27 July 2008

What's in the case?

One of the few things that make us who and what we are, are tools, without them we are nothing, and with them we can solve most of the worlds problems. So I thought I would give you a quick look around my tool case, and a look at some of the tools that reside in there.

Hey, what's in the case mister?

With us constantly moving from race to race, we have to have everything you might need to work on a bike, with in reason of course with us. The only limitations being the size of the box you want to lug around, and whether you can carry it I suppose. Sometimes you got to draw the line at some of the bigger tools, but I am sure if you had the space, you could always squeeze them in. The most important thing is making sure that you have all the necessary tools, that fit the bikes you are working on. My box has a selection of tools that are pretty specific, (and a few custom made) for the bikes that the team use, both the road bikes and the TT bikes. All of the bikes have the same groupset on them, Shimano Dura-ace, so it makes things a little bit easier. But the big thing is making sure that if you are alone, you can pretty much solve any problems that might arise.

The bottom of the case holds all the big stuff. The hammers, the cassette removers, cable cutters, spanners etc. Tape, files, a torque wrench and a few cone spanners, a hole punch and a chain tool. Bottom left are the 'gap' tools, to set the wheels up to the perfect spacing for a speedy wheel swap.

I really didn’t think I had that many tools, that is until I took them all out of the case, to take a photo. And believe it or not, every tool gets used most of the time, otherwise I would seriously question whether I want to carry it around any longer. To make things a little bit easier, most of the bigger trucks we use, have an array of bigger tools that may be used occasionally, but you could probably do with out them if you really needed to. There is a headset press that we use for the BB bearings, but you could hit them in easily enough with a hammer. There are a couple of cutting guides for steerers and seat posts, and a hacksaw to cut them with, but you could do it freestyle if needed. But other than maybe a small vice, and a trueing stand that’s pretty much it for extra tools. And if you get some pretty hairy repairs, there are always a few other teams either in the same hotel or not far away that will probably have what you need.

I don’t really care where the tools come from, as long as they work and don’t break. Some tools you are going to have for years (unless they are permanently borrowed), so you might as well buy the best, saves replacing them all the time. I do look at other industries tools as well, as they generally are cheaper and most often better quality. There are a few specific tools, just for bikes, and with these, there is no one company that has all the best. You just got to have a good look around, and see what you like out of what is available. I have a selection of Shimano, Park, Pedros, Cyclo, BBB and Syncros bike specific tools. All my favourites for the specific job they doing for me, be it the Shimano chain tool, or the Park Cassette removers, they all have one job to do, they better do it the best they can. I use a few non-bike tools, Wurth being my favourite here, nice German quality, for Allen keys, bent or straight, Torx keys, cutters or poly-grips, you can’t beat them on price or quality. Other than that, most others are random tools that either feel nice (well balanced, good weight, comfortable), or have a cool job do, to make life a bit easier.

All the smaller tools are in their spots in the top of the case. Spare parts, cable ends, and assorted spare parts. All the drivers you can handle, knives, files and cutters of every size needed. Even some tire levers for those tough tubulars. Drills and taps for those emergency stripped thread situations, and some cool other very important little tools.

There are always a few tools that you end up using more than others, so having a spare or two of these ones, is important as well. Who knows when one will escape or get lost, then it could be trouble. I think I counted 6 different versions I have of a 4,5, and 6mm Allen wrench, funny enough, they are the most used tools in the box. I couldn’t do without my derailier alignment tool, or the Shimano chain tool. My trusty red screwdriver is hard to do without as well, and it’s been around for a while, ohh the bikes that have been tuned with this baby, I shudder to think. My cheese knife and spoon are very important, for keeping me feed, on those late nights and early mornings (sorry but my ‘spork’ is broken, it was my most important tool up till then). The tools travel in the race car every day I race, so I have everything I need to do most repairs before the start, or any bush repairs during the race or a crash. There are selection of inner cables and outers in the case, all the setups of the whole team, and a fold up hacksaw hiding in there as well. I can’t think of any other tools I need at this stage, but when I see them I will know. The never ending search is always fun, cause you never know when the perfect tool with cross your path.

Open and ready for action, notice how everything is nice and tidy now. A few more minutes and that picture will change a lot.

Most of the mechanics in the teams and around the scene, have all their own style when it comes to tool cases, and what they carry in them. But I suppose, we can all do the same job, with whatever we carry with us, so it doesn’t matter how you get there sometimes, just as long as it’s fixed, tuned and safe to ride. I found this site with a good selection of mechanics cases,
for your further interest. For flying to those races out of Europe, I simplify my tools to about a third the size, more importantly about ¼ of the weight (can’t imagine having to pay excess baggage on it). I even get rid of the hard case and swap it with a soft one. And there is always some local mechanic or shop you can borrow more tools if you need them for a special job. Most mechanics are pretty neutral when it comes to the races. We may work in opposing teams, and we may race like hell to win, but we all work with the common goal of making sure every rider has the same chance in the race.


scooter said...

spork? hells bells benny, its called a SPLAYD.
ill have one waiting for you by the time you get back down here to oz, stainless steel naturally...

benny said...

yeah but that's what you Aussies call it, just cause one hand has a beer in it permanantly. But this is better http://www.kirou.com/2006/08/30/kirououtdoor-lite-my-fires-spork/ cause it's plastic, great for taking on aeroplanes. Sweden's best invention ever, that and Cocos Balls, of course. But might be good for the toolbox, cheers Scooter.

Terry said...

Keep up the good work. Just wondering...
What do you use the cut off rear drop outs connected by black web for?

benny said...

We use that to 'Gap' the spare wheels. All the bikes are the same, so we can set the wheel to fit in the bike with no adjustment needed on the quick release (for a quick wheel change during the race). When we take a wheel from the rack on the car for example, the quick release is not 'set', so in the back seat we can simulate putting it in a bike by using the 'gapping tool'. You can see some fork tips next to it, I just got these (we have to wait for a crashed bike to cut them off) so are about to make a tool for the front wheels as well.

Anonymous said...

Hi I'm putting together a toolbox and would like to know what is the make of your box. Thanks

benny said...

Hey it's a 'Pedros' case. one of the stronger ones around. I have modified it a lot from standard. Cut a lot of the foam from the base tray. And made the hinges a bit stronger, the broke within a few weeks. Good luck, benny