I’ve been toying with clipless pedals for the past two years.
Having predominantly ridden flat pedals throughout my cycling life, it has taken quite a long time to adjust to the different feeling of being attached to my bike. The basic movement of detaching my feet didn’t take too many rides to get used to. Confidence, however, has not been the same story and as a result I always find myself going back to flat pedals.
When I recently saw these Magped magnetic pedals advertised I was instantly intrigued. All the advantages of clips, but with a simpler mechanism? Are they the perfect middle ground between flats and clipless?
When I received a pair of the Magped Enduro pedals, I played with them on and off the bike for a few days to get used to the feel of them, pairing them with my Giro Camber clipless mountain bike shoes. In the box are two complete sets of pins in two different colours, so enough pins to do four pedals. I found that there are more than enough holes in the pedals and didn’t feel the need to put a pin in every possible one.
Where on a normal clipless setup a cleat is bolted to the base of the shoe, for the Magpeds you fit a metal plate. The bonus to this is that walking in my clipless shoes is a lot easier and much less noisey. The cleat usually portrudes past the sole of my shoe, but this plate sits inside the recess. No annoying clicking sound when you walk on hard surfaces and more grip from the rubber sole.
One thing to note, each plate requires two bolts to attach to the shoe. The bolts provided with the Magpeds, however, wouldn’t tighten up enough in my Giro shoes to stop the plates from moving. In the end I ended up using the bolts that came with my Crankbrothers clipless pedals.
I took them for a long spin around the Ballyhoura mountain bike trail centre. This offers varrying terrain at different difficulty levels making for a good location to try something new. There is plenty of climbing on both gravel roads and technical singletrack. And the single track descents in addition to the two tech loops provide a good cross section of riding styles to see how these pedals perform.
The first thing I noticed even before fitting them to my bike is that the Magpeds are quite heavy. This is partly because these Enduro models have two magnets, one on each side of the pedal, for a quick engagement. They are listed as weighing 490 grams for a pair of Magped Enduro 150 pedals. There is also an Enduro 200 for heavier riders which weigh in at 530 grams. In comparison, my Mallet E clipless pedals weigh 385 grams and my regular flat pedals, a pair of DMR Vault Magnesium, tip the scales at 366 grams.
In practice though, the weight of my pedals doesn’t generally feel like it affects my riding noticably. However, if you’re into weight saving on your bike, then a hundred grams my be more significant to you.
I didn’t find the pull of the magnet not too strong. I was able to pull my foot straight up from the pedal without too much force. I can’t see any issue unclipping in case of a crash. If you perform the traditional twist to unclip movement that also works and requires less strain.
The use of a plate rather than a cleat meant I could place my foot in multiple positions, rather than a set and fix placemtn on regular clipless systems. This has its pros and cons. I found it easy to adapt to as there was little to no faff trying to clip in at the start of a trail. That is also its downside, however, in that it is very easy to ‘clip’ into an incorrect or less comfortable foot position.
I also found that I could slide my foot around a little, with some effort, to get more comfortable.
I found that the Magpeds had all the benefits of riding clipped in while climbing, that more efficient push pull pedal stroke - although possibly not as much as traditional clips? I can’t be definitive on that, its just a feeling.
On technical rocky flat or technical climbs where you have to time your pedal strokes, I deffintely felt the benefit of being clipped in. I felt it was easier to time and get over obstacles because I could push and pull with both feet, regardless of crank position which is more important with flat pedals.
In rock gardens or very rooty section, I found that in some cases it was still possible to blow a foot off. And this is possibly where being on the middel ground between clips and flats is most noticable. With regular clipless pedals, your foot is not coming off on terrain like that. If I ride my flats with the correct heel down position I very rarely suffer from this either. However, with the Magpeds, I found myself adopting a more clipless-like foot position, but without quite the same firm attachment of a cleat.
The biggest benefit I found to the magnetic pedals has to do with my biggest issue when it comes to clipless riding. On technical trails, especially steep descents, these don’t play with my confidence as much because I know that I can simply pull my foot off whenever I need to.
I did, however, notice an increase in pedal strikes, probably because with the big magnets, two per pedal, the Magpeds are thicker than my regular flat pedals. But I’m sure this is just a case of taking some time to get used to riding with new gear.