“Everybody who clips in has fallen over at least once”. Reassuring words from the sales person trying to sell me my first cycling shoes and the pedals to go with them.
And it didn’t take me long to prove the veracity of the statement: holding on to the garage wall while testing un-clipping and somehow losing my balance was the first undignified tumble. Others have followed! I have secretly marvelled at riders who only unclip one foot as they approach a junction, as one of my falls was when I had done just that and was stationary; perhaps it was just a breath of wind, but something was just enough to cause me to slowly roll in the other direction, with that foot still faithfully clipped to the pedal.
So I was interested to read about Dave Williams, the mountain bike riding inventor of the MagLock adjustable, magnetic pedals, which have reached their funding target on Kickstarter.
These platform pedals are adjustable as follows: you unscrew a cover plate and add or remove magnets; the more magnets, the more power you need to “unclip” and the converse also applies, so you can start with few magnets till you get used to clipping and unclipping and gradually build the strength. This means that they can suit all riders and all conditions – from riding trails to around town, and also work well for cyclists with disabilities. They provide infinite float, and are street shoe compatible in that they provide a nice flat “platform”. You still get 360 degrees of power, but they really are easy-in and in particular easy-out.
There is a bit of a weight disadvantage, as they weigh 547g without the magnets and 974g with all of the magnets deployed. Compare this with the Shimano PD-M530 SPD Trail Pedals at 455g and the Shimano M324 combination pedals at 530g, or the Look Kéo Blade 2 carbon pedals at just 110g. The company intends to bring out other models of their MagLock design to have a lighter mountain bike version (possibly made of magnesium), a less expensive plastic mountain bike pedal, and a road bike pedal.
The retail price of the MagLock pedals is $140 or about £90. Compare this with the list prices for the pedals just mentioned: £34.99 for the PD-M530, £44.99 for the combination M324, and £139.99 for the Kéo Blade carbon fibre model. You can get a discount by being one of the backers on Kickstarter, where there are still some early bird offers available at $120 (about £77).
The MagLock pedal spindle has a 9/16” – 20 thread, which is a very common crank thread size.
The pedals come with steel shoe clips which are compatible with SPD shoes. Other clip designs will follow in due course.
Despite the slight weight disadvantage and the price point, I’m sorely tempted – and I use the word “sorely” after several of my clipped in tumbles! So I contacted Dave Williams to get some images for this article, which he promptly provided.
Just as I had finished the previous paragraph, in came another email from Dave at Wasatch Bike Components LLC, who make the MagLock bike pedal, with an interesting story: Parker Eads, who lost a leg below the knee after a motorcycle accident, has used the MagLock on his bicycle.
“I would never clip in (with a mechanically clipping pedal) because it’s super hard, the positioning of your feet is really hard… You don’t have a lot of flexibility or capabilities with moving your prosthetic foot because you don’t have muscles to move it,” he explains, “however it’s easy to be able to get in and out of the MagLOCK Bike Pedal because of the magnetic pull it has. When you put your foot on it, the magnet will lock it in place with the metal plate that is on the bottom of the shoe,” says Parker. When clipping out, he pushes his knee outwards, forcing his foot to pronate off the MagLOCK Bike Pedal. “If you get to a rough spot, it’s easy to clip out quick and put your foot down. But at the same time it gives you enough magnetic pull to keep your feet on the pedals, so when you do go off jumps or you want to do those bunny hops, it will keep your feet on the pedals.”
As a result of this particular application for the MagLock pedals, the company has started their #MagLOCKMobility initiative, inviting the posting of pictures with the hash tag #MagLOCKMobility on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to illustrate how the MagLock bike pedal enables or enhances their mobility.
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