Gear Bag: What Bike Tools Should I Carry?

Gear Bag: What Bike Tools Should I Carry?

A question we get a lot here at Gearist is “What Bike tools Should I carry?”  Or some form of “What’s in your bike repair kit?”. I put together this list of products that I’ve been using, why I use them and some tips to get the most out of them. I’ve found that these tools cover most emergency roadside repairs to get you off the side of the road and moving again.

I often ride in unfamiliar places far away from services, so it’s important for me to have backups and be self-sufficient.  CO2 and a pump.  An extra tube and a patch kit… see where this is going?  Even when you’re close to home in a group, the extras can help out a friend and save the ride for everybody.  Don’t forget to check your supplies, at least at the beginning of every season to make sure everything works. I’ve had glue in patch kits dry up.  CO2 inflators with dried out gaskets and things get misplaced on the road that you forget about later.

Here at Gearist, we write about products that we actually use and hope you find helpful. Our content may include affiliate links to those products. If you click through and make a purchase, it doesn’t cost you anything and we get a small commission to keep this train moving.

 

Arundel Seat bag

I’ve tried many bicycle seat bags and keep going back to seat bags from Arundel, particularly the Arundel Dual and Tubi .  With today’s saddles getting more contoured, the Arundel seat bags are designed to tuck out of the way to eliminate any rub against your expensive cycling shorts and bibs.  They fasten with a single strap that runs through your seat rails and compresses the contents for a rattle free ride.

Designed to carry two road (or one mountain bike sized) tubes with a few extras, the Arundel Dual is my primary go to bag. I carry just one tube, and it allows enough room for all of the extra goodies.

The Arundel Tubi was originally designed for tubular tires, but with the longer shape I can fit a mini pump in here.  I like to carry one on my commuter bike or when I’m touring.  With the mini pump in the bag, everything stays together, Whether from bike to bike or for security reasons. I also carry a larger multi tool in here that has wrenches for fenders on the commuter bike.

 

 

Topeak Micro Rocket Al pump

One of the lightest, smallest and easiest to use in its category, the Topeak Micro Rocket Al mini pump weighs in at a mere 65 g (2.29 oz) and measures 16cm (6.3 “) long. Meant to be used more as an emergency pump, It takes alot of strokes to get up to a rideable pressure. Even if you use CO2, the Micro Rocket Al is great way to start your tube before hitting your cartridges. I can fit one inside of the Arundel Tubi bag or I use the included water bottle mount on other bikes. If I’m riding with a group and need to get going quickly, I’ll head straight for the CO2.  Otherwise, I’ll usually spend the time to inflate entirely with the pump- Keeps a cartridge out of the landfill.

 

 

Continental Race Inner Tube & Homemade Tire Boot

Make sure you have right size tube with you, both in diameter and stem length.  I use Continental Race Tubes: Reasonably priced and decent performers in quality and longevity. I also cut a tire boot out of tyvek- old race number bibs or tyvek envelopes work just fine.  Whenever I get a new tube, I inflate it at home first to make sure there are no leaks. I’ll put a small piece of innertube over the valve stem and wrap the tyvek tire boot around and put it in a ziplock bag. This is a “just in case” thing to protect the tube from abrasion (learned from experience).  Lastly, don’t leave your punctured tube on the side of the road.  Put it in the ziplock and throw it in your jersey pocket.  You can patch it later (see below).

 

 

Park VP-1 patch kit or Rema Tip Top patch kit

Never, ever depend on just having one extra tube. Most patch kits come with enough material to repair up to 6 punctures. I hope you never need them all, but it’s good to know your covered.   I either use the Park VP-1 or Rema Tip Top, depending what’s inexpensive and available. I replace these at the beginning of every season or after each use so I’m sure to have fresh glue. I then use old kits immediately to patch my punctured tubes I’ve been saving.  It’s a win / win!

 

 

Genuine Innovations AirChuck

The Genuine Innovations AirChuck is as close to simple as you can get in an co2 inflator.  Ours weighs 16g grams, made from metal and is easy to use with it’s push-to-inflate technology on both presta and schrader valves. I’ve used a bunch of other of inflators over the years and found that simple is better. The only minor downside is that it only takes threaded cartridges, but that hasn’t been a problem anywhere in the US for me. I rarely use CO2, but I’m sure to check the inflators during my pre season check to make sure they work properly.

Extra CO2 cartridge(s)

Depending on your strategy, you’ll want an extra or two.  With different volumes available for different size tires, make sure you have the size you need. If you’re not using the Genuine Innovations AirChuck as above, make sure you have threaded / non-threaded cartridge as needed.  Like your punctured tubes, make sure you take your used cartridges home with you.

 

 

Crank Brothers Multi Tool M17

Packed full of tools, this Crank Brothers Multi Tool probably has more than you need, including a chain tool.  Even though I carry a quick link (see below), the chain tool is a must have for me. It saved me one day when I ripped off my rear derailleur and had to shorten my chain to make my bike a single speed. I’ve also found that during group rides, it’s a lifesaver when needed.

 

 

Topeak Alien 2 Multi Tool

Instead of the Crank Brothers M17 Multi Tool above, one of Topeak Alien 2 Multi Tools is in my bag that goes along with my commuter and touring set up.  It’s heavy and bulky, but has features I need like open end wrenches for my fenders and a 10mm allen wrench. With additional things like a bottle opener and a sharp blade, it really is the Swiss-Army knife of the bike tool world. Whichever way you go with a multi-tool, take a few minutes to poke around your bike with it to make sure its got everything you need.

 

 

Soma Steel Core, Park TL-1.2C or Pedros Tire Levers

For such a simple tool, tire levers are one of those items where everyone has a favorite. I used to think my technique was good enough where I could use anything. With the increasing popularity of tubeless setups, bicycle tire fit has gotten tighter than ever.  One day I was humbled after a 30 minute wrestling match trying to change a flat. Two broken levers and some really sore fingers later, I bought the Soma Steel Core Tire Levers. The Soma tire levers have a solid piece of steel running all the way to the tip of the lever to prevent breakage with a tight rim / tire combination. They haven’t failed me yet.

If you find that you don’t quite push the limits to change a tire (you have practiced at home, right?) The classic Park TL-1.2C tire levers are a good choice. Lightweight and inexpensive. Pedros Tire Levers are also a favorite for those who like a wider shape.

 

 

Presta Valve Adaptor

If you’re new to this game and you have presta valves on your bike, you probably found that out the hard way when you pulled into the gas station to add air to your tires. If you’re caught in a pinch check out this video we did on a hack. Since you’re reading this, plan ahead pick up some of these “real” adaptors to keep around.  I usually keep one in my Patch Kit Box so it doesn’t get lost.

 

 

KMC Missing Link

Most chains I’ve seen lately have a quick connect link that allows for easy removal of the chain without a tool.  The links also make a for a quick fix to a broken chain. I’m pretty competent with a chain tool but these can get you moving again in seconds while getting minimally filthy.  I’ve been using the KMC Missing Link brand lately, but other reputable brands are Wippermann, SRAM, and Shimano, depending on your needs.  Make sure to buy ones compatible with your chain, depending on how many speeds (9 /10 /11/ 12) you have.

 

 

Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand and Face Wipes 

These could be one of the most used items in my seat bag and I always have a few on hand. Good for post flat fix clean up, after a bathroom stop or general cleanup.

 

Questions? Comments?  Let us know below!

Cat Clamp Review – Honda Catalytic Converter Theft

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As a new Honda Accord owner, we got a big surprise when our Catalytic Converter got stolen.  We replaced it and put on a Cat Clamp for good measure. This review is a little out of character for Gearist.  However, it’s our soapbox and hopefully this will protect other Honda and Toyota owners from Catalytic Converter theft.  Read on…

Here at Gearist, we write about products that we actually use and hope you find helpful. Our content may include affiliate links to those products. If you click through and make a purchase, it doesn’t cost you anything and we get a small commission to keep this train moving.

What is a Catalytic Converter and why do they get stolen?

Simply put, a catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device that converts pollutants in your car’s exhaust to a less toxic exhaust through a chemical reaction with exotic precious metals including platinumpalladium, and rhodium and gold.  This makes them valuable for thieves to sell as scrap, but nowhere near the replacement costs which can run in the thousands of dollars.

Certain cars, like the Honda Accord, Honda Element and Toyota Prius are desirable targets due to the quantity of the metals involved to acheieve super-low emissions (Honda ULEV designations).  Other vehicles like the Toyota Tacoma, Tundra  and 4runner are easy targets because of their ground clearance and multiple units.

 

The Theft of my Honda Accord Catalytic Converter

When we needed a car we figured a 6th Gen (1998-2002) Honda Accord would make a great city car. Reliable enough to get us places, inexpensive enough not to worry about the daily abuse.  5 days into ownership we got a surprise: some one stole our Catalytic Converter.  Started the car one day to a loud grumble and a check engine light.  A loud WTF and a look under the car revealed a nice clean cut where my Honda’s Catalytic Converter used to be.

A quick call around left us looking at OEM Honda Catalytic Converter replacements in the $12-1500 range.  No go. An quick online search showed aftermarket Walker Catalytic Converters for my CARB compliant Honda Accord coming in at around $300. Great option for a DIY job, not so much if you don’t have a garage.  Most independent garages here in NYS will not install an aftermarket Catalytic Converter because of requirements of a federally mandated device.  I finally came up with a solution to get an aftermarket Cat installed through a friend and got it done.

Whew!

 

What is a Cat Clamp Catalytic Converter Lock?

Now I’m thinking “The first theft isn’t so bad, it’s the second time I’ll feel like a idiot”. A little internet searching came up with some horror stories.  It’s apparently super easy to steal a Catalytic Converter.  I found a video of a similar Honda Accord getting its Cat stolen.  The video is 1:07 long, the actual theft about 30 seconds!  Fortunately, the searches also came up with an anti-theft device called the CatClamp Catalytic Converter Lock.

Invented by American Welding Inc. after being approached by a longtime customer experiencing catalytic converter theft of their vehicle fleet, The CatClamp underwent over 18 months of testing and development.  CatClamp claims a 99.9% effective rate for over 5 years running.  The basic premise of the CatClamp is to encase the Catalytic Converter in a hard to cut “cable” cage and attach that cage to several points on the chassis. At first your mind starts running through all of the scenarios that you’d try to get through, but you quickly realize that none of them would really work quickly.

There are some different models available and I chose The CatClamp® Standard Security Kit for our Honda Accord after a quick phone call to their customer service line.  They couldn’t guarantee a fit for the 2000 Accord, but were “pretty sure” it would fit.  The kit basically consists of two split clamps that go on either side of your converter, an assortment of different diameter exhaust spacers, 40 feet of 8mm aircraft grade wire rope, and shear bolts with matching tool with a special head pattern to hold the clamps together.

 

Install and use of the Cat Clamp.

A quick glance at the box contents and directions and I was ready to go. After getting the Honda Accord in the air and being redundant with jack stands, a jack in place and some paver blocks (I know, I know) I crawled around with the Cat Clamp parts, to make sure it would all fit and to pick out some non-moving cable loop points.  There we’re three easy spots I found. 

The next step is where it gets a little tricky, all because I did not follow the directions at first.  I started threading the cable from one end through the holes. I figured this would give me one big coil of left over cable at one end to tuck away somewhere. This was a big time suck due to having to thread the full length of cable. There was also too much left over cable that just didn’t fit anywhere tucked away.

The instructions clearly tell you to start with two holes at the MIDDLE of the cable and I’d suggest doing that.  Running out of daylight, I took a cue from the customer install pictures on the CatClamp website. I decided to wrap the cable excess around the Catalytic Converter with a plan to redo it neatly at a later date.  The bad news is it looks like a hot mess. The good news is you don’t see it, nothing rubs or vibrates and the hot mess appearance is probably a good visual deterrent as well.

 

 

Overall

I’m pretty happy with the CatClamp.  If you or your installer follow the directions, keeping excess cable in mind it should go pretty quickly. Maybe and hour or two for a first timer.  I’ve had it installed for over a year and there’s been no rattling, and nothing out of the ordinary with clearance even with the less than perfect cable wrap that I never redid.  I’m not sure if anybody has tried to steal my Catalytic Converter, but it definitely gives me some piece of mind.

Questions? Comments?  Let us know below!

 


Brooks Running Launch 6 Shamrock Shoe Returns!

Brooks Running Launch 6 Shamrock Shoe Returns!

Much like me showing up at McSorely’s every year on St. Patricks Day, Brooks Running is continuing tradition and releasing the Launch 6 version of the Shamrock Shoe on 2/21. It’s Just in time for your March races right up through the Boston Marathon. With an updated pattern for even more luck in the way of horseshoes in addition to four-leaf clovers, the rest of the shoe is all Launch 6. Neutral support, Responsive BioMoGo DNA cushioning and a breathable woven upper make the Launch 6 a springy, light allrounder for training and racing.

Along with the Launch 6 Shamrock shoe as THE St. Patrick’s Day Sneaker,  Brooks is also doing limited St.Patricks apparel like socks and T-shirts – the socks are as fantastic as the shoes!

Get ’em before they’re gone!  (I missed out last year). You can find everything here at Brooks.

Update:  Zappos has a special edition box, but “only while supplies last” as per their website.

Update 2:  That was fast. as of 2.27 Brooks has sold out already.

Winter Wonderland 5 Miler 2019 Runner Photo Gallery

Winter Wonderland 5 Miler 2019 Runner Photo Gallery

The Milford Road Runners of Milford CT had a clear, warm winter day for the annual Winter Wonderland 5 Miler on January 27, 2019.  Just a a week before, this area of New England was recovering from a windy icy storm that wreaked havoc in the area. On race day, 197 finishers were treated to 40 degree temps, bright sunshine, and a light breeze making for great run conditions.

Starting and finishing at Platt Regional Tech School in Milford CT, the course was a figure-8 through residential neighborhoods. No big hills but some shallow grades to make things interesting,

Well organized with a great after party, the Winter Wonderland 5 Miler was a perfect first race of the year to check fitness and set a baseline for the upcoming year. We finished with enough time to grab a camera and get some participants heading towards the finish.

Race info
The Milford Road Runners Winter Wonderland 5 Miler Results on January 27, 2019

Trek Super Commuter+ 8S Review

Trek Super Commuter+ 8S Review

Ferrari calls it Rosso Corsa. Porsche has Guards. Prince even wrote a song about a Corvette in the color. Red. It’s the color of speed. And passion. After spending an evening with Trek’s product team and a little spin, I’ve got no doubt that they had a little of both in mind when developing the new Trek Super Commuter+ 8S.

No, we’re not going automotive here at Gearist and Trek isn’t either but they’re making a big push to replace at least one of those cars in your driveway with their flagship e-bike. Don’t have a car to replace? Then say hello to a viable option to the headaches of mass transit and goodbye to the downsides of a slow, sweaty bike commute.

Most manufacturers use off the shelf e-bike components when designing a bike, and Trek is no different. But the key word here is design, and what you do with those components makes all of the difference in the final product.

Trek went with a pedal assist system for the Super Commuter. There’s no separate throttle to get moving, the motor kicks in once you start pedaling. Starting with an industry leading 350w Bosch Performance Speed motor, Trek uses a hydroformed aluminum frame integrating a 500w Bosch Powerpack battery (our test bike was equipped with a 400w) for a clean look and a low center of gravity. The combo is good for a pedal assist up to 28mph with a stated range of 18-80 miles.

A carbon fiber thru-axle fork up front coupled with high-volume Schwalbe Super Moto-X 2.4 tires on 27.5-inch rims rounds out the rolling part of the goods. Shimano hydraulic disc brakes handle stopping duties, working well to counter the added speed and weight (more on this later) in wet or dry conditions. A host of other parts help take care of the “commuter” part of the package: custom fenders with an integrated pannier rack in the rear and what I think is the coolest looking headlight ever, the Supernova M99 headlight with daytime run lights.

I was immediately impressed with the Super Commuter+ 8S at first sight. It really is a good looking bike with a refinement in the details not present on other “Commuter” labeled bikes I’ve tested – both traditional and electric. Nothing looked like an after thought. Running through a list of questions with a Trek product manager revealed every little detail was purposely considered for a comfortable, durable, safe, practical commuter bike. In the past, I’ve had hassles with seemingly small things like pannier fitment (Trek tested several brands) mounting lights (Trek included a killer setup) and fender misalignment after some use (not gonna happen here thanks to good design). After getting all my initial questions out, it was time for the most important one: How’s it ride?

With 4 different sizes available, I hopped on a 50cm, which is what i ride in a traditional road bike.  With a small adjustment of the Bontrager H1 saddle, I felt right at home. Not too stretched out, and not too cramped. The contoured Bontrager Satellite elite grips were a nice touch. They even had little bar ends to mix up hand positions.

I was only able to put in a few miles here in NYC on the Super Commuter+, with everything from stop-n-go tight turns through the lower east side and a fast wide open climb over the Williamsburg Bridge. Seeing that bike weight comes in at around 52 lb. with comfort-oriented geometry, I was expecting the bike to feel and handle like the other commuter bikes I’ve ridden – slow and steady. It was more like riding a high-end mountain bike as opposed to a delivery truck.  Trek opted to forgo a suspension fork, relying on the high volume tires and carbon fork to soak up bumps and keep the front end pointed in the right direction.

This was my first experience with the Bosch system. Similar to other e-bike systems, Bosch uses their small, easy to use Purion display to show battery level, range and speed along with four selectable power levels to assist the rider, but this is where the similarities end. The application of power with the Bosch was smoother than any other system I’ve tried, resulting in a natural bike like feel opposed to a bike-with-a-motor feel. While the differences aren’t noticeable when cranking at top speed on an open road, unpredictable slower speed power surges are all but absent. The result is better low-speed handling, a huge plus when you’re trying to squeeze through stop and go auto traffic.

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The Trek Super Commuter+ 8S is my current clear favorite of all the bikes I’ve ridden in the commuter category, but nothing is perfect. Two issues stand out to me. The first is the pannier rack. Like everything on this bike, it looks sleek and serves its function well but is missing a top shelf. This kills a little of the versatility for me. The second issue is a big one: the price tag. $5k (yes five-thousand dollars) isn’t cheap. It’s actually downright expensive. Or is it? If you own or have owned a car, you know they’re not cheap either. Not cheap to buy, and definitely not cheap to insure and maintain over time. If you’re legitimately looking to replace an auto or delay the purchase of new one, the Super Commuter+ 8S price tag starts looking a lot more reasonable. Even stacked up against the costs of train or bus tickets for a mass transit commute, it starts to make perfectly good sense.

It’s tough to get a long-term impression with a short-term ride, but the Super Commuter+ 8S definitely warrants a look if you’re even remotely interested in an alternative to the usual.  And by usual I not only mean autos and mass transit but lower-end e-bikes as well. If the price tag scares you a little, Trek has an entire line up to consider which you can check out here: https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/ebike_collection/.

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