Bicycles

MagLOCK offers a magnetic take on clipless pedals

MagLOCK offers a magnetic take...
MagLOCK pedals retain the rider's shoes using embedded magnets
MagLOCK pedals retain the rider's shoes using embedded magnets
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MagLOCK pedals retain the rider's shoes using embedded magnets
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MagLOCK pedals retain the rider's shoes using embedded magnets
A maximum of over 50 lb (23 kg) of attractive force is reportedly possible
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A maximum of over 50 lb (23 kg) of attractive force is reportedly possible
Features of the current prototype
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Features of the current prototype
The magnetic cleats, attached to the rider's shoes
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The magnetic cleats, attached to the rider's shoes
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So-called "clipless" bicycle pedals, in which a steel cleat in the sole of the rider's shoe clicks in and out of a mechanism in the pedal, are very popular with cyclists – they maximize pedaling efficiency, plus they help keep riders' feet from accidentally slipping off the pedals when going over rough terrain. Some riders, however, find them too difficult to quickly snap out of. Additionally, they don't work well with regular, non-cleated footwear. That's why Salt Lake City-based mechanical engineer David Williams has created the MagLOCK bike pedal.

The aluminum-bodied prototype device looks like a regular mountain bike/BMX-style platform pedal, but contains a stack of rare-earth magnets within a user-accessible compartment in the middle. Those magnets are attracted to another magnet, mounted in the sole of the rider's cycling shoe – the shoe magnets are compatible with mounting systems designed for the popular Shimano SPD cleats.

Whereas SPDs are disengaged from the pedal by twisting the foot to the side, however, the MagLOCK system requires the rider to pronate their foot to the left or right. According to Williams, this is a more instinctive movement, particularly for mountain bikers who suddenly feel themselves tipping over.

The magnetic cleats, attached to the rider's shoes
The magnetic cleats, attached to the rider's shoes

The amount of magnetic attraction between the pedals and shoes can be adjusted by adding or removing magnets within the pedals. This means that newbies could start with a minimum of force, so they can easily get their feet out as needed, but then increase the force as they get more comfortable with the system.

A maximum of over 50 lb (23 kg) of attractive force is reportedly possible. David claims that this is easily enough to keep the shoe attached to the pedal on upstrokes when climbing hills, and also when going over jumps.

... and yes, because they have the form factor of regular platforms, the pedals can also be used with ordinary street shoes when riders just want to commute or run errands.

In their present form, a set of MagLOCK pedals with a full load of magnets weighs in at a rather hefty 1,540 grams (54.3 oz). Down the road, however, Williams hopes to manufacture a polycarbonate version, that would be more in the range of 900 to 1200 grams (31.7 to 42.3 oz).

For now, though, you can preorder a pair of the aluminum pedals by pledging US$175 to the MagLOCK Kickstarter campaign. Shipping is estimated for next May, assuming the pedals go to production.

More information is available in the pitch video below.

Sources: MagLOCK, Kickstarter

View gallery - 4 images
6 comments
hdm
why not have the crank motion give field effect and adjust the level of magnetic force that way? when you pedal slow, less effect...like when you are stopping. when you are pedaling hard, lots of grip. i dunno, probably a dumbass idea again.
turdferguson
How do the magnetic pedals deal with mud? Does the rider have to clean their pedals and their shoes?
Gary Bonney
Off road the magnets will pick up grit etc and lose strength. I use SPD's on a recumbent trike and I would at nearly every start, exceed 23 kg of pulling force, It is a heavy dead end idea, as regular clipless are about a tenth of the weight and stronger.
Otto De Steene
interesting idea, but I have never had problems with my clip paddles. Ok the first few rides it gets you getting a bit used to, but they are also much, much lighter!
dante lee
I would only have one concern with magnets in the pedals. When a magnet gets dragged in the dirt/sand it picks up ferrofluid and many other things. So how often would a mountain biker need to clean the pedals? The Idea is interesting but the truth is,,,going clipped in is not as dangerous. If one can not ride when clipped in one should not ride a bike in the first place. Considering the technical parts of mountain biking and not knowing how to clip out. I can see how this may be useful in an urban environment but for MTB riders. It could be an extra time spent on having to clean the pedals. Don't see how this would be useful for MTB riders but it may apply to Urban Riders. Just my thought. This product has a place in bicycles but not for Mountain Biking. I have never hit the dirt because I was clipped in. I've hit the dirt from going to fast or not calculating a line correctly. In every crash I have managed to clip out. What happens when one puts down the bike on it's side. Will the pedals attract unwanted particals? Food for thought.
DeweyGallegos
What if I am in Australia? Will the swirling of toilet going to wrong way be a problem when I dispose of them?