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I must be from another planet! 
31st-May-2008 11:08 am
I just went to what I've heard is the best bike store in town. I want a tool that will have all or most of the bike-related wrenches all in one small, lightweight tool that I can carry with me. I remember, er, about 30 years ago, having a dumb-bell shaped thing that had 5 different wrenches of varying sizes on each end. At another iteration of this very store a few years ago I had bought a smaller spanner (2 wrench-holes and a few differently shaped prying bits) but the wrench-holes were too small for some of the tasks I needed to perform.

I poked around a little bit and then asked one of the boys working there for a spanner.
A what?
You know -- a multi-wrench thing?
Oh those.
He showed me a board downstairs. All I saw were Allen wrench sets. I acted confused and he pointed at the Allen set.
Um... those are innies -- I need an outie. You know, I need something that I can use to undo the bolt through the post so I can raise my seat.
Oh no -- that's not how you raise the seat -- that's how you tip it.
Luckily at about that time another, slightly older fellow, with more experience, either with bikes or with dealing with idiot customers, came over and told the kid who was "helping" me that "some older bikes" had what I was describing. He also told me I probably wanted a 14 mm wrench (I'd have bet on 11 or 12, personally, but I can check) and that he just carries wrenches in his pocket.
31st-May-2008 07:07 pm (UTC)
FWIW, I came across one of those dumbbell shaped things a couple of years ago and bought it. First time I used it, it twisted in half. They're made of pot-metal and are useless.
If your bike is at all new, you need hardly any actual wrenches while on the road; mostly you DO need the "innies". The things you need wrenches for are pretty much all things you'd do at home, not on the road, and for that, you're much better off wandering over to Harbor Freight and buying a metric wrench set for $10. The cheap lightweight carry-alongs will just break anyway.
I carry a multitool and actually can do even most of the stuff I do at home with it. I bought it at Meijer for $10.
If you want to go nuts and get probably the nicest one around, the Alien II is it, but it's $40. You can buy a pretty decent repair tool kit for a bit more on sale.

Or look on this page and pick the one that meets your price/performance point.
31st-May-2008 07:12 pm (UTC)
Just to follow up a bit, think about what you REALLY will need to do on the road. Remove your wheels to change a tube, certainly. You probably have quick-releases. If not, you'll need a GOOD wrench for that since those nuts are TIGHT - a cheap dumbbell thing won't cut it. You'll need tire levers too.

You're almost certainly not going to need to adjust your seat height - once that's set there's no need to move it.
A pair of pliers is a good emergency tool; you're more likely to have to twist a spoke around another spoke to keep it out of the chainline than to have to adjust something, and for emergency adjustments, a pliers will do.

What you do not need to carry on the road is mostly any wrenches. There just is hardly anything on a bike that uses a wrench that's likely to die on the road, that you can also fix if you have a wrench.

Nylon zip ties, on the other hand, are indispensable. You can do anything from secure a loose pannier to do an emergency repair on a broken freehub to tie down cargo with them.
1st-Jun-2008 04:12 pm (UTC)
I'm going to have to brush up on my Anatomy of a Bicycle... several of the words you used are just not in my vocab. We bought matching bikes from a coworker of the spouses 8 or 10 years ago, so they're probably at least 10 years old.

The spanner I bought while outfitting myself a few years ago has Allen bits poking out from the 2 ends -- I don't think I've found an Allen nut on the bike they don't fit -- except perhaps for the mirror I added -- and I have the wrench they provided for that. (Of course, I've not needed to adjust anything either. At that time I also bought a pair of the tire tools... I've not used them yet -- when I was a kid we used the back end of spoons to get the tire off. I certainly have quick release on the front tire, but I do not believe I do on the rear (unless the mechanism looks different and just doesn't pattern-match for me).

I mentioned the seat because the two bolts I'd seen on the bike that weren't addressed by my spanner were the seat and the wheel, and I wanted to keep things simple for this kid -- and I wasn't sure I wouldn't get a lecture on why a consumer shouldn't try to remove a wheel on their own if I mentioned that.

The seat is going to be a problem for me. (13 mm btw, the wheel was 15 mm.) I fall down easily, I'm quite clumsy, and I get scared when I can't put my feet on the ground. Hence, the seat started about as low as it goes. (I only just, with this bike, learned to mount by swinging my foot backward rather than forward and over the bars; I used to lose my balance if I tried that. I still cannot do a moving mount.) But riding it, with the legs staying so far bent, I'm realizing that that just isn't right either. So I'm getting daring and raising the seat ... a little. And I think next time I'll raise it a little more. But yeah, I can do that at home using my car-tools.

Of course, even if I have a super duper Craftsman Wrench, if the wheel bolts are that tight, there's no saying I'll be able to do anything on the road anyhow. I carry a 3+foot "cheater" in the car for slipping over the end of the dogleg. I can dance on the end of one of those and have my car's lug nuts laugh at me -- but with my cheater, not only do I have the advantage of leverage, but I can really put my back into it, and I've not had a bolt or nut defeat me.

Thanks for the great links. And the hint on zip ties.
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