Retro Rescue: Shimano Dura Ace PD-7401 pedals 

I recently picked up these pedals for my mid 90s Colnago, so I could use my regular riding shoes and cleats, without changing over the pedals from my regular bike (Lemond Chambery 2007) each time. 

Those that came with the Colnago were made by Scott and weren’t compatible with my cleats. Also I suspect not original spec. I can’t imagine Colnago using Scott pedals when everything else on the bike was Campagnolo.

From the seller’s photos, I assumed these were regular, well used, Shimano SPD pedals.

Of course, as soon as I opened the box, it was apparent they were something else, and some googling showed they were mid 90s, top of the line, Dura Ace, Look-compatible pedals. 

It seems this was one of the earliest quick release clipless Shimano road pedals, pre-dating road SPD, using technology developed by French company Look, based on ski bindings. 

Shimano took inspiration from Look’s pedal design, and presumably then improved on it for SPD. Once I find some compatible cleats, I would be interested to test how they compare. 

The pedals were pretty scruffy when I got them, so the first thing was a quick clean. A bit of degreasing as well to get rid of the oily spots, trying not to get any WD-40 in the pedal spindle. 

It’s best not to dissolve the greased that’s already in there. Particularly as the pedal spindle can only be removed with a special tool that I don’t have. 

The pedal body has a small panel which can be removed with two torx T10 bolts.

Inside is simply a steel axle around which the cleat lock mechanism sits held in tension by and large special shaped spring, connected to the tension adjustment bolt accessible from the underside of the pedal. 

This looked clean enough that no maintenance was really required. There is a very small gap between the cleat lock mechanism and the pedal body, through which small bits of road dirt and water could get in. That said, the outside of these pedals suggests they had a hard life, yet the inside is remarkably clean, so it works well enough.

I would like to degrease and regrease the spindle, though without that tool for the octagonal lock nut, it’s not really possible to do so. It turns freely enough, maybe not as fast as I would like, but it’ll do for now.

Overall this is a neat, simple and modern design and it seems things haven’t changed much, as modern pedals are essentially identical.

Anyone know what cleats will work with these?? I’m keen to try them out. 

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BMC Fourstroke FS04 (update 3)

You may have been wondering what happened to the BMC mountain bike restoration project I started a while back.

Like many projects it got to the “nearly finished” stage and sat there for a good six months causing a nuisance to the family. 

Good news that it’s now moved on to the “basically finished” stage…

It was cleaner, but is now dusty from riding. So apologies for the photos, but it’s great that it’s rideable!


On an earlier test ride, I noticed the left pedal crank creaked on the downstroke, which it didn’t on my first test. This suggested a worsening issue, so I inspected further.

Anything other than a smooth bottom bracket/crank is bad news. A lot of torque goes through there, plenty to cause damage pretty quickly if not addressed. 

I found an allen key large enough to remove the pedal cranks, and discovered a Shimano Octalink bottom bracket. This is the first Octalink system I have owned, with all my older bikes having square taper BBs. 

I also found the non-drive side (left) mating splines to be slightly chewed at the end. Apparently this is common with Octalink systems, and happens when the crank arm isn’t perfectly aligned, prior to screwing the crank arm bolt back on. So, as I had never removed it, this damage was done by the previous owner, though it seems odd it didn’t creak on the first test ride. 

In short, the crank arm is toast and needs replacing. The BB itself is in good condition and runs smoothly, so is perfectly reusable, but as Octalink is no longer common, finding replacement crank arms was an issue. Basically I could only find a new Alivio set which would be fine, but for the fact it wouldn’t add to the overall look of the bike. 

After a little cogitation, it dawned on me an alternative might be right under my nose…

Some time ago I rescued a binned Steppenwolf hardtail MTB frame with some components still attached, including XT cranks and a more modern external bearing BB. Why not see if it’s the same width as the octalink BB?

Lo and behold it was, so I would theoretically be able to replace a Deore LX crankset and Octalink BB with an XT crankset and modern external BB, at no cost. Not bad at all and 100% eco-friendly.

One problem. Don’t have the right tools! 

As systems evolved, so the tools needed to work on them change. Though this a consequence of welcome technological innovation, it poses something of a challenge for the home mechanic.

A regular crank extractor tool doesn’t work with an Octalink BB. To remove a BB on a vintage bike you need a hook spanner, an Octalink BB needs a BB removal nut thingy (like for a cassette but bigger), and an external BB uses another type of large spanner with slotted splines. Consequently, you often need different tools to work on various bikes. 

The bike shops near me aren’t really set up for the home mechanic, so buying tools is interesting and expensive. Apparently, in Switzerland, folks like to get other people’s hands grimy instead of their own (which probably makes sense).

As I quite enjoy grimy hands and torn knuckles I set about looking for tools and stumbled across a sale on Chain Reaction for an 18 piece toolset, for 50CHF delivered, including some tools I had already, everything I needed for this job plus a couple of extras. Pretty good deal, and arrived within a week. 

Once the package hit the doormat, like a child on Christmas morning I ripped it open and within 20mins had replaced and upgraded BB and crankset and chainrings to higher spec parts. Great!

The toolset is made by X-Tools, and though I was hesitant about quality given the price, I am quite pleased. 

The “new” drive train all works perfectly and it’s always most satisfying to complete an long term unfinished job.


So the moral of the story is, if you can salvage used parts, do so. You never know when you might need them and they’ve often got lots of life left.

Secondly, always invest in (quality) tools. Even if technology changes, and you only use them a few times, they pay for themselves quicker than you think.

Also, that which is new today will be vintage tomorrow, so there will always be more bikes to work on! 

Velobrico workshop: SRAM X4 rear derailleur 

A while back I picked up a trashed Specialized Hotrock kids bike. The frame looked sound but everything else was pretty far gone. 

This bike would need far more workshop time than it’s replacement value, so it’s owners rightly binned it and moved on. But it’s a decent size for my son’s next bike, giving me enough time to fix it up before he can ride it.

Among numerous other issues, the derailleur hanger was bent, chain broken and derailleur was in a sorry looking state. 


Looking past first appearances, a number of components, including the derailleur, looked salvageable. 

I straightened the derailleur hanger with a pipe wrench plier and then set to the derailleur itself. 

It’s pretty straightforward to service a derailleur, remove, clean, degrease and regrease jockey wheels then reinstall. But it’s a bit of a dirty job, so rarely gets to the top of the DIY service list. 


Like with most things, putting it back together again is considerably less intuitive than taking it apart!

After getting it completely wrong, I removed the jockey wheels again and correctly rerouted the chain, using the smallest cog and chainring to give enough slack to work with. 


Some adjustment to the derailleur cable and a liberal dose of WD-40 on a rusty chain and cassette later, and we’re good to go!

Total bench time, maybe 40mins on a rainy Sunday afternoon?

Are disc brakes really dangerous??

It’s been a while that disc brakes have been seemingly considered dangerous, and are occasionally permitted and banned in professional road bike races.

Personally, I never really understood the cause for concern, and RJ the Bike Guy’s latest video does a really neat job of clearing this up.

Check it out.

Velobrico Workshop: Tigra ladies’ bike

Another stray joined the workshop recently. 

Actually, as you can tell from the photos, this was a while back, when there was still sunshine and no snow!

Tigra is a historic Swiss manufacturer (I understand they disappeared in 2001, bought by Villger, another Swiss brand), which adds another local bicycle to my collection.

This one was left by the bins with flat tires, lots of cobwebs and wrongly adjusted this and that. Nothing major missing though (like saddle, wheels, pedals, handlebars etc.), so all it needs is a little TLC.

I love the frame colour. It’s a really electric blue-green aquamarine which almost looks cromovelato. Really nice. The pictures here don’t do it justice.

The lugged steel mixte frame has the usual mistreatment scratches, but from being badly stored rather than well ridden. The “Tigra” decal from the down tube has disappeared, but the lettering is faintly visible.

I haven’t done any research, but judging from the components I would say this is an early 90s bike. STI shifters. Shimano STX hubs, no-name aero rims. The pedals seem to have been replaced relatively recently (these are the Decathlon urban flat variety, cheap but decent pedals).

Gear shifters and brake levers were oddly inverted, which must have made braking tricky. Gears didn’t shift correctly (WD40 sorted that). One tire pumped up fine, the other needed a patch. One wheel needed a bit of truing, but nothing major. Re-greased the hubs and gave it a wash (after taking the “before” photos for once!)

With very little effort, this middle-aged lady is back on her feet. I bet she’s glad I rescued her!

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Treasure hunting

I recently picked up a couple of cone spanners made by Sugino, the Japanese component manufacturer, at a second hand store in Switzerland.
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They are in immaculate condition and only the 13mm spanner seems to have ever been used (maybe once?).
Does anyone ever use the 14 or 16mm spanners? I have never owned a hub that uses them. Would be great if 13 and 15 came on a single spanner, as they seem to be the most common, but then they’d sell fewer tools!
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I already have a bunch of cone spanners but these will go nicely with my 1985 all-Japanese Fuji Del Rey. It has Sugino cranks after all. They are really nicely made, and in far better condition than the Fuji itself…
Any idea when they date from?
I’m guessing 80s-90s, as the internet isn’t yielding much in the way of info.
Remember, you can never have too many tools.
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Not bikes, but architectural salvage!

It might not be bike-related, but it’s too cool not to share.

 

$_57 (1)A friend of mine has the only remaining illuminated sign from the facade of the now defunct Hürlimann brewery in Zurich.

As you know from the blog, I love reviving things that have a history, and architectural salvage is all about that.

The sign has been stored since it was removed from the brewery, and has a few age-scars as you would expect given its vintage, but it’s a truly unique object.

I’m currently selling it for him, so please share with anyone who might be interested. It would be great for this unique object to go to a good home!

The sign is very large, heavy and currently located in Switzerland, so bear that in mind if you want to bid!

Now imagine what a unique Christmas present that would make for someone…

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