After reading the excellent post by John in Finding Hand Tools For Wood Working about how to collect hand tools inexpensively, I thought I would write a little about my own tools and bicycle both of which are very important to me. While not inexpensive, tools can be collected over years. I feel a visceral satisfaction using good tools that help me keep my bike running. My bicycle keeps my body and mind in the best shape possible. Since my bicycle is 15 years old I am constantly working on, adjusting and replacing worn out parts. I don’t find this to be a chore as I actually enjoy the challenge of it even though I am not an expert. I have been working on bicycles since I was 5 years old when I became tired of my “noisy” training wheels and found a wrench in our garage and took them off. I balanced for awhile riding along the curb and then experienced the first exhilarating feeling and independence of really riding a bike. I had become one of the big kids.
I have collected my tools over many years. Some of them are more than 40 years old. Good tools last a long time. The pandemic has caused bike part shortages and long wait lines of 2-4 weeks for repairs at bike shops. So if one wants to keep riding then knowledge of how to repair a bike is important. I first check my local shop for parts I need but when they can’t get it, I list a few resources toward the end for unusual or hard to find parts. My bike is now known as a classic and it was 2-3 generations old in bike technology parts when I bought it. As parts wore out or break I gradually replace them, when I can, with newer technology parts. Bike technology changes quickly so my bike is considered old by some. However, I feel it is nearing perfection for what I need.
Although this was an expensive bike 15 years ago it would now probably be worth $100 if I sold it, which I definitely would not. I now have this bike working almost the way I want it. I have changed the gearing for hills. I have moved the handlebars to an upright position for comfort. Probably the only thing I have thought about changing is trying a trekking handlebar which looks like a butterfly formed in a loop to allow a more upright riding position. A bike is a depreciating asset so where has the money gone? The value has gone into transforming my body and mind for the better, and I consider it a good if not forever investment. Good tools, while not cheap, simply keep my investment rolling.
Here are some of my more important tools that help me avoid repair costs and thus become inexpensive the more I use them.
Park tools are my old reliable tool brand and they make everything well. I have a TM-1 Spoke Tension Meter which is indispensable for truing wheels. Other Park tools include a tool crank remover, cassette tool and a work stand older than my bike. Park tools last.
Pedros brake cable puller tensioner. This makes brake and shifter adjusting so easy. Cables need to be changed every year or sooner and this tool allows changing in minutes. I have a few other Pedros tools and they are becoming my favorites. They make everything well.
Wolf Tool pack pliers. This is several tools in one and light and take up almost no space in a seat bag. I use them primarily to install remove chain master links.
Ibex wool jersey as old as my bike. This is my favorite jersey and I consider it an indispensable tool for comfortable riding.
My bike configuration.
The Specialized Sequoia has changed a lot in recent years. My Sequoia has carbon stays and forks which takes the bumps out of a ride. It is a very comfortable touring bike. I have changed nearly every original part.
Velocity wheels 700c standard touring set, 32 spoke, Dyad rims, 14 gauge spokes. This is the most expensive part on my bike and they are strong and stay true true for a long time. They are some of the best built wheels I have ever had and are worth every penny.
Suguino Crank 24/34/48. Most cranks today have too hard of gears. For example, a common configuration is a double 42/52. Really only a pro rider should be riding a crank like that. I definitely need easier gears. However, I don’t think road cranks can go below 24 for the easiest gear. The cassette is an 11 speed 11-36 so I am at the limit of my strength and gearing technology. My only choice then is to use a mountain bike crank which has easier gears than a 24.
Brake lever/shifter Shimano 105. This is about a mid range Shimano component but is more than enough for what I need.
Front derailleur dura ace triple.
Rear derailleur Shimano 105 long reach
Saddle Brooks B17 leather.
Specialized Flak jacket 32m or Schwalbe Marathon, because I hate flats
Brakes TRP RG957 long reach. I believe they match other brakes in quality and are less expensive.
Tektro RL726 cross lever. I like to ride with my hands on the upright and still reach the brake.
Kool Stop Dura 2 brake insert. These really stop well when wet or dry.
My local bicycle shop, Family Cycling Center in Capitola, California is where I bought my bike and where I keep going for help, knowledge and parts. Everybody should have a shop this good.
Some of these sites have older classic parts or used parts.
Bike Recyclery https://www.bikerecyclery.com Yes, some recycled and some new classic parts.
Yellow Jersey http://www.yellowjersey.org When my Ibex wool jersey finally wears out I will get another wool jersey here. They have a good selection of triple cranks. Triple cranks are falling out of favor. Compact doubles are replacing them but for really hard hills a compact double just doesn’t do it.
Ebay, where I have been able to find unusual parts like a crank locking which nobody else had. It is like a garage sale and requires searching.
My last tool is a part of me. It is a Freestyle Libre Abbott Laboratories continuous glucose monitor (CGM) patch. A CGM patch connects to a display on my phone and lets me know what my blood sugar is at any moment and whether it is going up or down. I am a type 1 diabetic which requires a combination of healthy eating and exercise. Eating makes a persons blood sugar go up and exercising makes blood sugar go down. It is a balancing act. Hard exercise can make blood sugars go down too quickly and then I start to feel shaky, or worse, and cannot focus which is not good at 40 mph down a hill. I have used other companies CGM but the Freestyle by Abbott is truly better than the others. I cannot say enough good things about them. I was diagnosed as a type 1 forty years ago which I consider the dark ages of diabetes monitoring technology (basically no metering technologies or modern insulins) and I am so thankful for the people of Abbott and the technology they provide. I will discuss riding and walking with type 1 diabetes in a future article.