The Professional Bicycle Mechanic Association’s Mechanics Minute newsletter has been crossing our virtual desks and it’s pretty awesome. So we thought we’d share the most recent edition with you. Check it out!
By Ric Hjertberg
Wabi-sabi is a traditional Japanese aesthetic that’s become well known in the West. Roughly defined as the beauty of imperfection, it is regularly invoked in architecture, fashion, and lifestyle discussions. Even without it, western culture has always seen beauty in imperfection—an abandoned gas station, archeological ruins, a quietly bleaching bone in the desert. However, in Japan, it’s more than just one way to see things. It is key to the fundamental nature of beauty and authenticity, as much as the Greek concept of perfection in the West.
Wabi-sabi’s three underlying principles: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. Few mechanical scenes are as much in tune with these concepts like bicycle mechanics. We work on bikes to slow down their wearing out, all the time knowing that the goal is a machine turned to dust through valuable and enjoyable riding.
We regularly adjust our repair strategies to fit the use, the costs of replacement, and the time available. Beauty comes from work appropriate to the bike. Few vehicle mechanics are challenged with the extremes we enjoy: from high tech ornamentation to rusting dumpster salvage.
More than most trades, bicycle mechanics is informed by riding itself. It’s very rare that a bicycle mechanic is not intimately connected to cycling, riding and reflecting on the machine’s function. Our work is infused with this awareness. It’s journey, not destination, oriented.
The real reason I’m reflecting this way relates to tools, those wonderful extensions of our hands that make the work possible. While we all admire and envy a perfectly formed and balanced tool that is nearly new, there is great satisfaction to one that shows wear and even less-than-perfect function. It might come from a relative or be a survivor of a tool kit you’ve largely re-equipped as your career grows. These unique, imperfect, and worn items are part of the way each of us embraces this work. Here are a few of my own favorites, tools that embody wabi-sabi for me. They keep us grounded, give our boxes character, and help make the workshop feel like home.
What’s your favorite wabi-sabi tool?
This piece was originally published in the Professional Bicycle Mechanic Association‘s Mechanics Minute newsletter.Tweet Print
The contest you are trying to enter has ended, congratulations to the winner Cheryl Free of Fort Wayne, IN
This one of a kind co-branded Team Edition Tool Kit will encourage some serious bonding between you and your bike this winter and far beyond. The professional level tool kit has 19 bicycle tools (offering 25 functions). The tools feature over-molded file tread grip for comfort and style, S2 steel and have been tested by some of the most talented pro bicycle mechanics in the world. Prop open the durable TPU coated case on your tool bench or conveniently attach it to a bike work stand. With room for extra tools, you’ll never have to dig through a tool box again.
Complete the survey below by 11:59 p.m. December 13, 2017 to be entered to win. We will choose and notify a winner the following day. Some terms and conditions apply, but don’t they always? Open to U.S. residents, only. Sorry, but that’s not our choice. – If you are on a mobile device, click here to take the survey
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By Mike Cushionbury
Lezyne, now in its 10th year of existence, has branched out well beyond just pumps and minitools. Its product portfolio now also includes LED lights, GPS units and heart rate monitor straps mixed in among multitools, minipumps, floor pumps and digital floor pumps. On the tool side the company now makes high quality shop tools. Within that is the new Port-a-Shop Pro, a portable, professional-grade kit.
The composite hard shell case includes 15 basic tools and five glueless patch kits. What makes this kit stand out is the quality and attention to detail. Many of the tools are CNC machined aluminum and the bigger ones have varnished wood handles. All the hex and Torx keys have a chrome-vanadium coating, so they’ll stay shiny and new-looking longer. The large CNC Rod Handle attachment holds the bottom bracket and cassette lockring tools (and it’s much more elegant than using a rusty, oily adjustable wrench).
Simply put, these tools work as well as they look. They feel great in the hands, have stellar designs and attention to detail and do what they are supposed to do. Additionally, many of the tools are serviceable, so you can swap out damaged bits or handles (or even switch from wood to CNC aluminum if you have an aesthetic change of mind). If you strip or break a bit you can replace it independently without needing to get a whole new tool.
There is a sizeable compartment in the case to add your own tools, which is very handy since this kit is missing some important things, such as screwdrivers and cable cutters. While this kit isn’t a comprehensive, all-you’ll-ever-need collection of tools, it is an excellent assortment of must-have basics you’ll use often in an easily portable case.
The promotion you are trying to access has ended.
Fine-tune your bike before or after a ride with this set of essentials. Perfectly sized to keep on the bench or in the car.
• 12 bicycle tools/16 functions
• professional grade durability
• overmolded file tread grip for comfort & style
• weather resistant TPU coated nylon case
Complete the survey below by 11:59 p.m., May 24, 2017 to be entered to win. We will choose and notify a winner the following day. Some terms and conditions apply, but don’t they always? Open to U.S. residents, only. Sorry, but that’s not our choice. – If you are on a mobile device, click here to take the survey.
We just returned from a week at Press Camp in Park City, Utah, where several companies announced new stuff for model year 2017. Smith, Ryders Eyewear and Fabric all caught our eye with their new helmets, sunglasses, saddles and tools. Keep reading to check out the new gear. Reviews of many of these items will be coming soon!
Smith Route Helmet
Smith’s first road helmet, the Overtake, was launched a few years ago to much attention for its unique looks, use of multiple new protection technologies and its steep price tag. Now, Smith has added the Route, a lower-cost road/adventure/whatever lid that will retail for $150 without MIPS and $180 with MIPS. The Route is available now in nine colors, including white, black, orange and camo print, among others.
The Route still features a comfortable, 360-degree fit system and the striking green honeycomb protection lining from Koroyd. Instead of full coverage, the Koroyd (a rather expensive material designed to reduce skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries) is strategically placed where crash impacts are most likely to occur. Light and camera mounts aren’t included, because whatever you already have should work at the top of the helmet, where there is no Koroyd blocking the vents.
Also available is the Rover, a mountain bike helmet that is roughly the same thing but with a detachable visor included. Pricing is the same for the Rover.
Ryders Eyewear with antiFOG Lenses
As soon as I hear a claim like “these lenses will never fog,” my B.S. antennae goes up. But I received a pair to wear during Press Camp and, low and behold, Ryders antiFOG lenses actually work. They carried me through several steamy rides. I look forward to testing them this winter while fatbiking and commuting with a balaclava.
Ryders Eyewear started out as a family-run mountain bike sunglasses company and is now owned by one of the most high-tech lens manufacturers in the world. That gives the company access to some pretty impressive technologies, including the military-grade anti-fog treatment it adapted for its cycling lenses. Ryders elected not to polarize all of its riding lenses because it believes some glare is useful, allowing you to see things like ice patches and puddles.
Some frames will feature rimless tops, which are intended to provide unobstructed views from a crouched, looking-up position, as well as ventilation. Rims on the bottom can also help protect your face in the event of a crash. Sunglasses with antiFOG lenses start at $79 for clear up to about $150 for lenses packed with multiple technologies (too many to explain here; you can still get polarization if you want it).
Just know that the antiFOG seems to function as claimed and the glasses are very comfortable. Many models feature adjustable nose pieces and low-profile stems that work well with a wide variety of helmets.
Fabric is a UK-based company that makes saddles, grips, bar tape, tools and pumps. The unique thing about Fabric saddles are the way they are built: a one-piece waterproof microfiber top with foam padding is vacuum bonded (heated and pressed) to a one-piece, flexible nylon base. There are no nasty adhesives or side stitching that could compress the padding and eventually come apart. Water and dirt can’t get in and foam won’t pop out if the saddle is slashed in an accident. The saddles are supposed to feel the same for their entire lifetime.
The new Line saddle features an ergonomic relief channel that is not completely open (Fabric is thinking of its UK brethren who ride in rain often). The Line is 270 mm long and comes in two widths: 134 and 142 mm, eight color options and three rails (cromo, titanium and carbon). The Line weighs between 183 grams and 250 grams. Prices range from $70 to $100. We have one for test and will report back, soon.
The Fabric Cell saddle is not new, but it’s still rarely seen. Developed using sneaker technology (think high-end, springy running shoes), the Cell is an air-sprung saddle that deforms in a linear fashion to better support your bottom. It’s supposed to be super-comfortable even when riding without a padded chamois. It has a weatherproof TPU cover and comes in six colors. Weight is 355 grams, length is 282 mm and width is 155 mm. Price is $80.
Fabric Chamber Multitool
Bike tools with interchangeable bits often have tiny pieces that are easy to loose and hard to handle with sweaty fingers. The Fabric Chamber tool helps by offering 13 tool bits with extra leverage, including a ratchet function. Screwed into the chamber are six, double-ended bits and an 8 mm over-bit. Thirteen functions are included: 2 mm, 2.5 mm, 3 mm, 4 mm, 5 mm, 6 mm, 8 mm, SL3, SL5, PH1, PH2, T10, T25.
The bits can be used at different lengths in the chamber head, increasing access to the many hard to reach areas on a bicycle. The compact shape is snag-free and easy to carry. Its 162 gram weight feels a bit heavy, but no more so than standard multi-tools. Retail is $60.
Full disclosure, Press Camp is not a standard bike industry event, which often involves camping or at least staying in a sub-par hotel with questionable sheets and discolored bath water. Press Camp is held at a swanky ski resort with very crisp white sheets and fabulous meals. We were well taken care of.
It is perhaps the simplest and yet most important tool in cycling—the hex wrench. From multi-tools to tri-wrenches and individual T-handles, there are countless variations of this classic and essential workhorse of the bicycle mechanic’s bench.
Silca is known for its spare-no-expense floor pumps, and it seems appropriate that its latest product is this set of high-end tools. The HX-One kit starts with S-2 steel, a super hard steel used for tools because it lasts longer without rounding off. It is then coated with a special chrome finish for perfect tolerances and then spray coated with a high-visibility, textured polymer finish for grip.
Included in the kit is the magnetic adapter that turns the 6 mm hex hey into a 1/4-inch socket driver. Also included are six Torx heads, two Phillips heads and two flat head screw drivers.
The whole package is packed into a CNC-made box made from Beech that is hand-sanded and polished then adorned with a stainless steel Silca logo.
At $125 these tools aren’t cheap, but they should last a lifetime.Tweet Print