Now comes the point in the discussion where I really start to stray from the stuff you would normally find in a bike shop — and get to some of the tools I use all the time that the average person might not have lying around. I’m not photographing my whole toolbox. If you’ve read this much you probably know what a screwdriver looks like.
Figure 1 – Metric Hex Socket set with drive wrench and extenders – If you’ve ever tried to take out an extra-long hex bolt and kept knocking the edge of your wrench against the frame you should already be able to realize the benefits of this. My chief reason for buying is to use with Figure 2, but I grab them for just about everything now. They’re more convenient than standard allen wrenches and a far sight more useful than those silly t-handled wrenches that come in the pro bike kits.
Figure 2 – Torque wrenches – decided to spring for these once I got sick of worrying if stuff was under or over tightened, and got really sick of destroying bolts because I didn’t know my own strength.
- Park TW-1 – for tightening small parts. Something I picked up from Zinn’s Cycling primer is to equalize the torque when tightening parts with multiple bolts. The 4 bolt stem on my Trucker used to come loose all the time. I torqued the bolts to the same spec and haven’t touched it again in 3 years.
- Craftsman Torque Wrench – for tightening large parts. I used to wreck crank arms by not tightening them enough and having the interface get all jacked up when the arm worked its way loose. Haven’t had that problem for a few years either.
Figure 3 – Vernier Calipers – FANTASTIC tool to have around the house — answers such common questions as:
- What size seatpost should I purchase as a replacement for that old frame?
- Is that chain stretched too far between the links and should I replace? (Sheldon Brown has the measurements)
- Are those double-butted spokes, or did they sell me the wrong thing at the shop?
- What size drill should I use with this fastener when fabbing a mount for my new rack?
- How wide are those tires inflated?
- How wide of a tire can I REALLY fit in that frame?
- What size is that bottom bracket shell I need a replacement bb for?
You get the idea. The really good copies cost a small fortune, but you can pick a relatively accurate one up for just a few bucks.
Figure 4 – Calipers – spring loaded and regular. I’m fortunate to have had both a dad and grand-dad-in-law who worked in machining. These are great for measuring in all those areas like inner diameters of tubes or any place you can’t reach.