Category Archives: Bicycle Repair

Bicycle tools, repairs and bike maintenance

My Two Favorite Bicycle Chain Lubricants

White Lightning Clean Ride Self-Cleaning Wax Lube

White Lightning Clean Ride

At this time of year many folks will be getting back on their bikes for the first time in months. First, welcome back—we’ve missed you out on the road all winter. Second, you probably need to lube your bike chain before you hit the road again. There are a lot of great chain lubricants on the market and today I’d like to tell you about the two I use.

Several years ago a local bike shop recommended White Lightning Clean Ride Self-Cleaning Bicycle Lubricant to me and this amazing product keeps my chains looking brand new even after 2,000 miles of use. White Lightning Clean Ride is a liquid wax that goes on wet and dries rather quickly. This lube is “self-cleaning” which means that once the chain dries the wax lube “sheds” off your chain as it gets dirty.

Before applying Clean Ride for the first time you need to start with a very clean chain since the wax will not mix well with the oil that might already be on your chain. I have found that White Lightning Clean Streak Degreaser works extremely well for this purpose. Once your chain is clean, just pour Clean Ride on the chain as you turn it, let it sit for a few minutes and then wipe off the excess. I use a small air compressor to blow the dirt off of my chain after every ride and I re-apply the Clean Ride about every 100 miles. If you don’t have an air compressor just use a small cotton cloth (an old T-shirt) to wipe off the dirt after each ride. You will find that dirt, sand and road grime does not stick to your chain once you start using Clean Ride. This means you are not going to have globs of oil flying off of your chain if you get caught out in the rain. Clean Ride retails for around $10.00 for a 4 ounce bottle. I think I have seen White Lightning Clean Ride at every bike shop I’ve ever been in, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it.

Boeshield T-9 Waterproof Lubricant

Boeshield T-9

While White Lightning Clean Ride is fantastic for most purposes, I prefer to use Boeshield T-9 on my winter bikes and the ones I use for riding in the rain. The first time I saw a can of Boeshield T-9 in a bike shop I was a bit surprised because I already had several cans of it in my garage but had never even thought of using it on my bikes. I live between Chicago and Milwaukee and all of my woodworking tools are stored in an unheated garage, so to keep them from rusting I spray them with Boeshield T-9. I also use it on my snow-blower. My favorite use for it had always been on my table saw—not only did it keep the table from rusting, but it provided an extremely slick surface for the wood to slide over.

Boeshield T-9 was developed by The Boeing Company (the folks who make those pretty planes). This product has a solvent and paraffin wax base and uses neither Silicone or Teflon. The solvent penetrates deep through other lubricants, but I would recommend you clean the surface first before you use Boeshield T-9 if for no other reason than it looks better that way. Boeshield T-9 dries quickly, but it is best to let it dry for a couple of hours before wiping off the excess. This will leave you with an incredible barrier against rain, mud, snow, ice, salt and road grime. The bike I reserve for riding in the rain is coated with this stuff! My winter bike is fed a steady diet of ice and road salt, but it still looks great because of the protection Boeshield T-9 provides. Boeshield T-9 is suitable for use on derailleurs, brake cables, pivot points and the chain.

Boeshield T-9 is available in different sizes, from one ounce bottles up to gallon containers, and in aerosol cans. Regardless of what form you buy it in, Boeshield T-9 has exactly the same formula. The 12-ounce aerosol can retails for $18.


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Cat’s Tongue Heavy Duty Cleaning Towels

If you have read any of my articles about washing and waxing your bicycle you already know two things about me: first, I am almost obsessive about starting each ride with a clean bike, and second, that I am always on the lookout for new cleaning products that will make the job easier. A few weeks ago I was sent a package of Cat’s Tongue Heavy Duty Cleaning Towels and they really make the job of cleaning up a bike a lot easier!

Cat's Tongue Heavy Duty Cleaning Towels

Cat’s Tongue Heavy Duty Cleaning Towels

Cat’s Tongue Towels are pre-moistened cleaning towels that are smooth on one side and have a heavy-duty texture on the other side. Even though the textured side feels gritty, it is a non-scratch cloth that does an amazing job of scrubbing away dirt, grease, and road grime. I live north of Chicago and at this time of the year our streets are covered with road salt—and when you get back from a bike ride the tire rims are thoroughly coated with a thick layer of salt dust that is very hard to get off. The textured side of the Cat’s Tongue Towels took this layer of salt off with just one quick wipe!

Cat’s Tongue Towels measure 8” x 12.25” and one towel usually cleans my entire bike (even if it is covered with road salt). These towels are coated with a citrus scented degreaser that will remove sealants, adhesives, and oil-based stains. These wipes work without the need for water or rinsing, and are aloe fortified to make them easy on your hands.

Cat’s Tongue Heavy Duty Cleaning Towels are available in either a 30-count canister or individual pouches. The Cat’s Tongue online store has a package deal that has one canister and ten individual pouches for under $20. They also have several bundle packages available (the more you buy the better deal you get). I would suggest you buy a canister for your garage (or bike storage area) and carry an individual package in your saddle bag to clean up after you fix your next flat tire.

Two more important notes: 25% of the profits from the sale of Cat’s Tongue products are donated to the Pan Massachusetts Challenge, an annual bike-a-thon that raises money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. In addition, this product is made in the U.S.A. (something I really appreciate).


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Serfas Women’s Bicycle Floor Pump (Product Review and Giveaway)

During the course of the year I ride with several different cyclists, both male and female, and I always like to hear their opinions about bicycle products. I am a MAMIL (middle-aged man in Lycra) and it seems like nearly all bike products were made with men like me in mind. Last year one of the ladies I was riding with gave me a 30-minute lecture on how most companies don’t understand the needs of female cyclists. To be quite honest, it was a subject I had never given much thought to before. However, when the folks at Serfas sent me one of their Women’s Bicycle Floor Pumps to review I realized that some companies do understand female cyclists after all.

Serfas Women's Bicycle Floor Pump

Serfas Women’s Bicycle Floor Pump

While there are some very tall women in the world, the bottom line is that, on average, men are taller than women. A bicycle floor pump designed for the average man is going to be too tall for the average female. The Serfas WFP-200 Women’s Bicycle Floor Pump is 22″ tall, which is eight inches shorter than the standard floor pump I have in my garage. This lower stand over height allows for people of short stature to use the pump with ease—the shortened barrel provides greater leverage.

An easy to read dial sits at the top of the pump

An easy to read dial sits at the top of the pump

Another nice feature of this pump is the easy to read dial—it sits up at the top of the pump instead of near the floor (the older you get the more you will appreciate this). This pump is rated to go up to 160 psi, but since I don’t have any bike tires that need that high of a pressure I only tried the pump out to 120 psi. This pump has an alloy barrel with sturdy alloy base and weighs 3.35 pounds (1460 grams).

The pump head handles both Presta and Schrader valves

The pump head handles both Presta and Schrader valves

In addition to the pump head that adjusts to both Presta and Schrader valves, this floor pump also includes a needle so you can also use it inflate volleyballs and basketballs, along with an adapter so you can inflate a beach ball. The ergonomic handle on this pump makes it very comfortable to use. Ladies, even if you don’t like the pink color and floral design of this floor pump, you will have to appreciate the fact that your husband or boyfriend won’t be borrowing it!

Needle and adapter so you can inflate beach balls or basketballs

Needle and adapter so you can inflate beach balls or basketballs

The Serfas Women’s Bicycle Floor Pump retails for $45 and is available from the Serfas Website and most bike shops in America. You can also find this floor pump at a few places you might have expect, like Sears and Camping World (catalog and Internet sales only). This product comes with a limited lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defects in material and workmanship.

While this product functions flawlessly, I don’t exactly need a pink floor pump in the Man Cave (my garage). So, I have one Serfas Women’s Bicycle Floor Pump in perfect condition that I am going to give away to some lucky reader. To enter the contest for the floor pump pictured above all you have to do is pick a number between 1,000 and 1,250 and enter it in the comment section below (you don’t actually have to make a comment). The contest ends at midnight (CST) on Friday, March 8, 2013. After the contest closes I will use a random number generator to pick the winning number. If no one has the exact number the person with the number closest to, but not over, the winning number will get this Serfas Women’s Bicycle Floor Pump. In case two or more people chose the same number the first person to pick the number will be the winner. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. When the contest is over I will publish the results in the comments section of this article. I will send this product to the winner via U.S. Mail at my expense.


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Park Tool VP-1 Vulcanizing Patch Kit

Unless your bicycle tires are made of solid rubber you are going to get a flat tire—maybe not this month, nor even this year, but you will get a flat. When I get a flat while out on a ride I use a self-adhesive tube patch so I can get back on the bike as soon as possible. These self adhesive patches are easy to apply: just roughen the tube a bit with sandpaper, wipe off the dust, then apply the patch. I’ve used these patches several times while on the road and they have always gotten me home safely. However, these patches do not hold nearly as well as those that use a vulcanizing solvent. Therefore, once I get home I always replace a self-adhesive patch with a Park Tool Vulcanizing Patch.

Park Tool VP-1 Vulcanizing Patch Kit

Park Tool VP-1 Vulcanizing Patch Kit

The Park Tool VP-1 Vulcanizing Patch Kit has four 25mm round patches, two 25mmx35mm oval patches, self-vulcanizing fluid, and sandpaper—all stored in a plastic box that measures 2.75″x1.5″x.75″. The instructions for use are printed on the inside of the box. To use these patches you need to roughen up tube with the included sandpaper and wipe off the dust. Then spread a thin layer of the self-vulcanizing fluid around the area you want to repair and allow it to dry before you apply the patch. Once the patch comes in contact with the self-vulcanizing fluid it will bond to the tube at the molecular level—this patch is permanent and good for the life of the tube.

The Park Tool VP-1 Vulcanizing Patch Kit retails for under $3 and is available at just about every bike shop in the United States. If you visit the sporting goods section at Walmart or Target you will see products similar to this one—and some of them actually work. However, the only patches I use are the ones from Park Tool.


Posted by on February 22, 2013 in Bicycle Repair, Product Reviews


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Park Tool AWS-10 Fold-up Hex Wrench Set

I carry several different brands of multi-tools in the saddle bags of my bikes, but when I am working on a bike in my garage I prefer to use products made by Park Tool Company. In fact, if you scroll to the bottom of the “My Bikes” page you will see that my garage almost looks like a Park Tool showroom. On the wall in my work area I have a set of Park Tool P-Handle Hex Wrenches and they are the wrenches I use when I need to apply a lot of torque, but most of the time when I need a hex wrench I use the Park Tool AWS-10 Fold-up Hex Wrench Set.

Park Tool AWS-10 Fold-up Hex Wrench Set

Park Tool AWS-10 Fold-up Hex Wrench Set

The Park Tool AWS-10 Fold-up Hex Wrench Set has seven hex wrenches (1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, and 6mm) and they are made from Bondhus Protanium, a high quality industrial steel that should give a many years of use. These wrenches have chamfered tips which makes them a pleasure to work with, and the wrenches all fold up into a slip-resistant composite handle. This handle feels very comfortable in your hand and that is probably the reason I like this product so well.

This tool weighs 3.7 ounces (104 grams) and measures 3.75″ long by .75″ tall and 1″ wide. While you could easily carry this with you as you ride I prefer more compact and lighter weight wrench sets for my saddle bags. However, at home when I care more about ease of use that I do weight I prefer this wrench set. In fact, I think you could walk into just about any bike shop in America as see that this is the tool most bike shop mechanics carry in their apron pockets.

The Park Tool AWS-10 Fold-up Hex Wrench Set retails for under $9 and is available at most bike shops. If your local shop does not carry this product they can easily order it for you—or you can visit and order it yourself.


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Fix It Sticks Lightweight Bicycle Multi-tool

A few years ago when I started writing reviews for cycling products I determined that I would never talk about a product that was not already commercially available. However, today I am going to break that rule for the first time so I can tell you about one of the coolest new cycling products I’ve seen in a long time—Fix It Sticks. A few weeks ago Brian Davis, the inventor of Fix It Sticks, sent me a fully functional “stage two” prototype of his patent pending creation. Davis just had his project accepted by Kickstarter, a Web-based program for funding creative projects (more about this at the end of the article).

Prototype Of The Fix It Sticks Bicycle Multi-tool

Prototype Of Fix It Sticks Bicycle Multi-tool

The basic idea behind Fix It Sticks is that most cyclists don’t want (or need) to carry a lot of repair tools with them, so Fix It Sticks just offer the bare essential tools for roadside repair (a flathead screwdriver and three Allen wrenches). The unique design of Fix It Sticks provides for a very lightweight tool (less than 50 grams) and it doesn’t take up much more room than a pack of gum (they are only 4″ long)! However, the real advantage of Fix It Sticks is that when you put the two pieces together it gives you a handle that provides an incredible amount of leverage—you can apply more torque with this tool than you can with just about any other cycling multi-tool on the market. This compact tool is constructed of high-quality aluminum and has steel bits for durability.

Fix It Sticks Offer Incredible Leverage

Fix It Sticks Offer Incredible Leverage

I don’t know how Davis is going to advertise this product in the future, but it ought to appeal to two main groups of cyclists. First, female cyclists will love the leverage this product offers—there are times when I don’t think even a muscle-bound weightlifter could get an old Allen bolt to budge, but Fix It Sticks will make the job a lot easier—even if you don’t have bulging biceps. The second group that is going to love this product will be those Roadies who are overly concerned about the weight of anything they put on their bike (the Weight Weenies among us).

Fix It Sticks do not come with tire levers at the moment, so you will have to supply your own (but they do have plans to add them in the future). Also, this product does not come with a chain break tool—this is not the end of the world since most cyclists don’t know how to use them anyway. Just to be clear: I own many cycling multi-tools and the further I go away from home the more tools I want to take with me, especially if I am riding off-road on treacherous terrain. Most cyclists will find Fix It Sticks adequate to meet their needs, but if you need a pedal wrench, Torx wrench and a bottle opener then this product is not for you.

Fix It Sticks As They Appear On Kickstarter

Fix It Sticks As They Appear On Kickstarter

Brian Davis is trying to raise money to start the production of Fix It Sticks. On January 15 his product was accepted by Kickstarter and if enough people pledge to help fund this project then production will start rather quickly. Davis needs $18,000 and about half of that amount was pledged within the first two days. You can donate any amount over $1 to help fund this project, and people who give $25 or more will receive a set of Fit It Sticks when they are manufactured (there are also several other levels of donation and they offer added benefits). Fix It Sticks are machined made in the USA (Appleton, Wisconsin to be exact). And in case you were wondering, I did give to this project—I hate to admit it, but when I’m on my Trek Madone I turn into a Weight Weenie myself. If you would like to donate to this project, or just read more about it, then please see the Fix It Sticks page on Kickstarter.


Posted by on January 18, 2013 in Bicycle Repair


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Quick Stik Bicycle Tire Changer Tool

I won’t say that I enjoy changing bicycle tires, but it is something that I seem to do a lot of. Not only do I go through a couple sets of tires every year due to normal use, but I also have to swap-out the tires on three of my bikes due to the changing of the seasons (winter tires). Sometimes tires are easy to install or take off by hand, but most of them need a tire lever to help you get the edge of the tire over the rim. This past summer I was talking with the guys at the local bike shop and noticed that all the mechanics used the Quick Stick to change tires, so I bought a pair to try out.

Quick Stik Bicycle Tire Lever

Quick Stik Bicycle Tire Changer Tool

Quick Stiks are made of molded nylon so they won’t scratch your rims or pinch your inner tubes. While no tire lever is going to be perfect for every tire, I believe this is the best all-around tire lever I’ve ever seen. Most people are only going to need a single lever to change a tire (though it wouldn’t hurt to carry a second one just in case).

The Quick Stik is six inches long which makes them longer than the levers you will find in your typical bicycle multi-tool, but smaller that the steel levers some of us have hanging on the wall in the garage. This tire lever has a wonderful grip which makes it so much easier to use than most of the other levers on the market. Weighing in at only 14.2 grams this lever can make even the most ardent Weight Weenie happy. One of the biggest benefits of the Quick Stik is that they will not nick your rims—some metal tire levers will shave off a bit of the rim as you are using them.

I wish I could tell you this lever will work with every tire/rim combo on the market, but that is not the case. Last week I was trying to remove a road bike tire and I couldn’t get it to budge with this lever—but then again, two other brands of tire levers didn’t work either. I think the problem was that the Mavic rim was very narrow and when combined with the Kevlar bead of the tire it seemed like nothing was going to work! Another part of the problem might have been that I had been riding in 19 degree weather and cold tires are always harder to remove—after I let the tires warm up in the garage I was finally able to remove the tire and patch the tube.

The Quick Stik retails for under $6 each and are available at just about any bike shop in North America—you can also find them at places like REI and on The product is made in the U.S.A. by California Bike Gear. If you use this tool long enough (like daily use in a bike shop) you are going to wear a small grove in the plastic and will have to replace the lever—but at this price that really is not a problem.


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