Retro Rescue: Shimano PD-A550 pedals

After a bit of a hiatus, for no good reason here’s another pedal refurb!

I picked up a box of tired pedals, that have now sat for a while in my basement, but a drizzly Sunday calls for greasy hands.

First ones on the refurb bench are a pair of PD-A550s, mid 90s clip pedals from Shimano. They should have some clips and straps, but these have been broken and the straps lost. No luck yet finding replacement clips and straps.

Most pedals seem to require special tools to open for a service, but these can be opened with just a spanner.

A neat design, the clip can be adjusted forward and backwards for shoe size.

So let’s get this open! All it takes is a 17mm spanner.

All pedals have small bearings on either side so be careful not to lose them. If there’s still some grease they’ll stay where they are, otherwise they can fall out. If they do they like to hide under things and go farther than you’d imagine!

Here we can see they’re happy where they are, though there’s not much grease down there. All clean, no corrosion.

The races look good, no scoring from being over tightened or from dirty, dry bearings.

Let’s get the bearings out, clean them, remove any grit and regrease them. The grease here looks good, but is probably from the mid 90s.

On closer inspection, the build quality and finish of these pedals isn’t quite up to what we’ve come to expect from Shimano. You can see some artefacts from the casting which haven’t been removed.

There’s a few of these on various parts, including the inner bearing race. You’d normally expect this to be very smooth.

Back to the overhaul, I always clean bearings with some kitchen paper, pretty straightforward. A spot of WD40 helps dissolve bits of grime that can’t be otherwise easily removed. Just make sure to clean it off, or it will contaminate the grease.

Races and spindle nice and clean, time to rebuild!

All in all this took maybe 15 minutes, so definitely worthwhile doing to get the bike ready for the new season. Just make sure not to over-tighten when reinstalling. It’s worth a little patience to find the sweet spot, no wobbling spindle, no crunching bearings. You can feel when it’s just right.

Now I wonder if that reflector is supposed to be bent back like that, or whether it should be perfectly perpendicular to the pedal? Any ideas? Most photos of these pedals don’t show the front reflectors but I think they are original as one NOS ad I saw seemed to have them.

Another job done! Shall I pop these on my mid 90s Colnago?

Advertisements

Retro Rescue: Scott RC-703 SPD road pedals 

These came on the Colnago Tecnos I bought recently, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t original spec.

American pedals on an otherwise fully Italian road bike doesn’t seem right.

They’re early SPD, so different the modern version of the system and I have no shoes that work with them.

So I have no use for them at all, but can’t leave them dirty and unserviced, right?

Used to seeing daddy fixing stuff, this time my daughter wanted to help out.

Then a bit of WD40 always seems to help…

Transformed! Actually, on camera they look kind of the same…

Oh well, at least we did something “useful” on a rainy Sunday, and hopefully inspired my little one to repair stuff in future 😁

Yangon, Myanmar – a morning wander

In the full light of day, I’m glad to say Yangon seems even more similar than I remember it from 12 years ago. Lots of traditions remain and daily life hums along. 

Here’s some snaps to give you a flavour of the city. It’s not like any other south east asian capital. 

And there’s a few bicycle rickshaws thrown for good measure!



This pickled tea leaf salad was great!

Yangon, Myanmar – an evening stroll

Yangon has changed a bit since I was last here. But a lot of things are familiar: many men still wear longyis, ladies still have skin whitening paste on their faces, people are uniformly friendly and smiling, traffic is busy but not aggressive, the sugar cane juice vendors still have tinkly bells on their cane crushing mangle, the food is still lovely, and the colonial buildings downtown are still crumbling away with dilapidated charm.

But auto rickshaws and motorbikes seem to have disappeared. There are a lot more stray dogs then I remember, as well as skyscrapers and fancy shops. A few hipster type coffee shops as well, they were definitely nowhere to be seen when I was last here 12 years ago. Only dark teahouses back then. 

So it’s lovely to see that some traditions have remained and haven’t been completely wiped out by progress and foreign investment. 

Here’s some photos from my evening wander down to the Irrawaddy and back. 

Singapore – wheels, tigers and laksa

In town for work and the F1GP this weekend I caught up with friends and visited a funky bicycle-themed coffee shop in the Singapore heartlands called Wheeler’s Yard

Wooden handlebars anyone? A first for me. 


This place reminded me of Ah Joo, a long-time Singapore vintage road bike collector. I’d love to see his collection one day!

I also had my favourite laksa


And a couple of new Tigers (Black and White!)


And check out the view I had of the slippery start line F1 crash that took out both Ferraris (including Vettel on pole) and a Red Bull car. Incredible! Thankfully no-one hurt…

India does love the bicycle 

I almost bought this Hurricane indian made  gents town bicycle, with rod pull brakes, but… I just don’t have the space and common sense got the better of me.

Still, I did get some “Cycle” brand matches and sandalwood incense sticks recently in Mumbai. They smell so strong!

Not sure of the connection to bicycles though… 😂

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 grease that’s already in there. Particularly as the pedal spindle can only be removed with a special tool, which 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.