On a recent ride I realised that the high pitched squealing noise I kept hearing was actually coming from my brakes, which on closer inspection proved to have no pad left what so ever.
I duly ordered 2 new sets of pads and went about fitting them. What I had forgotten about my Magura Julie’s is that the brakes are fitted with a split pin at the back of the housing, which fits through the end of the pads to hold them in place.
After a small amount of mindless violence I managed to get the old pins out, which brought back the distant memory of the fact that these were the original pins, fitted when the I installed the brakes on the bike. (I have changed the pads, but never the pins).
Once the pads were back in, I tired to re-fit the pins. 20 minutes of swearing and skinning my knuckles went past, by which time the split pins were shaped somewhere between a banana and a pretzel. OK, so I needed new pins. As a temporary measure so I could at least try and bed the new pads in I resorted to poking bits of garden wire through in place of the pins. This I felt was OK for a quick jaunt up and down my road, but perhaps a bit risky for a proper ride.
Which brings me to the crux of the story. New pins. How hard can it be to get hold of some? There are 4 bike shops in Croydon, so I resolved to try them until I could find some new split pins. I set off one lunchtime to the one nearest my office, ready to buy new pins.
In the first shop, which is a road bike shop, they couldn’t help me but gave me the address of their other shop, which is about a mile and a half further down the road. It was a nice day, so I set off. 15 mins later, with my feet throbbing and the sky turning a worrying shade of dark grey, I still hadn’t found the shop. As the first few raindrops started to hit the ground the realisation I was now 20 minutes from the office and that my brolly was in my bag under my desk struck home. I turned round and walked as fast as I could back toward the office, all the time dodging under trees, shop canopies and any other overhang in an effort to keep relatively dry.
Just as I ran out of cover and the heavens began to open, I reached another of the 4 bike shops I had originally set out to visit. As I handed over my old split pins to the assistant behind the counter, pointing out what they were, and that they were part of a mountain bike, I could tell that I might well have asked if they stocked any original 1897 lead lined brake trunnions for a penny farthing. He had obviously never seen a split pin before, or if he had he was doing a good impression of ignorance. 5 minutes of “looking out the back” later, the shop manager returned to tell me they didn’t have any split pins, and asked had I tried a hardware shop? No, I replied; because they were a spare part for my BIKE, hence the trip to the bike shop.
I left the shop, into the deluge that had now begun, and tried my best to run faster than the rain and dodge between the raindrops. I arrived back at the office, having wasted my whole lunchtime and received a soaking into the bargain, and still no split pins.
On my way home I popped into Turtles, http://www.turtlescroydon.co.uk/ which is a hardware shop with a distinctly “Open All Hours” feel about it. The very kindly lady at the haberdashery counter sent me into the basement of the shop, to the plumbing department, where I was confronted by a counter made up of about a million blue storage boxes, holding every plumbing fitting and probably every other engineering part as well. My enquiry about split pins brought forth a case of split pins of every size and length, some undoubtedly large enough to hold the wheels on an articulated lorry. It took all of 30 seconds to find 2 new pins, which were to set me back the princely sum of 4 pence each!
Suffice it to say I have now fitted the new pins, and my brakes seem to fine. I am older and wiser as to the ways of split pins and bike shops, and now know that unless the spare I need is something obvious, like new wheel, to try Turtles first and a bike shop after!