I’m a hopeless mechanic. I can fix a puncture, attach a bottle cage, remove a wheel, change a cassette, swap pedals, remove and replace a saddle and even change brake blocks. But anything more complicated – head-set, bottom bracket, gears, brakes or anything that involves diagnosing a fault – forget it.
But here’s the thing – I love tools. I have a torque wrench; it’s a thing of beauty and sits in its own case but I don’t know how to use it. I have a fabulous collection of multi-tools, I have allen keys and screw drivers, a socket wrench (?), a chain whip (cost 20 quid, used it once), pliers, 40 different sized spanners, I have a special gun for greasing Speedplay pedals (why bother?). I even have a work bench. I have a track pump and a Co2 pump – can’t use it, the canister always goes off before I’m ready and my hands freeze.
My most recent purchase – a blue, metal magnetic Park Tools dish for storing metal parts – why? I never remove them.
My tools are stored in a magnetic tool rack or a tool chest but I want a metal cabinet on wheels and some of those special racks and hooks you see in bike shops. I went to see Alex at Le Bicycle – he has all his tools laid out in his work-shop. He has a wheel truing jig and spoke keys – I need a set of spoke keys. And a rubber mallet for removing cranks: I used an old hammer and a Next catalogue and now the cranks are dented and I can’t get them off. I have my eye on a compressor, a tray that clips to my bike stand so I have somewhere to put all my tools and a multi-tool made by Brooks which comes in a leather pouch – you can never have too many.
If only I had better tools and more of them I would be a better mechanic – I know it.
I bought some Look pedals with the carbon blade (100 quid) but they were so tight I couldn’t get my shoes out and kept falling over. I bought a replacement blade (30 quid) and tried changing them but my allen key didn’t fit. I went to see Alex.
‘It’s not an allen key’ he said. ‘It’s a torx.’
‘So I need a torx tool? How much?’
I took my torx tool home and set to work. Could I do it? No. I couldn’t hold the pedal properly to work the tool. I needed a vice and I didn’t have one.
I went back to Alex. He did it for me; cost me 5 quid.
For sale – torx tool – 15 quid, never raced or rallied.