How to make skateboard pedal decks for clipless pedals
Today's post comes from BikeTinker. Philip is an artist and avid utilitarian cyclist, the result being thoughtfulness and genuine appreciation in regards to the bike. He's got some good stuff for sale on Etsy (including the pedal decks you'll see below). We're calling BikeTinker our first "Certified Problem Solver." Mostly because we needed a reason to use this cool graphic we created:
"Look at this thing. Do you instantly grok it? You see how useful it is, right? You see how to make it from scratch?" If the answer is yes, read no further. Go down to the skate shop for a broken deck, get out the tools, and go to town.
These pedal platforms are made from skateboard decks, with old cleats screwed to them. They're good for riding clipless pedals in regular shoes, or riding in thin-soled shoes any old time. I made my first pair when my kid was five, and we'd go on impromptu bike rides around the neighborhood.* After a few years I just stopped ever clipping in, and only every use the decks. They're like BMX pedals, but I find them more comfortable. The downsides of these are you can twist the deck right off the pedal with your foot; if you mash the backside of the Eggbeater, coming away from a light, you'll drop the platform in the street. I guess they also add stack-height to the pedal, so it's an anti-Thinny. The idea for this came from old plywood-decked Bullseye pedals, and a pair of Winwood plastic ones the bike shop gave me. Problem Solvers make a metal version called the Deckster, and I hear Eggbeater ships something similar with their pedals now.
What you need:
- Broken skateboard
- Drill and 3/16" bit
- Wood rasp
- Orbital sander and sandpaper (60, 120, 220 grit)
- Glossy varnish
Mark out your pedal decks on the bottom of the board, figuring somewhere around 4 pairs at about four inches long. Depending on the width of the broken splintering part, you may get fewer, or smaller pedal decks. Anywhere between 3 and 5.5 inches long is fine, but the width needs to be 4 inches or under. Any wider, and you might clack the crank when you pedal, since the cleat allows a little float. If you have a wide board, you might need to cut a swath out of the middle. The pieces across from each other are the 'matched' decks. The right side of the deck becomes the left pedal platforms, and vice versa. Cut the pieces out. I use a handsaw, but it would be a lot faster with a bandsaw or table saw. A carpenter friend mentioned that a roundsaw might throw the cut piece right back into your testicles (if you have them). Drill the holes. Use the cleats as guides, mark each hole with a Sharpie. Be careful to go straight in with a 5/16 bit. The hole should be the size of the screw, minus the threads. Dril straight down, cleanly. Tap the threads with a sharp, clean M6 screw. Or the rusty crappy one from the old cleats, like me. I used to use a guide tube on the drill bit, to keep it from coming through the top of the pedal, but now I just go all the way through, and smooth the tape back over the hole, to make sure the screw won't bottom out in the hole. Round the corners of each deck with a wood rasp. This is blocking in the shape. A square-cut ugly pedal works just as well as a pretty rounded one, but is much less satisfying. Bevel the edges. My woodworker friend says there are router bits that would do this in seconds, but I have yet to invest in them, since I'd have to invest in a router first. Sand them smooth. You can leave the punk-rock graphics on the decks, but I sand them clean with a small sander. Start with 60 grit, and go through 120, and 220 grit sandpaper to leave the divots and scrapes, but make the surface velvet smooth. Spray them with shellac of some sort. Optionally, you can replace the grip tape for a real refreshening. One $5 sheet of griptape will do 5 pairs of decks, or so. Mount the cleats: The tricky bit here is that the right side of the deck is the left pedal deck. This lets the ball of your foot fit the curve of the deck, and extra-large decks give you a little arch support. Go for a ride. That's it. The hardest part is making them look good. *Riding fixed with children is great, because you can modulate your speed effortlessly as the little
bastards tykes weave in front of you or stop suddenly.