Monday, October 3, 2011

Ironic packaging and artisanal cotter pins

I bought a package of brake pads for Gilbert two weeks ago (haven't managed to put them on yet) and they were sitting at the table as we ate dinner.  The Scientist was remarking that he needed pads for his roadbike, and I was looking at the packaging, and remarking that it must be Amsterdam in the photo- Women in ordinary clothes on city bikes,  tons of bikes parked in the background,  no helmets.  Looking further I noticed something that I found fairly humorous, given that they're selling brake pads.  Can you spot what it is? *  Hint at bottom of post

I also received in the mail "Artisanal" cotter pins.   Gilbert's left (non drive side) crank seems to be bent just slightly.  It's enough that when I ride another bike I notice that the left pedal feels "weird" and when I switch back, Gilbert feels "weird" and it's murder on the light up pedals that I like so much.  It eats them up- I've replaced the left one three times now!  Anyone need a right side pedal that flashes? - I've got an extra!  I suppose I could make it a prize for whoever first guesses the irony in the photo.

Anyway, after looking locally for a replacement vintage crank, I bought a repro left hand crank online,  although it doesn't look like it's fantastic quality.   I've heard that the absolute best cotter pins to be had are from Bikesmith in MN.   He makes a famously helpful tool for removing stuck Raleigh bottom brackets as well as a nicely made hand cotter press for home mechanics.  So on a bit of a whim, I ordered what should be a lifetime supply (6) of grade A cotters.

These "artisanal" cotter pins are turned on a lathe instead of stamped,  and then he goes through and custom files the bevel to match the raleigh slope, "even the nuts are turned on a lathe"
Honestly I'm not sure I'll notice the difference, and I feel a bit sheepish in a boho bourgeois way for ordering bits of metal to pin the cranks to my bike that have a longer and more lovingly  described provenance than an item on a trendy restaurant menu.  On the other hand,  it's making a guy a living doing manufacturing in the USA,  and it will hopefully help everything go together smoothly and not wobble and destroy cranks or pedals.  Some people spend a lot of money on designer clothes or fancy cars,  I just spent twenty five bucks for cotter pins.  Silly I know, but less than a tank of gas.

*And now for the promised hint- look at the handlebars on the bike on the left.


  1. Coaster brakes don't use brake pads?

  2. wow no actual brakes huh?? in china, i did see some brakes that were operated with a vertical bar on the top tube.

  3. The bike on the left appears to not have brakes (well I'm sure it has a coaster brake)

  4. Those cotter pins are worth their weight in gold. They are almost impossible to deform even with Mark's excellent cotter press and fit soooo much better than the cheap ones most bikeshops order these days. You'll be glad you bought them!

  5. Ha, coaster brakes! I am such a dork, I did not need the hint. I also purchased these artisanal cotters recently, too. I don't feel sheepish about it at all. Once I overhaul the bottom bracket and put the cranks back on, I don't want to have to do it again for a very long time! Seems reasonable.

  6. I own waaay too many bikes with cotter pins. However when they get replaced they get replaced with the BikeSmith Specials, period!


  7. BikeSmith's products are top drawer. You'll love them! It's the only ones I'll buy.