Tools. Wonderful Tools

Over the last few years, my tool collection has ballooned massively, so I thought I might make a quick post on tools, and which are important to have, and those that are helpful, but not a nessesity for the home mechanic.

Tools, that are important

  1. Allan Keys. These are probably the most important item you can have. Each time you work on the bike, you’ll be using an hex wrench. Generally, you’ll need 4,5 and 6mm for the majority of bike stuff. For cartridge brake pads, you’ll need a small 3mm too. Most sets of hex wrenches will have every size you’ll ever need.
  2. Cable cutters. Wire cutters and pliers just won’t do for bike cables, unless your just trying to mash the cable! Cable cutters will neatly cut the cables and housings. A metal file is also handy to square off the housing ends after cutting too.
  3. Chain tools. Chain cutter, chain wear tool,chain whip and cassette lock ring tool
  4. Bottom bracket tool, and crank removal tool.
  5. Torque wrench
  6. Pedal spanner
  7. Torx wrenches (a T25 is likly to be the only one)
  8. Screw drivers.
  9. Tire levers
  10. Floor pump
  11. Grease, paper towels
  12. Degreaser, GT85 and WD 40

Tools, nice to have

  1. Spirit level, long handy to have for saddle adjustments, and ensuring shifters are level..
  2. Tape measure
  3. Bearing press.
  4. Picks
  5. Grease gun
  6. Sockets
  7. Ratchet spanner
  8. Spring clip pliers
Bike Repair Stand

If you’re planning on doing even the most basic bike repair maintenance, don’t underestimate the importance of a quality repair stand. Yes, they can be a little expensive and yes, they take up a little room in the garage. That said, a quality stand will save you from a lifetime of turning your bike upside down and bending over to make repairs and adjustments.

Another learning curve.

So I had my bike up in the workstand cleaning the gunk after the very, very wet ride I had earlier. In the lower gears, the chain jumped off the lower jockey wheel, jamming between the jockey and cage.

Not being quite sure what was causing it I started to look into it. I initially didn’t think it could be Todo with the wet ride so I looked at the jockey, not worn, so cleaned it off and ensured it still spun freely. Put it back on and the same thing happened. Ok, perhaps the derailleur cage is bent. Nope, that was fine, so check the hangar, that’s perfectly straight.

Could it be the chain? Time to break out the chain cleaner. A good scrubbing of the chain, and bingo, no skipping off the jockey. So all I can think of is that some filth had worked into a chain link causing it to be skipping off the jockey.

Time to Change..

I went out the other day for a ride. Only the second ride for a good few months, and still had the dry lube on. I’d applied squirt lube, and this ride was very wet. I mean it wasn’t just a bit wet, it was properly chucking it down. I’d not had reason to think of the lube during the ride.

Gear shifts where remaining crisp and even, chain noise wasn’t an issue. I’d heard that Squirt was a good lube even in the damp, and this certainly was a wet ride.

Getting home, I dried off the bike, and did the ritual of spraying the derailers with GT-85, and running the chain through a rag to dry it off, the lube had gone a little runny with the rain, but it was still there doing its job.

Squirt really is a great lube and well worth the cost. It is however time to change back to the wet lube now the winter is here…

Rock ‘n’ Rolling

After cleaning off my drive chain, I’d decided to try a different dry lube.

Normally, my dry lube of choice is Squirt. An issue I had with squirt is one of muck,although the drive chain stays cleaner as a whole with dry lube, squirt tends to bunch up in areas with a thick mucky gloop. This often needs poking out from the chainring and jockey wheels. When dry Squirt leaves the chain slightly sticky. Rock N roll gold drys completly dry. No sticky feeling on the chain.

The proof however will be in the ride, which I’m planning a little later today. Will shifts be as crisp with this as they where with squirt? Will chain noise be evident? Only one way to find out!

Ongoing Back pain

The back pain saga continues. The last week, it’s been almost unbearable. When it starts I can barely get 2 miles before I have to stop and stretch it out.

I’ve played with saddle setback and height, neither seemed to help in any great way. So I’m going to try a change in stem length to see if I’m too cramped on the bike. I’ve ordered a set of 80,100 and 110mm stems to try. Hopefully, an extra 10mm will help.

Currently I’m running a 90mm stem. So maybe that extra reach might put my back in a better line. I do also need to lose some weight, and improve my core.

There was a time where my right leg would get tired quicker than my left, so maybe I’ve started to compensate with out realising for a leg length issue. When I was in speedplay cleats, I had to install a wedge in the shoe to avoid foot pain. So I guess there maybe more issues to work out than just stem length.

But let’s wait and see how a different stem feels and go from there.

Pedals make the man

For a long time I’ve been an avid speed play user,but my love affair with then has slowly wained. There are a few reasons for this.

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First off, maintenance. Speed play pedals are quite maintenance heavy in keeping the cleats clean and lubricated, to lubricate the pedal bodies with grease. This isn’t a major issue, but one that started to bug me as I started to lose interest. Interestingly, the maintenance issue showed the wear on the pedal bodies with grease leaking out from wear points.

I also found myself having to constantly clean out the cleats, as they would very easily clog up.

Now we move on to one of the biggest issues, cost. A pair of speed play cleats is just shy of £50, for the walk able cleats. That’s a lot of cash. While the cleats do last a long time, it’s still a outlay I have to cut back on. With the Yellow Shimano cleats costing around £12, less if you shop about its a cost winner.

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So, out came the pedal wrench, and off come the speed plays. I had a pair of unused R550’s kicking around in the parts bin so put them on. I had previously tried a pair of look keo’s and absolutely hated them, they where, in part, my reason to move into speedplay so my thoughts on going back to SL pedals where grim.

However, the first ride with the R550’s where an absolute revelation. They where comfortable, I was clipping in reasonably easily. In fact, I’d say I was finding them more comfortable than the speedplay. Maybe due to the wider platform, which to me was immediately noticeable. I’d used an older pair of shoes with out any inserts or special foot-beds, and I’d not thought about my feet for a short 10 mile ride. Clipping in was easier, maybe as I had got used to the action of finding the pedal on the opposite down stroke, or the fact the pedal is larger than the Look Keo. Unclipping took more force than the speedplay, possibly due to newer mechanisms. I had put on the cleats, on a reasonably neutral position, and it was comfortable without any tweaks, I felt like I wanted to slightly rotate the cleat, but the position was fine as was. This was in stark contrast to the Look Keo cleats, which made my knees ache. Perhaps it was due to having more knowledge of cleat position than when I had the Keos, but that has always stuck in my mind and has forever ruled out the Keos again.

So, apart from hill starts which I still find quite difficult, I actually enjoyed using the new pedals, and in all honesty will strongly consider them to replace the speedplay.