Make sure all is well be­neath your feet

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Nick Di Cristo­faro

In­spect­ing and tun­ing your ped­als and cleats

The most im­por­tant con­tact point with your bi­cy­cle is at your feet. It’s here that you power your ma­chine. So, main­tain­ing the de­vices – the ped­als and cleats – that con­nect your feet to your bike should be a pri­or­ity. I’ve seen these com­po­nents get quite ne­glected though. I’ve even seen nasty crashes due to a mal­func­tion­ing pedal or worn or im­prop­erly in­stalled cleat.

Cleat Care

Most peo­ple never look at the bot­tom of their cy­cling shoes. Make it a habit to in­spect your cleats of­ten. Check bolt torque and also clean the con­tact ar­eas. For Shi­mano and Look cleats, look to where the front of the cleat clips in. There should be am­ple cleat ma­te­rial there. If more than half of it has worn way, re­place the cleats. For Speed­play cleats, you should re­place them ev­ery 3,000–4,000 km or be­fore the mount­ing screw heads start to wear down. If such wear hap­pens, it will be dif­fi­cult to re­move the screws. At worst, you’ll have to drill them out. Newer ver­sions of Speed­play cleats ac­tu­ally have a per­ma­nent rub­ber cover that ex­tends the life of the cleats dras­ti­cally. You must also lu­bri­cate Speed­play cleats of­ten with a dry-type lu­bri­cant. Walk­ing on your cleats, ob­vi­ously, will wear them out faster. You should prob­a­bly get cleat cov­ers if you do a lot of clomp­ing around your cof­fee stop.

“You should prob­a­bly get cleat cov­ers if you do a lot of clomp­ing around your cof­fee stop.”

Pedal Work

At least once a year, you should re­move each pedal axle, in­spect and lu­bri­cate. Some­times you need a spe­cial tool to hold the spin­dle to un-thread the pedal body. Other times, you sim­ply use cone wrenches. Once you re­move the pedal body, in­spect the axle for dam­age or cor­ro­sion. Also, look at the bear­ings to see if they’ve be­come a lit­tle rough and need to be re­placed. If there’s any dam­age on the axle, re­place it, too. Also in­spect the in­side of the pedal body for dam­age. Clean it out with a rag and in­ject or brush a small amount of grease in­side. Don’t for­get to also wipe down the axle assem­bly. Brush grease into the axle assem­bly and slide the pedal body over it. While hold­ing the axle with the ap­pro­pri­ate tool or cone wrench, tighten ev­ery­thing back down.

Does the axle have some play? On most Shi­mano ped­als, you can use a cou­ple of wrenches to fix this is­sue. You must loosen the lock­nut, and then ad­just the cone to take out the play be­fore re-tight­en­ing the lock­nut. This process is sim­i­lar to ad­just­ing a wheel hub. Note that newer Dura-ace pedal axles are dif­fer­ent. They don’t use a lock­nut-and-cone assem­bly. In­stead, they use a nee­dle bear­ing and loose ball bear­ings. Af­ter you put the pedal body back onto the axle, you ad­just the play us­ing two cone wrenches. If, af­ter all your ad­just­ments, there’s still some play, you’ll have to re­place the axle assem­bly.

With Speed­play ped­als, you can in­ject grease into the pedal bear­ings. Re­move the grease port screw, and then us­ing a grease gun with a spe­cial noz­zle, in­ject grease into the port. When you see clean grease flow­ing out the other end, stop in­ject­ing, wipe the ex­cess and re­place the port screw. You can ac­tu­ally re­build a Speed­play ped­als com­pletely. You can re­place pedal bod­ies, base plates and bear­ings. Most of those steps you should leave for a pro­fes­sional me­chanic. But if you take proper care of your ped­als, that visit won’t be for a while.

Ex­am­ple of Speed­play cleat that could use re­plac­ing

Ex­am­ple of Shi­mano cleat that is still OK for use

above In­ject grease into Speed­play ped­als with a grease gun top right Re­move axle from Shi­mano pedal body with cone wrench

cen­tre Pedal axle pulled from body with bear­ings vis­i­ble

right Grease pedal axle and bear­ings

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