It’s problematic and embarrassing to admit… but I’m just as baffled by magnets as the Insane Clown Posse is. Though unlike everybody’s favorite “freethinking” flat-earth murder-clown nu-metal rappers, I don’t believe in “miracles” and instead enjoy the science behind it all. I’m… just not always smart enough to wrap my head around it all. My strengths lie elsewhere. They must. For example… this morning I accidentally poured boiling water over whole coffee beans and blearily stared at the problem for a full minute before my brain finally came up with a solution.

You know?

Despite being assigned to Team Archer (look for that review shortly) for our 24 Hours of Old Pueblo media team, I somehow managed to snake a pair of Team Hustle’s REM pedals for the duration of the race. With four laps at 17 miles each, that gave me 68 miles of test ride time, in a variety of waking states.

How does the Hustle magnetic pedal work?

hustle bike labs magnetic pedals for mountain bikers

The Hustle pedal, first teased in January, is based around a neodymium rare earth magnet (REM, get it?). What does that even mean? Glad you asked… because I had to look it up. Apparently, one of the things that makes a neodymium magnet so unique and sought out is its tetragonal crystal structure, meaning that the crystal grains of the material have an extremely strong magnetic pull along certain axes, but not along others.

As the Hustle pedal is based on North/South polarity, this translates to engagement that is extremely strong straight up and down between pedal and shoe. It has 128lbs of pull strength, according to founder Craig. And they get stronger with duration of contact. So that by the end of my lap, the engagement was actually better than at the start.

how strong are the magnets on Hustle platform pedals

It’s pretty wild to witness. As your foot approaches the pedal, it snaps right into place. And depending on placement of your foot, you can make that engagement as strong or weak as you like. Obviously it’s strongest when the plate and magnet are completely aligned, and sometimes it would take a few tries before I found that sweet spot, micro-adjusting my foot forward or backward until I could feel the connection.

Is it strong enough for aggressive riding?

what cleat do I use with the hustle magnetic pedals

During my first lap, I did “unclip” accidentally on a short punchy climb. Standing up and cranking the way I would in standard SPD’s, my right foot disengaged and I faltered for a moment. I kept that in mind and adjusted my pedal stroke accordingly. Focusing less on pulling with each stroke (which I’ve heard can actually be problematic on knees) and focusing more on the pushing through. Despite being more attentive, in those times I wasn’t carefully dodging cholla cacti, I still tried my best to pedal like an idiot, testing how strong the engagement was in various positions and situations.

As strong as it needs to be, it turns out. And I had no subsequent issues as I got used to the position. Disengaging in a pinch was easy as well. A forced dab behind a rider hesitating in a technical section. A full-contact foot/rock strike as I passed another rider as the trail narrowed. A slight twist of the foot (similar to the motion on an SPD) or canting the ankle to the outside would be sufficient to break the up/down pull force of the magnet and the metal place that serves as the “cleat.”

Yeah, but will it fit on my shoes?

how do hustle magnetic mtb pedals work

Because it’s based on a platform pedal, with the magnets on a rotating axis at the center, the Hustle system has a ton of contact. The magnet, coupled with the sticky rubber of the shoe and the spikes of the pedal gave ample purchase.

what cleat do I use with the hustle magnetic pedals

Different shoes will obviously have different platforms and soles, and the Scott shoes we were using had a little more forefoot bend, landing somewhere between a performance cleat-based shoe and a flat. What this meant was that the metal plate serving as the cleat was recessed a little more than ideal. In some cases Hustle had shored it up with some self-made shims or shoe goo, but even without that, I was more than happy with my engagement.

As Craig and Tyler mention in this video, a slightly less-strong magnet somewhere in the 80 lbs of pull will be available in the near future for those who may require something that has less umph, but this can also be achieved by using a smaller “cleat.”

I don’t have an official figure on weight, as we were in the middle of the desert and I forgot my scale, but it’s marginally heavier than a traditional pedal. But let me reinforce the “marginally.” And as you can see from the chart below, they’re not ready to make an official weight claim yet, either:

Product is slated to officially launch in late April/early May with a few changes to the production models. Most notably the nylon used to house the REM magnet will be replaced with a more durable alloy (hence the TBD weight). Additionally, various shims will be available to fine tune the cleat fit to the bottom of various fits of shoe.

And yes… I anticipated this question from Bikerumor readers and took it upon myself to ask: “If I’m harboring sensitive state secrets on my phone or laptop and find myself in a bind, can the pedals be used to wipe my hard drive?”

And the answer is “probably.”

So heads up… maybe don’t store your pedals and your phone in the same gym bag.

HustleBikeLabs.com


Watts owns Revolution Cycles in Greensboro, North Carolina. Follow him on social @revoltingcogs.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Did you see the iron filings on the pedal right after he dropped it? That’s only 1 quick exposure to the dirt. Seems like these would be littered with iron bits after 1 ride.

    I like the concept, but no one has ever answered how you can remove said iron grit.

      • Good luck with that. Take a neodynium magnet, sprinkle some metallic shavings on it and try to blow them off using any kind of pressured air. Feel free to share if it was successful, however I already know the answer.

    • I was wondering the same thing. It won’t take much riding to be picking up magnetite particles from the soil. I have cleaned metal filings from neodymium magnets before. You sort of have to pinch them off, but you can never get them properly cleaned.

      Those magnets also look like they’re almost an inch in diameter, making them a pinch hazard. You’ll want to be very careful if you’re holding any metal tools near those things.

      It’s an interesting idea, but I’ve found that I’ve solved my pedal retention issues by switching to a Pedaling Innovations Catalyst pedal. It’s long enough that it supports the entire foot arch. With a more stable platform to set your foot on, your feet just don’t slip off. I’m surprised that I have to deliberately lift my feet off the pedals to loosen the grip.

      I could see these magnetic pedals having a benefit for city riding, you’d easily be able to trigger the inductive loop sensors at traffic lights, without having to locate the bottom bracket spindle directly over the coil in the pavement.

    • Cleaning them in the garage would be simple. Duct tape pulls little bits of ferrous material off neodymium magnets pretty easily. I’m not sure I want to pack a roll of duct tape with me on the trail, or have to pack out wads of used duct tape, though.

    • Nah. Not marketing. Possibly a precision of language issue on my part, though. As I mention at the beginning, I’m no expert on magnets. But here goes. So… magnets actually lose strength over time, so the pedals won’t get stronger the longer you have them. Only marginally weaker. But short term, as the electrons in the metal of the cleat align North South with the neodymium magnet in the pedal, the field is stronger than when the electrons are unordered. So that between the time you start and finish a ride, the bond between cleat and pedal gets better. A ton? Probably not. I’ll reach out to Hustle for more info.

      • That sounds a lot like pseudo-science but I wonder if the shoe rubber + pins ‘sinking in’ might have something to do with your sense that the connection is better.

  2. In order to be a decent article the reader would have to see something like “These pedals weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of…”

  3. How do they feel in rough terrain like a rock garden? What about landing jumps or drops? Do they slide around much? How easy/hard is it to re-position your foot once engaged? How is it to walk/hike with that large plate? What about getting dirt/mud between plate and pedal?

    • Great questions, Gillis. Sorry if I didn’t address them fully enough in the review. As a person who rides primarily “clipped in” and as I don’t consider myself particularly competent on platform pedals, they did surprisingly well. I made it a point to ride them every lap at 24 HOP to test that. Over technical features (rock drop and a few small rock gardens) my feet felt planted and secure. That included a few jumps and hops. Some of that is the wide platform and pins coupled with the sticky rubber of the shoe. Some of it is the magnet and “cleat.” Repositioning my foot was easy. Just lifted up and replanted it a few times until I felt this “ah, there it is” connection. Fairly intuitive. The only time I unclipped was pulling up really hard as I pedaled squares up a punchy climb. And that only happened once. Didn’t do a ton of walking, but in its current iteration, I can definitely say the system lends itself better to a “trail” style shoe with more walking surface than to an XC or race style. As for mud and dirt? I don’t know. Probably less of an issue than the build up in the recesses of an SPD, but still potential. Thanks.

  4. A twisting motion, like used with SPDs where you twist out your heel, will tear up the soles of shoes on the bolts of the pedals. Did you find that to be problem?

  5. The first thing I thought of was, “What do you get when you spin magnets with the platform acting like a coil of wire?” It’s shocking, I tell you! (Disclaimer: This wouldn’t work too well since the platform moves with the magnets.)

  6. Can you compare these to any of their competitors? I noticed the prosthesis in one of the photos. I am wondering if these have better retention than maglocks, how easy it is to get the prosthetic foot onto the magnet in comparison. The pins look much grippier..any issues with re-centering if you miss initial magnet engagement?

    • …and now that I look closer I realize there is no prosthetic in the photos – just the angle that makes the shoe LOOK like there is a high end prosthesis there.. Apologies for the confusion – generally interested if anyone using a prosthesis has tried these…

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