By Adam Newman
I’ll say one thing about the bicycle industry: It’s never afraid to keep innovating. The concept of attaching your feet to the pedals in one way or another has been around for more than a century, and I doubt this is even the first time this method has been tried.
The Maglock pedals look like standard flat pedals, but you can probably guess from the name what’s different about them. Their inventor, David Williams, set out to build a better mousetrap after he was dissatisfied with the performance of both flat pedals and traditional SPD style clipless pedals. After a handful of prototypes in aluminum and plastic, he launched Maglock through a crowdfunding campaign.
Inside each aluminum pedal are 10 rare earth magnets that are strong enough to hold tightly to the cleat. The cleat itself is a solid chunk of steel that bolts to your shoe with a normal, two-hole mountain bike design. The process of “clipping in” is of course ridiculously simple: Put your foot on the pedal and it sticks. Because the pedal platform is big enough you can reposition your foot by turning it or sliding it around a bit. To unclip you roll your foot off the pedal rather than rotating it. If you tilt your foot even a tiny bit it will release, alleviating the “stuck in the pedals” feeling that many beginner cyclists have. You can also remove the magnets one by one to adjust the amount of “stick” that they have.
The ease with which you can release the cleat is a bit limiting for performance users. Out of the saddle sprinting is not recommended, since I could yank my foot hard enough to release the cleat and doing so unexpectedly could be hazardous. Another major downside to the Maglock design is the weight. At 988 grams combined, plus another 190 grams for the cleats, the system is far heavier than traditional flat or clipless pedals, especially at this price point.
For urban riding and touring, the Maglock pedals strike a nice middle ground between clipless and flat pedals. I imagine they’d also work well in the snow and mud, though I only got to ride them through the summer. They might be a good choice for someone new to the concept of clipless pedals that wants a more secure feeling than flats provide, or even someone with a disability like Maglock’s sponsored athlete Adolfo Almarza, a double amputee mountain biker. They are available in blue, red or black, and you can have them personalized with your own laser etched logo.
I always love seeing new (or renewed) ideas like the Maglock pedals, and my hand is always the first in the air to try them, but I think the ideal rider for this product is a bit limited.