They say before you die, your whole life flashes before your eyes. When Craig Payne almost died a few years ago, what flashed before his eyes was a problem that needed solving. Hanging onto a boulder, hanging off the edge of a cliff in Moab after hitting a rock garden too fast on his mountain bike and being unable to get out of his clipless pedals fast enough, Payne felt lucky to be alive.
Once he got off the mountain, Payne got to tinkering on a pedal system that could combine the stability and power of clipless systems with the comfort and safety of flats. Flash-forward to 2022, and Payne's solution is on a roll.
His company, Hustle Bike Labs, produces the Avery REMtech Pedal, which uses rare earth magnets to secure your feet to the pedals. They promise to keep you efficient when pedaling uphill and in control when picking your way downhill — and when things get dicey, simply sliding your foot to the side sets it free to bail you out of the jam.
When I first saw the pedals at Outdoor Retailer, I was equally excited and skeptical. As someone who rides clipless on road and gravel bikes but hasn't quite made the jump from flat pedals when mountain biking, I felt like the target demo — and I knew the only way to divine whether they could deliver was to try them out. So that's what I did, throwing them on a Canyon Grand Canyon 7 and hitting the trails. Here are the top takeaways from the test.
What's Great About Hustle's Avery REMtech Pedals
They work with what you already have
Perhaps the smartest move Payne made was creating something that integrates into an existing bike product — the clipless mountain bike shoe. The REMtech pedal set comes complete with not only shiny blue pedals with magnets in the middle and studs around the edges for extra grip; you also get REMplates, two oblong discs made of ferrous metal.
These discs are what your new magnetic pedals magnetize to — so if you already have a clipless, SPD-style MTB shoe (or any clipless SPD shoe, really), you simply insert and screw in these discs where you'd normally put the two-bolt cleats. Then attach the REMtech pedals to your bike's crank arms and you're ready to go. I tried them with the excellent Ride Concepts Tallac Clip shoes I am wearing in these photos, and they worked perfectly.
They do indeed blend performance and safety
I know what you're thinking: how strong are these so-called "rare earth magnets"? In my experience, pretty damn strong. While I was unboxing the kit, I let the two pedals get too close to each other. Even with protective foam coverings over the magnets, they instantly sucked together and could only be separated with wrenching force. Similarly, once I had set up the shoes and the bike, I rested the shoes on the pedals and found they took a firm twisting pull to remove.
But let's get real, the only true test could happen on the trails. So I rode out to Cunningham Park in Queens. Even on the way there, I noticed a difference. My feet felt pretty well glued to the pedals, providing an instant efficiency boost as I generated power with every upstroke to accompany the downstrokes. Meanwhile, when I had to free one foot at traffic lights, a simple lateral slide was all it took.
Once I got to the park and started warming up on some intermediate trails, I didn't notice a huge change from a typical outing. When I got over to the advanced side of the park, however, two things happened that proved these were no ordinary pedals.
First, I came to that annoying spot I feel every park and woods has — a sharp turn followed by an immediate steep climb. Even though I know it's coming, the one at Cunningham is always a bit tricky, the quick mega-downshift followed by furious sustained spinning. With my feet seamlessly connected to the magnets, however, I was climbing with relative ease, cresting the climb without drama.
Later, I rolled up to this massive five-foot log that is totally surmountable thanks to a rocky dirt ramp leading up to it — if you bring enough speed. As I approached the top, I ran out of gas. But rather than being stuck in my pedals and rolling backward hopelessly into inevitable embarrassment and injury, I felt my left foot instinctively shoot out to the side, step on the log and pull me forward just enough to get over the top. No, it wasn't a gnarly rock garden next to a cliff in Moab; it was a far more common situation — and one where the REMtech pedals completely delivered on their promise.
They're a fun conversation piece
No matter what you think about these pedals, there's no denying they are innovative, unique and interesting. I know this because every person I have mentioned them to has been hugely curious — and just a bit wowed by the little video I awkwardly shot to show the basics of how they work. That's gotta count for something.
What's Not so Great About Hustle's REMtech Pedal
They aren't cheap
A set of Hustle Bike Labs Avery REMtech pedals and discs costs $219. By contrast, a top-rated set of SPD-compatible MTB pedals and accompanying cleats will run you closer to $100. So you are likely handing over more than twice the standard chunk of change for a pedal set-up unlike any other.
They're rather... niche
Amongst the mountain biking population, I sense there's a big percentage of people who love flats and feel no need to make a change, especially with the performance of flat-pedal shoes getting better all the time. Brands like Ride Concepts and Endura, for example, make flats that are shockingly grippy. On the other end of the spectrum are the hard-core clipless riders who would never dream of a less locked-in, ride-or-die set-up. In the middle are people like me, entranced by the prospect of something in between. I'm just not sure how many of us there are.
The Verdict on Hustle's REMtech Pedals
As I just stated, there are probably plenty of people for whom these pedals just don't make sense. But if you fall into that last category I mentioned, where you crave the upsides of going clipless but are wary of braking with your face — and breaking your face — while doing something that's supposed to be fun, they are worth considering (perhaps even as an intermediate step toward going clipless). The comfort, convenience and performance upgrades are considerable, while the ability to avoid rolling backwards off a giant log is... damn near priceless.