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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Pinkbike Editors' Favorite Shop Tools

Aug 30, 2023
by Mike Kazimer  
Pinkbike's tech editors spend countless hours out on the trail testing bikes each year, which means that almost as much time is spent in the shop / garage / basement preparing, adjusting, and fixing those bikes. Many of us have also spent time as professional mechanics, the glamorous profession where you can gain the skills necessary for brake bleeds and suspension rebuilds along with learning how to straighten out a bent steel rim with a hammer, how to install a kickstand, and how to remove the disgusting film of sweat and energy gel that coats the top tube of almost every triathlon bike.

Needless to say, we all have a tool or two that's become our favorite over the years. For some, it's a high-end, precision instrument, while for others it's a crude yet efficient item that gets the job done.



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I've had this set of Wera L-Keys for about 7 years now, and they've probably been used almost every day over that span. Any inscription on them has long worn off, but luckily the colors are so ingrained in my mind there's never a hesitation as to which one to grab. The ball end is critical, and these have a clever little retention element that holds the bolt you're working with on the end of the key, so you can free up your other hand. The short side has "hex-plus" technology, which just means they're better at not stripping out poor tolerance bolts.
Dario DiGiulio

Position: Tech Editor & Safety Squinter
Favorite tool: Wera L-Keys
Honorable mention: Coast G20 Inspection Beam

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Clicky stick.
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Excellent for peering into all the nooks and crannies.

Honorable mention goes to the gift of sight. In this case, that sight is enhanced/provided by this Coast inspection beam, which is basically a flashlight with no focal adjustment and a very small flat circular beam. It's a great help when fishing cables through frames, setting up brakes, and when hunting for that goddamn tiny bolt that fell on the ground. I picked this up fairly recently, and it's quickly become a key piece in my dark and wonderful garage shop.

Second honorable of course goes to Knipex pliers, but as you'll see in Henry's bit below, that's far from a brave opinion.



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Firstly, before I start, I want to say that the Knipex pliers are to bike mechanics what soya-pumpkin-spiced lattes are to Taylor Swift fans as they take awful Instagram photos in Starbucks, unburdened by their parent's restrictive data plan for the first time and really able to upload the dullery in a staggering-high-definition-tedium-infused-shitbox-sideshow. We get it, you can crimp cables. It's not a lightsaber.
Henry Quinney

Position: Tech Editor & Kettle Supervisor
Favorite tool: Bodged hose clamp
Honorable mention: Tiny tape measure

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The Shimano bleed blocks, just simply bonded into place
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I love cable routing - there, I said it.

I've fallen foul of this myself, undoubtedly. But I'm a silly boy with lots of growing up to do. Instead, I present to you something shonkier, worse looking and far less useful - the HQ-high-tech hose clamps. The result of bonded premium plastic and 20 minutes with a hacksaw, hammer, and chisel.

These clamps, always at the right size to clamp the hose, make aligning and straightening hoses an absolute breeze and can help you get cleaner and less cluttered cables, all while avoiding frames or headtubes with just the lightest of twists. In fact, until SRAM brought out their haywire line of brakes, they could make any front end look sharp and tidy. But alas, there are limits to this tool's power.



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If you aren’t using a headset with the ingenious split crown race, or a fork that features an integrated one, like Ohlins' first generation 36 RXF used (that comes with its own set of problems, but I applaud them for simplifying the installation process), then you’ll need a set of unique tools to install and remove that crucial little part.

Seasoned (or even partially seasoned) mountain bike home mechanics certainly know how to wield a hammer and flat-bladed screwdriver, but there’s a certain satisfaction that comes along with using the correct tool for the job. Park Tool's Adjustable Crown Race Puller (CRP2) is one of those seldom-used pieces of equipment that does what it says on the tin.

Matt Beer

Position: Tech Editor & Dishwasher Loading Expert
Favorite tool: Park Tools CRP 2 - Park Tools Crown Race Puller
Honorable mention: RockShox Reverb double ended-barb
Once the three blades are positioned between, and around, crown and race, the handle at the top of the main tube pushes on the fork’s steer tube to pull the whole apparatus up. The satisfying process relieves the race of its press fit on the lower portion of the steer tube without any bloodshed or unsightly marks on your fork.

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Park has included gradients and torque settings too.
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Ok, it's not going to fit in your weekend tool box, but for the home mechanic, this can be a lifesaver.

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Honorable mention: the RockShox Reverb double ended-barb. The small but mighty widget attaches new cable housing or hydraulic lines, as it was originally intended for, to the existing one already routed through your frame - no need for fishing inside your frame with flashlights and dental picks.



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Apparently it's not cool to like Knipex pliers anymore. Good thing I stopped worrying about being cool years ago, so I can still include them as one of my favorite tools. Plus, they're definitely more useful than Henry's vice grip and super glue abomination....

Yes, Knipex pliers are super handy for crimping cable ends, but that's becoming a little less common now that more and more bikes are showing up with battery-powered-everything. These days I'm most likely to use them to open up the top cap of a fork to add or remove a volume spacer when I don't feel like digging for the right size socket, or to loosen a compression nut when swapping brake lines.

Mike Kazimer

Position: Managing Tech Editor, Nap Enthusiast
Favorite tool: Knipex pliers
Honorable mention: Schwalbe / Unior tread cutter
They can also be used to straighten out a bent rim or rotor, push in DU bushings on a shock, unscrew the bottom of a dropper post to service it - the list goes on. I'm a fan of the 180mm version, since they're large enough for most bike-related tasks, and small enough to toss into a basic roadtrip tool kit.

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Unior's tread cutter also works great as a way to quickly trim zip ties.

Honorable mention goes to these Schwalbe-branded tire tread cutters that are manufactured by Unior. They do work to cut down mud spikes or do other tire modifications – there's even a depth gauge to make sure every cut is the same height – but I've only done that a couple of times. Instead, I use them as a zip-tie trimmer. Living in the Pacific Northwest means that a fender gets installed on every test bike, and this tool is the fastest way that I've found to flush cut the ends of zip ties. Overkill? Most likely, since nail clippers can be used to achieve the same result, but I like the heft of the tread cutter and the shape feels better in my hand.



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I feel a bit silly throwing this in alongside the list of beautifully built tools on this list, but my hastily improvised wall stand has proved surprisingly useful. I threw it together soon after moving into my new workshop/bike store with some bits of scrap timber I had lying around. The idea is to keep the bike secure and upright to make it easier to work on things like setting brake lever angle, handlebar roll or measuring frame geometry - tasks that require the bike to be level, so a conventional workstand won't do.
Seb Stott

Position: Tech Editor, Food Waste Disposal Unit
Favorite tool: Bodged bike stand
Honorable mention: Cheap plastic calipers

You can buy wall-mounted wheel holders for around £15, but they don't hold the bike securely enough for this purpose. This design holds the bike perfectly upright because the vertical two-by-fours are just the right width apart (63 mm) to hold 2.4-2.5" tires tightly; plus, they extend a full 110 mm away from the wall so the wheel is held over a large vertical distance, not just at one point level with the hub. This means the bike doesn't flop to one side while I'm working on it.

It's literally two parallel big bits of wood screwed onto two small bits of wood, which are screwed into a stud behind the wall. Yet it's proven very handy not just for setting up and measuring bikes, but also as a place to put a bike while I make space for it elsewhere, or even for holding the bike steady while I mount or unmount my two-year-old from her Shotgun seat.

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Honorable mention: a set of plastic calipers is the only accurate way to measure sag without worrying about scratching the stanchion. They also cost very little, even after replacing the broken battery cover with electrical tape.



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I think this is what he does.

Brian is taking some well-deserved time off this week, so I (Henry) thought I'd fill in for him. Brian loves printing things. I don't know why, nobody does, but it's best not to ask questions. To do Brian justice, I'm now going to write as if I were him.

Brian Park

Position: Big boss and 3D Printing Authority
Favorite tool: This thing, presumably
Honorable mention: HP Inkjet

Boy oh boy, there are few such sweet remedies to the aching pain of managing a bunch of children both at home and at work than printing out Star Wars figurines and bottle holders. The unbridled joy of getting absolutely razzed on Tim Horton's coffee at 6 PM before listening to my favorite Brian Adams CD and cracking on with an 8-hour shift long into the early hours is hard to beat.

I'm an artist, and these glorified choking hazards are my art. Leonardo had the Mona Lisa, I have this nifty inline One Up pump holder.




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170 Comments
  • 216 1
 If you skipped over Brian's section to go to the comments, do yourself a favor and scroll back up.
  • 14 0
 You're quite right
  • 11 0
 Thank you.
  • 46 0
 @brianpark: From one uncool Dad to another: make a oneup pump holder that integrates a tiny pair of reading glasses so we can see what the hell we're trying to fix. There's a market. I promise.
  • 22 0
 @dancingwithmyself: best I can do is something that replaces your tools, so you don’t even have the option of trailside fixes.
  • 5 0
 @dancingwithmyself: Got a pair of CVS cheap readers in my SWAT. Critical kit.
  • 1 0
 @dancingwithmyself: I got some on Amazon that fold up in a little hardcase and work pretty well for being carried in pockets or packs.
  • 1 0
 does Brian live in Whistler? Cuz the cost of his 3D printed creations screams... I need to afford rent in there Big Grin
  • 1 0
 I could hear Henry’s voice as I read that last paragraph. “Glorified choking hazards” LOL
  • 65 3
 "Firstly, before I start, I want to say that the Knipex pliers are to bike mechanics what soya-pumpkin-spiced lattes are to Taylor Swift fans as they take awful Instagram photos in Starbucks, unburdened by their parent's restrictive data plan for the first time and really able to upload the dullery in a staggering-high-definition-tedium-infused-shitbox-sideshow. We get it, you can crimp cables. It's not a lightsaber."


WOW.

just wow...
  • 31 1
 Agreed. That is some fine-ass prose.
  • 28 3
 Henry is a goddamn poet
  • 9 0
 Funnily enough in the years that I've used Knipex Pliers nearly every day, I've never once crimped a cable with one!
  • 1 0
 I guess we know Henry's writing process now
  • 1 1
 Can someone who is a fan of the knipex pliers wrench please come up with a list or thread with its uses. Ive got a pair to look pretty in my shadowfoam toolbox but dont use them for much apart from crimping cable end caps. Id like to use them more but dont find myself needing too all that often. Cheers in advance.
  • 5 0
 @Lewisscott1524: I use them all over the bike especially if I can't be bothered finding a specific tool. Some things that come to mind include, truing break rotors, screwing a spoke nipple, screwing in a valve core, screwing that round ring at the base of the valve stem nice and tight, removing suspension top caps when working in a fork, tensioning up cable ties and straightening a ding in a rim are some things that come to mind.
  • 6 0
 @Lewisscott1524: They can replace your whole set of spanners AND pair of pliers, as well as your adjustable wrench. Plus the design of the grip means the tighter you hold the handle, the better the jaws grip. So much better than 'normal' adjustable wrenches, which can and do lose a vital mm or two of jaw grip in an instant, when you shift them slightly
  • 3 0
 I find them most useful when I'm figuring out a weird problem and then suddenly think 'the Knipex Pliers will work!'.
In normal use, combined with a P&K Lie spoke wrench, they are good for holding a spoke to stop it from twisting when dealing with seized nipples (or building a wheel with straight pull spokes. I've heard people say that they mark spokes when doing this, but mine never have).
They can be good for pressing in bearings in awkward locations.
Yesterday I opened up an AXS Reverb top collar to grease it. Better than an adjustable wrench and no need to go and purchase the correct sized wrench.
The day before I used mine at home to remove the plastic shelf studs in my bedroom closet!
I think Henry is just a tool hipster who tries to true wheels with clothes pegs Big Grin
  • 3 0
 @Lewisscott1524: I have some but I don't find them incredibly useful on a MTB....slightly more so on a moto. Good for suspension caps and the like and the odd repair like a bent rotor or rim, but outside of that, I reach for the proper tool.
  • 6 0
 @Lewisscott1524: Kazimer had a few which I will repeat and add my own, some don't apply to modern bikes.

- Unscrewing actuator on dropper post
- Undoing fork top caps
- Adjusting hubs with wrench flats
- Adjusting threaded headsets
- Holding the yellow blocks on Henry's tool to hold hydraulic hoses including while cutting them with a utility knife
- Pressing eyelet bushings in
- Pressing bearings in (sometimes)
- Holding bladed spokes while truing
- As a nipple wrench (small ones ideally)
- Small ones work for holding old school road calipers straight while tightening fixing bolts
- Value core tool
- alternative to crowfoot wrench for damper work
- Rotor truing
- bent cassette tooth fixing (rare)
- As an adjustable travel wrench of things with nuts (like my kids bikes)
- Fixed cups on adjustable bottom brackets
- There are some dropper posts with wrench flats on the collar
  • 4 2
 @cyclotoine: there are much better tools for the jobs you listed, most mechanics have them already. The Knipex pliers are great option instead of a crescent wrench but things like cup and cone hubs, bearing presses, nipples, valve cores and bottom brackets have much better tools that do a much better job.

I think you have a good point on the eyelet pushing and some of the others, I think they'd work great for those...
  • 2 0
 Every time I see comments about better / best tools, my mind wanders back to a certain video of a very experienced local mechanic building a new bike for one of the most famous MTBers on the planet. He did 90% percent of the build with a cheap-ass multi-tool.
Tools are only as good as the tool using them Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @RadBartTaylor: sometimes a knipex is actually better than the "proper" tools. I've rounded stubborn spoke nipples with park 3-sided spoke wrenches before. Not a problem with knipex pliers. The tiny pocket sized knipex pliers is faster to use than the park spoke wrenches too because it can "ratchet" on the nipple. Whereas on the park if you have a high enough spoke count that neighboring spokes interfere, you have to seat the spoke wrench, turn until the wrench hits that neighboring spoke, unseat and reseat at the starting angle again, and so on. It gets tedious fast on bad wheels.
  • 1 0
 MK knows how to fill in a blank space but he's the man afterall. I don't think that he has any bad blood but maybe he who knows all too well about being an anti-hero....
  • 1 0
 @nonhero: You are not going to see any wheelbuilder with Knipex pliers building wheels. What are we talking here, 48 count BMX rims? I honestly have never run into that problem, maybe 36 count 26" wheels? I've built exactly 1 wheelset for my trials bike 20+ years ago, 26" x 36 count, I don't remember having interference.

To your point, I can see a corroded alum nipple have Knipex pliers being used, and that could certainly be a use case for them.
  • 2 0
 @wake-n-rake: That reminds me of a time when I wrenched for a bike shop that supported a top tier athlete. We sent him some requested parts to build up a new bike while he was riding darkfest in 2020. When he returned home we find out that not only did he install the wrong size headset bearings (borrowed from a fellow rider), but he used a rock to install the headset, and he couldn’t find an 8mm so he rode the first day with finger tight bolts in his crank arms.

The bike was already a creaking, wobbling jallopy by the time he finished that trip, but it proves that determination is all you need to survive a weekend.
  • 41 0
 Okay, the hose clamp vise grips are genius. Unior or Abbey should make one so I can pay like $100 for a set
  • 5 2
 i'm not sure i understand what he is using them for. can you elaborate?
  • 11 0
 @twonsarelli: I will answer seriously, because this sounds like a serious question:

Brake lines usually come god-awful long, so this is a quick way to clamp the line, cut it to length, and install the barb without thinking too hard about it. Its simple enough to do without this "hack", but man that is such a cool hack I wish I had thought of it.
  • 4 3
 @thustlewhumber: thanks for the reply. i just don't know why you need to clamp the line in the first place. you're still holding it in your hand, just with something between your hand and the line now. i guess if it helps, that's great. just not obvious why you actually need it, that's all
  • 10 0
 I'm going to try gluing hose clamp blocks into an Irwin wood working clamp. Ready to break boundaries.
  • 20 0
 @twonsarelli: Its because hose barbs do not simply push into the hose by hand, they have to be hammered in or bludgeoned in if you will.
  • 15 0
 @devinkalt: gotcha. i have a little barb installer tool that holds the hose in place, so i guess this is a way around that.
  • 3 0
 @twonsarelli: says someone who has never whacked their hand with a blunt object trying to get a barb back in the hydraulic hose they just shortened or ran inside their headset. Although I don't see the point of the surgery to permanently attach them to the wrench I do like it
  • 2 0
 @twonsarelli: You missed the installing the barb part. Pushing the metal top hat into the end of the hose which crushes the olive means you need a damn good grip on the hose.
  • 6 1
 @twonsarelli: I thought for sure the hydro hose cutter and installer tool all in one would be on this list. Makes the process as easy as it gets. Using this with a hammer can still damage the barb so not ideal either even if it is clever.
  • 1 0
 @twonsarelli: It is also very easy to use two Magura bleed blocks and any pliers. Magura shows it perfectly on their web site. I alway do it like this.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsSdFO89_rU
  • 2 0
 One thing some people may not realize how difficult it actually is to insert the barb into a freshly cut hydraulic hose. Before you can hammer it in, first you have to get it started to stay in the house. What I like to do is take the end of a pick and shove it into the hydraulic hose to expand the opening enough so you can push the barb in by hand first, and then hammer it in.
  • 6 0
 Also, hoses get kinked or bent. If you clamp them just tight enough, they straighten up a bit. I believe that's the ultimate purpose of this monstrosity. I love it.
  • 1 0
 I wrap the hose in a short length of old inner tube wound round a couple of times, grip it with pliers and give the barb a good smackin'. Hasn't failed me yet.
  • 6 0
 @twonsarelli: It also likely prevents the hose from twisting as you tighten the nut (thus the comment about being tidy and matching the arc of the shifter, etc). Maybe you can hold it steady, but lord knows we've all gotten some mineral oil on it, our hands don't hold it tight, and it starts bending in all different directions at times.
  • 4 0
 Henry won going away. The hose clamps are ingenious. I'm making some this weekend. Thinking I can grind out a slot wide enough for knipex jaws. But he also did something completely amazingly, he mentioned Knipex in a way that was interesting enough it didn't make me groan at the predictability. Knipex are awesome, but they are so predictable in these articles you can make a drinking game out of it.
  • 1 0
 Now there's a problem I didn't know existed. The barbs I had to install had threads on them. The more you learn.
  • 1 0
 @twonsarelli: you’re right. There is a tool that clamps the hose and has a threaded press with a little pin on it to install the barb. If you don’t have one of those tools then the vice grip mod is a good option too.
  • 2 0
 @devinkalt: If it's hard, the tool isn't the right one to be honest. Something like the Jagwire Sport Needle Driver WST026 is cheap and dead simple to use
  • 8 0
 So ya'll know, there is a cheap tool for clamping hydraulic hoses and pressing the insert in. Here's an example: www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09HTS9JJR

I used to do it the same way, clamping the hose with the blocks. But once you buy the tool, trust me, you won't go back.
  • 1 0
 @primetime4: What brand do you use?
  • 2 0
 @daithicoyle: here's what i use. it is very easy to use and pretty cheap
jagwire.com/products/tools/needle-driver
  • 1 0
 @twonsarelli: thanks I will check that out
  • 36 1
 Wow. Henry's overview of people's obsession with knipex pliers was so beautiful it brought me to tears. Well done sir. That being said I recently purchased a pair and boy oh boy I see what the fuss is about.
  • 25 0
 You can keep your park tool crown race puller, the slow buildup of anticipation using the razor blade technique just can’t be beaten.
  • 36 0
 also
razor blades $1
park tool race puller $270
  • 11 1
 @mior: Not losing your GD mind wondering what part of your fork you're going to scratch/destroy next: Priceless
  • 8 0
 ^This.
Caption says "for the home mechanic, this can be a lifesaver." Seriously? Does ANY home mechanic own this $300 tool? Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have access to this rather than stacking razor blades, but not at $300 for use 2X/year.
  • 10 0
 Just learned about the joys of split races during my last build. I can now avoid thinking of one day buying that stupid expensive PT Crown Race Puller. If use it maybe once a year at most.
  • 3 0
 i both know a home mechanic who owns one (he bought out the tools of a shop that was closing down) and really like the razor blade idea, as i had never heard of it before, but it's also probably relevant to mention that we're no longer in the bad old days of every headset having it's own, weird parts. crown races generally go for less than $10 bucks, and very often, you can find a split one for sale that's the right size for your lower headset bearing, even if the one that came with it originally isn't split.
  • 5 0
 @mior: So you only have to change 270 headsets for the tool to pay for itself!
  • 6 0
 @Inertiaman: You go through two headsets a year?

Usually the math I do for tools like this is, "How many $10 - $20 trips to the LBS would it take me to pay for one of these and how long is that going to take?"

In the case of this one, the answer is "Decades on the low end, maybe never on the high end.", and I just bodge it myself somehow, or take my fork down to the LBS. I am going to have to look up this razor blade method though, 'cause now I'm curious.

The exception to that is a wheel truing stand and a few related tools I bought decades ago 'cause I wanted to learn to build wheels. I've only ever built 2 or 3 sets, and occasionally use it for truing, but still consider it money well spent.
  • 5 1
 @sweatyseagull: razor blades are similarly reusable
  • 14 0
 a razor? what am I missing? I jam a flathead in there and twist and pry.
  • 4 0
 @adrennan: for when the gap is too tight. i start with a razor then up it to screwdriver.
  • 3 0
 My workplace has the CRP, and I refer to it as the "crap" because it just doesn't work on a crown race that's on too tightly (whether due to corrosion, because the crown is too big, because the crown is too small, or a combination). The three prongs on it are not sharp enough (perhaps they were when it was new, but they dulled quickly) and they flex down rather than digging in if you bring their setscrews up to torque. For these tough ones I do end up having to use razor blades. I generally like Park Tool but this one is a big No from me.
  • 3 0
 @mior: i guess the last couple forks i removed a crown race from had a little notch at the back of the fork that fit the flathead perfectly... i assumed that's what that notch was for.
  • 4 0
 @adrennan: some do, some dont. sometimes they just dont work.
  • 1 0
 *edit: should have said "because the crown RACE is too small..."
  • 1 0
 @Inertiaman: this sounds like an excellent opportunity for a bike shop to start renting them out for $25/day with a full price deposit refundable on return. It’d pay itself off in a year or less
  • 1 0
 In Matt’s defense that tool is so satisfying to use. Price aside, the simple joy of positioning those wedges and turning the handle of that extremely overbuilt, highly specific tool is nearly unmatched by any other tool in the shop. Ridiculous in price and build, but equally satisfying.
  • 2 0
 @jason3559: fully agree here
  • 5 0
 Rather than wanting to buy a crown race puller after ending my tenure at the bike shop, I just started adding a split to all my crown races. Hacksaw, file to clean up the cut, and install. Haven't encountered any issues in years.
  • 2 0
 @sjma: Why do that when you can just charge $10 or $15 to do it in the shop and not have to worry about the tool being damaged/stolen?

Maybe some people are *really* wedded to the idea of doing *all* the work themselves, but those people are probably going to try the razor blade hack or something, and those that are going to a shop would rather just bring their fork in and have it done there, rather than have to make a second trip to return a rented tool.
  • 3 0
 @SoCalTrev: Because the last time i took a fork into a shop for this, the tech mostly worked on road bikes, didn't know they were removable(on a lot of modern road bikes they're molded into the carbon fork) and did it with a screwdriver anyway before i realized what he was doing.

People like to ascribe a lot of talent and care to people who work at a bike shop for minimum wage or just above.

I'm not saying good techs don't exist, but people tend to minimize how much of a crapshoot it can be taking bikes into shops for anything but basic maintenance.
  • 2 0
 @groghunter: I wasn't really advocating for or against having a shop do it, so much as responding to @sjma and opining that a rental puller tool doesn't make much sense for either shops or the end user.

For a shop, it's just an extra hassle w/o enough profit to make it worthwhile.

For the DIY home mechanic, they want to *avoid* a trip to a shop and an add'l charge for the job, and are probably going to just figure out another way (razorblades, table knife, screwdriver etc.). The number of people who really want to do everything themselves, but would also make a special trip to a shop to rent a single-purpose tool, for which a reasonable DIY workaround exists, must be vanishingly small.

As an aside: To my mind the best model for the DIY home mechanic, who doesn't have a lot of space to work or tools is the CoOp model, where a volunteer run shop has tools, space to work, and experienced volunteers on hand to help out the less experienced, and one can pay a small fee for tool usage and bench/workstand space to go work on their bikes. We used to have one of those locally, and I would occasionally pop by to do a job that I didn't have the right tool for, and drop a $5 or $10 in the donation box. Unfortunately they are no longer open.
  • 19 0
 I use the gap between the washer and dryer in my garage for a bike stand. I adjust the gap as I move from skinny road bike tires to giant 2.6 mtb tires. Then my wife complains that I moved the dryer again and asks why I can can't just leave things where they are. So maybe a 2x4 rack is in my future...
  • 15 0
 Will Brian Park 3d print a shiv to stab Henry with after reading this article?
  • 3 0
 I did 3D print my neighbour a nerf blaster that can shoot through drywall... But for HR's information I would never cause harm to a coworker. Smile
  • 14 0
 * runs out to garage to quickly make a bodged bike stand and Quinney™ Hose Clamp *
  • 13 0
 An entire article about favorite tools and not one mention of the venerable Pedro's tire levers. pffttt... some "mechanics" they are.
  • 9 0
 I'd put those on my 'honorable mention' list. Big fan.
  • 1 0
 Yes!!! I buy a pair every time I see them and have green and yellow ones floating around all over my house.
  • 12 0
 Brian Park: Rate my workstation
  • 3 0
 making a gofundme for a new workstand tonight
  • 9 0
 $40 tool to trim zip ties? I'm content with my $2 nail clipper. Plus it rounds the corners so the ties are less pointy, and since its smaller you can get it oriented virtually anywhere on the bike.
  • 5 0
 Are $10 cutters not a thing? I used to install network cabling in server rooms and they’re a must if you don’t want to look like you tried to wash a cat, but maybe that’s why I have them in my toolbox.
  • 1 0
 came to say the same thing. Nice to have in the toolbox anyway for when you realize you've got clawz
  • 1 0
 Better than any trimmer, use a pair of pliers (those Knipex, if you like) to pinch and twist the excess zip tie end until it comes cleanly off. Best way to avoid inadvertent scratches and blood loss later!
  • 2 0
 I find any pliers type cutter or clippers leaves a sharp little bit poking out of the zip tie - am I the only one that uses a box cutter knife to trim them completely flush?
  • 1 0
 @mountainsofsussex: nope, it's the only way for me too.
  • 1 0
 $45 bike specific tool meant to cut tires (only 99% of us don't have a need to do that and you're trying to find a use for something you bought but don't need) vs $12 zip tie gun meant to tighten and cut off zip ties, but it's an electronics tech tool...
  • 8 0
 Funny, I asked for a set of Wera Hex Keys for Xmas, due to losing some keys in my mediocre main set. My MIL got them for me, but lost them before she could give them to me, and still can't find them (8mos later). I think my FIL secretly stole them Big Grin
  • 2 0
 Life is short, I just bought my own set. I’m missing two critical ball end metric hex wrenches, 5 and 6mm in my other set…
  • 7 0
 You guys missed Henry’s point.
And no one clarified. If you clamp the line, tight enough, you can turn it so it’s not going all wonky where ever it loop dee loops itself to- usually as you torque down the compression nut.

Those yellow blocks come in all kinds of shimano garbage. But the vice grip is the secret weapon, even without epoxy ….
  • 6 0
 Speaking as some one who has used the PT crown removal tool and have it break on him on its 3rd use, I can say that instead of using the razor blade method, try starting with a cutlery knife. They have a long straight edge, that’s very narrow and spreads the force when you hit its wider back edge. The handle is perfectly out the way, so you can hold it in place while hitting it with a hammer. I’ve been using the same knife for years. No damage to fork crown or crown race and only needs a couple of taps. Cost of the knife, £1 from a charity shop.
  • 2 0
 a paint scraper works well too. What's really amazing to me is the number of people claiming to have mangled or destroyed parts of a fork by gently tapping a razor blade with a light hammer. Sometimes I read comments and I'm like 'wow, I'm a better mechanic than I realized'
  • 9 0
 That double ended barb is a fantastic tip. Thumbs muthafuckin UP.
  • 8 0
 I absolutely love my Knipex pliers wrenches, but the Reverb double ended barb is my favorite non-standard tool in my kit. They're cheap, take up zero space, and make internal cable routing infinitely easier to live with. Great recommendation by Matt Beer.
  • 1 10
flag DizzyNinja (Aug 30, 2023 at 12:11) (Below Threshold)
 She loves a good pig roast
  • 4 0
 I've literally just finished routing a cable with this teeny piece of perfection, it has a special drawer in my toolbox just for it. Please please do yourselves a favour and get one if you've ever woken up with night terrors before installing new cables.
  • 2 0
 Does this one fit through most frame entry points? Because I've tried the Park Tools one that came with the internal cable routing tool set, and it's too big to enter the frame of both a Canyon Strive and a Cube Stereo (yeah, I know what you're going to say: guess that's my fault for buying a Cube...), making the thing useless.
  • 4 0
 @Mac1987: No issues thus far with Santa Cruz or Ibis. Max OD is 4mm (going off memory) so it shouldn't cause issues on any frame with in spec cable ports.
  • 1 0
 @DizzyNinja: Two thumbs... UP?
  • 8 0
 who makes a 3d printed sram R brake caliper block that lets 1 piston extend to clean. flip around an clean the next
  • 1 0
 Mate of mine made one from a scrap peice of plywood, works perfectly.
  • 4 0
 I just saw a tip on youtube the other day: slide your 4 mm key into the caliper length wise (like the disc) and pull the lever over and over. They all nearly fully extend without popping out, and when they're all out they'll hold the 4mm in place while you clean them!
  • 7 0
 No one is going to use Schwalbe’s tread cutter real name?
The Knob Gobbler?!
It’s too good

They also work really well!
  • 9 1
 Knipex are the fucking bomb
  • 7 1
 Somewhere out there is a specific Starbucks selfie chick oblivious that DD just compared her to a pair of pliers on Pinkbike.
  • 7 0
 Denry Duinney?
  • 1 0
 @JonnyTheWeasel: haha attribution fail. My point stands.
  • 7 2
 I know as a mechanic I get all my tool recommendations from editors. It just makes sense.
  • 6 2
 A tread cutter? Yeah I can’t leave home without mine. I mean who doesn’t like to act like they’re so core that the need to customize their tread is real?
  • 1 0
 It’s actually rather cost effective to cut out the intermediate knobs off the assguy for mud season. Although I just use a regular ground down nipper thing.
  • 12 6
 We miss Mike Levy!
  • 5 0
 Another vote for those Wera keys. They are just better.
  • 2 0
 I like the $40 Bikehand crown race puller, personally. I have used the screwdriver method plenty of times, but Cane Creek crown races seem to be very easy to damage. So a $40 tool is almost worth it.
  • 2 0
 Pocketknife > screwdriver
  • 1 0
 After recently stripping a very inconvenient to strip bolt I decided I should upgrade from my harbor freight hex set and was strongly considering the Wera L-keys. @dariodigiulio - is there a reason why you have the stainless steel vs the black coated ones? Do we actually need stainless tools for working on bikes?

Thanks!
  • 2 0
 The SS is less prone to marring over time but it’s more of an issue for shops because of the high volume. A grinder can bring your HF keys back to life if you have access to one as well
  • 3 0
 @Kiowa008: This - I bought these for shop use when I was a mechanic, and am just happy with how they've held up. The hex bits seem to be unchanged years later.
  • 3 0
 I just wanted to chime in that I enjoy using the hex wrenches so much that I went ahead and got the torx wrenches too. For a home mechanic the extra cost over a HF set is worth it the first time you don’t have to beg for help at the shop after rounding out a bit.

As a bonus I feel MUCH more comfortable applying higher amounts of torque on stuff like a DUB crank bolt or a pedal with the better wrenches.
  • 5 0
 @amrosen just to chime in to answer your specific question: *no* you don't need stainless tools for working on bikes.

Stainless does look shiny, and will stay looking 'newer' for longer, but it's also (marginally) softer, but nowhere near as soft as the aluminium that bike bolts are made of. If you were working with steel bolts, buy the black ones. If you live near the sea (coastal air): buy the stainless ones. Otherwise buy which colour you like :-D

Wera says on the back of their packaging the stainless set is for industries where the tool can't show any signs of _surface_ rust (eg. aerospace).

I held both sets in my hands before buying and ended up going with the bright mild steel set (the 'black' ones), just because I liked the colour and live a long way from the beach. HTH.
  • 3 0
 Conversely, Ive found that the hex-plus is actually a little rough on softer head alloy bolts. Almost like using a torx 40 in place of a 6mm, just does a bit of chewing up of the Allen corners. Wouldn't buy hex plus again for bikes wrenching... On steel, sure thing.
  • 6 0
 Poop knife
  • 1 0
 zip-tie trimmer? that tool only for that little bit of painless plastic?

grab a general purpose plier, grab that extra plastic that you want to cut off by flush with the flat point end of the hammer, plier, I mean plier, and twist. Roll that little thingy. just that.
  • 2 0
 Shout out to @dariodigiulio for the Coast G20 flashlight. It's been my go to for the past couple of years. Small, compact, lightweight, great battery life, and throws out plenty of light.
  • 3 0
 Since when are Knipex not cool?

www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMqZ2PPOLik
  • 1 0
 Henry is basically mountain biking's version of Nik Blackhurst from Project Binky. If you have the slightest interest in cars, building mechanical stuff and dry English humor, you need to watch Project Binky on YouTube.
  • 1 0
 Ever since my pliers wrench got stolen out of my truck, I've been completely incapable of working on my bike. Today I wanted to check my tire pressures but couldn't figure out how to remove the valve caps. Any tips?
  • 1 1
 Wera are ok. There's a lot of good allen key options if not better than Wera. HB Swiss , Facom etc. My t-handle Facoms are much better than my Wera set. Just tricky to get to tight spots with them. A mini-ratchet tool like the Topeak one is brilliant for that. That would be my honourable.
  • 3 1
 Knipex pliers are amazing.
You don't have to have a "hot take" on every single subject Henry. We will still read and enjoy your content if you're not being edgy.
  • 9 9
 Those are actually called "Knipex Pliers Wrench". Knipex makes many many single-pivot and slip-joint conventional "pliers", but the ones pictured are different and special: parallel clamping and cam-action.
  • 2 0
 Saw the first tools shown in the article and immediately ordered a set of the Wera stainless steel Hex and Torx sets.
  • 2 0
 Those wera's start to get annoying when the colored sleeves eventually slip off
  • 1 0
 You can buy them without the sleeves
  • 1 0
 Dario what goes in the 2 empty slots? I think I need to make myself a tool bag like this as I tend to just chuck tools back on the bench never to be found again.
  • 2 0
 Rotating stock, usually other hexes or picks.
  • 3 0
 Dario's a deadhead? I knew i liked him!
  • 1 0
 The good ol' Trailhouse Head
  • 3 0
 I can’t believe a derailleur hanger tool isn’t here.
  • 1 3
 Honest question: when was the last time you straightened a derailleur hanger?
  • 6 0
 you mean Knipex?
  • 2 0
 @DirtCrab: For my own bikes, a few months ago. And for work, a few days ago.
  • 6 0
 @DirtCrab: last Saturday, the weekend before that and 2 weeks before that. It isnt that you are using it to fix a bent hanger per-se, but if you are having shifting problems it helps to know the hunger is straight before you start working on stuff.
  • 2 0
 @DirtCrab: for starters any time I get a new bike because you would be surprised how often they are not aligned. Obvious if I'm having shifting issues it's used, and any time I have the derailleur off I just throw it on and will give it a tweak. Also Aliexpress do a decent quality park Hanger took knock off for relatively cheap.
  • 3 0
 Points to Dario for the steelie
  • 1 0
 Instead of Henry's weird contraption I use the pipe holder of a flaring set to hammer the barbs in... not sure what other uses he is brambling about, though.
  • 3 0
 Preventing the hose from twisting when you tighten the compression nut, I believe.
  • 3 0
 Seb Stotts bike stand also known as the drunk friend wheel bender.
  • 2 0
 What size of Knipex pliers are the most useful for working on bikes? There is an overwhelming amount of models.
  • 3 0
 I like the 86 01 180. No clue what the naming scheme means, all I know is those are a good size.
  • 3 0
 @dariodigiulio: Not sure about the rest of it, but the 180 is the length.
  • 5 0
 @Lostrodamus: The "86" is the model (pliers wrench), the "01" is the trim level (base--the 02 has thicker handles and the 03 is chromed), and as you said the last number is the length in mm.
  • 2 0
 @barp: This is... just amazing. Cool to know!
  • 2 0
 Ironically, I have an entire set of Knipex pliers but use the "mini" 125mm (5 inch) size 99% of the time. So much so that I got a second one just for my travel tool kit. # 86 03 125

The "XS" 100mm wrench can do all the same bike related work and is small enough to carry while riding. It lacks grip covers though.
  • 1 0
 Great article! it is missing just a hand folded spoke to insert the nipples into deep rims, and then is basically my work bag! Feel represented here!
  • 2 0
 Definitely the file for a pedal…
  • 1 0
 "I like the heft ....... and the shape feels better in my hand"
Ooooh Matron!!
  • 1 0
 I have those exact calipers with the matching battery door breakage. They're still pretty solid.
  • 1 0
 I got the flashlight. @dariodigiulio now I'm searching for Torch Pawl Springs Smile ...
  • 1 0
 Nice!
Do you remember the same with world cup teams wrenchers?
  • 1 0
 +1 on the crown race puller.
  • 1 2
 I'd say +1 on split crown races, but just like Big Pharma wants us to stay sick and waiting on the high-cost goods their poor practices made us need in the first place, Big Bike has a high priced tool for everything.

Maybe I should sell a crown race splitter.... % 5 hacksaw blade..... foe $300.... hmn.......
  • 1 0
 I love all of my knipex buddies. Just sayin.
  • 1 2
 Favorite shop tools? If you need anything other than a hammer, screwdriver and Vice-grips, you’re doing it wrong.
  • 1 0
 A vice.
  • 4 7
 Scrolling for Levy content........ damn.
  • 8 11
 So Levy really is gone?
  • 4 0
 Timbits don't count as tools, unfortunately
  • 2 1
 I dont know if I'm more sad that he's gone, or sad that he went out with a whimper. I've been getting my MTB info else where, its just not very interesting around here anymore. We were all afraid of the outside acquisition. Now the reality is setting in. A long slow death....







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