Cycling

50+ Less Usual but Very Helpful Road Bike Components, Tools, and Accessories

  1. BBI chain tool. The Barnet Bicycle Institute chain tool is dual-purpose: helps size a new chain, and, more frequently, greatly eases the reinstallation of false links whenever one cleans a chain. When used for the latter, the tool keeps both ends of the chain under tension, eliminating the risk of the chain slipping back and needing to be threaded back through the rear derailleurhttp://bit.ly/OdQ0j2. Cheaper solutions include using a bent spoke or coat-hanger, especially if cut to a shorter length to decrease chain flex. Perfectionists and thoughtful gift-buyers will prefer steel milled for the task, and, the tool helps size new chains.
  2. Fiberfix. Fiberfix has gotten rave reviews from people in the know. It is faster and easier than changing a spoke, requiring very litle technical know-how. Plus, one may save others, whether biking pals or strangers, who may have spokes of different sizes. No removal of the cassette is necessary, unlike with regular spoke replacement, and the bottle containing the kevlar string and tools is light and tiny. http://www.fiberfixspoke.com/#!.
  3. Tektro levers. These Tektros are copies of Campies. They offer crisp braking performance matched by comfortable handles for low cost. There are silver-handle and black-handle models, the latter of which are sometimes hard to find. The problem they solve, besides sloppy braking: offering wide enough support for one’s palms without being a “brifter” (shifter and brake combo). Brake levers that are only that tend to be too narrow for the long-term comfort of even small hands.  http://bit.ly/PQjoaY.
  4. Velo Orange stand. If one cannot afford a Park Tool home repair stand, is not prepared to put a steel pole into concrete, or has other concerns, such as mobility, this twenty-dollar stand provides a stable platform while allowing one to do the essential: spin the rear wheels, spin the pedals http://bit.ly/QaipEW. Like most items listed here, I own it, and it works surprisingly well, especially when accompanied by a handlebar holder (#28).  There are other versions of the same stand available on Amazon, some costing less, some more, and there seems to be a solid alternative in an Ibera stand that supports the chain stays. http://amzn.to/Upn0ni.
  5. Steel-core and fiberglass levers. Plastic levers flex too much, especially with competition-level tires. Aluminum levers can dent the edges of rims. Soma levers are steel tip-to-tip, with a rubber coating. One then has full confidence, full leverage, and leaves no marks. Parktool has recently started producing similar levers. I only regret that the Parktool levers, which no doubt are high quality, do not have a hook on the back for clinging to a spoke. http://amzn.to/TeDfpN; http://amzn.to/TeDmSr. VAR, the French bicycle tool manufacturer, makes the most interesting lever, fiber-glass reinforced, that mimics a tire-seater while providing traditional leverage. http://bit.ly/10GOaeyhttp://northroadbicycle.com/; http://amzn.to/UJsbiM.
  6. On-the-bike pumps with hoses. (Lezyne Micro Floor Drive et alii). Almost all Lezyne pumps come with hidden tubes. With a standard pump, one must apply as much pressure as counter-pressure, since the pump is being pushed in the direction of the tube’s valve, which may be damaged, or which may damage the wheel in turn. The mini floor-drive has the added advantage, over other Lezynes, of allowing all of one’s force to go directly to ground, just as with a regular floor pump. Yet, as with any Lezyne, it is beautifully light in its aircraft alumnimum. Why have a pump at all in the age of CO2? CO2 is fun and fast, but it runs out. A pump is infinite. The mini-drive is most solidly attached by placing its plastic holder under a water cage on the downtube. Topeak has come out with a similar model that is reputed to be very durable, even if it is difficult to imagine higher quality than a Lezyne. The mini-drive pumps a tire completely in surprisingly little time, and to more than a sufficient PSI. http://www.lezyne.com/products/hand-pumps/high-volume#!Micro-Floor-Drive-HV/HVG.
  7. Silca pumps. Silca pumps are the originals. And, they sell parts, the parts that are most likely to go as a pump ages. And those parts are sold at reasonable cost. It’s a family business. http://www.silcapompe.it/.
  8. Air chuck. A presta-schrader air chuck is easily forgotten to be included in a bag, but it takes no more room than a nut and bolt, and usually costs only a couple bucks at the counter of any good bike shop. Most households and gas stations do not own presta-compatible air pumps, but most houses and almost all gas stations have a schrader-compatible pump. http://amzn.to/TPy6js.
  9. Schwalbe tubes. Schwalbe tubes are of a higher-quality rubber than any other, even German Continentals, as evinced by their ability to fit a wider range than any other. The SV 15’s, for example, are the only tube that is labeled and intended to be used with an 18mm to a 28mm tire. Try that with another tube. The advantage of such quality is not only as one may expect–less leakage, no bumping or irregular seating, fewer pinch-flats, a strong connection with the valve–but the very practical advantage of being able to carry one size of spare tube for multiple bikes. Many riders own multiple bikes that have tires of differing widths; many riders go out with or encounter other riders with same; and some bikes even have different front and rear widths. http://amzn.to/SSHjHS; http://www.schwalbetires.com/.
  10. Below-bottle sack (‘Behold’ by Tallac). One sees attachable bags for every conceivable area of a bike: from the traditional panniers, top-rack, under-saddle, or handlebar, to top-tube clingers, corner wedgers, and stem pockets. Many riders would still be some surprsied, however, to hear of a small zippered bag fitting between a bottle, its cage, and the respective tube. Especially on a smaller frame,  there is limited air-space in the triangle between top, down, and seat tubes. Holding two bottle-cages poses serious limitations, as might an air pump. This area is yet more closely bounded by the rider’s legs and the need for movement. The below-bottle sack then, really does fit within an otherwise unused space for holding small items, such as CO2’s, phones, snacks. http://tallacdesign.com/.
  11. Expanding Seat Bags (Revelate Designs). A rear cage for panniers weighs. Under the seat is a fantastic place for a bag in terms of handling, weight-distribution, and ease of attachment. It may be unpredictable how much one wants to carry. For all these reasons, an expanding seat bag is desirable. http://www.revelatedesigns.com.
  12. Dual platform pedals. If one both commutes to other than an office, and rides the same bike for recreation, a double-sided pedal can be invaluable. Further, a double-sided pedal can allow one to pedal home if there is an issue with a shoe on a long trek (SPD and other cleats can come loose, etc). There are two disadvantages. First, one often has to flip the pedal when taking off from a stop. Second, the pedals are slightly heavier. The first disadvantage is decreased if one rides recreationally with clip-ins that are compatible with some walking, since the cleats or sole will function on the traditional side of the pedal (e.g., http://amzn.to/Vx0RaI).
  13. Brooks and Selle Anatomica. There are very respectable contemporary saddle companies, e.g. Selle Italia, fizik, and most other companies produce saddles with cutouts. Many swear by Brooks saddle-leather saddles, made like horse saddles on their original 19th-century equipment in Britain. Two key advantages: leather saddles have no backing, but are stretched and self-suspending, so there’s some flex; leather conforms slightly to the user. The B17 is the famous benchmark. The other best option is an unusual offering from Selle, a famously ergonomic saddle: Selle Anatomica. www.wallbike.comhttp://www.selleanatomica.com/store/.
  14. Covers for leather saddles . If one purchases a Brooks, and even with the Selle Anatomica, that Selle states is waterproofed but may  eventually want further waterproofing, there are three saddle cover options. I have five years’ experience with that offered by Wallingford Bicycles, which fits tightly, allowing one most easily to ride with it on. Wallingford (excellent seller) claims that one cannot ride with the cover on, or it will tear; that is likely true of daily use, but for the occasional time when one is stuck in the rain, a ride in the tens of miles may easily be completed with the cover on the saddle. In cities, it is also not uncommon to see a ruined Brooks saddle, or a Brooks coming to ruin because it was left uncovered in the sun and rain, or left covered only by plastic shopping bags, that are not waterproof. Lastly, when tipping a bike over for maintenance, it is best to pop on a cover, in order to prevent marking. Brooks sells its own brand of cover, which appears to be loose-fitting. Rivendell sells an Aardvark cover, which is made in Utah, and on which they claim one may ride extensively. They also reference a MUSA cover. http://bit.ly/QalULL, http://bit.ly/QamtoR.
  15. Boxes of cables. It is often claimed that cables last for years. In truth, cables stretch. They get dirty. Often, they get overtightened in their securing bolts in the course of work done, causing separations. If one purchases cables one at a time, or heaven forbid, only as a package with new housing, one will be reluctant to replace a cable before it proves itself worn. However, if one purchases them in multiple by the box, they are cheap, and one will readily replace any suspect cable. Such a practice can save a lot of frustration. When repairs mysteriously go awry, and parts function inconsistently, eliminate the obvious suspect. http://amzn.to/Q25nIP; http://amzn.to/Q25DaH.
  16. Boeshield. That’s ‘boe’ as in Boeing. The airline company developed this oil, that dries to a film, for the protection of its airplanes in adverse conditions. It is said to work well for chains (though I happen to prefer chainsaw oil, see infra), and is an excellent choice for derailleurs, seatposts, and brake units, being both highly effective and attracting less dirt than traditional oil. http://amzn.to/QamLfk.
  17. Extra false links/master links/missing links. False links for chains are wonderful devices that seem never to fail. The great problem, however, is that they are easily lost when one is performing maintenance on the chain, whether at removal or installation, or in cleaning. And what if one lost a link while performing a repair on the road? A package of multiple sets of replacement links is so inexpensive, and a pair takes up so little room, that there is no reason not to have spares on hand. Lose just half a link, and the current or next day’s ride is finished. http://amzn.to/QamQzy.
  18. Mirrors. The greatest danger to an experienced cyclist is being hit from behind. A helmet mirror is very effective, once adjusted. As in most things, the original is usually the best. While some say an eccentric in Ohio, Chuck Harris, invented the first, Take-a-Look was certainly the first commercial-scale producer. Their mirrors are of great-quality construction, and guaranteed. Difficult to set up the first time, they pay many rewards thereafter. Cycleaware produces an alternative helmet mirror distinguished by a infinitely adjustable arm-end and a base for attachment. Due to the base, unlike with Take-A-Look, mounting to sun or eye glasses themselves is not an option.  It may be more easily attached to the helmet, and adjusted the first time. http://bit.ly/WrFX9c. Next best is a handlebar mount mirror. Ortlieb, maker of world-renowned panniers, purveys a German convex mirror that easily mounts anywhere. It is very light, but quality in the lens. MirrCycle was the original, sells spare parts, and its lens may beat out the Ortlieb for accuracy in pinpointing cars behind. However, in contrast with Ortlieb’s, it can be difficult to mount on many contemporary bikes. A reported solution is to use the zip-mount from an old taillight. A new STI-specific model has mixed reviews. For those not using bar-cons, Sprintech’s drop bar mirrors look to be well-placed, aerodynamic, and unobtrusive, as well as covering both sides. They might be especially welcomed by racy riders averse to mirrors. http://amzn.to/QamVDrhttp://amzn.to/Qan6yOhttp://bit.ly/Qanj4Q; http://amzn.to/WdKocK.
  19. Derailleur hanger. The rear derailleur’s attachment to the frame is the Achilles heel of a bicycle, as anyone knows who has dumped a bike or crashed a couple times. If one is miles out, and the bike falls onto its right side, the rear derailleur is likely to get wacked, and it may not bend back into shape.  There’s “the Gimp” and the Problem Solvers version. http://bit.ly/QarCNxhttp://bit.ly/TPA0Ap.
  20. Derailleur wedge. Installing or resetting a front derailleur requires that one align the cage with the outermost ring, and set the outer plate in accord with the chain. Doing so requires extending the derailleur with one’s fingers. At the same time, one must hold or adjust the not yet fully tightened clamp. By installing a wedge between parts of the derailleur, one frees up a hand, and affords a more patient alignment. A perfect such wedge is custom-made sold by Barnett Bicycle Institute, producers of the foremost, professional bicycle manual, and the mechanics with the most scientific and precise approach in the business. http://bit.ly/TPynD3.
  21. Stein Mini Cassette Lockring Tool. J.A. Stein Company is a very small, high-quality and bicycle parts manufacturer focused on invention and specialized problems. The new Stein tool solves a long-standing problem among touring cyclists: if a spoke needs to be replaced on the cassette side of the rear wheel, the cassette needs to be removed. Previously, one would have needed tools too large and heavy for transportation on the bicycle. With the Stein tool, one may now conduct such a repair on the road. http://bit.ly/QasYYM.
  22. Lizard Skins and Helicopter Tape. It is easy to go through a few years of cycling without hearing the terms “chain bash” and “cable rub”. It’s equally easy to go through a few more years thinking these problems are imaginary, or for the consideration of the OCD. Chain bash, a.k.a. chain slap, will scratch up a chainstay. And cable rub will dig right down to raw metal in a few years of riding.  http://amzn.to/RhUsh2. Leading-edge wing tape also prevents cable-rub and chain-slap from damaging paint and metal while only covering parts of the frame in translucent film, a fair alternative to Lizard Skins.  http://amzn.to/R9sReZ.
  23. Lock holder. Unless one wears pants with a pocket made for it, or carries no water-cages that take up space inside the frame, a U-lock can be difficult to carry. A great way to carry one is on the stem and handlebars, made possible by either of two devices (Lockblock and Cycloblock) by the attachment-specialist Two Fish. http://www.twofish.biz/bike.html.
  24. Chainsaw oil. Recommended by a former Porsche engineer and lifelong cycling enthusiast, Jobst Brandt, for its high viscosity combined with good penetration. I have ridden on chainsaw oil exclusively for the past three years and love the smooth feel and durability. Purchase a precision applicator from a crafts supply store for ease of use. http://sheldonbrown.com/brandt/chain-care.htmlhttp://amzn.to/UXu0MY.
  25. Toe covers. Everything is made for bicycles today. Note a need, conduct a search, voila. When pushing a season that has not turned bitter, one’s feet may be cold in shoes and overwarm in full footies. Where does the air enter? At the toes. Toe-covers are the in-between solution. http://amzn.to/TPzcf5.
  26. Tifosi. Like other manufacturers (e.g. Oakley, Smith), Tifosi makes active-wear glasses that feature replaceable lenses. Unlike other manufacturers, replacement/interchangeable lenses are reasonably price. Lens options include photocromatic (like “Transitions”), monochromatic, clear, and Polaroid: $15 for clear or monochromatic, about $60 for photocromatic and Polaroid. Clear and photocromatic lenses solve the problem of riding with lenses too dark, whether for shady downhills or rides that include morning or night. Every experienced cyclist knows the dangers of catching a fly in the eye, and no doubt  has swallowed a few.  If one cross-trains with trail-running, there’s a double-benefit for use on often shady trails. www.tifsoi.com.
  27. Watch holder. While this may soon be rendered obsolete by lower and lower-priced Garmin and other GPS productions, there is presently and may remain a need for a way to attach a watch to the handlebar of a bike. Made specifically for a Timex heart-monitor watch, the rubber attachment should bear most any securely. http://amzn.to/TPyrTj.
  28. Handlebar holder. Working on a bike requires that it stay put, and, when working on the cables, that the cables not stretch while one is attempting to tighten them. The ParkTool handlebar holder is an easy, cheap, quality solution. The front wheel will be immobilized laterally. http://amzn.to/RhUPbt. A good number of people swear by a Trek handlebar holder that appears no longer to be sold, but it involved sliding steel tubes and an attachment device. Feedback Sports makes a model, the Flop Stop, fitting the same description available on Amazon and form Barnett Bicycle Institute. http://amzn.to/Upuvus. The Park Tool holder has the advantage of simplicity. The Flop Stop would be useful for avoiding interference with a handlebar crowded with attachments or taping a bar. One may make homemade versions of handlebar holders from bent steel, bungee or other rubber bands, or foam from a new bike’s packaging plus a toe-strap. At the price of the ready-made holders, with their convenience, and given risks of scratching, professionally-designed devices are best. However, those with professional-grade shop stands allowing a bicycle to aim downward may find there is less need to prevent wheel-flop.
  29. Lights. Lighting technology has progressed, and daytime traffic has increased, to the point that cyclists may even prefer to ride at night. One must choose between battery-operated (limited run time) and dyno-hub operated (infinite run time). The dyno-hubs and lights of today are not the same as those of old, which made for less efficient pedaling and overcharged bulbs. Germany has regulated bicycle lights for effectiveness, making it less than surprising that a German make such as Supernova produces the E3, a standard-setting bright light. Busch and Muller also produces great models, at surprisingly low cost. German lights are the best because they have to meet very high legal standards, bicycles being much more regulated there.  http://supernova-lights.com/en/products/index.html.
  30. Friction shifters. Shimano and Dia Compe still make friction shifters. What is a friction shifter? Friction shifters are an older style that is simply bullet-proof and very easy to work with, especially on the road, so they are still favoured by touring cyclists. They come in two varieties: down-tube shifters, and bar-end (“bar-con”) shifters. The Dia Compes have an internal ratchet mechanism, for which spare parts are sold; this is the smoothest shifter. The Shimanos are Shimanos, produced to the highest Japanes quality-control standards, and are simply a bargain besides. Given their extreme utility, reliability, and reparability, it is surprising how few bicycles have friction shifters on them. (SRAM makes bar-end and downtube shifters that are index-only, not friction.) IRD makes a ratcheting thumb shifter. http://bit.ly/R9vhu1http://amzn.to/R9vrl3 (10-speed), http://amzn.to/R9vwoV, http://bit.ly/SZ50yf. Someone desirous of trying friction shifters (as thumb-shifters) on the cheap would do well with Falcons: http://bit.ly/Tr1v3u. On the other end, and especially well-suited for cyclocross, are friction-shifters incorporated into the brake-levers, an intriguing product from Retroshifthttp://retroshift.com.
  31. Helmet cover. Helmet covers are essential for pushing a season, and very helpful when caught in the rain, while occupying very little room in the saddle-bag. Jandd and others make versions, and Gore Tex makes its own version. http://bit.ly/R9uqtg.
  32. Wool cycling caps. These caps are made-to-order from recycled wool material, providing a custom fit and style for a low price. They can also be made with ear flaps. http://www.octopuscaps.com.
  33. Jersey pouch (Lezyne). Jersey pockets get filled up with all kinds of items. Pulling one out, it’s easy to lose a credit card, cash, or anything else. It’s easy to forget items inside the pockets, or forget to put items there. It is also foreseeable that such items as keys, if left loose, could damage the spine in an accident. http://amzn.to/RhWhL1. There are likely good alternative pouches, but one must look to water-resistance. (In fact, Lezyne recently updated its pouch for increased water-resistance, while lowering the cost and offering two sizes (smaller for a phone, larger for miscellany?). http://www.lezyne.com/caddy-sack#http://amzn.to/VJNHST.))
  34. CW-X. CW-X is a Japanese manufacturer of highest-quality compression shorts and pants. The shorts, not specifically designed for cycling, offer riders of leather saddles a way to avoid using chamois or a bulky chamois without undermining durability or other qualities. They also feature a higher crotch (less distance from waist) than is often found with cycling shorts. http://bit.ly/Qst8i6.
  35. Pepper gun (Kimber Pepper Blaster II). Dog problems? Security concerns? Kimber is a highly respected handgun manufacturer, especially of semi-custom model 1911 .45’s. The Kimber is not an aerosol pepper spray, but a high-velocity pepper gel that can function in wind or rain. There are also two shots. Loose dogs can be very dangerous for cyclists, and there are reasons to disfavor firearms and knives as possible solutions. With two shots, there’s one left for the angry owner; while funny, that may not be a joke in reality. There are holsters for the Kimber, and camera cases also work, as well as stem-mount bags. The Kimber has quickly made itself a safety essential http://www.pepperblaster.com/http://amzn.to/OdO0qV.
  36. Saddle backpack. A backpack is as difficult to carry on a bike as it is hard to handle. The weight adds to pressure against the saddle, tires the shoulder, and affects steering. Arkel offers two backback variants that fit well on a quick-release rack.  http://bit.ly/QssgKa; http://bit.ly/QsspgQ.
  37. Spoke reflectors. One may have great lighting front and back, but crossing a street at night can greatly expose one to being struck from the side. http://www.cyclelogicalgear.com/reflective-chopspokes/.
  38. False link/master link pliers. False link pliers are a highly-specialized tool that will receive weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly use. Separating a false link from a chain that has been ridden can require a lot of pressure, and standard pliers are not fit for the task. These will be a much-loved item in any bicycle tool chest. http://bit.ly/QsqVTT.
  39. Magnetic parts tray. Invaluable. Keeps one from losing any bolts or screws or other small parts while working on a bike. The ParkTool version is covered in rubber for silence, and other versions can be larger. http://amzn.to/RhXpyp; http://amzn.to/RhXFgH.
  40. 3M safety glasses. These are unusual simply because so few bicycle mechanics, professional or home-mechanics, use any. The only solid argument against using safety glasses is the distortion of the lens, either by quality or by color. That argument does not hold against these glasses. Working on a bicycle means spinning wheels at high velocities and playing with cables. The risks to a mechanic’s eyes are far larger than one would like to acknowledge. http://amzn.to/RhXfag.
  41. Zip-ties. Along with the proverbial duct tape around a straw and black electrical tape round the handlebar, zip-ties are a treasured favorite both for permanent and emergency attachment of goods to a bike, or rack, panniers, even the rider himself. Inexpensive, they secure completely, and as importantly for noise or damage, snugly, until an item is cut free.  Buy a bag at the local hardware store, or for instance: http://amzn.to/TYSL4A.
  42. Straps. A rear rack without straps is like a pickup without the same: not half so versatile. Rivbike sells perfect clamp-straps that are very strong and long, but can be cut then singed to any shorter length. http://bit.ly/R9uJo2.
  43. Bondhus hex drivers. Bondhus makes the hex drivers for Park Tool, but purchasing them directly saves 50%. Guaranteed for life. There is one great advantage to owning a set of Bondhus over using one’s multi-hex from his ride bag: access. Multi-tools have two disadvantages by comparison: one, the multitool handle requires a larger radius for operation than does the traditional screwdriver handle of the Bondhus, combined with the Bondhus’ extra length for clearance of obstacles; two, the patented head allows for 15 degrees of flexibility for entry and turning. http://amzn.to/Qso3WZ.
  44. FOSS tubes. Foss has unfortunately been unable to supply for larger than a 23mm tire width. The tubes promise flat-protection by sealing around a puncturing object. Holes in them can be repaired with a flame. http://bit.ly/QsnOeo.
  45. Barnett’s Manual in CD-ROM. Zinn’s and The Big Blue Book (Parktool) are the standard inexpensive books for the beginning cyclist, but even a beginning cyclist may save himself much frustration, and money, by considering the professional’s repair manual, Barnett’s. Barnett has the most scientific approach, and explains and diagrams thoroughly enough to answer the many questions that arise in a cyclist’s mind as he goes through a repair. The former print editions came to multiple volumes, and eventually became so large that the move to PDF on CD-ROM became inevitable. It is also faster to use than a book, and still allows for printing of all instruction steps. At $140 for four to six thousand pages of phenomenal and magnificently organized material, the OED of cycle repair is a bargain. http://www.bbinstitute.com/the-barnett-manual.
  46. Fenders. SKS fenders, that are plastic, but look like metal, are the benchmark of the industry. It is always surprising when someone does not purchase this brand. It is equally surprising how few cyclists use fenders. http://bit.ly/TPzSB5. When installing on a modern bike, one may choose to use a Sheldon fender nut in order to mount a fender to the rear of the fork, rather than between a caliper brake and the front of the fork. http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/fenders.html.
  47. Parachute blanket. A parachute? Not quite. Many recreational cyclists go for picnics and visit pleasant spots. Blankets are heavy, towels bulky. Made of parachute-quality nylon, these pack light in their own case, and have plenty of room for a picnic or sunbath for two. http://amzn.to/T8apm.
  48. Braze-on adapter clamps. Adapter clamps allow a cyclist more flexibility in choosing derailleurs, since a derailleur then does not need to be of-a-piece with a clamp of a specific size. Such flexibility can be especially handy when one owns multiple bikes. http://bit.ly/QTiaN8.
  49. Paul’s “Thumbies”. For those who think friction shifters can only be placed on a downtube, or at the ends of drop-bars. Also for those who want to use friction shifters on a mountain-bike or a road bike set up with a straight bar. Paul Component Engineering is a small business known for making brakes and other components of the very highest quality. N.B. The quality Annapolis, MD shop Velo Orange also makes thumb shifter mounts. http://www.paulcomp.com/thumbies.htmlhttp://bit.ly/Qsn09n.
  50. Park Tool Rescue Wrench (“dog bone”). This wrench could serve three purposes. First, it could replace a more expensive, heavier, and weaker multitool. Second, it allows one to access those many bolts and screws that do not allow for good handle-clearance. Third, it can be kept in one’s back pocket as one works on a bike, as a hex set or multitool cannot comfortably be, increasing the speed of repairs. http://amzn.to/Q2a7xS.
  51. Duct Tape and Gorilla Tape. Being without duct tape on a bike is even worse than being without it in a house. Gorilla tape is a stronger, stickier version of the ‘Duck Tape’ duct tape. Found at hardware stores and online. Many riders carry one or the other by wrapping it around a cut straw, in order to save space and weight.
  52. Chain Watcher. A requisite for beginners, and still nice for the cautious. The chain will fall off the inner ring (“granny gear”). When it does, one of two things will happen. In the better situation, one’s hand will get very greasy. (Tip: rub hands on grass. Grass acts as a surprisingly good degreaser when on the road.) In the worse situation, the chain will get jammed between the chainring and the bottom bracket; freeing the chain can be very frustrating. Lastly, there is a traffic risk in a chain’s falling to the inside, that the rider then loses all power through the pedals. The N-Gear Jump Stop Chain Guide requires that a purchaser determine the diameter of her seat-tube, preferably using a caliper at the area of installation.http://amzn.to/VK8cPm. The  Third Eye Chain Watcher has a universal clamp. http://amzn.to/Y92L2N. Some will say that properly adjusted gears will not shift off the lowest chainring. That assumes  properly adjusted gears, and, ignores the effects of jostling produced by road, perhaps crossing-up, and falling.
  53. Top-tube Protectors. If one parks his bike anywhere, the top-tube will rest against something. Through wind, jostling, or unlocking, the top-tube will get rubbed and scratched. Dents are also a small possibility, especially in a larger city where bike-racks get crowded. There are at least two great options. One, leather and stitching, from Velo Orange: http://bit.ly/U2Ci1e. The other, nylon, doubling as a reflector (see #37), from Bike Wrappers, in many designs including black: http://www.bikewrappers.com/store/. For a less expensive alternative, see #22 for helicopter tape.
  54. Pliers. Seldom carried. How is one to do anything to derailleurs or shifters, gears, without being able to work on cables by the roadside? A small pair of pliers allows one to fix anything to do with cables. The Leatherman Squirt is my personal carry, a surprisingly very small, very sturdy pair from the original maker of the multitool. http://www.leatherman.com/product/Squirt_PS4. Others may like Gerber models, or Swisstech.
  55. Sugru. Sugru is a pliable substance that dries into a flexible, waterproof silicone, attaching strongly to most any surface. Could be invaluable either for emergencies or making small alterations to a bicycle or its gear. www.sugru.com.

11 thoughts on “50+ Less Usual but Very Helpful Road Bike Components, Tools, and Accessories

  1. A pretty good list. I would include at least one more item, though: a presta-to-schraeder adapter. This lets me assist schraeder-using cyclists even though my pump is presta-only. The adapter is the size and weight of a pencil eraser, more or less.

  2. Thank you for the comments. A few have left reactions and suggestions on a couple fora as well (‘Bicycle Lifestyle’ Google Group, moderated by the esteemed Peter White of peterwhitecycles.com; and the Adventure Cycling Associations ‘Gear Talk’ forum), where I requested such so that I could learn and improve as a lifetime cyclist.

    The post received 1,000 visitors in its first two days, and over 1,700 visitors in three days, from the US and 12 foreign countries. I have incorporated most of the suggestions that I have received. I also began a second blog (steelcycling.wordpress.com) with the same post in order that cyclists may sign up to be notified (‘Follow: Keep in True’.) when another edition, or a further thoughtful post on cycling-related topics comes to issuance. Even moreso than with ‘ddubé’, that blog will grow in posts only slowly, when a draft is ripe for print.

    The intent of both is interactive and educational. In future, I’d love to post a second version with a greater number of “less usual but very useful” components, tools, and accessories for road bikes, so please keep suggestions comin’.

    Yours,

    Dan (Maine)

    • Glad to be of help to a business that provides quality products of need to cyclists! I must note for my readers that I am not affiliated with any manufacturer, seller, or product on the list.

  3. #4 is a decent stand but it doesn’t work with bikes that have under the bottom bracket cable routing or abnormal sized downtubes. A more versatile option is the Ibera IB-2 Easy Utility stand. It holds up the rear from underneath the chainstays and has many adjustments that allow it to work with almost any bike.

    • Thanks for the suggestion Gearslinger. I disagree that the Dajia stand (#4) fails to work with under-BB cables, as I use it myself with such a set-up, both temporarily, for working on the bike, and permanently, as a stand. It is possible that it would not work as well on a very small minority of bikes; however, the points of contact on my road-bike are cleared by a good couple centimeters on each side.

      Of course I am adding your suggestion to the list today. The Ibera is a welcome alternative of which I had not been aware. I would note that both the VO/Dajia and Ibera stands are likely to work better with handlebar holders, e.g. #28, since, unlike with full repair stands, gravity does not keep the front wheel straight.

      Dan

  4. Ah ok thanks for setting me straight on that, I was just parroting what I read on another site about that stand, guess it was wrong. And yeah I wasn’t aware of the Ibera until recently myself, don’t think its been on the market very long.

    • That’s more than fine. Challenges produce truth. Critiques are welcome. I’ll be excited to see the Ibera in future.

      I had noticed some adverse reviews of the VO/Dajia stand on BikeForums.net, claiming a bike would fall off the stand. I cannot imagine that happening with the handlebars held by #28. I can well imagine that happening if one is spinning the rear wheel quickly without keeping the front wheel straight.

      A detriment to the VO/Dajia that could not be present in the Ibera is the proximity of the stand to the inner chainring, due to the generous clearance of cables under the BB. If one pressures the bike sideways while working on it, the chainring WILL rub the stand. Once one remembers not to apply strong side-pressure to the frame while working on the bike, the nuisance stops.

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