The MagLOCK pedal is made from an anodized aluminium block with 10 neodymium magnets neatly arranged under a stainless steel plate that holds the magnets in place. The magnets attract a steel block that fits onto SPD compatible shoes.
The MagLOCK pedals has an adjustable magnetic force. Undoing the six bolts and removing the stainless steel plate exposes ten cylindrical magnets. These can be moved to either increase or decrease the attractive force of the pedal.
While it might look blissfully simple, the task of adjusting the magnets can be rather frustrating. The magnets are impressively strong and one wrong movement can see them jumping out of their container and attaching to their neighbour or any other metal objects in close proximity. But once you’ve dialled in the ideal magnetic force, you shouldn’t have to do this too often.
The overall build quality is good. The only minor concern was the rough feel and small amount of play on the axle. That said, the axle does have a sturdy design which appears to be able to take a fair amount of abuse.
On the trail
Once you’ve setup the magnet strength and installed the steel “cleat”, the MagLOCK pedals are intuitive to use. Simply place your foot near the pedal and the magnetic forces do the rest.
As mentioned above, the force at which your shoe is held in place on the MagLOCK pedal is adjustable by either removing or adding magnets. To test the full capability of the MagLOCK system I left all ten magnets in place. The resulting force was enough to comfortably manoeuvre the bike in the air through the pedals without losing engagement with the pedals. Steady upstrokes helped to propel the bike but harsh or forceful attempts resulted in separation. Riding through rough terrain is assuring with only the harshest knocks pulling the shoe and pedal apart.
Perhaps it was my familiarity with clipless pedals but I found that disengaging from the MagLOCK pedals was most efficient using a familiar twist of the forefoot, pushing the heel away from the bike. Of course, the magnetic force can be broken by simply lifting the shoe with sufficient force in any direction. In that sense, the MagLOCK is far easier to part with than a traditional clipless system and will help those nervous of staying attached to the pedals.
There is a large amount of float on the MagLOCK pedals. I appreciated being able to move my foot around the pedal with relative ease, something I can struggle with when wearing my super tacky Five Ten shoes on flat pedals. But there were times when flicking the bike around that I would have preferred a more tangible and predictable feel with the pedal, something both clipless and flat pedals provided.
Probably the biggest downside of the MagLOCK pedals is the size and weight. Compare to most flat pedals and clipless pedals, the MagLOCK pedals look rather chunky. Weighing 950 grams for the pedal set and a further 202 grams for the two steel “cleats”, they could easily be the heaviest pedals on the market. A certain deal breaker for weight weenies.
Who will the MagLOCK pedals suit?
As a rider who is comfortable riding both flat and clipless pedals, I do not see a benefit in riding the MagLOCK pedals. That does not mean that other riders will not find the MagLOCK pedals useful.
Riders who cannot get comfortable being mechanically clicked in but still want some shoe and pedal retention may find the MagLOCK pedals a lot more confidence inspiring than clipless pedals.
Also anyone looking to transition from flats to clipless or clipless to flats will benefit from using the MagLOCK pedal. The ability to increase or reduce the attractive force through the number of magnets makes these pedals the perfect tool to speed up the learning process.
The MagLOCK pedals provide a viable alternative to the current pedal options slotting right between flats and clipless terms of functionality. It is far easier to disengage from the pedal while providing sufficient retention to challenge a clipless system. That said, flats will always be easier to separate from and mechanical clipless pedals still have the edge when it comes to staying connected.