Tech Talks: Tricks of a Mechanical Mind, Presented by Park Tool – Video

Dec 28, 2017
by Pinkbike Staff  
Tech Talks Presented by Park Tool


Tech Talks Presented by Park Tool is a monthly video series hosted by Park Tool's own wrench whisperer, Calvin Jones. The series covers the A to Zs of some of the most prevalent repair jobs, with the eighteenth episode demonstrating some clever ways to use tools for jobs they're not really intended for.

Ever use a truing stand to hold a pedal while you work on it? An air compressor to shoot off a stubborn grip? The handle of a cone wrench to push brake pistons back into the caliper? Long-time mechanics have plenty of tricks up their sleeve to make jobs easier, and here are some great examples of out-of-the-box thinking.


Tricks of a Mechanical Mind

Views: 12,722    Faves: 43    Comments: 0



Need more Calvin in your life?

Episode #1 - Tubeless tire installation and conversion
Episode #2 - Saving that bent disc rotor
Episode #3 - Derailleur hanger alignment
Episode #4 - Shimano and Crankbrothers pedal service
Episode #5 - Trailside wheel repair
Episode #6 - Trailside chain repair
Episode #7 - Derailleur limits and cable tension
Episode #8 - Derailleur setup
Episode #9 - Fork wiper seal replacement
Episode #10 - Clipless pedal setup
Episode #11 - New cleat setup
Episode #12 - Top 5 next level shifting issues
Episode #13 - Fixing cassette play
Episode #14 - Gearing hacks
Episode #15 - Fixing sticky pistons
Episode #16 - Lubing fork seals
Episode #17 - A cleat's story


Stay tuned for more mechanical how-to videos with Calvin returning on the last Thursday of every month to show you the easiest way to get the job done. Want to know more? Park Tool's how-to section has you and your bike covered.

www.parktool.com / @ParkToolCompany

Must Read This Week

131 Comments

  • + 155
 Every tool is a hammer, except screwdrivers, which are chisels.
  • + 6
 Choose your hammer wisely.
  • + 83
 Three rules in engineering
1) use the correct tool for the job
2) a hammer is the correct tool for the job
3) anything can be used as a hammer
  • + 10
 It's dangerous to go alone. Take this hammer.
  • + 4
 They're also punches and prybars
  • + 4
 @mattvanders: you missed duct tape and wd40 on your list
  • + 2
 @mattvanders: *three rules of being a mechanic.
  • + 1
 Screwdrivers aren't just chisels, they are pry bars too.....
  • + 2
 Stop! Hammer time..
  • + 12
 @adrennan: If you're sufficiently skilled with (whatever serves as) a hammer, you won't need wd40. Unless of course you use the wd40 can as a hammer.
  • + 2
 @vinay: i suppose if you are strong enough you can forge weld with just a hammer rendering the duct tape also useless.
  • + 2
 If you are Jeremy Clarkson the hammer is the only tool
  • + 1
 Ok, Primitive Pete !
  • + 1
 @PullMyBrakeLever: That's what she said
  • + 64
 A fleshlight and some dish soap to clean those worn out grips
  • + 15
 New grip and some dish soap does wonders for a worn out flashlight.
  • - 3
 A fleshlight and dish soap makes for a fun time, says the misus!
  • + 25
 Im just happy to see that no beer was harmed during the making of this video
  • + 11
 I noticed they were using a hacksaw to cut a carbon steerer tube which is all good, but if the steerer tube is aluminum a standard copper pipe cutter works great. Same for alum handle bars, no need to file either. Any shop still using a hacksaw to cut alum tubing is wasting time. Park doesn't make a special blue pipe cutter but they should, and if they are still recommending and teaching techs to cut alum tubes with their expensive guide and saw then thats kinda disingenuous.
  • + 7
 +1
Tube Cutter much much better than a saw.
  • + 59
 A saw is the correct tool for the job with aluminium steerers and bars. I’ve used both over decades of working on bikes. Both will do the job ok but if you want to do it properly a guide, a good hacksaw and a file can’t be beat. No swelling at the cut, no tool marks from the pipe cutter and I actually find it quicker AND takes less energy pushing a saw than spinning a pipe cutter.
I use old grips lock ons and an old stem as guides. Good hacksaws aren’t expensive, nor are files and it takes less than a minute to produce a good clean finish.
  • + 19
 +1 on this.. exactly my experience

The "swelling at the cut" from a tubing cutter that Thom describes is a pretty much unavoidable byproduct of the wedged shaped blade and a pain to get rid of.
  • + 4
 @ka81: Maybe if you don't have a guide, the tube cutter for steel will have a thicker blade than the ones for copper and will leave a lump, the ones for copper with the thin blade won't last long on 6061 aluminum they will chip, then you will have to finish with a hacksaw and have to buy a new cutter for $10.

Ask me how I know this.
  • + 4
 #hacksaw4lifebro
  • + 4
 @MrDiamondDave: Jim Duggan Lves!
  • + 6
 Tube cutters are for hacks.use a proper saw guide and a file.
  • + 2
 This is one of those one-time jobs I leave to my lbs to do. I don't have the tools to install or remove the lower crown race anyway so I could just as well have the lbs cut the steerer too. Surprised by the poll recently, I do think all mountainbikers should be able to build and true their own wheels. Now that is a regular job that could save you trouble in the long run.
  • + 2
 Tubing cutters are great. Straight cuts with proper use.
  • + 1
 @rideonjon: Hacks = those smart enough to find a better way... Screw innovation I'm a happy caveman type, js...
  • + 3
 @vinay: I use a section of PVC pipe and my trusty rubber mallet to mount the crown race. Perfect and the PVC pipe was free from the construction site across my street
  • + 3
 I broke the blade on my tube cutter quite easily so back to hack saw and file. Also, can't believe I've only just discovered Gorilla tape for tubeless set up. Way cheaper and easier to use.
  • + 1
 Just preferences. For straight cuts at a perfect right angle to the steerer tube, the pipe cutter is much easier to use. Cause if you need to use a file with your hacksaw, you might as well file away the swelling of the cut when using a pipe cutter. So what. If you like the hacksaw better, cool
  • + 0
 Plasma cutter, but you can’t use it for a hammer.
  • + 6
 @tremeer023: until you need to replace a spoke or nipple. The glue from the gorilla tape sticks to the rim. Makes for a tough mess to clean up and could make your next set up tougher.
  • + 3
 Angle grinder ftw
  • + 1
 @pigman65: with a cutoff wheel?
  • - 6
flag DDoc (Dec 28, 2017 at 17:23) (Below Threshold)
 @ThomDawson: there is no swelling. that is bs, show me a picture.
ok a home depot cutter might not work for everyday use. but for home use its a no brainer, any handy man worth his salt already has the tool.
  • + 1
 @vinay: most of the time you don't need the expensive tool for a lower crown race either. newer forks have a little indent in the back that lets you insert a thin screw driver or chisel and twist/pry it off easy. some new crown races are split in the back and come off by hand. installing a fork is way easier than truing a wheel that is out of round. i do everything on my bike but that. if my wheel is that messed up i take it to my LBS.
  • + 1
 I was surprised my canyon came with a poorly hacksawed steerer, was rough and a bit crooked, would a tube cutter have worked?
  • + 0
 @ColquhounerHooner: haha thank you. of course a quality pipe cutter from any plumbing department will work. just don't try to cut the whole thing off in one rotation like Mr Swelling.
  • + 6
 @DDoc: if you haven’t seen it I have to question how often you’ve used a pipe cutter on thick aluminium tubes commonly found on bike parts. I could get you a pic of various old seat posts and still have one fork with this issue, seen it on countless bars cut by myself and others. I could also show you pics of the flawlessly clean cut on the steerer on my bike right now for which I used a saw and guide. But I CBA. If you know better that’s fine by me on this one. Like I said, both will work. Since you mention it I am a handy man, it’s my general occupation. I use pipe cutters all the time; just not when a hacksaw and a guide works better. I once thought pipe cutters were good for bikes too but I’ve never seen a cut made by a pipe cutter leave as clean a finish as a hack saw and a quick file.
PS I am not one of those guys who must pedantically do everything by the book and my initial comment wasn’t meant as an insult. It just so happens in this case I’ve tried a lot of methods for cutting bike tubes and wanted to point out my findings.
  • + 6
 @DDoc:
Tubing cutters don’t remove material like a saw or cutting wheel, they displace it. The thinner the blade and the less wall thickness, the less Material is displaced.. but it’s still happening.

My experience hasn’t been good but I agree that they are a convenient way to get a straight cut, so have at it if it works for you!
  • + 2
 WAyyyy cheaper @tremeer023:
  • + 2
 Every had a pipe cutter start to walk - ugh. that is ugly stuff. just running a cork screw around the tube. Hacksaw and guide is what I learned when I was a pro...
  • + 2
 @GaryC: Use a heat gun to remove tape and any adhesive. Low to medium heat and will peel off with no residue.
  • + 1
 @ThomDawson: Miter saw with a non-ferrous metal cutting blade and a shaviv deburr tool works great too. Shorter the back fence on the saw the better and you can easily set up blocks to space out for tapered steerer tubes.
  • + 1
 @yeti951SD: OR you could just use a steerer tube guide and a hack saw.
  • + 2
 Bring it here you cowards. I'll bite that damn steerer off.
  • + 2
 @DDoc: you’re saying you’ve never seen the inside of anyone’s stem all gouged up from the bell end left from a pipe cutter?
Sure you can file it off but most people don’t.
Pipe cutter is for plumbing. Bikes deserve better.
  • + 10
 The rubber coated cone spanners are also great for levering QR levers away from road bike forks when the lever is closed right against the fork leg.
  • + 4
 The rubber coated end of a Park cone spanner works great to remove the funky axle bolt on shimano XT cranks if you don't have the special tool.
  • + 1
 The rubber coated cone spanner end is also great to beat out dents in aluminium hydroformed
  • + 11
 If it jams, hit it with a hammer and if it breaks it needed replacing anyway
  • - 1
 Every shady mechanics reason after broken your bike.
  • + 9
 I like how they showed how to do the pad spanner's job with a generic tool while also showing what the pad spanner is actually good at (nothing)
  • + 7
 There are mechanics here fighting the urge to weigh in on every single comment. Stay strong.
  • + 6
 Use gipsy swing as a soundtrack for anything, and the viewer will think that anything in the video is piece of cake!
  • + 6
 If you don't have a 10mm to tighten a crank arm, out on the trail, use two 5's.
  • + 3
 An adjustable clamp with soft jaws for press fit bb and headset, add whichever appropriate socket for bearings. A pvc sink drain fits a headset race onto a fork. An old steel handlebar to remove a bb or headset is also a cheater for frozen cranks and pedals. Take a spoke, bend the head into a handle trim to size and file the end to a dull point. Use this for preparing cable housing and such. There is a grungy chopstick and a dental pick that live on the top lip of my toolbox alongside pipe cleaners, dish soap and Qtips. Long Live Park Tool
  • + 3
 A mechanical mind. I truly believe in a growth, and not a fixed, mindset. However, there is a part of me that will say that I simply do not have a "mechanical mind," and watching this video pretty much confirms it. However, I do think with more time spent working on stuff, failing at working on stuff, breaking things, and then seeing it fixed by a professional in the correct way, I can get better. That being said, Calvin just blew my damn mind with some of those methods.
  • + 3
 A mechanical mind is not fixed in anyway. It envisions systems in 3 dimensions and can quickly add/subtract and rearrange components to find a optimum solution. When i design something it has to work in my head first.
Visualization is the key. Imagination is the magic.
  • + 3
 Spokes are handy. File the end sharp and use it as a pick, perfect for opening up freshly cut cable housing. You can make a couple of bends in one for a chain de-tensioner, etc.
  • + 32
 Or just insert a piece of old inner cable into the new outer before you cut it.
  • + 3
 @vinay: That's BRILLIANT! +1
  • + 1
 Co-worker took an old broken titanium skewer and ground it into a pokey tool. Works the best IMO. Spokey pokes are all right but they tend to get lost easily.
  • + 1
 @vinay: That's clever, will try thanks.
  • + 2
 @EndlessWheelie: Thanks, apparently I should have shared this earlier Wink . My inspiration came from the advice I once got when cutting a threaded rod. First screw a nut on, then cut it (and deburr if needed). Then unscrew the nut again and voilà, the end of the thread is good again. Of course that is not related to mountainbikes (though I have used it to mount a rack to a "regular" bike) but it was good inspiration.
  • + 1
 @vinay: Similarly, slip some old outer housing over inner cables before cutting to length. Cuts down on fraying.
  • + 1
 @pmhobson: Good, that should work. I've got a good cable cutter so I don't have any issues with fraying.
  • + 4
 Been building/wrenching my own for a long time, I love these articles for the little " I should have thought of that, it's so much easier" things
  • + 2
 Always wanted a proper shop inflator but $125 is a lot. I can buy a compressor and a air gun kit for that.
The air gun kit comes with a needle adapter thats great for removing and installing grips.
Slip the needle under the inside of a grip and blast it off or adjust it carefully into position.
  • + 2
 Soon the company will have a robot that fixes bikes for you, and they say think out of the box... heh funny Razz A good mechanic can work out without all those expensive stuff. But still some are essential tho.
  • + 4
 The PW-4 pedal wrench is the perfect size and weight to bludgeon a dog or small person!
  • + 16
 Thanks! I've been doing all my bludgeoning with a TL-1.2. Takes forever that way.
  • - 3
 And the above-mentioned plasma cutter is the perfect tool to use on the piece of shit that bludgeons a dog with anything
  • + 5
 @YoKev: Calm down chucklehead, it's a joke.
  • + 1
 Wash brake pads and rotors by hand with cascade and rinse thoroughly. Then go over handlebars ‘cause you did believe how good it works.
  • + 2
 Is he spilling any beer? I don't think I could bear to watch something like this again.
  • + 0
 Now that I'm older I can really relate to those, "The More You Know" signage. Also, "oh yes thank you, yes, yes, THAT'S PLENTY! no no no, thank yooouuuuu!"............I remember in my teens I had a realization moment I thought I knew everything, then I blacked out because I couldn't handle it, and we'll leave it at that.
  • + 1
 @Konyp I'm not watching until someone confirms that no beer was harmed in the process of making this video. I'm an ethical person and wouldn't stand such cruelty.
  • + 1
 I could have done all that with my trusty vise grips. (except the floaty toy bits)
  • + 1
 Funny how the same conversation is repeated multiple times in these comments, like each time is the first.
  • + 3
 can't watch this
  • + 2
 Why would you fix a $0.99 toy with a $6 patch? Just buy a new toy!
  • - 2
 How about we design a new took for cutting steerers? I'm picturing a tool that braces on the tube that is hooked by a bearing to a lever type cutter like a pipe cutter, but with teeth instead of a circular blade. The teeth can be on a small chain you tighten as you go with a knob until it chews through the tube.
  • - 1
 A standard rotary pipe cutter does the job perfectly for aluminum tubing, try it on an old handle bar or fork steerer tube and you will see. The proper tool is already in every hardware store in the world.
  • + 3
 Sounds like an expensive way to do what a saw guide and saw does perfectly.
  • + 1
 @mnorris122: expensive? A combo of a pipe cutter and 4" of chainsaw blade shouldn't cost much. Plus you have to figure in the hacksaw which you wouldn't need anymore, unless there is some other part of your bike you saw on.
I hate sawing though. I've done it a few dozen times and it isn't terrible, just messy. I want a better way.
  • + 2
 Tools at Harbor Freight, save your money for expensive bike parts!
  • + 1
 I have tools from the usual suspects, Park, Proto, Snap-On, etc and also some bits and pieces from Harbor Freight. No issues with them at all, from my backup torque wrench to the sockets and torx bits. They work fine with moderately heavy usage.
  • + 1
 @EndlessWheelie: Yeesh....who the hell can afford snap-on
  • + 2
 @mnorris122: people who take their bike tot he shop to get fixed
  • + 3
 @mnorris122: I hear ya. I can't afford them personally, but my dad was a pro mechanic and I use many of his tools since he passed. Almost all of his tools are engraved with either his name or some kind of floral design so I can't help but think of him when using them.
  • + 2
 Use a box cutter to trim zip ties flush.
  • + 11
 nail clippers work even better.
  • + 1
 One of these works best: www.amazon.com/Panduit-GS2B-Controlled-Tension-Cut-Off/dp/B001EU2558

Cuts the ends completely flush and, tensions the ties before cutting. I've been using mine for over 30 years.

Here's one that's a little (lot) less money: www.amazon.com/Eastwood-Professional-Cable-Wire-Tie/dp/B006ISG5M0 - Can't vouch for it lasting 30+ years, though. ;-)
  • + 2
 Or grab the tail end of the zip tie with pliers as flush as you can. Do a couple of twists and yank. Works great
  • + 1
 @Zhehan: Been using my zip tie gun going on 10 years now. One of my favorite tools i have.
  • + 1
 @Zhehan: those cutters work well but you have to watch that the tension isn’t too high when using on shift cable housing. It can actually compress the housing around the cable and cause friction (poor shifting).
  • + 2
 I like the 'spot welding' of the electrical tape.
  • - 1
 unnecessary. electrical tape is mostly butyl rubber which will weld to itself when stretched and wrapped tightly.
  • + 1
 @DDoc:

I don't think it is necessary.

I just think the 'spot welding' is an idea I could use with other things.
  • + 3
 Any tool = bottle opener
  • + 1
 you can open a bottle with a bill
  • + 1
 Use smartphone camera with light turned on to see into deep and dark gaps or around the corner.
  • + 1
 Your a dreamer brightside. It'll never work
  • + 2
 Calvin's sporting some mean sneans there.
  • + 1
 This is your brain on bikes
  • + 1
 Unbelievable they pay you for this. Where can I apply?
  • + 1
 More of these tips, yes, please. Great stuff, thank you.
  • + 1
 1:33 Firing off the grip at 40 MPH was dope.
  • + 1
 Leatherman and a nylon faced hammer gets the job done tout suite
  • + 2
 Tout suite?
  • + 3
 @fracasnoxteam: tout de suite?
tout suite has become an english idiom.
  • + 6
 @blueninja: As in "I don't care for marzipan, it's just tout suite"?

I don't know. I'm just guessing.
  • + 1
 the most bookmarked article on PB!
  • + 1
 A can of keyboard cleaner on race days acts as a “portable air gun”.
  • + 1
 The HCW-11 adjustable cup wrench to open beers!
  • + 1
 Genius.
  • + 0
 I use a power grinder to trim aluminum bars
  • + 0
 My Park Tool HMR-4 21oz Shop Hammer doubles as a murder weapon.
  • + 1
 Careful, OJ might be reading this.
  • + 2
 I like the pedal wrench for that.
  • + 0
 use sharpie to completely eradicate frame scratches

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