If you haven’t fallen over because you were “stuck” in your clipless pedals, have you even tried mountain biking? Hustle Bike Labs' founder, Chris Payne, had one of those moments that quickly turned into a “near-death experience” when everything went wrong while riding an exposed trail in Moab. The accident was induced by the capturing effect clipless pedals have on your feet, and left him clinging to the edge of a cliff.
From there, he took a step back and analyzed where he went wrong, but more importantly why he couldn’t escape the clutches of his pedals to gain his footing in time.
Avery Pedal Details
• 15 replaceable pins per side
• Platform dimensions: 100 x 74 x 19mm
• Weight: 836g (set), 90g (plate & hardware)
• Chromoly spindle, aluminum platform
• Neodymium rare-earth magnets, steel plate cleat
• MSRP: $219 USD
Chris believes the answer lies in bolting rare-earth magnets to specifically designed pedals, which is why the Hustle Bike Labs Avery pedal was created. In his eyes, the system delivers the best of both traditional styles of pedals - the safety of platforms to disconnect from the bike quickly in the event of a crash and the security of clipless to keep your feet in place over bumpy terrain.
A small pin prevents the magnet body from spinning 360-degrees around the pedal spindle, which could otherwise lead to the shoe landing too far from the desired location.How Do They Work?
The Avery pedals use a standard clipless shoe, but instead of bolting a cleat to the bottom of the sole a steel plate takes its place. Rare-earth magnets are mounted to the pedal spindle that articulates independently of the platform that is lined with traction pins. Once the plates are mounted to the shoe, the attractive force not only guides your foot to a central location on the pedal, but it resists the shoe from sliding or lifting off unexpectedly.
Connecting to the pedals is foolproof and not limited to one foot angle or position. There is a large surface area to contact with, and thanks to the independent pivoting action of the magnets against the pedal body there is enough momentary loss of traction with the pins when lifting your foot that you can reposition the angle of the shoe. This will vary depending on the thickness of the rubber on the sole around the cleat cutout area, but Hustle includes spacers to allow the pins to catch less, if desired. Specs and Cost
There are two types of rare-earth magnets: neodymium and samarium–cobalt magnets, both of which are alloys from rare-earth elements. The Avery pedals use the neodymium N52 type, where the “N” number refers to the strength of the magnet, because they are the best balance of strength to cost for the application at hand… err foot. A N55 marks the highest strength commercially available, but only by 6% or so, and therefore Hustle Bike Labs coined this technology as “REMtech”.
Magnets aren’t light and the whole package is a hefty 926-grams, including the 90-grams worth of hardware and steel plates that bolt to the shoes. This means that the total weight of the system is substantially more than your average flat pedal, and roughly 400-grams more than a Shimano Saint clipless setup. However, this is a totally unique type of pedal interface meant to give a different ride experience.
I prefer to measure the effective pin footprint because this is the area that the shoe will touch, not the overall body and certainly not the leading and trailing edges of the platform. The dimensions of the Avery were then 100mm in length, with 57mm ahead of the center, and a 74mm width. The body is 19mm thick with 4mm tall pins that results in no concavity.
Included in the $219 price tag are the 4mm tall steel plates with a 1mm spacer and there are three color choices: black, blue, and grey 6061-T6 aluminum pedal bodies. Inside, the platform spins a roller bearing towards the crank and a ball bearing towards the far end of the 430 stainless steel axle. As for those ferrous plates, they have a 32 x 56mm area underfoot and the N52 stainless capped magnets produce a pulling force of over 100 pounds.Riding the Avery Magnetic Pedals
First things first. Can you cheat bunnyhops by simply pulling up with your feet? Not really. Even though REMtech offers 100 lbs of pulling force, they don't have the same locked-in feeling clipless pedals.
And how do they feel on the trail? Even though you’re wearing a stiff-soled clipless shoe, they generally feel like flat pedals. You don't need to precisely place a cleat into a sprung attachment. There is as much room on the platform as a standard flat pedal and the contact feeling is nearly the same across the entire surface. Thanks to the independent articulating magnet body, which keeps the connection while you unweight your foot from the pins, there is just enough grip reduction to reposition your foot with a small wiggle.
The major advantage is that the magnet holds your foot in place when cycling through the crank rotation at the six and twelve-o’clock positions, which is why so many flat pedal riders struggle to make it up technical climbs or falter through slow, undulating terrain. PEDALING RETENTION
Pushing down on the cranks draws more power than the “pulling up” myth that clipless pedals are said to provide. The confusion is that the downward force, or push down begins just forward of the foot at the twelve o'clock position as you gain leverage on the cranks. To get there, you need to have a positive, locked contact with the pedal and that’s where clipless works more naturally compared to flat pedals. It’s counterintuitive to drop your heels when approaching the six and twelve crank positioning and without this skill, your foot blows off the platform when you try to rotate the cranks.
This takes years of practice to master and only a few legendary riders like Sam Hill, Chris Kovarik, and Connor Fearon, have stayed dedicated to flat pedals at a professional racing level. The magnets in the Avery pedals do a superb job to mask any pulling effect your foot might undergo as the angle changes from negative to positive and keeps the pedal circle going smoothly.
This attractive force is just the right amount to keep your foot on for normal climbing, but I did “pull” away from the pedals a few times on lunges up and over large steps in the trail. I simply forgot I wasn’t on clipless pedals. It wasn’t the end of the world and this proved to me that it’s a great segue for those who are apprehensive to try clipless for safety’s sake but are struggling with flat pedals. You could also take into consideration that the Avery pedals use clipless shoes, so that will save some investment, should you want to transition back and forth. Flat pedal shoes won't cut it for serious riding due to the lack of concavity, but there is more confidence and comfort commuting on pavement than trying to find traction on an SPD style pedal with casual shoes.RELEASING
However, there are some other downsides. They do feel a bit “clingy” when you do want to disengage, kind of like the feeling of trying to walk with gum stuck to your shoe. I found the best form of removing the shoe from the pedal to be an outward ankle roll method, rather than just lifting straight up.
It’s not that you can’t lift your foot off, but unless your foot is already at the top of the pedal stroke, you’ll need to rotate the cranks to that six and twelve o’clock positions first. Why is that? Equal and opposite forces allow you to stand on the two crank arms evenly. Standing on just one leg will push the cranks to the same position as lifting one leg. In that time, it’s faster to twist your foot out of a clipless pedal and it can be done at any crank position because the force is exerted perpendicular to the direction the crank spins. The bottom line here is that all types of pedals will require learning, but twisting your foot to unlock the clipless is more natural on the trail than the ankle-rolling method and faster than pulling them off from the twelve o’clock position.SHOE COMPATIBILITY
In terms of shoes, I played with the Scott Shr-Alp Boa clipless version and the Ion Rascal Select Boa Shoes. Neither shoe posed any problem integrating with the steel plates or the pins. I preferred keeping all of the pins because the soles don't sink into the rubber as much as a flat shoe would on a concave-shaped platform pedal. Those traction pins are sharp and are meant to dig into the rubber sole.
I never experienced slipped pedals while descending, but the contact does feel slightly unnerving and definitely different from both flat and clipless pedals. By using a stiff, clipless soled-shoe, you don’t have that wrap-around feeling that flat soled soles provide as they flex over the pedal body and sink into the pins. Compared to the positive and firm connection to clipless pedals, there is still some room to wiggle in all planar directions. The Avery pedals simply felt a bit too numb for my taste. I didn’t know how much force was too much when climbing and didn’t get enough feedback from the pedal body with a stiff shoe to know when or how I was applying force through my feet when pointed downhill.
As for the plates on the shoes themselves, they felt no different than hiking in clipless shoes with a cleat. They do sit a little further into the sole than some cleats, so you avoid that clip-clop sound of a horse while trotting through the grocery store to collect snacks or in the pub post-ride. Similarly with mud, there was a negligible loss of connectivity at the worst of times, which barely lasted a second as the debris pushed out of the way under the weight of my body.
Magnets hold your feet in place at the critical six and twelve o'clock crank positions where riders normally struggle with flat pedals+
Large platform and wide connection area guides your feet into an optimal pedalling position+
Unique design doesn't require a proprietary shoe
Not quite the same pulling force as clipless pedals-
The stiff sole of the requisite clipless shoe grips, but the feedback is vague-
Releasing is more awkward than 'regular' clipless pedals-