I want to assume that when most people find themselves funemployed, they take to the outdoors, pursue a new hobby, and see the world.
Me? My time off didn’t exactly go that way. Instead, I spent much of my newfound free time digging deeper into a hole of what could be considered work, albeit unpaid. I got my hands dirty with the contaminated grease of other people’s bikes. I reorganised my tool wall to better fit the tools I use most. I kept my 3D printer buzzing through the night. I started a podcast with Caley Fretz and Dane Cash. And I bought more tools. Oh yes, more tools!
And so, with that, I have some new tools to share with those who care. And what better place to do that than in a new series inspired by something I’ve long done on my
Instagram. This is New Tools Day. A place where I share the joy of new tools that span the spectrum from pocket-carry to home mechanic, and homemade through to objects of desire for pro mechanics.
Let’s dive right in!
Feedback Sports is an interesting company to me. Their portable workstands are often considered a benchmark and they’re used by everyone from punters to World Cup pros. Their trainers are often used for warm-ups by the fastest of the fast. Meanwhile Feedback’s hand tool lineup is far more focussed on the affordable consumer space. That said, the new Chain Tool 3.0 (US$40) doesn’t feel like your usual consumer-level chain tool. This new chainbreaker is a welcome addition to the range. I’d previously tested the previous Feedback Sports Chain Tool and it didn’t fare so well against its equally affordable competitors. The handle felt flimsy, and the closed design would sometimes cause the chain to become stuck. By contrast, this new one is actually quite impressive! This new chainbreaker has a pro-level of smoothness and strength to it that I wasn’t expecting. The flat handle spins effortlessly, while the adjustable backside plate support allows you to confidently snug just about any chain in place. The tool features a mix of materials. The pin-driver handle is aluminium, the thread components and body are steel, but the main handle is a hollow plastic with a rubberised exterior. All told it only weighs 163 grams, a low figure for a chain tool of this size and purpose. The new chainbreaker works across everything from singlespeed through to the latest 12- and 13-speed chains. The only thing it can’t do is peen Campagnolo chains. For anyone into cameras, the Feedback Sports Chain Tool 3.0 would be the “prosumer” model where its function and features rival professional options. Compared to vastly more expensive professional tools, what you’re arguably missing is a minute amount of chain-holding security, easy access to individual components, and, again, the ability to peen Campagnolo chains. A spare pin is stored in the base of the handle. That hollow handle also doubles as storage for quick links. A quick size comparison against some similarly priced and equally capable competitors. From left to right, you have the Birzman Damselfly Universal, Feedback Sports Chain Tool 3.0, Unior Professional, and Park Tool CT-3.3 (3.2 shown). Also worth considering at this pricepoint are the Shimano TL-CN29 and Pedro’s Shop Chain Tool. This US$40-$55 price range is the sweet spot for home mechanics who want a decent tool that’ll last. Feedback Sports also has the new Rotor Truing Fork 2.0. This second-generation disc-bending tool adds a slot for 2.3 mm-wide rotors and a more comfortable feel in the hand. This one does what it’s designed to do and sells for US$15. Colorado-based mechanic Colin Williams is to blame for me buying this one. I was blissfully unaware that Bahco (a subsidiary of Snap-On Tools) made such a rainbow-coloured hex key set until he pointed out to me that I didn’t own it. Just a heads-up that these are still pretty hard to find and not exactly cheap. Purdy. Thinking they look familiar? Yep, no prizes for guessing which product inspired Bahco. That said, while they may look similar to Wera, they’re absolutely not the same. Wera hex keys feature the company’s patented HexPlus profile that aims to increase the surface area within the bolt. By comparison, Bahco sticks to a more traditional hex profile (with good fitting tolerances for a snug fit). A nice feature is the taper on the coloured sleeve. This gives an area for easier holding between the fingers, but it’s also used to help keep the hex keys in the provided holder without being a bear to remove. So what do I think? The quality is great and these are no doubt a pro-quality tool. However, I still gravitate towards hex keys with a consistent diameter from the hex end as that ensures you’ll never hit a snag with a concealed bolt (such as with some steerer compression plugs, seatposts, derailleurs, etc). For the same reason I also shy away from using hex keys with grip sleeves like these. PB Swiss Rainbows remain my go-to for these reasons (and others). Been ‘lucky’ enough to come across an ultra-thin external centerlock lockring? Yep, the tool splines get as thin as shown. With so little tool engagement it can be beneficial to stabilise and lock the tool in place so that it can’t slip. The new Wheels Manufacturing Centerlock Socket (US$32) is such solution. There’s a few things going on here that separate it from many bottom bracket sockets. The tool splines are flush to the edge in order to maximise engagement with the lockring. The socket has generous depth to clear protruding axle end caps. And then you may notice that it has a thread inside of it. That thread pairs with Wheels Manufacturing’s pre-existing 3/8″ press rods. This way you can firmly secure the tool onto any thru-axle style hub. From here you’d use your favourite 3/8″ ratchet and/or torque wrench to drive the socket. Is this tool absolutely necessary? Not really. There are flat spanners that you can clamp onto the hub in a similar way. And other sockets exist that can be used in similarly clever ways. That said, I bought this because it solved enough of a problem for me. Wheels Manufacturing also has this cute little number. Its sole purpose is removing the self-extracting cap on current-gen Shimano XTR cranks, an idea I first saw from Swedish-based machinist Tony Tegheim. It’s a bit of an odd tool to own as Shimano still doesn’t offer replacement bolts for this crank. Still, there are aftermarket solutions in case the bolt gets damaged and the tool is only US$16 to get it done. Magnets are great. This is a fun little hack I came up with to make my Shimano Di2 wire tools easier to find. The before and after. I simply drilled a small and shallow 5 mm hole in the centre of the tool. From here, you just add a dab of super glue and a 5 mm x 1 mm magnet. Job done. I bought a stack of these magnets on eBay, but they can also be sourced from all kinds of craft and hardware stores. Works on the newer EW-SD300 tool, too. Now they sit on my tool wall, attached to a magnetic tool holder. Much better. Speaking of Shimano things, subsidiary company Pro Bike Gear recently updated its Internal Routing Tool to help with guiding new and smaller Shimano Di2 EW-SD300 wires (used for 12-speed and newer e-bikes). It was the only tool on the market to do this, but just as I was typing Park Tool dropped an alternative option with its updated IR-1.3 Internal Cable Routing Kit. I suspect I’ll get my hands on one of those soon enough. These teeny-tiny bits are designed to provide a snap-fit with the ends of Di2 wires. The bit on the left (for EW-SD300 wires) is the only new thing about the Pro Internal Routing Tool. Unfortunately it’s not offered as a separate part for those with the old version. Ethan Fiamingo is a bicycle mechanic in Orange County, California and the founder of Radar Laboratories. This relatively new brand is best known for its range of LoobToob products which consists of various sizes of heavy-duty syringes and interchangeable tips for easier and cleaner applications of grease and thick oils. Pictured are just a few of the Luer-lock tips that Radar Laboratories offers. I’ve had these syringes in use for sometime and they’ve held up great. On the left is the old 10 ml Pro syringe with a needle applicator; I have this filled with a Dumonde Tech freehub grease. The one in the middle is the Pro 20 ml syringe fitted with a non-marring tip and filled with Motorex M-Prep for delicate suspension work. And the big 50 ml Pro syringe on the right is fitted with the brush applicator and filled with some thick Morgan Blue Aquapaste. Radar Laboratories has a range of related accessories. Pictured are some 3D-printed protective caps to keep things clean. The one-man-band company also has wall-mount clips which work surprisingly well. Get your mind out of the gutter! And no, they’re not microphones. These are electric screwdrivers from Japanese screw-driving-specialists Vessel. The one on the right Is what I started with; it’s the ‘High-Speed’ model that’s readily available across the United States, Australia, and many other places. The one on the left is the newer 220 USB Plus version that is currently limited to the Japanese market (I sourced mine on eBay for about US$80). All of the Vessel electric screwdrivers feature a USB-rechargeable battery and are designed for low-torque screwdriving. The replaceable tool bit is fixed and works just like a regular manual screwdriver up to a 10 Nm load. At lower torque (under 2 Nm, or less for some models) you can simply push the switch in the forward (clockwise) or backward (anti-clockwise) direction to quickly move the fastener through its thread length. Compared to more common electric screwdriving tools, this one feels far more like a hand tool. In use, you get a good sense of feedback when starting the thread manually, and then it’s simple to add some effortless speed. A closer look at the switch. This tool is simple, fast, and most importantly safe, to use on things like stem faceplates, bottle cage bolts, and anywhere else you find yourself with multiple long-length bolts. There’s a little light to see what you’re doing, while the green light on the left is the three-speed mode switch specific to the 220 USB Plus model. The harder-to-find 220 USB Plus model also introduces USB-C charging. While the simpler single-mode versions feature Micro USB charging. Given the choice, and assuming you’re happy to forgo a local warranty, then the 220 USB Plus is my favourite. Still, there’s plenty to like about the simpler and cheaper single-mode versions also. It was already my favourite tool for swapping stems and handlebars, and now it’s a favourite tool for wheel lacing, too. In the case of wheel building I combined it with a bit-based nipple driver from British tool brand BSC. Pedro’s recently added some colour coding to its Pro Spoke Wrenches. Spanning 3.23, 3.30, and 3.45 mm sizes, the wrenches are available individually (US$19) or as a set of three (US$48). These spoke wrenches take a unique approach to offering three- and four-sided openings in one tool. The plastic handle pulls free and allows you to select which opening to use. As a critique, the locking fit of that plastic handle does loosen after repeated switching. The spoke wrenches are comfortable in hand and offer a snug fit on the nipple. Got a broken bike part that you want to remember in the most respectful way? Abbey Bike Tools has you covered. OK, so it’s actually a new tool called a T-way. It was specifically made on request from SRAM as a means to help show off how few tools are required to install the new Eagle Transmissions. Yep, just about every bolt required for installation can be handled with the T25, 6 mm and 8 mm hex shown – and that 6 mm Is only needed for the thru-axle. SRAM just sold out of these on its merchandise website and the brand’s currently planning a pre-order for more. Meanwhile, Abbey Bike Tools is keen to gauge the demand for such a tool, and whether you’d want it with semi-permanent bits or as a kit with the option of adding magnets for easy bit-changing. Give your thoughts in the comments. The tool is impressively stout and comes fitted with high-quality bits from Wera. Overall it’s a quality tool but not something I’ve found myself reaching for a whole lot. Hello! Dave here. You may have noticed that this article was filled with products you don’t normally see covered by the bike industry. Perhaps you also noticed the complete lack of banner ads and affiliate links. That’s because this content is funded by our members. If you haven’t already, please consider becoming a member of Escape Collective. If you’re already a member, then I’d love for you to share this article with someone who may appreciate it. Your support will help to ensure that we can continue making content just like this. What did you think of this story?
😐Meh 😊️Solid 🤩Excellent