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We met up with ProTonLocks at Interbike. During our meeting/video interview, their product actually wowed us. The nice gentleman showed us a large poster of a bmx guy with a prosthetic leg doing a crazy stunt while using these pedals. He even demonstrated how his pedals worked and by that time we were convinced that they would do well in a review. ProTonLocks gave me a set of pedals to take home so we can test it and review them on the site.
Here’s an excerpt from their description of their pedals:
ProTon Magnetic Pedal Locks Should reduce the risk of injuries by providing a means to secure the rider to the bicycle pedal via the New Hi Tech Magnetic Pedal Locking Device. This allows the rider to maintain a positive attraction to the bicycle pedal through a new break through in magnetic materials, yet if the rider falls, the “side shear force” can quickly and easily release the rider from the bike reducing the risk of additional injuries. These units are made from A380 Aluminum, Nickel Plated High Power Magnet, Chrome-molly spindle and sealed ball bearings.
You can read more HERE.
So let’s get down to the nitty gritty. I’m not going to beat around the bush, these pedals suck. First of all, I after installing them, I noticed that they didn’t spin freely, I had to loosen the nylock bolts on the spindle to let them give the pedal the ability spin.
Then I had to install the cleat/magnet onto my shoes. I had to cut out some of the rubber in order for me to get them to sit. After I got them on, I decided to go for a ride. One thing that was disappointing was the lack of magnetic power these pedals/cleats had. From what they described it on their website, these things are supposed to have “high power magnets.”
In order for me to test the power, I simple tried to do a bunny hop by lifting the rear wheel with my shoes. Normally this can be easily done with SPD style pedals. But with the ProtonLocks, I couldn’t do it, if anything, my feel came right off.
They also claim, “The magnetic force of the magnet will help keep your feet on the pedals while riding hard reducing the risk of “slipping a pedal” . During my ride this evening, my feet kept slipping like crazy. Other riders that were with me, witnessed my frustration with the ProTonLocks because my feet would constantly slide off the pedals. The magnets were not strong enough. Even though there is a lip so the magnet doesn’t slide off, any little bump would cause your feet to come free from the pedal.
With the ProTonLocks pedals, you can’t do a sweeping motion as you pedal. What I mean is, when you go from the 4 o’clock to the 11 o’clock pedal stroke, your foot simply comes off the pedal. There’s nothing other than the supposed “magnetic power” to keep you in place. As I was hitting the downhill section of my trail, I felt really insecure riding because I was afraid that my feet would slip off and cause me to lose control.
Here’s another thing that kills me, the price. They are selling these pedals for $165 for the model we tested. In all honesty, you’re better off buying a pair of Crank Brothers Smarty Pedals for $30 or a pair of inexpensive Shimano SPD pedals for less than $50. Truth be told, I was really disappointed in how these pedals performed.