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Park Tool PCS-10 Home Mechanic Repair Stand

Eleven years ago I bought a Park Tool PCS-9 Home Mechanic Bicycle Repair Stand so I could work on my bike in my garage. The PCS-9 is an “entry-level” repair stand that is sturdy and very reliable, but a lot of things have changed in the past eleven years—I now own five bikes and though I am not a trained mechanic I do a lot more work on my bikes than I used to (last year I even rebuilt on old mountain bike and with all new parts). I kept waiting for the PCS-9 to either break or wear out so I would have an excuse to get a better stand, but I finally gave up on that every happening and just gave it to a young female cyclist I often ride with and then bought a new Park Tool PCS-10 Home Mechanic Repair Stand.

Park Tool Park Tool PCS-10 Home Mechanic Repair Stand

Park Tool Park Tool PCS-10 Home Mechanic Repair Stand

You probably already know that your bicycle chain needs oiled after every 100 miles of use—and more often if you ride in inclement weather. You are far more likely to keep your bike clean and your chain lubed if you own a good bicycle repair stand. After every bike ride I put whatever bike I was using in the repair stand and use an air compressor to blow the dust off the chain and from around the brake pads. Then I take a piece of cotton cloth (from an old T-shirt) and wipe off the tires (I am actually looking from pieces of broken glass in the tire). About 100 miles or so I oil the chain, cables and pivot points. This process only takes a couple of minutes—but it sure keeps the bikes in great shape!

Cam-type Clamp On The Park Tool Park Tool PCS-10 Home Mechanic Repair Stand

Cam-type Clamp On The Park Tool Park Tool PCS-10 Home Mechanic Repair Stand

The PCS-10 has all of features of the older PCS-9, but has been improved to set-up and take-down a lot faster—and it has a far better clamping system than the older model. The PCS-10 has a cam-type clamp that allows you to quickly clamp your bike with the proper pressure—even if it is something as awkward as a recumbent or a bike with odd-shaped tubing.

Park Tool Work Tray For Repair Stands

Park Tool Work Tray For The PCS-10 Repair Stand

If you purchase the PCS-10 I would strongly suggest you also buys a Park Tool Work Tray—an accessory rack that fit on the repair stand (the tray retails for around $34). This work tray has a storage bin on one side that will hold several cans of lube and a towel rack on the other side. Since the tray mounts right on the repair stand you will have quick access to your tools and small parts.

Park Tool Park Tool PCS-10 Home Mechanic Repair Stand

Park Tool Park Tool PCS-10 Home Mechanic Repair Stand

The height of the Park Tool PCS-10 Home Mechanic Repair Stand can be adjusted from 39″ to 57″ (99cm to 145cm) and the screw clamp will adjust to fit tubes from 7/8″ to 3″ (24mm to 76mm). Park Tool claims that this model can hold up to 100 pounds (45 kg), providing the weight is centered over the legs. I’ve used this repair stand on everything from my featherweight Trek Doman Carbon Fiber Endurance Bike to my behemoth Surly Necromancer Pugsley Fat Bike without any trouble. The PCS-10 can be folded down for easy storage, but once I set mine up in the garage I have only moved it a couple of times just to clean the area under it.

Park Tool Park Tool PCS-10 Home Mechanic Repair Stand

The Decals On The PCS-10 Are In A Bad Spot!

The only thing I don’t like about this stand is the decals on the legs of the stand—when you are working on your bike all the oil and solvent you use will drip directly onto the decals. Not only does it make the decals look pretty ugly, but if you use any solvent on your bike it is going to drip on the decals and make them peel and eventually fall off. I realize this is a really minor complaint, but I am one of those guys who likes my shop to sparkle when I am finished cleaning things up!

The Park Tool PCS-10 Home Mechanic Repair Stand retails for around $200. This is a quality piece of merchandise that should last for many years to come—so when your kids finally ship you off to the nursing home you can give this repair stand to your grandchildren!

 
 

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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 Amazon.com 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.

 
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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 Amazon.com. 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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Serfas ST-17i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool (Product Review and Giveaway)

I’ve never kept count, but I imagine that in the past 10 years I’ve purchased at least 20 different compact multi-tools for my bikes. Like the Cynic philosopher Diogenes who spent his time looking for an honest man, I spend my time looking for great bicycle products. A few weeks ago the folks at Serfas sent me one of their new products for review, the Serfas ST-17i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool, and it has a few features that ought to be of interest to any cyclist. As an added bonus, I’ve not seen this product reviewed anywhere else yet—and I am always delighted when I can share new products with my readers.

Serfas ST-17i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool

Serfas ST-17i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool

Here is a breakdown of the seventeen tools in the Serfas ST-17i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool: Eight Allen keys (8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.5, 2, and 1.5mm), one 10m open wrench, four spoke wrenches (3.23, 3.3, 3.45, 3.96mm), a chain break tool with two chain retainers, two Torx drivers (T25, T30), CO² Inflator head, and both a Philips and flat head screwdriver. This tool has a full metal body and is 2.75″ long, 1.5″ wide, and .75″ tall. This products weighs an even 4.0 ounces (114g).

Serfas ST-17i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool

Spoke Wrench and Chain Break Handle

The Torx drivers are mainly needed to tighten the bolts on disc brakes (usually found on mountain bikes). In case you are wondering—Torx bolt heads resist slipping better than Philips head bolts, and there is less chance of stripping a Torx head bolt.

Chain Break Tool on the Serfas ST-17

Chain Break Tool on the Serfas ST-17

The chain tool on the Serfas ST-17i is one of the best I’ve ever seen on a cycling multi-tool. I never throw my old bicycle chains away—I keep them so I can test chain break tools! When I put a short length of chain on the Serfas ST-17i I was surprised to find out it had a self-centering head since it’s not mentioned on the package. The self-centering head means that your chain will not slip as you are working on it. Even if you keep your bicycle chain clean and well lubricated it is going to wear out. While it is always best to replace your chain before it wears out, some cyclists (maybe most) just don’t check very often to see how much their chain has stretched. If your chain should snap when you are out on a ride you will need this tool to remove the damaged link and put the chain back together. If you are not sure how to use a chain tool there are several good videos on YouTube.com that can show you how they work (most of these tools work the same way).

CO² inflator Head on the Serfas ST-17i

CO² inflator Head on the Serfas ST-17i

The biggest selling point for the Serfas ST-17i is the CO² inflator head (Presta valve only) that is built into the mini-tool. It seems like nearly every time I get a flat tire it is during a rain storm (this past Saturday it was during a snow, sleet and slush storm). The small CO² inflator heads that most cyclists carry are easy to drop (especially when wet), but since the CO² inflator head is built into the body of the Serfas ST-17i it is very easy to handle and even easier to use.

There are two items lacking from this tool: a tire lever and a carrying case. You always need to have a pair of tire levers with you when riding, so make sure you pick up a set before you head out. The lack of a carrying case is no big deal since most of the ones that come with cycling multi-tools just take up space in your saddlebag anyway. However, loose items in a saddlebag will make enough noise to drive you crazy on a long ride. A great way to prevent the noise is to put loose items in a short length of on old inner tube and seal up one end with the glue from your tire patch kit. By the way, I also keep my spare CO² cartridges in shorts lengths of inner tubes as well.

The Serfas ST-17i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool retails for $45 and can be ordered from the Serfas Website or from almost any bike shop in America. If you like this tool but have no need of the chain break or Torx wrenches you should check out the Serfas ST-13i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool (it retails for $36). One step above the Serfas ST-13i is the Serfas ST-15i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool. The Serfas ST-15i comes with two tire levers and glueless patches (it retails for $40).

As some of my regular readers know, I seldom keep the products that are sent to me for review—most of the time I give the products to random visitors who comment on this blog. However, I’ve decided to hold a contest for this beautiful Serfas ST-17i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool. To enter the contest all you have to do is pick a number between 200 and 500 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, January 11, 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 the Serfas ST-17i I reviewed today. 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 mail this product to the winner via Priority Mail at my expense.

 
 

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Topeak Mini 18+ Multi-tool

In the past ten years I’ve probably bought over 20 different cycling-specific multi-tools. I have five bikes and carry a multi-tool in the seat bag of each one. It seems like every time I find a multi-tool with a new feature I have to buy it (I am an impulse buyer). There is one feature on the Topeak Mini 18+ Multi-tool that made me want it instantly, i.e., the pad spreader for disc brakes. If you have a mountain bike (or even a road bike) with hydraulic disc brakes you probably already know that if you accidentally squeeze the brake lever while changing a tire the brake pads will close and are nearly impossible to open again without a special tool. One time I made this mistake and had to use a knife to trim down a credit card to pry the pads open (then I had to order a replacement card once I got home).

Topeak Mini 18+ Multi-tool

Topeak Mini 18+ Multi-tool

Here is a breakdown of the hardened steel tools in the Topeak Mini 18+ Multi-tool: Allen Wrenches (2, 2-L, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10mm), two spoke wrenches (15 and 14g), chain tool, T25 Torx bit, chain pin breaker, bottle opener, pad spreader for disc brakes, and both a Philips and flat head screwdriver. This multi-tool also has an anodized aluminum tire lever—please note that this particular lever is designed for emergency use only. And, like most of the other Topeak multi-tools, it comes with a Neoprene storage bag. This product weights 6.5 ounces (185 g).

A couple of notes about two of the tools: The chain tool in the Mini 18+ works well, but I would rather use a full size chain tool when possible—but certainly would never carry the big one with me due to the weight. The T25 Torx bit will easily adjust mechanical disc brakes—if you have disc brakes on your bike you really need to carry a T25 Torx bit with you.

The Topeak Mini 18+ Multi-tool retails for around $33 and is available at any well-stocked bike shop. This product comes with a 2-year warranty (see Topeak’s Website for complete details). You can find this tool at a lower price on Amazon.com, but do yourself a favor and support your local bike shop.

If the Topeak Mini 18+ Multi-tool does not suit your needs, Topeak has many other tools to choose from. Here are a few links to some of their other multi-tools I’ve reviewed: The Topeak Mini 9 Pro Multi-tool has all the Allen wrenches you will need for most modern road bikes (2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 mm), along with two tire levers. The Topeak Hexus II Multi-tool has 16 well designed hardened steel tools and it fits into an easy-to-hold composite body. The Topeak Alien II is the “mother of all multi-tools” and includes 26 tools, including eight Allen wrenches (2/2.5/3/4/5/6/8/10mm), box wrenches (two each of 8/9/10mm), a T25 Torx wrench, Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, two spoke wrenches, two tire levers, mini pedal wrench, stainless steel knife, bottle opener, a cast Cromoly steel chain tool and a steel wire chain hook.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2012 in Bicycle Repair, Product Reviews

 

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Topeak Hexus II Multi-tool

Even if you never travel outside of your own neighborhood, you still need to carry a few things with you on every bike ride: a spare inner tube, a tire pump or CO2 inflator, and a small multi-tool. I have five bikes and because they each have different requirements I carry a different multi-tool for each bike. Earlier this year I started carrying a Topeak Hexus II Multi-tool on one of my mountain bikes and have had the opportunity to use this tool on several occasions.

Topeak Hexus II Bicycle Multi-tool

Topeak Hexus II Multi-tool

The Topeak Hexus II Multi-tool has 16 well designed tools (all made of hardened steel) and it fits into an easy-to-hold composite body. The Hexus II includes the following tools: Allen Wrenches (2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm), two spoke wrenches (15 and 14g), two high quality plastic tire levers, steel wire chain hook, chain tool, T25 Torx bit, and both a Philips and flat head screwdriver. Unlike the other Topeak multi-tools I own, this one does not come with a Neoprene storage bag (not a major issue for me).

I have used all the tools on this product and have been extremely satisfied with them. The tire levers are better than you will find on most other multi-tools and the T25 Torx bit will easily adjust mechanical disc brakes. The chain tool is easy to use and even if you don’t know how to use one it you should have a chain tool with you in case your chain breaks on the trail—hopefully a more experienced cyclist will come by and be able to fix your chain (it only takes a minute or two). According to Topeak, the chain tool on the Hexus II “is compatible with all single speed and most multi-speed chains, including 10 speed hollow pin chains.” However, it is not compatible with 11 speed chains.

The only problem with Topeak tools is deciding which one to carry. If you are scared of making hardly only adjustments to your bike then I’d carry the Topeak Mini 9 Pro Multi-tool—it has all the Allen wrenches you will need for most modern road bikes (2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 mm), along with two tire levers. If you want to to be able to overhaul your bike while on the trails I’d suggest the Topeak Alien II—it has 26 tools, including eight Allen wrenches, box wrenches (two each of 8/9/10mm), a T25 Torx wrench (for disc brake rotor bolts), Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, spoke wrenches (14/15g), two tire levers, mini pedal wrench, stainless steel knife, bottle opener, a cast Cromoly steel chain tool and a steel wire chain hook. The Topeak Hexus II falls in-between the Mini-9 and the Alien II, and is probably the best tool for most cyclists. However, if you have a mountain bike with hydraulic disc brakes I’d suggest the Topeak Mini 18+ instead since it has a handle that also functions as a pad spreader for disc brakes (I’ll review this tool in a few weeks).

The Topeak Hexus II Multi-tool retails for around $27 and is available at any well-stocked bike shop. This product comes with a 2-year warranty (see Topeak’s Website for complete details). You can find this tool for a lower price on Amazon.com, but do yourself a favor and support your local bike shop.

 
 

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Park Tool Metric Wrench Set

Many basic repairs on your bike can be performed with just a simple set of hex wrenches (I prefer the Park Tool P-Handle Hex Wrench Set). Advanced repairs usually call for a combination wrench or two, and unless you are working on a vintage American-made bike you are going to need a set of metric wrenches—and my favorite is the Park Tool Metric Wrench Set.

Park Tool Metric Wrench Set for bicycle repair

Park Tool Metric Wrench (10mm)

I own several sets of combination wrenches, but I have to tell you this is the most beautiful set of wrenches I have ever seen! They are forged from Chrome Vanadium Steel, then chrome plated and beautifully polished. The center of each wrench is coated with a thick layer of vinyl and provides a secure, yet comfortable, grip.

This set has twelve box/open-end combination wrenches. When Park Tool first introduced this set they only included 6mm to 15mm wrenches. However, the set that is now sold (item #MW-SET.2) also includes both 16mm and 17mm wrenches.

Park Tool Metric Wrench Set

The Park Tool Metric Wrench Set On My Wall

The Park Tool Metric Wrench Set retails for $80, but if you would like to save a few dollars you can buy it online from Amazon.com. However, I prefer to support my local bike shop when I buy bike tools for my home workshop, and I hope you do too! Park Tool guarantees these tools for life (see their Website for complete details).

Park Tools on display

My Garage Looks Like A Park Tool Showroom

If you spend much time in home improvement stores you are probably wondering how the Park Tool wrenches compare to other brands. I think they stand up well against the competition. Sears sells a similar set of Craftsman wrenches for nearly half the price, but those wrenches lack both the vinyl center and the beautiful polished chrome finish. You might think less of me for what I am about to say, but I judge mechanics (at least in part) on the quality of tools they use—if they don’t take pride in their equipment they seldom take pride in their work. If you are going to buy a set of combination wrenches then I hope you get the Park Tool brand—it is just another case of getting what you pay for.

 
 

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Topeak SmartGauge D2 Bicycle Tire Gauge

You probably already know that having under-inflated tires on your car will cause you to burn more gasoline (i.e., use more energy). The same thing is true for bicycle tires—if the tires are under-inflated it will take more effort (i.e., use more energy) to peddle the bike. On the sidewall of every bicycle tire you will find both the minimum and maximum pressure it is tire is designed to hold (usually measured in PSI, pound per square inch). If you are a heavy cyclist you should probably keep your tire pressure at the maximum PSI for your tires, while lightweight cyclists can often run their tires down to the minimum pressure (though this is not always advisable). While low tire pressure will force you to use more energy as you ride, if the tire pressure is too high it usually results in a very bumpy ride. One of the best ways to accurately measure your tire pressure is with the Topeak SmartGauge D2 tire pressure gauge.

Topeak SmartGauge D2 Bicycle Tire Gauge

Topeak SmartGauge D2 Bicycle Tire Gauge

The Topeak SmartGauge D2 is a digital tire pressure gauge that works on both Presta and Schrader valves. This precision instrument is also useful for suspension forks, rear shock units, and even your car tires. The easy-to-read LCD display can show pressure in PSI, Bar, or kg/cm2 (it takes just a second or two to switch settings). This unit runs on a single CR2032 battery and weighs a bit over two ounces. The swivel head (Topeak calls it a SmartHead) rotates 180 degrees so you can easily read the gauge regardless of the position of the valve stem. This unit can measure a maximum tire pressure of 250 PSI (17 bar).

When I say this gauge is accurate, I mean that you can measure your tire pressure six times in a row and get the same reading each time. One of the problems with the cheap gauges found on most tire pumps is that they are not very reliable.

While the Topeak SmartGauge D2 is perfect for about 99.9% of cyclists, there is one small group that might have trouble with it, i.e., those of us who ride Fat Bikes in temperatures well below zero (Fahrenheit). The piston-plunger gauge on the SmartGauge and and the gauges on most bicycle pumps are affected by changes in temperature and humidity, but gauges with a Bourdon tube are not. In the winter most Fat Bikes run at 6 to 10 PSI in the snow and are extremely sensitive to changes in tire pressure—even a difference of one-half PSI can be felt by the rider. So, if you are riding your Fat Bike in extreme winter conditions I would suggest you try a low pressure tire gauge with a bronze Bourdon tube, like the Accu-Gage.

The Topeak SmartGauge D2 retails for around $32 and I highly recommend it. You should be able to find this at your local bike shop—if that fails you can find it on Amazon.com.

 

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Surly Jethro Tule 15mm Offset Box Wrench

If you own a fixed gear bike or have a Shimano Alfine Internal Geared Hub then you need a 15mm box wrench to remove the nuts on your bolt-off hub so you can repair a tire. Unfortunately, standard length 15mm box wrenches are too heavy to carry in your seat bag and the shorter cycling-specific wrenches usually hurt your hands when you try to use them. Surly, the maker of great bikes like the 1×1, Steamroller, Karate Monkey, and Pugsley, has a great 15mm offset box wrench for you—the Surly Jethro Tule.

Surly Jethro Tule 15mm Offset Box Wrench for bicycle repairs

Surly Jethro Tule 15mm Offset Box Wrench

The Surly Jethro Tule is made of highly polished stainless-steel and has a double-sided 15mm offset box wrench on one end with a bottle opener on the other. Sitting above the bottle opener is a spoon-shaped area that allows you to apply a lot more leverage than you can with traditional short wrenches. The offset design of the wrench makes it easy to reach inside recessed dropouts without fear of scraping your knuckles when the axle nuts loosen.

A large box wrench (like the ones you have in your garage) can apply a lot more torque than you will ever be able to get with the Jethro Tule. I would suggest you always use the Jethro Tule when installing or removing your wheels—that way you know you will be able to match the torque when you have to remove a tire the next time you get a flat.

The Jethro Tule does not have a carrying case, so to keep it from clanging with the other metal items in my saddle bag I just took a 5″ piece of an old inner tube and closed one end with tire patch cement. The Jethro Tule fits perfectly in this case and the seat bag stays quiet.

The Surly Jethro Tule retails for around $30 and if your local bike shop does not have it in stock they can order it for you. As mentioned above, the Jethro Tule has a bottle opener that some people love to use for a post-ride drink. That is kind of funny because I’ve never seen a carton of chocolate milk that needed a bottle opener!

 

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