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Broken Spoke blog: My tool addiction

I have a confession to make. I have a tool addiction. I keep buying bike specific tools and hanging on to obsolete ones, too. I can tell you when this addiction started as I remember it clearly. My first bicycle was a hand-me-down of unknown origin. It was a simple single speed that had seen better days, but to me at the time it was the greatest bicycle ever.

I rode that bike every day until the chain kept falling off. As a mere youngster, not yet even in my teens, I had no idea why that kept happening. Fortunately, an older friend explained the chain had stretched and the way to fix it was to shorten the chain. I know now how simplistic that sounds, but we didn’t know any better. I also didn’t know what a chain tool looked like. To be honest, I didn’t even know such a thing existed.

My tool collection at that time was non-existent. Any pocket money I had went on Lego and Action Men. Armed with just a screwdriver, a hammer and a large nail and the guidance of my older friend, I set about shortening the chain. First step was to remove the split link with the help of the screwdriver. A slip of the screwdriver gave me my first cycling-related injury but eventually I had the split link off. Next, the chain was placed across two bricks placed on the ground with a small gap between them. The gap was there to allow the pin to be pushed through so I could remove the redundant link. It’s at this point the nail and hammer are employed. Hammer hits nail, nail drives pin through chain link, link gets removed.

With the chain re-joined I was back on my way. Well, that was the case until the crunchy noises started. Consultation with ‘experts’ or, if you will, friends, suggested I needed new bearing in the bottom bracket. Buoyed by my success with the chain, out came the big hammer and screwdriver again. It was not until I’d destroyed the fixed cup that I discovered it had a left-hand thread.

After saving up several weeks’ pocket money, I was able to take my poor bike and its mashed up fixed cup to the local shop where the owner took pity on me and led me into the workshop. Here, I was introduced to the world of specialist bike tools and so my addiction began. Lock ring spanners, peg spanners, fixed cup spanners and headset spanners soon led on to more hardcore kit; a headset press, a crown race setter and more. Oh, so much more…

I’ve still got one-inch headset spanners and more freewheel tools and obscure cassette lockring tools than I care to think about. Then there’s the professional quality workshop stand, the wheel truing jig, the dishing stick and, of course, a chain tool. It’s a professional workshop standard piece of kit that cost more than I like to think about and now the world is going 11-speed it too will soon be as redundant as the headset spanners. However, I won’t get despondent about the fact. Oh no, I’ve now got an excuse to but another newer chain tool.

My name is Duncan and I’m a bicycle tool addict.

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