Eric Hayes is the craftsman who polishes our René Herse cranks, locally on the outskirts of Seattle. These days, most bike parts are black, and few in the bike industry still have the skills to polish metal without grinding off too much material, which looks ugly and affects the strength of lightweight parts. So we went outside the bike industry to find a polisher whose work is better than anything we’ve seen elsewhere.
Eric works with his partner Tracy in Edgewood. He polishes all types of metal. It’s hard and dirty work, but he takes great pride in his craftsmanship.
Here is a sample of his work, a hood ornament for a 1950s car. On the right, you see what it looked like when it arrived: terribly pitted. On the left is the condition after Eric finished his magic. His display includes hub caps that were dented and rusted, and now look like new. The sign with the labor rates is outdated. Eric’s rates have gone up: Skilled labor has a price.
Most of Eric’s work is for restorations of cars or motorcycles, but he does other things, too. The biggest job he’s had recently was to polish an entire private jet! Many of you have seen his work on a few bikes that have been featured in our book The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles.
Here is how Eric polishes our cranks. He starts with sandpaper to smooth out the inside of the grooves that are forged into the arms.
Then he uses a disc sander to remove the parting lines of the forging dies.
The main polishing comes next. There are many different polishing wheels. Each material has its own wheels. First, a rougher wheel is used (photo at the top of this post), which then is followed by a finer wheel (above).
From start to finish, polishing a crankset takes about an hour. Then the cranks go into an ultrasonic cleaner to remove the residue from the polishing. A final buffing by hand, and they are ready to be assembled as you order them, with any chainring combination from 24 to 52 teeth.
What you end up with is a crank that isn’t just shiny, but also has all the details of the wonderful shape intact. Polishing cranks to this standard is a lot of work, but we believe the final result is worth it. That way, the appearance of our cranks matches their functionality.
The cranks are in stock now. Click here for more information.