Archive for January, 2009

Repair, repair, repair

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009


What you see is a pair of junky old pedals. Just mid-’80s SR SP-150s, they probably cost $10 new, if that. But cheap or not, these pedals have kept on going — at this point more than 20 years and untold thousands of miles, all the abuse dished out by yours truly. The bike they came on is long gone, but the pedals are still here, still slugging away. I’ve probably rebuilt them on average once a year, and if the outer cones are shot, with a fresh load of grease and some new bearings, they don’t run too badly.

You’ll note some serious road rash, to say nothing of some major scars. The cage on the right pedal was badly damaged in a mid-’90s bike accident in San Francisco — I was riding South of Market looking up at some buildings and hit a massive pothole. I went down, snapping off one of my downtube shifters with my knee; the edge of the pedal cage hit the road and fractured.

The end of the line for the pedals? Obviously not. Like some crazy backwoods surgeon,  I cut away the damaged edge of the cage and crudely attached what’s called an earthquake strap — soft metal bands used to attach things like bookshelves to the wall so they don’t end up on you during a seismic event. They’re useful for repairs, as they’re easy to cut, moderately supple, yet stiff enough to stand up to use. And so there it still is, a dozen years on, still screwed to the right pedal.

Oh, and those white things where the dust caps should be? Soda-bottle tops. The original dust caps went missing a long time ago — I use toe clips and have a bad habit of pedaling on the backs of the pedals occasionally, something that can spin out the dust caps — and I needed to keep out the water. Casting my eyes around, I saw a plastic soda cap. Hmmmmm. A little trimming and a lot of hot glue, and there they are. The only downside is that you have to make sure the bearings are well adjusted before you glue the caps on; if not, you have to rip them off again. But once in place, they’re watertight and do the job just right.

And that’s that. I just rebuilt the pedals yet again, and they’re going on my city bike, which gets the most abuse of all my rides. But the pedals can take it, I know — they have already.

The moral of this story? Repair, repair, repair. With a couple of tools and a little determination, you can keep pretty much any bike or component going forever.