I said, “I’m looking for a three-way,” and my wife rolled her eyes, because that’s what she does when I make crass jokes. I picked up the 4-5-6, adjusted tightened the stem bolts on her new bike, the saddle. I put it down and stepped back to admire her new bike.
The three-way hex wrench might be my favorite bike tool. So handy (no pun).
Cable snips are also important to me. I used regular hardware store wire cutters for a long time and ended up with a lot of frayed cable ends. Know what I hate more than eggplant? Frayed cable ends.
What about a chain whip? The chain whip has mostly one purpose, cassette removal, but there is something medieval about it. It’s like some kind of mini-mace or obscure ninja weapon.
A strong argument could be made for the simple tire tool. I buy the yellow, plastic Pedros ones. I have them scattered throughout my bike life. My commuter bags have them tucked in their tool pockets. My saddle bag has one in it. The toolbox in the garage has a few more.
For practitioners of the wheel-building arts, the Park truing stand must be right up there. I have never had the patience for wheel truing. I’d characterize my approach as the “ballpark method” whereby you correct a hop in the wheel by adding two contrasting hops and you remedy a rightward shimmy with two, smaller lefts. The wheel is questionably better after you’ve finished. Then you give your hoops to someone with a clue and 9 weeks later they get around to it and give them back to you and you’ve got true wheels. Simple.
And then there’s the hammer, a last resort and a metaphor. When in doubt, when frustrated, when fairly certain that the part A was not machined to fit inside of part B, out comes the hammer. I feel shame every time I take a hammer to a bike, but also a sort of glee. Maybe it’s just me.
This week’s Group Ride asks, what’s your favorite tool? Keep in mind that your answer will tell us all a lot about you. For example, if a torque wrench is on top of your list, you’re a perfectionist, and that’s not me saying that proper torque isn’t important. As my wife would say, “I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin.'”