MagLock magnetic bike pedal  (3)

Now more than ever, there seems to be an intense debate between the use of flat pedals or clipless. Both have their merits, but what if there was something in between? Something that combined the best things about each into a single design? Now that the MagLOCK bike pedal is getting official, maybe there is.

The MagLOCK pedal is definitely not the first to attempt to use magnets to replace a clipless system. Many companies have tried over the years and for whatever reason either failed to produce a worthwhile product, or at least one that consumers would buy. There are many factors to designing a magnetic pedal that you have to take into consideration over a relatively simple clipless pedal, but it looks like Dave Williams may have figured it out with his clever magnetic design.

Details next…

Instead of simply placing some magnets on top of a pedal, the MagLOCK uses a clever housing that is built into the body of a flat pedal. By simply removing the metal plate that conceals the rare earth magnets, the power of the pedal’s magnetic connection can be changed by adding or removing magnets – anywhere from zero, to over 50 pounds of attractive force.

Cleat

Housed in the body of a 6061 machined aluminum pedal, one of the best features in our opinion is that without a pair of SPD compatible shoes with the magnetic shoe clip, the pedals turn into standard flats. Perfect for when you forget your shoes, or just want to spin around the neighborhood. When you’re really ready to ride though, a steel rectangular clip bolts onto the bottom of any clipless mountain shoe which interfaces with the magnets on the pedals.

MagLock magnetic bike pedal  (2) MagLock magnetic bike pedal  (1)

Available through another bicycle related Kickstarter, complete sets of pedals start at $150 with the Early Bird deal. Pedals will be offered with 3 different colored spindles as well as the option for replaceable anodized aluminum colors, as well as green or black anodized pedal bodies for $240 or $260 respectively.

Now for the drawback – the basic MagLOCK pedal weighs in at a whopping 1540g per set. To put that in perspective, a “heavy” set of flat pedals these days is around 700g. As with any first gen product though the weight is bound to come down – looking at the relatively simple pedal body design, there is a lot of aluminum that could still be removed. What’s important here is that concept looks sound, and we may finally have a viable alternative to clipless with the power of magnets.

maglockbikepedal.com

kickstarter.com

47 COMMENTS

  1. On a more serious note, while they might be able to bring weight down a little, rare earth magnets are not light. So they can’t do much to save weight in that department.

  2. This is the classic example of a solution without a problem. A solution that as the article mentions is heavy and ugly, but also super thick. MTB riders (who I assume this product is aimed at) want a thin pedal for rock clearance and a more connected feeling. Just buy some pinners and 5 Ten’s and learn how to pedal properly, no heavy magnets required.

  3. So will they stay on when I’m going through a rock garden or a very rooty section? Probably not. I wouldn’t rely on something that isn’t day and night. My Time ATAC pedals are the best bar none. Shed mud x1000 and in and out perfectly. Unlike shitmano, where I always see / hear people banging their shoes against their pedals once the push back up is done…

  4. Pedantic digression: Since no one uses toe clips anymore (cue loud protests from the two hipsters that still do) can’t we do something about the broken term “clipless pedals”? Broken, as in “clipping into your clipless pedals” and the fact that flat pedals are also actually clipless. How about “locking pedals”?

    On topic: Having not checked the details, this does look trivially simple to build at home from a pair of light weight platforms of your choice, some mail order magnets, a bit of flat steel bar and some bolts. And it should produce a considerably lighter result than these 1540g metal blocks. (Though I’m too happy with my vanilla SPDs to bother trying.)

    Still, I hope they succeed. Always interesting to see how the end result turns out to be.

  5. Another terrible solution to a poorly-understood problem enabled by Kickstarter.

    Clipless pedals are not hard to enter or exit with experience. Neither the weight nor the stack height will be considered acceptable to either clipless or flat pedal riders. No one will want these.

  6. This could be an interesting idea, but I’d see it working better scaled down quite a bit. Would a flat pedal with a little magnetic force (10 lbs?) to it be any benefit? Maybe just keeping the feel of the pedals sticking underfoot when you are in the air?

  7. I don’t want pedals that can release when you pull up. That’s the same as having a worn out cleat (been there) or using the multi-release cleats shimano makes but nobody uses. Imagine hopping over something and your foot coming off the pedal when you are not expecting it. The result is kind of painful.

  8. For the broader MTBing market, I think his problem identification is off (“hard to clip out of, hard to clip into”), and his attribute importance ranking is off (100% locked in security needs to be a must-have, aesthetics do matter). So he designed around a bunch of flawed assumptions. Engineers… always coming up with the perfect solution to no-body’s problem.

  9. @josh

    I love my multi release cleats, once I got my pedal tension adjusted right they have worked fantastic. no accidental unclipping, and i can pull my foot straights out of the pedal when i panic

  10. If you use “clipless” or “locking” pedals, these are clearly not for you. And you people are not impressing anyone by talking about how your existing setup will be better through rock gardens. How old are you guys, 12?

  11. These have potential, there is a lot of opportunity to shave off material from those prototypes. Hope they make it to market as a choice.

  12. I’m all for innovation but really! Clipless pedals are designed to eject you if you fall. Only if your pedals are setup wrong will the pedals hold you in. Light tension for beginners, you’ll be fine.

  13. People use flat pedals because of the positive attributes of flat pedals.
    People use clipless pedals because of the positive attributes of clipless pedals.

    Making a bastardized version of each without any real advantages while riding doesn’t make much sense, but neither do many mechanical engineers.

  14. It could be super useful for people with prosthetic legs or nerve damage. However, it appears that the designer’s only impairment is PTSD from falling over in front of some people, that one time…

  15. This is not a new idea, and the idea was never a bad one.. yep way too heavy. I think the test of the product is how strongly the magnets can hold the ride {shoes} in place. And that cleats never going to wear out.

  16. I’m also on the electromagnetic bandwagon. You can put the battery weight low and in the frame, reducing the weight of the pedals significantly and even add one of those bicycle generators to keep the battery charged. I’d also design a handle-bar mounted dial that lets you adjust the amount of magnetism on the fly and a pair of grips that cuts the magnetic charge when your hands come off the grips in the event of a crash.

  17. What bugs me about the pedals is the (lack of) attention to detail. Cap screws do not make good traction pins (pretty much every pedal out there uses set screws) and a lot of metal could have been machined out of the sides.

  18. 1.5kg pedals hahaahaaha. its not april 1st is it!

    electromagnet require too much energy today to last long enough (exchange 1.5kg of rare earth magnets for 1.5kg of lipo battery? =p). maybe one day tho.

  19. I hate to criticize a fellow engineer, but the his claimed need is overly exaggerated. The whole fall-over thing is a mere beginners’ trial, not something that haunts riders with experience. Pretty much any decent rider knows how to clip out fast and instinctively.

    Why hasn’t Shimano/Look/Time done this? because you’re not actually locked to the pedal, which is the point of clipless design. Literally think about this: what does MagLock do better than a platform? Nothing, beyond putting one side up all the time. What actually prevents the feet from sliding left/right and fore/aft? The pins. If you dared tried to exploit the “pull-up” advantages, you’d probably pronate your foot, which is such as the method of release.

    The end product looks clunky, but I don’t know his design process firsthand to know how he got to that, so I can’t really hate on htat.

  20. As a person with a prosthesis I’ve thought about this idea regularly for years. I understand the downside and also figured some sort of electro magnetic device to be helpful.
    I’m just stoked to someone make an attempt. Hopefully this may push someone towards a new thought process and future revised designs.

  21. Interesting idea. The concept of the idea is great. The execution is a little off. As a cyclist/mountain biker I wouldn’t add something this heavy to my bikes. I am interested in the idea because of the ability to ride clipless of flat. Something I want to do often when riding local trails. Some days I want to ride obsticals and I am hesitant because of the clipless pedals. Or when we’re camping at a race and I want to ride to a friends campsite for a beer. Do I really want to switch pedals so I can wear my flip flops over? Switching pedals is easy enough but why not have the best of both worlds? I say the first attempt is good, just not practical. Over time the idea will evolve and become something great. Kudos to the designer for making the bold move to bring it out there.

  22. @Dude

    I’m a design engineer for an aerospace company. Round here we only ever come up with solutions to customer’s specifications. I believe you are thinking of inventors.

  23. @The inventor of these pedals

    Air is a terrible conductor of magnetic flux so you will get a much stronger attractive force by magnetically linking the front and back of the pedals i.e. place the bar magnets along the middle of the pedal and not across it front and back such that the front is the north pole and the rear the south when the pedal is one way up and vice versa when the other way up.

    Replace the stainless steel ‘cleat’, which is again a poor conductor of magnetic flux, with something like ENP silicon iron, permadur or mumetal. This will also maximise force for the quantity of magnet used.

    I think it’s a dumb idea, but currently it is a badly designed dumb idea…

  24. Dave might have something here if weight issue is fixed or cut down a good bit after some refinement and manufacturing tweaks. Downhill riders could find this really useful since they are a crowd who don’t really clip in and in my personal opinion and experience would like to a percentage of time when downhill / free riding for that added advantage.

    I ride a full carbon as bulletproof as can be but pretty light build enduro/freeride bike on everything all the time and weight is my 2nd peeve vs the strength/performance of my equipment. I do use eggbeater 3 pedals now 95% of the time and have no real issue with them and basically love them. I think they are awesome in all conditions except the extreme down riding which I switch out with my eggbeater mallets and still clip in. That is my preference after riding hard now for 23+ years already!

    I rarely ever have challenges clipping back in or unclipping but think these MagLOCKs might be great for slopestyle downhill rides at NorthStar or Whistler for me. I will have to try them first though.

    If they can cut the weight down a good bit I might give version 2.0 a try. I could see then possibly getting down to sub 2.5lbs (1100g) a pair with magnets but that would be pushing it based my the weight of Mallet 3 pedals (.97lb, 443g/pair) but that still adds another 2.5lbs to my ride and will bring my bike over 30lbs! Who know it might be worth it though it they work that well.

    Make sure you take a bunch of pairs to Sea Otter next year so we can demo them on all the sweet new rides the manufactures have for us to test ride! (I will be looking for you there!)

    Great Job Dave for going with your idea and taking the action to make it happen! Keep refining and testing this product and it will definitely fill a niche area or two. Good luck on the Kickstarter campaign.

  25. @derp @Dude
    Why all the hate for Mechanical Engineers? I’m sure there wasn’t a single ME involved with the designing of the bike(s) you ride… See this all the time in my field, a mechanic or tech that thinks they could always do something better than the Engineer. Yes, a lot of Engineers are lacking in hands on experience, but many are hands on and many do work with mech’s, tech’s, and machine operators to improve their product. So if you can do better…then go do it. Get involved, get your degree and go change the industry. If that’s not an option then just keep bitching about engineers from the comfort of the internet…it is the easy way after all. Now I go back to designing products that piss off mechanics 😉

    Oh, and as for these pedals. Meh, I’m totally fine with my SPD’s, did take some learning and some spring tension adjustment but I wouldn’t trade them for magnets just yet. Hope these guys can evolve their idea, it’s an interesting way to go about it. Sorta looks like size/weight will always be an issue with magnets though.

  26. So, in Colorado, more than a few trails have iron present in the soil. I notice grit build up on the magnetic clip for my Osprey reservoir all the time. These pedals would be far worse for that. I could see problems with debris being attracted to such a powerful magnet (and if it can get up to my sternum strap, you can easily see it getting on a pedal).

  27. Can any of the armchair engineers tell us what “50 pounds of attractive force” compares to in terms of the torque required to release from a typical clipless pedal system?

    If you read the inventor’s stories of frustration with clipless pedals, it sounds like this product probably does not feel like your standard SPD, etc. — which may or may not be a good thing. As jinknobat noted, I can’t imagine this product is targeted at people accustomed to a typical cleat interface.

    (I’m probably the last surviving Speedplay Frog rider out there, though, so I am always interested in pedals that don’t feel like an SPD!)

    @ Chris (@ 7:52am) — Cool info on the magnetic materials; the Wikipedia entry on Mu-metal was relatively approachable. Have you considered contacting the product’s creator?

    Sounds like this guy has good intentions and may even have a pedal with a novel feel. Unfortunately though I have to side with some of the others (like James S) who point out obvious missteps in the design’s basic execution as a pedal. If the basics are missed, no one will put up with the specific quirks of the magnetic interface.

  28. @ Gunnstein,

    I have to agree. The term “clipless” is a poor descriptor. It’s the “cage” and the “strap” that the pedals are “less”. In fact … there IS A CLIP. And everyone says “CLIP IN”.

    “Clip-In Pedals” would be a good word. That’s what the system DOES. If you want “less” it should be “CAGE-less” or “STRAP-less”.

    FYI, I’m not an English geek, I’m a Math Geek. And we’re even more pedantic about semantics 😉

    Now lets talk about “Off-Road Cycling” instead of “Mountain Biking” … I don’t mind but everytime I say mountain biking some smart a** points out there are no mountains in Indiana 😉

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