Garage Files – The Best Tools in the Garage
We here at MBA are tool dorks. We love to work on our bikes in the garage late into the night, dialing in our machines for the ride the next day. We love it when a new tool comes into our shop, especially when we’ve been asking for a year, “Why doesn’t somebody make a tool for this?” This is a collection of those tools that have been lifesavers for our crew—ones that are incredibly functional, and those that are simply too cool to leave out of the mix. This month’s “Garage Files” is all about the tools you didn’t know were out there but will certainly want. If you are not in the market for new tools, you should probably stop reading right now, because there are some tools that you will undoubtedly want in your home workshop after seeing this article.
IceToolz brake piston and pad alignment tool: This handy tool is designed to solve the pesky problem that happens when the brake lever is squeezed without a rotor. The smooth chromoly blade can easily separate and reset stuck pistons and comes with a comfortable rubberized handle.
Using this tool is as easy as pushing the blade in between the pads and then gently levering to reset them to their original positions. Since the blade of the tool is chamfered and smooth, it’s much less likely to damage the pad material than a flat-blade screwdriver.
IceToolz hydraulic brake-hose cutter: This tool is designed to cut down hydraulic brake and dropper post lines without deforming the shape of the inner or outer linings. It works with a sharp triangular-shaped blade that slices through easily and makes installing the rest of the brake connection hardware easier.
While this tool works great for cutting any hydraulic line, it’s still best to cut any shifter housing with a more conventional cable cutter. The metal filaments in shifter housing will not only damage and dull the blade of this tool, but likely won’t give it a clean cut.
ProGold Luber pen: ProGold found a nifty way to package their lubricants in this pen with an applicator that’s great for lubing cables and pivot points. The needle-like tip not only keeps excess lube from dripping everywhere, but is also very precise. The Luber pen is small enough to fit in any shop apron and is refillable with ProGold or any other lube.
Prestacycle mini ratchet: This miniature ratchet has replaced several of our other Allen key sets in our garage. It’s tiny enough to fit in a pack but strong enough for everyday shop use. Prestaflator also sells handy bit kits with nearly any bit you’d ever need, including Allen, Torx and screwdrivers, in both long and shorty versions. It also comes in a new version that has a tire lever built into the handle.
Effetto Mariposa sealant injector: This oversized syringe makes it easy to measure and inject sealant into any Presta tubeless valve. It comes with a thread-on fitting to prevent spills and comes with gradients to be sure the volume of sealant you’re installing is precise and consistent.
Prestacycle torque tools: These new torque wrenches feature preset torque settings (from 4 to 12 Newton meters) to work with the most commonly used bolts on any bike. They come with a full bit set and magnetic shanks to make swapping bits quick and easy.
What sets these wrenches apart is that they can not only be used as torque wrenches to tighten bolts, but they can also be used as standard wrenches to remove bolts without wrecking the calibration, like with any other torque wrench we’ve used. These things are quick and easy to use, and encouraged us to use them more often than some other torque wrenches.
IceToolz Ocarina torque wrench: If you don’t want to have multiple preset torque keys, you still have no excuse for not using a torque wrench on your expensive and lightweight parts. IceToolz makes a very affordable wrench that’s fully adjustable from 3 to 10 Newton meters, which will handle most of your torque needs. It also comes with a shank that will work with any standard bits.
If you’re into bling, or work at a shop that needs a torque wrench to last a lifetime, there’s no substitute for the Effetto Mariposa Giustaforza II. This precise, anodized wrench oozes quality and craftsmanship. It has a range from 2–16 Newton meters and can be sent back to the factory for rebuilding and recalibration to make it good as new many times over.
Wolf Tooth Components ultralight lockring and BB tool and rotor truing tool: The ultralight cassette and BB tool feature aluminum construction with a magnetic steel socket to handle the cassette lockring duties. The rotor truing tool is both light and anodized, and also includes a bottle opener.
The rotor truing slot is invaluable for bringing slightly tweaked rotors back to straight. Be sure you ensure the tool is clean before using it, as any time you’re truing a rotor, you can contaminate the brake system.
Park Tools IR-1.2: The Park IR-1.2 tool uses a series of magnets and cables to help install stubborn internally routed cables. The kit includes cables to route everything from brake hoses to shifter cables to electronic Di2 wires with ease. Simply hook the tool up to the cable or hose, then use the magnet on the outside of the frame to guide it through to the port.
Park Chain Machine (CM-25): The Chain Machine is built to handle the dirty work, literally. It features a series of brushes and a mini solvent tank to scrub your chain and drivetrain clean. This version of the chain machine has a metal body for durability, but the CM is also available in a plastic version that’s less expensive for the home mechanic.
To use, simply fill the reservoir with your favorite solvent, then clamp the machine to your chain like so. Then, backpedal the chain through, and let the brushes on the inside do their thing. We must admit, when we first tried this tool, we thought of it as a gimmick. However, we can say that it truly works and has earned a spot in our cleaning kit.
The simple scriber: This may be the most used tool on our bench. We use it for opening up cable housing ends, marking seatposts and steerer tubes, and a host of other things. This one was made by Abbey Tools. However, many mechanics prefer to go old school and make their own version of the tool out of a filed-down old spoke.
Tool Tape: Tool Tape is a new company out of Boulder, Colorado, and they’re all about helping you keep your tools organized and easy to find. Simply take a picture of your work bench and send it to them, and within a couple weeks they’ll deliver custom-cut graphics that match your tools. Then you install the decals on your work-bench, ensuring you’ll always know exactly where everything goes. This not only makes cleaning your work- bench quicker and easier, but also allows you to quickly inventory your tools to make sure nothing is missing.
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