pedal-wood-03-pair File this one under “first-world prob­lems.” Since putting together my belt-drive city bike last fall, I have been look­ing for a bet­ter way to ride (occa­sion­ally) with nice leather-soled shoes. Every metal- and plastic-surfaced pedal I tried rubbed unevenly against the shoe, destruc­tively dug into the leather sole with sharp points, or both.

The solu­tion seemed to come in the form of the Moto Urban Pedal, which has an unusu­ally large flat fric­tion sur­face as well as a dis­tinc­tive ply­wood body. Unfor­tu­nately, the fric­tion is pro­vided by “strong grip tape.” While their adver­tised claim is true–that the skateboard-style grip tape pro­vides slip-free con­tact even with wet leather soles–the man­u­fac­turer doesn’t men­tion that grip tape also destroys leather by grind­ing it down. As I found out, grip tape is just coarse sand­pa­per with an adhe­sive back­ing. That solu­tion is per­fect for the skateboard-industrial com­plex because it ensures a steady cycle of demand for new skate­board­ing shoes, but it is unsuit­able for my needs.

So I began my Edison-style exper­i­ment with every kind of fric­tion mate­r­ial I could get my hands on. I tried sev­eral dif­fer­ent mod­els of 3M Grip­ping Mate­r­ial, the amaz­ing stuff that sim­u­lates gecko feet, but it quickly became clogged with debris. I tried a tex­tured self-adhesive neo­prene prod­uct designed for guns (?!), but it lacked the dura­bil­ity and adhe­sive strength I needed.

Finally, Feld­meier sug­gested that the best fric­tion mate­r­ial for shoes might be another shoe. From an online cob­bler sup­plier, I obtained two sheets of sol­ing mate­r­ial: a 2 mm SoleTech sol­ing sheet for dress shoes and a 4 mm sheet of Vibram 7175 boot rub­ber. The Vibram mate­r­ial is amaz­ing but way too thick and heavy for this appli­ca­tion, so I put it aside. The SoleTech (check-textured SBR rub­ber) is perfect.

I made a tem­plate of laser-cut acrylic so I could cut per­fect pedal-shaped pieces from the sheet with a knife.

2014-09-14 11.19.01

Rub­ber con­tact cement pro­vides a per­fect (although pos­si­bly too per­ma­nent) bond to the plas­tic pieces that form the plain bear­ings in the Moto ped­als. It also smells awesome.

2014-09-14 11.41.37

The new pedal sur­faces are work­ing great so far, wet and dry. And they don’t destroy leather. We’ll see how they hold up in the long term.

2014-09-15 09.13.14

September 18, 2014 September 18, 2014 cycling by Scott No Comments

positive All­ston Christ­mas comes again. We moved our year-old pile of “things we want to sell some­day” out to the curb. First item was gone in 5 min­utes. Last item in 15 min­utes. Now that’s efficient!
neutral CVS stops sell­ing tobacco to focus on health. I’m pretty sure they’re still sell­ing Oreos and gal­lon jugs of Ari­zona Iced Tea in the dia­betes meal sup­ply aisle. Inter­est­ing position.
negative Doing my first PCB lay­out with 0.5mm-pitch BGAs. Escape rout­ing track/track spac­ing is 3.2 mils. Is this really the future? What hath God wrought?

September 3, 2014 September 3, 2014 ww by Scott No Comments

“Claire McCaskill, the Demo­c­ra­tic sen­a­tor from Mis­souri, says police depart­ments nation­wide should require their offi­cers to wear body cam­eras in order to qual­ify for the hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in fed­eral fund­ing they receive each year.”David Kravets, Arstech­nica

Clearly some­one hasn’t read The Cir­cle by Dave Eggers.

August 27, 2014 August 27, 2014 in-the-news by Scott 1 Comment

Freddie and Scott

Photo credit: Fer Juar­isti

What a week­end: cel­e­brat­ing the wed­ding of our dear friends Adrian and Mar­garet. And the two-year anniver­sary of us–complete with this ridicu­lously awe­some Wes Anderson-style portrait!

August 24, 2014 August 24, 2014 photos by Scott 1 Comment

I spot­ted one of the most famous liv­ing type design­ers in the veg­etable sec­tion of the gro­cery store this after­noon.1 I would have left it at that, but my extro­verted wife loves talk­ing to strangers. “Excuse me, are you Matthew Carter?”


  1. In my defense, he is eas­ily rec­og­niz­able from being in two of my favorite design doc­u­men­taries, Hel­vetica and Lino­type

August 17, 2014 August 17, 2014 design by Scott No Comments

French breakfast Widelux

Le Chateau de Vouilly, Isigny-sur-Mer, Nor­mandy. Kodak Ektar 100 film.

August 15, 2014 August 17, 2014 photos by Scott 2 Comments

New government-issue “self­ies” include artis­tic pointil­lism fil­ter, per­fect for sharing.

Passport kiosk

August 3, 2014 August 3, 2014 travel by Scott No Comments

“Mar­ket research had shown that Mil­len­ni­als wanted food to deliver an expe­ri­ence, not just energy, and the com­pany was search­ing for an inno­va­tion that their cus­tomer base would talk about with friends.”Sarah Yager, “Dori­tos Locos Tacos,” The Atlantic, July/August 2014

I hope I never have to con­tend with the full Taco Bell “experience.”

July 22, 2014 July 22, 2014 food by Scott No Comments