Bicycles

Review: MagLOCK magnetic pedals should attract a certain crowd

MagLOCK pedals are available in red, black or blue
MagLOCK pedals are available in red, black or blue
View 5 Images
MagLOCK pedals are available in red, black or blue
1/5
MagLOCK pedals are available in red, black or blue
Each MagLOCK pedal features an anodized aluminum body with weight-saving cutouts, along with 10 removable cylindrical neodymium magnets
2/5
Each MagLOCK pedal features an anodized aluminum body with weight-saving cutouts, along with 10 removable cylindrical neodymium magnets
A Shimano SPD cleat (left) as compared to a MagLOCK cleat
3/5
A Shimano SPD cleat (left) as compared to a MagLOCK cleat
Because the MagLOCK cleats are so large, we had to cut away some extra rubber from the "cleat area" in the soles of the shoes we were using in order to accommodate them
4/5
Because the MagLOCK cleats are so large, we had to cut away some extra rubber from the "cleat area" in the soles of the shoes we were using in order to accommodate them
With all 10 magnets in place, each MagLOCK pedal has an attractive force of 35 lb (16 kg)
5/5
With all 10 magnets in place, each MagLOCK pedal has an attractive force of 35 lb (16 kg)

Many mountain bikers swear by the pedalling efficiency of so-called clipless pedals, in which a steel cleat on the bottom of each shoe engages a spring-loaded mechanism in the pedal. Some other riders, however, just don't like the idea of being "snapped in" like that. It was with this in mind that cyclist Dave Williams created MagLOCK pedals. They're non-threatening platform pedals, that keep the user's feet in place using magnets instead of mechanisms. We recently had a chance to try them out, and generally liked what they had to offer.

Each MagLOCK pedal features an anodized aluminum body with weight-saving cutouts, along with 10 removable cylindrical neodymium magnets inside. Those magnets are attracted to rectangular steel cleats attached to the bottom of each shoe – this means that cycling-specific shoes with cleat mounts must be used, if riders want the magnetic effect.

As with mechanical clipless pedals, riders release their feet from the MagLOCKs simply by pronating the foot outward. It's about as easy as disengaging from Shimano's popular SPD system when set to very low retention – the difference is, we found that the MagLOCKS kept our shoes in place on the pedals better than SPDs set to such a level.

All that being said, it must be admitted that lifting one's foot off of a regular platform pedal is easier still.

Each MagLOCK pedal features an anodized aluminum body with weight-saving cutouts, along with 10 removable cylindrical neodymium magnets
Each MagLOCK pedal features an anodized aluminum body with weight-saving cutouts, along with 10 removable cylindrical neodymium magnets

By removing a metal cover plate, users can take out the magnets one by one, until they reach a level of magnetic attraction with which they're comfortable. With all 10 magnets in place, each pedal has an attractive force of 35 lb (16 kg). We found that five magnets per pedal was about right for us. This allowed us to "pedal in circles" (i.e: pushing and pulling on the pedals, instead of just mashing down on them) and kept our feet from being bucked off the pedals while going over rough terrain, yet still allowed for easy disengagement.

We also appreciated the generous amount of float provided by the MagLOCKs. This means that our feet were able to swivel laterally a fair bit relative to each pedal, instead of being unyieldingly locked into one position. There is no way of adjusting the float, however.

With all 10 magnets in place, each MagLOCK pedal has an attractive force of 35 lb (16 kg)
With all 10 magnets in place, each MagLOCK pedal has an attractive force of 35 lb (16 kg)

As far as gripes go, one is that the magnet-removal process can be quite … trying. Despite following the instructions, we found it fairly difficult to keep the magnets from violently snapping onto one another, once they'd been pulled out of their cubby holes. By contrast, turning the spring-tensioning screw on a set of SPDs is much easier. Fortunately, it's a process that most users should have to go through just once.

The other detractor of the MagLOCKs is their weight. Each of our pedals tipped the scales at 18 oz (510 g) with all the magnets on board, as compared to an 8-oz (227-g) SPD and a 6.5-oz (184-g) platform pedal that we had on hand. The cleats are likewise pretty hefty – 3.5 oz (99 g) for a MagLOCK, as opposed to less than 1 oz (28 g) for an SPD cleat. Additionally, because the MagLOCK cleats are so large, we had to cut away some extra rubber from the "cleat area" in the soles of the shoes we were using in order to accommodate them.

Because the MagLOCK cleats are so large, we had to cut away some extra rubber from the "cleat area" in the soles of the shoes we were using in order to accommodate them
Because the MagLOCK cleats are so large, we had to cut away some extra rubber from the "cleat area" in the soles of the shoes we were using in order to accommodate them

Just out of curiosity, we did try using the smaller SPD cleats with the MagLOCK pedals, but even with all 10 magnets in place, there just wasn't enough retention.

All in all, though, we think that MagLOCKs are a good compromise for riders who want to move up from straight platforms, but who are still a little leery of conventional clipless systems – especially if they use even less magnets than we did, at least to start. The MagLOCKs also work perfectly fine as regular pedals with plain ol' street shoes, plus they could be particularly good for snow-going fatbikers – SPDs and other systems sometimes get jammed up with snow, but we had no problem with the very simple MagLOCKs doing so.

With that application in mind, perhaps a sleeker, lighter version of the pedals might be a good idea, that does away with the extra weight and bulk of the platform, leaving just a cleat receptacle with the magnets inside.

MagLOCK pedals are available now via the link below, priced at US$140 a pair.

Source: MagLOCK

6 comments
minivini
I like the concept, but I'm not sure who would opt for these. If you're serious enough to go clipless, these are a very heavy option. The platform is nice because you could wear street shoes, as well - but then again, there's that weight. When outfitting a bike (even a commuter), reducing the weight on every rotating part is pretty important - not only for speed, but efficiency. These are super cool in concept, but I'll wait until they can get the weight down to half or less. Watching with interest, though!
c w
So...why not have the block on the pedal with ferrous receptacle recessed into the sole of the shoe?
JimKirkpatrick
i wonder if those magnets would be strong enough to trip the magnetic triggers at a stoplight?
Douglas Bennett Rogers
Might be worthwhile for uphill stops.
Stradric
I own a set of these pedals. I found a pair of Shimano M089 SPD shoes that work perfect (and come in wide sizes) and keep the plate recessed enough not to be annoying to walk in. I am not a fan of clipless pedals and these serve as a happy middle ground for me. They can also be used without SPD shoes since they function as a regular platform pedal. Clipless pedals don't get to say that. As for the weight, I kind of have to laugh when a 180lb - 200lb man gets on a bike and complains about a few ounces of added weight from pedals. If you're looking to shave weight, shave it from your body.
mike45
I am not your typical, hardcore mountain biker so keep that in mind with my comments. I rode for commuting, exercise and enjoyment. Then, I had surgery inside my spinal cord which left my left foot numb. The medical term is "drop foot". I desperately wanted to ride again. When I first tried riding on flats, my foot would come off of the pedal (without me knowing it), the pedals would rotate at a high rate of speed and take a chunk of flesh out of my leg when they came around again. I found these pedals and gave them a shot. For me, it is the perfect solution. The key for me is to make sure the metal makes full contact with the magnets. No more wearing soccer shin guards for me! I am thrilled with them. I think the target market for these are for people like me, with medical or mobility issues.