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Tag Archive: bike tools

Tool Review: Pedro’s Vise Whip

Several weeks ago, Pedro’s USA sent us a couple of tools to review. The first is their “Vise Whip“, an ingenious tool that eliminates the hassle and potential breakage of using a traditional chainwhip.

vise whip

Here’s a little about the tool from the Pedro’s USA website:

–Locking jaws that won’t slip
–Fits cogs from 11T to 23T*
–Compact enough for the toolbox
–Heat-treated steel tough enough for everyday use

Anyone who has used a traditional chainwhip to hold a cassette or freewheel in place while cogs or lockrings are unscrewed knows that such tools can be tough to manage. They’re fiddly and they have a tendency to snap retaining pins just when you’ve got a lot of torque on the tool. The Pedro’s Vise Whip eliminates all of this hassle…it locks solidly onto cassette or singlespeed cogs and will not move if set correctly.

Based on the toolbox staple known as Vise Grips, this Pedro’s tool adjusts with the same style of threaded screw and locking lever. Clamp it onto the cassette and apply lockring remover/wrench to unscrew the lockring. Simple as that!

clamp

The Vise Whip works wonderfully for folks who run singlespeed bikes, too. For singlespeed MTB riders who want to change up their gearing for specific conditions or people who run 3/32″ fixed cogs on the street or track, this tool makes such gearing swaps very simple.

singlespeed

The people who run 1/8″ track cogs are out of luck, though…the Vise Whip’s jaws are listed as not big enough to fit over the larger cog width. I haven’t tried this myself, though, as I had no 1/8″ cogs around. Perhaps if the demand is there, Pedro’s will make a version for 1/8″ cogs?

Overall, the tool is sturdy, easy to use and really ingenious…why didn’t anyone think of this before? I’ve used it about a dozen times since I got it in the mail — everything from replacing 8- and 9-speed MTB cassettes to fine-tuning the gearing on my singlespeed MTB/Road “Frankenbike” (tentatively named Craptain America).

This tool has a permanent home in my toolbox — it’s that useful.

Commuter Incentives at Work

I received a press release and photos from the nice folks over at LOGOS Bible Software months ago…and those items have been languishing in the bottom of one of my email folders. I rediscovered them last night and realized I haven’t shared them with you, so here goes.

Bike Shop in the Office Means Sweet Rides for Software Company Employees

Bellingham, WA – October 15, 2008 – Equipment purchases at Logos Bible Software typically include laptops, servers, and networking gear. So company president Bob Pritchett was surprised to see an IT department purchase request that included everything necessary to set up a bicycle repair shop.

“It was a great idea. Many of our employees bike to work, and others go for rides during the day. Having a fully-equipped bike shop on site is a great way to encourage healthy habits that are good for the environment, too,” said Pritchett.

With more than 150 employees, Logos has a number of serious cyclists who work on their own bikes. Their willingness to help co-workers with everything from simple repairs to getting a long-unused bike back into shape is encouraging more employees to trade four wheels for two.

“Since installing the bike shop, I’ve been super motivated to ride to work,” said Jim Straatman, Logos’ IT manager. “Also, my bike is running exceptionally smooth now that I have a place to work on it.”

Bellingham is a cyclist’s paradise, surrounded by bike lanes, mountain trails, and cliff-side drives. Logos’ on-site lockers and showers made it easy for employees to add their commute to their list of regular rides. The new bike shop and a bike-friendly downtown location provide a great motivation for those who haven’t ridden since childhood to get rolling again.

Logos Bible Software’s bike shop consists of an 8-foot workbench, a bike stand, and a peg board full of tools. The total investment was around $1,500, and occupies less than 100 square feet.

“In the space of a single office, and for less than it would cost to cater lunch for the company, we’ve been able to make a healthy investment that our employees really appreciate,” said Pritchett. “By making it easier to fix little things like a flat tire or squealing brakes, we’re getting more of us up from our desks and out of our cars.”

About the Company

Logos Bible Software, a privately held corporation located in Bellingham, Wash., is the leading publisher of high-end, award-winning, multilingual Bible software. The company serves church, academic and lay markets, striving to bring the best in software innovation to Christians worldwide. Logos can be found on the web at: http://www.logos.com/.

Here, Jim Straatman works on his commuter rig:
straatman
(photo courtesy of Ryan Burns of LOGOS)

And a shot of the workshop in all its glory:
workshop
(photo courtesy of Ryan Burns of LOGOS)

And, for more information, visit the LOGOS company blog for a short video in which Jim Straatman talks about his job duties, the idea behind the bike shop and a walking tour of the shop. The guy even catches some MAJOR air in an outdoor clip!

How cool is that? It’s great to see a company that is so concerned with the health and well-being of its employees (as well as the environment). Such incentives really work to encourage folks to leave the car keys at home and travel by bicycle.

Anyone out there have stories of their employers offering bike-to-work incentives? If so, we’d love to hear ’em!

Just Ask Jack — Tools for the New Commuter?

Megan sent in the following question:

“My husband has started riding his bike to work. I am wondering if there is a set of tools that he should have at the ready for any necessary roadside repairs. Any suggestions?”

Great question! While there are plenty of seasoned bike commuters who carry extensive toolkits, it is really only necessary to have a small selection of tools to conquer the most common breakdowns.

My “bare minimum” essential kit consists of the following: one spare tube, one minipump (or CO2 inflator), one packet of glueless “speed patches”, one 1$ bill, two tire levers and a multitool, plus a seatbag or similar to carry this kit in.

the basic setup

If your bike has nutted axles rather than quick release skewers, it is necessary to include a wrench of some type to loosen and tighten those nuts. Surly makes a great tool for 15mm axle nuts, as does Paragon Machine Works.

I have an old Sugino 15mm crankbolt socket wrench that I keep on my singlespeed/fixed gear bike in case I have to replace a tube:

Sugino wrench

For multitools, there are a variety of types on the market, from elaborate fold-out systems with every conceivable tool to very minimalist types that only include the essentials. I lean toward the minimalist variety…especially my very favorite, the Park MT-1 multitool:

MT-1

I like this tool so much that I have three of them…one in my backpack, one in my seatbag and one that I occasionally wear around my neck as jewelry! I know, I know…I’m a bike geek; what can I say?

What makes the Park tool so special is that it has all the basics rolled into one tool — no moving parts, no “fluff” — 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm hex keys (all the common sizes used on bikes), 8, 9 and 10mm sockets (for brake and derailleur cable pinch bolts and a lot of other applications) and a flat-bladed screwdriver for derailleur and brake screw adjusting. Pure genius!

Here’s an example of another common type of multitool — one of the fold-out varieties:

multitool

This tool was provided by our team sponsor PricePoint. I haven’t used it yet, though, as it lacks the most important hex key size…a 5mm. Perhaps this was an assembly oversight?

In any case, these are the only tools a commuter really needs to tackle the most common roadside repairs — flat tires, loose assemblies, shifter and brake adjustments and the like. You could carry more, but you don’t have to!

Have a cycling-related question? Just Ask Jack! Click on the link in the right-hand column to send me your questions.

Tool-less Bicycle Repairs?

The other day, Moe and were talking about an article idea: presenting ways to repair common bicycle breakdowns without tools. If you were stranded out in the middle of nowhere without tools, could you fix a broken derailleur, repair a flat tire, reconnect a broken chain? It sounded like a great idea for an article — tips that could be QUITE useful in an emergency.

After some research, though, we found very little to go on…

Take a broken or damaged derailleur — while it might be possible to “massage” a bent cage or hanger back into place without tools, what about if the derailleur is completely trashed, or you snap a cable out in the wilds? If you had a screwdriver, you could turn the high/low adjustment screws enough to force the derailleur to stay in one place, resulting in a rideable (if not exactly comfortable) singlespeed configuration that could get you back to civilization. Without a screwdriver or knife blade to turn those screws, though, you’re dead in the water…

Same with a broken chain — without SOME kind of tool, connecting a broken chain is virtually impossible. You must have a way to punch out the pins in the chain to remove a mangled section or to get the chain ready to lash together with a piece of wire. Back in the old days, before I had amassed a large collection of bicycle tools, my friends and I would use a finishing nail and a hammer to drive the pins in and out. In a pinch, I suppose you could use a nail or similar sharp piece of metal and a fist-sized rock to pound in a pin and bind the two broken ends of the chain with a piece of wire looped through the links’ pin holes. But, this qualifies as still needing tools. Strike two for our great idea!

I did manage to find a couple tool-less wheel and tire repair tricks, though. Master tinkerer, expert ratrod builder and funny guy Gerry Lauzon of Montreal has a nice tutorial on fixing a taco-ed rim on his blog.

Another trick (one which I hope to never have to try) is one I saw in Barbara Savage’s excellent Miles From Nowhere: A Round the World Bicycle Adventure…at least that’s where I think I remember seeing it! Anyway, she got a flat tire out in the wilds somewhere, and she wound up stuffing clothing into the tire to replace the tube. That made the bike rideable enough that she could keep going until she reached a place where she could properly fix her tube.

Finally, a lot of people know that gashes in a tire’s sidewall can be repaired temporarily (or even permanently) by a piece or two of duct tape. Did you know that a folded dollar bill or an empty Powerbar wrapper also work excellently as emergency tire boots?

I guess the moral of this story is don’t travel without tools. At minimum, carry a patch kit and tire levers, a pump, a small screwdriver and a set of hex keys. There are plenty of multitools on the market that have all the tools you might need (including chain tools on several models) to facilitate an emergency roadside repair. If you insist on traveling light and don’t want to carry any tools, at least bring a cellphone with you so you can call for help when (not if) you get stranded.

And, if any of you have had to “MacGyver” any emergency repairs, we’d love to hear about ’em. Leave those stories and tips in the comment section below.