small amount of concave. This again meant I never fully snuck into the Stamp’s design, something that was especially noticeable through rougher sections of trail where pedal security is key.
The premium quality construction seems to translate to longevity too. After several months of riding between a variety of different bikes, my test pair are looking and feeling remarkably fresh. If you do manage to wear out the bearings and/or seals, Crankbrothers has you covered with comprehensive service kits.
The flat pedal market is highly competitive, and while the Crankbrothers Stamp sports good grip and great build quality, it still doesn’t compete with the current category leaders. The flatter shape and small pins meant I never got that completely locked-in feel. I'm still rotating the Stamp between test bikes, but to remain permanently installed they would need a deeper profile and longer pins.
Tech Specs: Crankbrothers Stamp 3
- Price: $129.99 / £119
- Sizes: Small (100mm x 100mm) and Large (114mm x 111mm)
- Colors: Black and Gray
- Temperature: 8-24 degrees in dry and wet
- Trail surface and route: Mix of natural and manmade trail, enduro and DH terrain