MagLock magnetic pedals review

Using magnets to clip in — find out how well it works

Pedals
A good amount of float is available when the pedal pins are not making contact with the shoe.

A good amount of float is available when the pedal pins are not making contact with the shoe.

Lowdown: MagLock Magnetic Pedal

All riders start with platform pedals. Then at some point folks convince them to ride clipless pedals to gain more control and efficiency with the bike. But clipless pedals entails a rather steep learning curve, especially for mountain biking. Instantaneous click-in and click-out action can take months to master. Enter MagLock, which sought to use magnets (and Kickstarter) to provide a middle ground between flats and clipless. Their idea was to use magnets to help secure the rider’s foot to the pedals.

Stat Box
Attractive force: 30-35 lbs Price: $165
Dimensions: 3.75” x 4.00” x 0.85” Rating: 2 Flamin' Chili Peppers 2 out of 5
Weight: 1020 grams, 200 gram cleats

Pluses
Minuses
  • Innovative use of technology
  • 1220 grams 3x heavier than normal
  • Magnets pack punch with 35 lbs of force
  • Insufficient grip during jumping or tech maneuvers
  • Magnets help during pedaling upstroke
  • Traction to the pedals is low during lateral forces
  • Clicking in is easy
  • Axle interface has a lot of play
    • Changing tension is tedious process
      • Can’t have both float and pin contact
        • Feels like skating with some shoes

        Review: MagLock Magnetic Pedal

        The pedals arrived and I seemed like the perfect candidate. I was riding clipless for 15 years but was disappointed at my ineptitude when not clipped in. I couldn’t jump, drop, corner or feel connected with any bike when I wasn’t clipped in. So I took the time to learn how to use flats 5 years ago. It took a whole year to be proficient but I achieved a level much higher than before and now feel comfortable clipped in or not.

        Big, flat cleats provide float as they're free to slide around the magnetic plate.

        Big flat cleats provide float, as they’re free to slide around the magnetic plate.

        When I need the additional pedaling efficiency, I’ll clip in. But most of the time, I’ll ride flats and have the millisecond advantage of going on and off the pedals, always ready for challenging descents. And I love being comfortable on any bike using any pair of shoes.

        No one in the office test crew would touch these pedals, but I was giddy with excitement. If it worked, then it could be a great crossover pedal or teaching tool.

        Weight and Price

        When I took them out of the box, I was shocked to feel the weight. The pedals were 1020 grams and cleats were 200 grams. This is rotating weight, too, so it’s a double whammy. For comparison, Race Face Chester flat pedals weigh 340 grams, and Shimano XT clipless pedals weight 340 grams with an additional 50 grams for the cleats. So the MagLock system weighs about three times the normal alternatives. Price is high, too, at $165 versus $50 for the Chester and $120 for the XT’s.

        The big cleat requires an SPD shoe. But it is rare to find an SPD shoe with a good flat pedal rubber interface.

        The big cleat requires an SPD shoe. But it is rare to find an SPD shoe with good flat pedal rubber.

        On the Bike

        Clipping in is easy. With shoe about an inch away, the magnets lock on and there is significant force to pull the pedal and cleat together. It even makes a distinct clicking sound. There are pins in front of and behind the cleat position so there is a limited space where one can put foot on pedal. The multitude of foot positions offered by flats is limited by this system.

        There is float since the flat cleat is free to slide around with the magnet plate. On some shoes, there is some contact with the shoes to the pedal pins; on other shoes there is none. And there really is no easy way to adjust the height of the thick cleat.

        Clipping out was a little bit strange since there’s no distinct way to do it. Twisting out doesn’t work consistently. Lifting up at an angle seemed to work the best. But one can slide off the side or just lift straight up and overcome the full 35 lb force of the magnet.

        Pedaling was fine since the magnet force helped keep the foot in place at the top and bottom of the stroke. A little bit of pull a the upstroke was an option as well.

        Descending is where things got hairy. On a couple jumps and drops, my feet completely pulled out of the pedals. Even though there is 35 lbs of retention force, that is a mere fraction of what a clipless retention force has when pulled straight up. Pulled straight up, an SPD pedal is locked on and provides hundreds of lbs of force. And when using the MagLock, pulling up at angle, which is often the case, will lead to accidental pedal separation.

        The worst part is landing jumps. Our shoe completely slid out of the pedal through the side. Since there’s nothing stopping the cleats from sliding to the side, awkward landings can dislodge the rider from the bike at the worst moment. This cleat system negates what flats are best at, optimum contact between the rubber sole and the pedal pins.

        The other effect of the pedals is the main contact point between the rider and bike got muffled. Since the main contact point is a big flat cleat with float, feedback between the bike and the rider feels disconnected. Our otherwise responsive and agile bike felt vague and disconnected.

        Continue to page 2 for more of our MagLock magnetic pedals review »

        About the author: Francis Cebedo

        The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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        • butch says:

          I think the idea is good but this needs to be a pedal+shoe combo and cant be adapted to clipless shoes. Add some strong magnets to an already good flat pedal and then put a metal plate underneath the rubber of a good flat pedal shoe and I think this would work great. My biggest problem with flats is my feet come off the pedal when Im in the air, a little bit of magnetic force would help with that a lot.

        • azimiut says:

          magnets out here in the desert get dirty fast. doesnt seem like a good idea

        • MAXBUWAYa says:

          I think Velcro shoes and pedal would do a better job. :)

        • fred says:

          I don’t think a magnet system could ever work unless they improved batteries enough to make an electromagnet that would exert 100 plus pounds of force which could be turned off or turned on with a button.

          What I did find odd in the review was the comment that it takes months to learn how to clip and unclip? I use Speedplay Frog pedals and it took me about a 1/2 an hour to learn how, and I came from toe clips and straps; I have yet to fall over due to failure to unclip and I’ve been using them for 3 years.

          • Phil Jones says:

            Hey Fred, sorry to hear about your Speedplay Frog pedals, that’s a tough hand to be dealt having to use those. Our thoughts are with you.

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