Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
Because you can’t have enough bicycle tools, it got me thinking of some lesser-known yet highly useful items budding mechanics might want to ask for – or that you might want to surprise your grease monkey with.
So, I’m pointing five of these out this week and explaining what sets them apart. The thing about giving tools as gifts is that every time they use it they’ll think of you. And good tools can last so long they get handed down.
Efficient Velo Tools Knuckle Saver Pedal Wrench Adapter
It kind of looks like it, but no, it’s not that dreaded coal chunk for bad boys and girls. Rather, it’s a one-of-a-kind problem-solver from the inventive mind of Brett Flemming at Efficient Velo Tools (EVT for short).
What this tool does is in its name – it saves your knuckles. It’s for use with pedals that can only be installed and removed by inserting an Allen wrench into the end of the pedal axle – such as modern Look brand pedals. When the Allen wrench is in this position on the right pedal, it’s precariously close to the sharp pointed edges of the chainrings. And, because it can take a lot of force to loosen pedals, it’s easy to slip and cut yourself.
The Knuckle Saver is inserted into the back of the pedal just like you would use the Allen wrench to remove the pedal. And, it’s available in both 8 and 6mm sizes. Be sure to check your mechanic’s pedals to get the correct size Knuckle Saver. Or if you know they work on many bikes, get both!
Once in place, to install or remove pedals with the Knuckle Saver you use a standard 15mm pedal wrench (photo). It fits perfectly on the flats of the tool. The geometry of the Knuckle Saver places the wrench in front of the crankarm so your hand is outside the chainrings where they’re less likely to get hurt. Also, you get much more leverage from a pedal wrench turning the Knuckle Saver than you do with even the largest Allen Wrench.
The Knuckle Saver is a small tool that may not look impressive, but once they try it, they’ll love how much easier and safer it is to install and remove their Allen-type clipless pedals.
Park 8-Ounce Shop Hammer
A good hammer is more important than ever for bike mechanics these days, what with bearings and cups you have to essentially beat up to deal with. Park’s 8-ouncer (they make a 21-ounce model, too) is an excellent choice.
It has a precision machined forged-steel striking face on one side for all that hard pounding. And on the other is a non-marring replaceable plastic head for when a softer blow is what’s needed. Because they get both in one hammer, there’s no need for them to buy two hammers anymore (or have an extra one adding more weight and taking up space in their toolbox).
Plus, they’ll appreciate the durable fiberglass shaft and soft touch grip. The Shop Hammer is also nicely balanced for easy and accurate use.
Topeak Shuttle 1.2 Tire Lever
While Topeak calls it the Shuttle, as in singular, if you gift your cyclist this cool tool, they’re actually getting 2 tire levers. It’s just that one of the levers is smaller and clicks into the larger one so that they make one piece. It’s a clever design that makes it less likely they’ll lose a lever, and that keeps the tools compact to take up less space in a seat bag.
Also, the small lever is handy for easier to remove tires, while its big brother works the charm on stubborn tight tires. And, it’s quite oversize to give you enough oomph to unseat even locked-on tubeless tires. What I especially like is the thin tip on the larger lever, which is just what’s required on those tough tubeless treads.
Successful tire removal has as much to do with know how and technique as good tools. These will give them a helping hand they’ll appreciate out there on the road.
Bondhus Ballend Screwdriver Set of 7 (Metric)
While the photo from Bondhus shows only a single tool, I’m recommending you gift them the set of 7 Metric ballend screwdrivers that you’ll get to from the link. That way your present will set them up to be able to turn all the common Allen bolts on bicycles with the convenience of ballend drivers.
If you haven’t used these tools, they’re great for reaching into hard-to-access areas and will turn bolts even when the tool is held at an angle to the fastener of up to 25 degrees. This is a common occurrence with things like bottle cage bolts, brake attaching nuts, stem and seat bolts and even some derailleur adjustment screws.
They’ll really appreciate having these at hand and find many ways to use them. And with the oversize rubber ergonomic handles and durable steel tips (I’ve never worn one out), they’re a joy to use. They’re even shaped so they won’t roll off their workbench.
Park Tool Professional Cable And Housing Cutter
Because professional bicycle cable cutters are expensive, many usually new bike mechanics decide to try to cut cables and housings with ordinary diagonal cutters, which can be purchased for next to nothing. Unfortunately, these tools are hardly up to the task and lead to frustration and sloppy work that can actually cause improper shift and brake adjustment – never a good thing.
So, you’ll be doing you roadie a huge service by gifting them Park’s Pro Cable and Housing Cutter. You can see in the photo how its jaws come together to trap cables and housings such that they’re cut cleanly without fraying or crushing.
This fine tool is built to last with cold-forged, heat treated-steel handles and precision-ground cutting jaws for clean cuts every time. It also features a built-in crimper for cable end caps and forming hole for reforming housing ends and housing ferrules. Plus there’s a wire latch to hold the handles together when the tool’s not in use. And they’ll love the sure grip of the oversize vinyl-coated handles.
Ride total: 9,094
Doug Kirk says
You’d have done the readers a favor to remind them to put the chain on the big chainring before removing/installing pedals so the chain covers the pointy teeth.
Jim Langley says
Good tip, Doug. In my article about pedals I say this, but this being a gift guide, I did not. Here’s a more complete article on pedals: https://jimlangley.net/wrench/pedalbasics.html
JOHN A JAUSS says
When I saw this tool article I was hoping to see a new miracle tool for breaking tire beads from the tubeless ready rims that are about the only thing available today. After struggling with many in our group ride helping( I’m the one usually giving assistance) we finally got the bead broke loose on my gp 5000 that picked up a roofing nail dead center and removed the tube. Got home, put the stuck tire in a bench vice because we only managed to free up one side out on the road. Removed the rim tape and could see the dilemma. These rims( and I assume tubeless also[because one of our guys had to go pick up his girlfriend because he couldn’t get her tire off when she flatted and he’s worked in a bike shop]) have a raised lip that the beads pops over and God help ya when trying to remove the tire. I contemplated taking the wheels to my local machine shop and see if they could remove them. Instead, I got out my handy dandy dremel and ground down about six inches of it centered at the valve stem. I envision a tool that would be similar to the tire Jack that would have two fingers to hold the rim, go over the tire and have a flat blade that would press tire tire inward to pop it loose( picture an auto tire bead breaker) . Do you know of anything on the market? If not, we should invent one…sounds like another one of my million$ ideas. We could split 5o 50
Jim Langley says
So the reason the Topeak tire lever is part of my gift guide, John, is because it works to break tubeless tire beads free. I even say that in my little blurb. You might get one and give it a try next time.
I’m not saying it’s perfect, though – or even that it makes it easy. It doesn’t. You still have to wrestle with some tires to succeed.
You mention Continental’s 5000 tubeless tires one of which I had to return because it was defective (so undersize it couldn’t even be put on a rim). Defective/undersize tubeless tires like that can be super hard to break free with even the best tire lever.
But even properly fitting tubeless road tires can lock on so tight it takes a lot of force to break them free. You need a tool that you can wedge down between the bead and the rim and then twist the tool to get the bead off the ledge it’s on on the rim. Sometimes you have to try many spots around the wheel before you finally find a place you can get the tool in. As long as you can find one spot somewhere around the wheel where you can jam the tool in between the bead and rim and start moving the bead off the ledge, you can usually get the tire to break free. But again, it can be a royal pain.
So I’m 100% with you on the idea for a tool for this that would make it easy.
Please watch Jim’s Tech Talk for more on your idea next week. I have been thinking about a tool for this, too – haven’t made one, Maybe we can raise awareness and learn more.
That’s why I’ve thought “tubeless” for road riding is a solution looking for a problem. After my first tubeless flat, I lost all the skin off my knuckles and my religion trying to put a tube in and never did get the bead back on fully while on the road.
No road tubeless for me, thank you.
I made my wheel builder change a tire on the rims she recommended before I gave the go ahead for the build.
Phil P says
Great article….already forwarded to my wife (the real Santa). Speaking of cool tools how about an update on the ChainLift that you wrote about several months ago,..wondering how you like it after some use?
Jim Langley says
Glad you liked the article and thanks for the question about the ChainLift, Phil. Long story, but I haven’t used it a lot yet – or at least as much as I want to to talk more about it. However, I still think it’s super cool for anyone who dislikes dealing with chains when removing rear wheels or needs to get the chain out of the way for diagnosing repairs.
I’ll try to use it more and put something more together, possibly with a video to show more detail.
Thanks for the reminder!