Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
Before we get to this week’s topic, I want to point out that helpful readers continue to post comments in our 3-part beginner’s guide to clipless pedals (thanks, folks!). I think even experienced clipless users will find them useful (for example, swapping out only one cleat at a time is a new one to me). Here are links:
Also, we received a nice email from Eric Sampson of Sampson Sports. I had forgotten that we gave Sampson pedals 4.5 stars – almost our top rating – a while ago. You can read the review here. And, here’s where you can learn more about Sampson clipless pedals.
A Brilliant Redesign of the Traditional Bike Race Mechanic Tool Box
Partly because I’m in need of a new travelling toolbox, among the most interesting products I heard about during the hub-bub surrounding the 2018 Interbike bike show last month were Park Tool’s new toolboxes. One is an upgrade to their tried and true briefcase-style box, which looks much improved. But the one that blew me away is their all new BX-3, which is significantly larger and has more features than I’ve ever seen in a pro wrench box.
The story behind the new design is that Park reached out to professional race mechanics to come up with a wishlist of features to design an all new pro-mech toolbox. I remember when I attended the debut USA Cycling Race Mechanic’s certification clinic in Colorado Springs in 1989. That clinic has taken place almost every year since.
And, who led a good part of the instruction back when I went and still today? None other than Park’s Calvin Jones, who probably had much to do with the making of this terrific new toolbox, drawing on the friendships he has going back decades with mechanics around the globe for ideas and inspiration.
Built-in Wheels and Pull Handle Plus Much More Capacity
Park’s due diligence shows in the details. This is the first travelling toolbox I’ve seen with built-in wheels and an extendable pull handle. No longer do mechanics have to lug heavy boxes around from shuttles to check-in or carry a separate folding rollercart to put their box on.
And, Big Blue really is big, allowing bringing along to races and events even larger tools, such as frame alignment, wheel and headset tools. There are workaround ways to perform almost every repair, however with full size tools you can work more quickly and usually more accurately, too.
To make repairs more efficient and save more time, the BX-3’s pallets boast 70% more surface area than those in its little brother the BX-2.2. This means having more tools within easy reach. While multiple pouches provide more room for bringing along additional small repair parts. There’s nothing better than having everything needed to do your best work.
Heavy-Duty And Built To Take It
Besides holding your tools and providing easy access, a toolbox needs to withstand massive abuse, too. Even if a mechanic uses the box as carefully as possible, just the act of setting up “shop,” and removing, using and replacing tools, wears the box and tool holders. Park addressed this with rugged materials, quality stitching and connectors throughout and reliable closures.
A clever feature is rubber grommet-lined holes in the pallets. They’re for turning the pallets over to access tools on the other side. And when your hands are greasy, you only slime the easily cleaned rubber, not the pallets.
Turning to the case, it’s molded from thick, impact-resistant polypropylene with reinforcements all around. There are also four oversize spring-loaded latches, two stout carry handles and the beefy built-in wheels and extendable pull handle. To open the latches, you just pull out with your finger and they pop out and up releasing the lid. And, because they “hide” in-between the reinforcement ribs built into the box when they’re closed, they can’t be accidentally opened when the box is in transit.
Inside the box there are gas struts on either side to help open the top when weighed down by tools. A tray with slots for dividers reinforces the bottom. And, the toolbox is dust and water resistant thanks to its interlocking lid and rubber seal. There’s even an air pressure compensation valve for protection during air travel.
Professional Box at a Professional Price
All this innovation and upgrading comes at the lofty price of $514.95 versus the BX-2.2 at $304.95 (which has also been updated for 2019). If you’re a home bike mechanic who doesn’t bring tools to bike events, you probably don’t need a box like this and you might find the price tag exorbitant.
But, hold on a minute. There are plenty of home mechanics who pay much more for professional quality rolling drawer-style toolboxes for their garages – think Snap-on. They don’t really need them, but they appreciate owning and using fine things.
I think some home bicycle mechanics are the same way and will appreciate having fine tool storage like this that actually can be be taken with you to important rides and races, too. There’s also a lot to be said for being able to hold all the bike tools you need in a toolbox that’s easy to store in the smallest apartment
And, for professional mechanics who rely on their tools, I bet Park’s Big Blue will become an overnight sensation. I haven’t had time to fill mine with tools yet, but I did shoot an amateur video while unboxing it to show you more details up close. Have a look.
Features & Specs
Learn more about the Rolling Big Blue Box.
Heavy-duty impact-resistant polypropylene
Side and end foldaway carry handles
Extendable pull handle
Smooth rolling integrated wheels
Oversize spring-loaded latches, 2 front, 2 side
Dust and water resistant
Air pressure compensation valve
Custom designed tool-holding pallets with loops and pockets
Gas assisted lid struts for easy opening
Dual-sided upper and mid level folding pallet wings
Front tool pallet that stores safely inside during transport
Bottom tray with grooves for dividers
70% more tool surface area than Park’s BX-2.2 Blue Box Tool Case
Nominal Dimensions & Weight
Length: 23.4 inches (59.5cm)
Width: 17.3 inches (44cm)
Thickness: 9.3 inches (23.5cm)
Weight: 21.6 pounds (9.8 kg)
Ride total: 9,045
Steve Thomas says
Nice looking tool box, but still can’t figure out the price. By looking at the dimensions and features this box essentially looks like a Pelican 1560 case without the pallets. A 1560 can be found brand new for about $170. Throw in $50-60 worth of Kaizen foam or Pelican foam inserts, and you essentially have the same toolbox for a complete cost of about $230, and Pelican offers a lifetime guarantee on their workmanship against defects. Admittedly you would have to cut the Kaizen foam for your tools, but that can be done in an afternoon. Last, this case is only water resistant, the Pelican 1560 case is guaranteed waterproof even if completely submerged under water for hours. I’m just not seeing how this is a $500 case when you can essentially have the same case from Pelican for literally less than half the price without the park logo on it.
Jim Langley says
Thanks for pointing out the Pelican case, Steve. I looked up the model you mentioned and it looks okay but there are differences between it and Park’s case that would surely add cost. Park includes 3 super-beefy handles, one on the front and two on the ends. So you can pick the case up from either end, or pick it up like a suitcase from the front handle, or with two hands holding the two end handles. Also, Park’s case has reinforcing ribs all around. And, I would expect that Park’s palettes being designed by and for bike mechanics would be more suited to bicycle tools. I haven’t set my box up yet, but I believe it’s going to be quicker and easier than having to trace my tools on foam and cut out their shapes – or modify palettes that were designed for generic hand tools, not oddly shaped bike tools. Still, if someone is looking to design their own box, it sounds like Pelican is a nice affordable option. Thanks for sharing the tip!