The Pedal Dilemma and klunkerising the Heavy Duti

PLEASE NOTE: If you are one of those readers whose eyes roll over when I get too nerdy about bikes, please skip reading this installment and wait until I write about something “real”. And refrain from your snarky comments, please and thank you!

Hey, remember the Schwinn Heavy Duti? Last time I rode it I managed to break the right (drive-side)* pedal. Darn. It looks like the spindle sheared off at the end, so there’s no way to fix the pedal, unless I found a new spindle.  And while I did at one point have the idea to replace the rubber blocks (even went ahead and bought ’em)** honestly the rest of the pedals don’t look that good. So I could repair them, but would it be worth it? Probably not.

So the obvious: I need to replace the pedals. But with what?

Now back in the day, I would go to the bike shop and find the cheapest choice, and go with that. But I learned the hard way that this isn’t the best approach. “Cheapest” usually means plastic pedals. And I was happy with them, until that time I led the Atomic War Preparedness Ride back in aught-five, and someone ran into me, breaking a pedal. Thankfully, someone had duct tape, so I made the pedal serviceable for the rest of the ride. But the next day I went to the bike shop, bought metal-body pedals, and never looked back. (Ironically enough, though I was furious with the person who ran into me, breaking said pedal, I became her roommate a few years later!)

Now I actually have a few extra sets of pedals lying around. It should be a no-brainer: Just put one of those sets on! But here lies the problem: All those other pedals have the “standard” axle width of 9/16″. But the Heavy Duti is an American-styled cruiser, complete with the American styled one piece “Ashtabula” cranks. Since the crank arms are narrower, they need the smaller 1/2″ axle size. So a-shopping I go.

First, the usual used parts bins of the usual locations. Yep, they are there, but they look as beat as the pedals I was taking off. So let’s go new. But while most shops that aren’t hoity-toity will have some selection of 1/2″ pedals, most of them are pretty crappy. So I search online to see what the options are. Supposedly MKS, my favorite pedal maker, makes a nice 1/2″ block pedal. The problem: I couldn’t find it anywhere online except from Harris Cyclery. No bike shop seemed to be able to find it. I didn’t really feel like spending close to $40 on pedals for this bike, when you factor in shipping. I looked to other options.

I did find a few nice New Old Stock block pedals on the internets, but ended up going with a set of “Bear Claw” style pedals for about $20. These ones are made by Wellgo, not a “great” pedal maker like MKS, but much better than the bottom of the barrel stuff. I’ve had a few sets of Wellgo pedals over the years, and thought they were fine. But it is ironic that I bought a set of Suntour XC-II knockoffs, when I have the real thing! I did think about somehow using those pedals for the Heavy Duti, but they would not work unless I did one of the following:

  1. Convert the one-piece crankset into a three-piece modern crankset. (Overkill.)
  2. Use an adapter that would allow the 9/16″ pedal to work in a 1/2″ crank. (Not that cheap, and widens the space between pedal and crank.)
  3. Rebuild the Suntour XC II’s with a 1/2″ axle. (Theoretically workable, but also seems like too much work, and if I wanted to use the pedals for other bikes, I’d have to convert them back.)

As for the Wellgo pedals, from a distance they look the same as the Suntours. Get up close, and you can see the differences (and tell that the Wellgo) are the lesser pedals. The cages on the Wellgos are riveted on, making them hard to impossible to remove, while the Suntour use Allen key bolts. And the Wellgo have a hand screw off dust cap whereas the Suntours need an Allen key. But the Wellgos are still decent (they have cro-moly spindles!) and spin OK. Good enough for the Heavy Duti!

And since I put new pedals on, I decided to mess around a little bit more. The stem is that obscure 21.1 size used on old cruisers…which happens to be the same size stem on my Crested Butte! Y’see, the earliest production mountain bikes aped a lot of things from old Schwinn cruisers, since that’s what the Marin guys based their designs around. My Raleigh Crested Butte originally had a set of chro-moly “Bullmoose” handlebars. While I liked the look of the bars, the fit wasn’t right, since the Crested Butte has a long top tube and I needed something a bit more “swept back”. However, the Heavy Duti has a shorter top tube.

So I put the Bullmoose bars on the Heavy Duti. Oh, it is so much easier to swap bars and stems around when there are no levers, shifters, and cables to worry about. I haven’t had much of a chance to ride it, but it seemed fine on my li’l test ride. And I like the look. What do you think?

*Sorry, Sheldon!

**Anyone interested? They’d be cheap.

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