Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Of shoe leather, rain clouds and split pins

Posted by Mark | July 27, 2007 | 2 comments so far

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, 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!


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There are 2 comments on ‘Of shoe leather, rain clouds and split pins’

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  1. Justin Evans says:

    That’s hilarious – the times I’ve remembered that I’ve left my umbrella in my far away parked car just as heavens open! It’s at that point when your mind spitefully provides you with a picture of your smart ass umbrella relaxing, nice and dry, on the passenger seat!

    Those hardware shops are gems, I had to endure a similar hunt this week, albeit on thankfully dryer terrain, to find replacement batteries for my car’s alarm remote. I went to Halfords, Dixon’s, Timpson, Boots and then Road Radio, none of whom sold the right ones, as a last resort I walked further out of town to an also “Open all hours” type hardware shop, where, as much as I anticipated it being wasted trip, they were the most helpful and stocked my batteries, they were reasonably priced and I was very grateful, however the bloody remote is still kaput!

  2. Andy says:

    Sorry to say that I am a non believer in bike shops. I do my own servicing as every time the bikes went in they came out with more scratches and the suspension all “retuned”.

    I’ve been in to get gear cables from two local shops and been told they only sell it by the meter. The total cost for a single cable therefore worked out at about £25 and I told them to keep it and ordered off the web.

    I have rung up and specifically told them what brake pads I need and the shop having no clue what a shimano deore brake pad was.

    I could go on, but it would be depressing.

    I look after my friends bikes too and over time have build up the tools I need for all the regular jobs.

    If you want to learn to look after the bike yourself, you can’t go far wrong with this book:

    Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance

    I believe in supporting the local bike shops but they have to get better at what they claim to do.

    Rant over.

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