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Pedal axle play problems

Pedal and axle not in alignment

The other day, prompted by the appearance of what looked like corrosion around their seals, I regreased the Indy Fab Club Racer’s pedal axles. Yesterday evening, I received my just deserts; by the time I got home, the right-hand pedal was rocking around on its axle with more float than my shoes’ SH51 cleats. As they say; “If it ain’t broke…”

But fix – or, rather, service – it, I did and with the result implied by the old saying. Now what? The pedals concerned are Shimano’s excellent PD-A520 – with a twist. Perhaps their only failing, if that it is, is the black surface finish on the axles. Chosen, no doubt, so save on manufacturing costs, it rusts readily in wintry conditions. Shimano has, in the past, offered pedals with the same cartridge bearing assembly and a chrome-plated axle such as the PD-SH66S Ultegra SPD-R model. It is an easy swap and the result is a greatly improved appearance that lies somewhere between the standard PD-A520 and its Ultegra-level alternative, the PD-A600.  

When one of these axles develops play, the cause is almost invariably bearing wear. The central sleeve, which is a light sliding fit in the pedal body, runs on balls, which in turn roll on cones, one on the axle and the other threaded to allow adjustment. A tiny 6mm nut locks the adjustable cone. Play is easily taken up un the usual manner by slackening the lock nut, turning the adjustable cone and locking it once the sleeve is free of play but turning easily.

There is a small further problem; if the bearing surfaces wear, they will probably do so again since the hard layer at the surface is not very deep. Once it is worn through, the balls then roll on softer metal which will wear away more rapidly. It is not inevitable and may be prevented by the application of fresh grease, although that seems to be what got me into trouble in the first place.

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