Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
Our Holiday Gift Guide last week featured some sweet tools, a floor and mini pump, a multi-tool and a repair stand. 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 to add to our Gift Guide, 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
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.