Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bicycle Repair Tools Review

Hello and Welcome, During my journey into the world of bicycle repair and restoration I have acquired a few tools. If fate allows me to continue on this journey it is likely that my tool inventory will continue to grow. From time to time I like to share with you what is working well for me. And also what is not working out all that well. And as always "These are Just My Opinions" which when combined with one dollar and twenty five cents will still get you a small coffee at Speedway. Enough mindless babble, lets get started.
Above: Here are my two bicycle cable and housing cutters. I was excited when my new Park (blue/black) cable and housing cutters arrived. The Park cutters can also crimp ferrules. They did not cut cable very well originally. On closer inspection I noticed they were a little loose. So I tightened them up a little bit, and all was well "for a while". Eventually they loosened up again so I re-tightened them. This time they did not stay tight very long, maybe a few months or so. And when I went to re-tighten them again it was no longer working as the threads were now stripped. While waiting for the Pedro cable cutters to arrive I forcefully threaded on a smaller nut . And so far it has worked pretty good. Now the Pedro cable cutters, (yellow) they cut cable really great. I am talking about quick, crisp cuts. But being they are still new, I will have to reserve judgement. I will get back to you on a future tool review. As for now, well... when they are both sitting there side by side, I grab the Pedro cutters.
Above: As for this Park Tool 3-Way Wrench, they hit this one out of the park! "pun intended" This little tool is a real time saver, and a handy bring along tool as well. If you work on bikes this is a Must Have tool for sure.
Above: This Avenir three way wrench is another Must Have tool. I am sure Park Tool makes one of these as well. The Avenir tools tend to be a little cheaper and hold up fairly well.
Above:I use this Avenir Pro Spoke Wrench Set. If you are still using the multi. size round spoke wrench, Log off now and order a set of these now. I am 100% sure that Park also makes a similar set.
I resisted purchasing one of these Irwin Quick Grip clamps for bicycle work for a long time. But then again I was the kind of guy who drove a stick shift truck while talking on the cell and drinking coffee and eating a doughnut. What is the clamp for?
Above: If you have ever tried to hold a brake closed with one hand while trying to pull the slack out of a cable and tighten the anchor point with the other hand. Then you can plainly see the advantage of using a clamp. Some use a slide clamp, I like this one for it's one hand operation. Anyway if not a "Must Have" tool it certainly is a "Should Have" tool. The pads on the clamp could be attached a little tighter. But I have been able to work with it without much trouble.
Above: A complete set of Park Cone Wrenches. A little extravagant? maybe. But worth their weight in gold. These were a gift from my wife who knew I wanted them. But also knows I am way too cheap to ever purchase "the set". Is the full set a must have? Probably not for everyone. But I give them a big thumbs up!
Above: A set of 3/8 drive Allen wrenches which also includes some star and other uncommon types. I do not use these as much as I once did. But for mechanical work in general they are a must have. Very handy for a stuck stem bolt and other tough applications.
Above: An Large adjustable wrench is always a Must Have. Along with one or two normal size adjustable wrenches. A triple Must Have!!! I have said this before, Do not buy a cheap adjustable wrench. The cheap ones are sloppy and will do more damage than good.
Above: My Park square taper crank puller / crank arm remover. I have had three different versions of this tool and the Park Tool version is by far the sturdiest. Definitely a Must Have tool!
Above: A Sealed or Cartridge type Bottom Bracket removal Park Tool BBT-22 tool. Definitely a Must Have tool. This one is manufactured by Park and is for removing Shimano sealed bottom brackets.
Above: A Hozan lock ring tool is an absolute Must Have Tool. A large and small tool is even better. Without a doubt you should have one. Your screw-drivers will thank you :)
The Park Tool spa 2 Spanner is a Must Have tool. This one has round pegs. I need to get another one with square pegs as well. Like the Lock Ring tool this tool is often used to break down old style three piece cranks. This one is made by Park Tool and has held up very well. Which is saying a lot. Because the life of a spanner is no walk in the Park.
Above: This is a Shimano/Sram cassette removal tool. This particular one is for a Shimano or Sram cassette. A Must Have tool for sure. I am not certain how many different cassette tools there are. But I imagine like Free wheel tools there are several.
Above: Do not be fooled by the small size. This little Park Tool CT5 Chain Tool is a little work horse. You can feel the the quality of the manufacturing the first time you use it. And by design it does not feel uncomfortable when using it. (unlike every other small chain tool I have ever owned) I have only owned it about 6 or 8 months, but I am sure it will last a long time due to the quality of the construction. This tool is designed for typical 3/32 multi speed chains. It may be possible to use this tool on a larger 1/8th chain but I would not recommended it.
Above: This Park Tool Screw Type Bicycle Chain Tool - CT-7 is also an excellent quality tool. And unlike the smaller one can also be used for the larger 1/8th chains. Due to it`s larger size it is more of a "in shop" tool. All the fixed gear bikes I have built-up or overhauled so far have all had 1/8th chains. And many 3 speeds and single speed bikes have the heavier 1/8th chains as well. So it will get plenty of use. This is also one of the newer tools around the shop. And like the CT-5 I expect it will be around for a long time. It has been my experience that cheap chain tools do not last. After destroying about 3 or 4 cheaper tools in relatively short time it was time to purchase a set of quality Park Tool chain tools.
Above: I purchased this set of T handle Allen wrench set at one of the better hardware stores in the area. Several companies make good quality T wrenches. Park and Pedro both offer quality T handle Allen wrench sets. Allen wrenches are one of those tools which I like to have access to every type. I have many typical L shaped Allen Wrenches. And the three way quick Allen wrench as well as the T Handle and the Ratchet driven set. There are times when it is helpful to have the type that works best for what you are doing. That certainly doesn't mean I think you should run out and buy all four types at once though.
Above: Park Tool Free wheel removal tools. Which ones should you buy? Well that depends on what you work on the most. I would suggest you purchase these as needed. I find the Park free wheel removal tools to be of excellent quality. If you get in a rare bike to restore or overhaul, one you won`t likely be seeing again anytime soon. You might just want to pay the 5 bucks and have your local bike shop remove the free wheel for you. This goes for single speed free wheels as well.
Above: Chain whips are used for removing and installing fixed gear cogs. Also used on free-wheels (tightening) and (removing) cassettes. How often you use these depends on what type of gears you are working with. But when you do need one they are certainly well worth having around. Since the design is so simple some people like to make their own. I don`t think this is a tool you need to spend a lot of money on. I have two reasonably priced Avenir chain whips. I think the best set up would be to have two 3/32 chain whips and one 1/8th chain whip. I am only one chain whip away from the perfect set-up. If you normally have your cogs and freewheels/cassettes removed and replaced at a shop you may not need these at all.
Above: A Park tool RR12 metric tape measure is an absolute must. I usually use mine to quickly size up a frame, especially if I am searching for a frame for myself. Or if someone calls looking for a particular size bike or frame. It seems silly to rate a tape measure, as they are all pretty much the same. But I will say I have had this Park Tool tape measure for quite awhile and it is holding up fine. You might even say it "measures up" to the competition.
Above: A The Classics 12-Inch Stainless Steel Ruler with Cork Backing is also a must for measuring parts and hub widths etc etc. This one has a cork underside side so it wont scratch the paint.
Above: A sliding measuring caliper is also a must. I like this one because it can measure both inside and out side diameters. This is a really cheap one and is not all that easy to read. "Some day I will purchase a caliper of a higher caliber". (Try saying that ten times really fast)
Above: A good pair of pliers with a side cutter. For a long time these were my only cable cutters. I actually bought these at an Ace Hardware and they turned out to be better than I expected. The handle covers will loosen up after a while. A little Permatex # 2 Hardening Gasket (in a tube) will fix it. Just squeeze some inside the grip and slide it back on and let dry. To many uses to list. That is why you will find a pair in almost every tool box.
Above: Needle-nose pliers also a must have tool. And also too many uses to bother listing. Nice for holding small parts while low speed brass wheel brushing. Also found in any well stocked toolbox.
Above: bull-nose puller nippers. These do come in handy. Example: Trying to cut-off a tight zip-tie without scratching the paint. I just slip this over the little box on the zip tie and cut it right off. You can also crimp cable tips with these. Also good for pulling out small foreign objects from rubber or wood. Maybe not a "must have" but at times a very handy tool to have around. And that's No Bull.
Above: Bicycle Alloy Set Tire Levers. Do you know why I do not have any plastic ones? Because eventually, They all broke. So unless you "never tire" of breaking plastic levers, you really should have a set of these.
Above: The Stanley "Quick Slide Sport" Utility knife. One end a razor knife the other a jack knife. For safety only one end can be opened at one time. Tool-less blade change, but no extra blade storage. But still the best damn work knife I have ever owned. These knives are still available for $18.65 The single blade version is 10.65 CAUTION! When cutting or stripping something with a knife Always cut away from yourself. Someone close to me cut them selves pretty severely about a week after I told them this. And no I did not say "I told you so" But I sure as hell was thinking it. Both of these knives are available in Hugh's Online Bike Shop. Path > bicycle shop tools > page 14
Above: A good tool for any toolbox. At least one pair of Locking Vice-Grips. These come in several sizes and shapes. I am sure there is at least one design that will suit your needs. A must have tool for sure.
Above: A good set of ratcheting wrenches. I have filled out my Metric and S.A.E. sets and these are still among my most prized tools. Mine are "Metric Gear Wrench" brand. Craftsman make a really nice set as well. A 100% Must Have tool set.
Above: The Topeak JoeBlow Sprint. This is a well designed floor pump with a plunger handle lock down feature, sturdy base and easy to read top mounted air gauge. A few other nice features are it's Presta and Schrader lock-on valve. It also has a lower hook and upper clip for keeping the hose out of the way when not in use. And the rotating yellow arrow indicator on the gauge that makes the gauge even easier to read. And it has good air capacity for quick tire inflations. A good floor pump is a "must have" tool and I highly recommend this one.
Above: Most people have no idea what this little tool is when I show it to them. This is a Schrader Valve tool. If you have a inner tube with a Schrader valve and it has a slow leak. You might want to check and see if the Schrader valve is loose. Even "with inflation" these are still very affordable. A "should have" tool for sure.
Above: Probably the most important tool any of us will ever own, our computers. Chances are pretty good if you need some help doing a repair or finding a part. There is someone out there who can help. Some of the best people I have ever met, are people I have never met.
This post could have gone on forever. But for now it will end. I will continue with power-tools, larger tools and "work and truing" stands in the near future. Until next time, RIDE SAFELY and Remember to Always....RESCUE, RESTORE & RECYCLE!....... Cheers
Above: 1963 My first bike. Photograph taken in front of my folks house in the old neighborhood 50 years ago. That old bike was in rough shape when I got it, but I loved it just the same.
Thanks again to those of you who have been using and checking out Hugh's Online Bike Shop. It is pretty well stocked now, with more to come in the future. If you would like to see it there is a link in the right column just below the Followers/Members. It doesn't cost anything to look, so please do. Cheers, Hugh


  1. Nice post!!! Not only do you have it all, you've got duplicates. And really nice comparison of the cutters. Do you have any preference for work stands, specifically the clamps? =)

    1. Hey John,
      As far as stands go I do like the Park stands PCS 9 or 10
      both good stands for the money. But I really like my newer "Feed Back Sports" stand. It was a little more expensive but well worth the added cost. It sets up and beaks down easier. It is a good one to bring along if you are going to be doing a repair on location. Easily fits into the back seat or trunk. The clamp(s) that looks most impressive to me are the ones on the bench mount and professional grade Park Tool stands. I may pick up a Park Tool bench mount stand one of these days. I can't really offer opinions on other brands as I have never used them.
      Cheers, Hugh

  2. My oh my Hugh, you were in rare form on that post, I lost count of all the puns! ;-) Great reviews lots of old friends on your list that I too couldn't live without and a few items like the ratcheting wrenches I would love to have, for now the Craftsman box end open end my Pops gave me still work fine. Liked your shot at the end of your bike and it make me realize that my first new quality bike was one I bought for myself at age 36 lol

    1. Thanks Ryan,
      ltms, Yeah the pun thing got a little out of hand : ) I`ll blame it on sleep deprivation.
      I thought it best to show some of the tools I have shown before. Just to show what is still getting the job done. I understand about the tools. I have a ton of Craftsman wrenches ,ratchets and sockets. All good quality stuff. However... I would recommend picking up a small set of Gear Wrenches or maybe even just one or two key sizes. I guarantee, once you try them you will be hooked. I would pick up a couple and send them to you to "try out" But I am so broke, I could n get lost if it cost a quarter to go around the world! :)
      That old bike of mine looked rough but it was in good working order. I think for my 10th or 11th birthday my folks got me a new blue Schwinn Sting-Ray. My dad wasn't the sort to invest a lot of money into a bike until he was sure I would actually use it . Funny..... He didn't seem all that smart at the time..... Cheers

  3. I am definitely in the market for a set of cable cutters. It is always surprising to see that Park tools can be flawed, considering their name recognition and general "best available" status.

    But I have come across other instances where Park might have been a little less better than the options. I have purchased a couple Sunlite brand tools at roughly half the price of their Park equivalent and had no problems so far. But then I certainly do a lot less wrenching than you or Ryan.

    I didn't notice any puns. I have trained myself to see only the higher qualities in my friends. I was just yesterday looking at a fifty year old picture of me and my first bike.

    In the words of a famous son of detroit:

    "I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then."

    Thanks for a great review post, Hugh! Looking forward to hearing about the new bike.


    1. Hey TJ
      I agree 100% the Sun lite crank remover is a great example of a wrench that is probably a better design in that you can reposition the handle for maximum torque. I pretty much destroyed mine removing a frozen crank. I had to hit it with a hammer to get the crank arm to break loose. I bent it (the Sun Lite) up a bit. But honestly I don`t think the Park would have fared any better. One of these days I will pick up another and review it again.
      I really do not enjoy reading a bunch of silly puns in a post.
      I have no idea what compelled me to do that.... ltms
      You have to be referring to Bob Seger (In the wind). I can remember in about 1973 Bob Seger was playing at a bar at Schoolcraft and Telegraph roads.(Uncle Sam's) I think a beautiful girl who worked at a club next store at that time may have been responsible for one of the lyrics in "down on main street." If I ever meet old Bob I`ll have to ask him about that.
      The weather has been "crap" here lately, so I have not been able to ride the 29er in a while. But it has given me time to work on the L.L. Bean bike. I am very happy with the direction the L.L. Bean project has taken lately. Just waiting for the saddle to arrive to finish it up.
      Good to hear you enjoyed the post :) As I do hold your opinion in high regard (seriously). I hope all is well in Fla.
      thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Hugh

  4. Hugh, I've enjoyed reading the blog for 1-2 years, and truly enjoyed your winter writings when my bicycling a gardening hobbies are paused. Nice reviews of tools, and those tips will give me great ideas to prioritize my next bike tool purchases! Many thanks for your inspiration! Patrick

    1. Thank You Pat, I appreciate that. I will be trying to develop some gardening skills myself come springtime. The well drillers really made a mess of our back yard. Winter arrived one day after they finished. So the mess never really got cleaned up properly. The "up side" is, the new well is fantastic! The water passed all the testing with flying colors and the pressure is fantastic.
      Cheers, Hugh

  5. Hugh, not sure if "monetization" is important to you, but if it is, you should probably put text links to Amazon in the body of your post in addition to your "bike shop" in the sidebar. That way, when someone's reading about (for example) your Pedro's cable cutter, they can just click on the phrase "Pedro's cable cutter" right in the post, which will bring them to Amazon, where they can buy the same cutter, and you make your cut. (Get it? "cut"? You aren't the only one who can make puns!) Good luck!

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