Monday, January 5, 2009

Loyalty

My tools are organized with the precision of surgical instruments. The madness of my organization stems from years of 10+ hour days and countless repairs passing through the work stand. A solid order to my tools allows for efficient work, no time is lost searching for the 4mm Allen key or the cable cutters.

A stroll through my tool chest reveals many of today's tools: the Campagnolo UT-BB110crank tool, Mavic's metal Ksyrium spoke key, and the King hub servicing tools, each designed to service the latest machines and interface with the industry's most advanced components. But dig a bit deeper into each of the drawers and there among the modern offerings resides a treasure trove of tools from seasons passed. Their presence serve as a reminder of the industry's hunger for evolution (or de-evolution depending on your view) and, despite a healthy dose of logic, there is a side of me that can't part with them. I relied on these tools for my livelihood; they facilitated my survival and helped me hone a skill I would rely on to live out my cycling dreams. I shed blood, sweat, and tears with most of them. Many were used countless times during their peak and bore witness to some of the most stressful days in the shop, days where I would have been better served to be on roller skates. They hid out in the pockets of my apron and served as an outlet for my idle hands as I stood on the sales floor and talked about presta vs schrader for the 1,000,034,984,885,769th time.

Tools are like teammates or co-workers; a respect develops over time, a respect grown from working toward a common goal, sharing time together, and acknowledging our mutual reliability. All of my tools serve as an account of my journey through cycling, for they remind me of bikes, components, customers, rides, races, and shops where I focused my energies and passion.

I doubt Shimano has plans of returning to the UA-110 headset, but if they do, I will be ready.

13 comments:

Retro grouch said...

it is a rare professional that has the tools t work on the UA-110 (AX) head sets. My set sits in a space with the lot of campy flat tools in a compartment in my box. The tools are a place of honor in that draw, as it sits along side the H tools and DA rear derailleur hanger alignment tool (still the best ever made)I have sold tools that I regret selling my Mavic service kit, an original fit kit, and a Campy reduced kit. I love old tools well used ones as they have stories to tell.

jimmy said...

don,t most techs have a set of those shimano headset wrenchs new in the blue plastic pakage.

Hup United said...

Or how about the plastic Campy pawl holder tool? That thing is GENIUS!

SLOVER said...

I work at a bike shop that sold roller skates. I roller skated a lot when I was young so this skill work out well at the shop..I would put them on and skate around the shop. The boss would get so piss at me for being a dick head and fucking around I would just laugh at him.I would put on a 1980's jersey on with a pink kids helmet on. We would all be laying on the floor just laughing our heads off..
Dam I miss that job! I got paid for doing nothing. I work on bikes for about ten min and the rest of the day I would be fucking something up. I sure miss a good bike toss..To this day that was one of the best jobs I ever had..
I'm still trying to figure out which was better getting payed for doing nothing or have sex with my girlfriend in the dressing room..
Good times!!
What were we talking about???...lol

Kathryn Law said...

A beautiful post. I'm a mechanic, and had a wonderful collection of new and time-worn tools. Five months ago, I moved from California to Italy, and decided that the expense of shipping my tools here and paying Customs duty on them was prohibitive. I decided that I would replace them once we were settled here in Italy, so I donated all of them to the Bike Kitchen which was just starting up in San Diego. While it is very good to know that they are all being used in support of a very worthy cause, I miss them terribly. Many "old friends" that I'll never see again, so reading your post was bittersweet for me. Now it's a new year, a new life, and I need to find some new "friends" to grow old with.

STC Captain said...

Pricless post. As a former wrench i recall the versatility of a BT-3, and the uniqueness od that DA headset.
Slover - the bike toss was a highlight of any shop wrench.

Jim said...

My favorite tool in the world is the Surly Jethro Tule, combining a 15mm socket with a bottle opener. Useful, funky, and mildly drunk-y. That said, the Park AWS-1 three head hex wrench (4,5,6) is by a longshot the single most useful tool in the box. Not a wrench, just a rider, but whenever I'm working on a bike - at home, at my buddy's shop, or at a race - I keep it in my pocket. It fits maybe 75% of the bolts on a modern bike.

RIHans said...

Freddy...
I'm a chef, and I feel the same way about some of my kitchen tools...A favorate knife, a well-seasoned pan, etc.
To explore a little more...Did you always put the tool on the same hook? See,I always set the stuff up in the same way, no looking...right there. Good when I get busy. Mis en place.

tjh said...

LOL. I have the matching Ax pedals somehwere! I was wrenching when my miyata pro arrived repleat w/ DA AX. There was a lot to love about that groupo...and alot to loathe. I was young and poor and the shop owner was not too keen on ordering tools for such a one-off.

but I'm w/ retro crouch on the shimano r.der hanger tool. while it was a pain to keep all the parts in one place, I'm still looking for one!

TeamSeagal said...

I TOTALLY have one of those infernal shimano headset tools at my shop! I actually got to use it on my own personal bike for a while, as it had one of those headsets. totally useless.

CFR

mhandsco said...

Swiss cable cutters... I couldn't love you anymore than I do.

Slappy said...

Fresh shop just took me on, and we're having what's turning out to be an amazing time sharing the one bench. The knowledge levels are different as well, so lots of the tools are able to be articulated for use at the same time. An amazing opportunity, because the rush will surely swell come summer and then we'll have a couple more sets and stands and so forth, but at the moment, a new shop, brooklynbikeandboard.com devoid of any annoying egos, sharing and learning and talking bikes, while the re-cycle a bike program plays itself out. . oh joy

needless to say, my personal 3-way remains in my bag with my patch kit and pump. While the rest of my tools await transit from my last place of employ, the great and glorious gear exchange in glenwood , Co. .

Erik said...

If anyone in Cincinnati has a UA-110 wrench, can I please!!!! borrow it.