Dawn Dishwashing Liquid

I’m not sure that Dawn really helps save wildlife (and a friend of mine tells me that Proctor & Gamble is super evil). But it does a seriously amazing job of getting bike grease and oil stains out of clothes. It also works as a good quick hand cleaner when you don’t want to go all the way with something like Phil Wood hand cleaner.

Used for: 5 years
Price paid: around $1.50
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 5 stars!

Dawn Dishwashing Liquid

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Kool Stop Sport Tire Levers

Wow, people hate these on Amazon. I’ve been using them for 25+ years, never snapped one. They get the job done and are probably my favorite out of all the tire levers I’ve tried. I don’t really like metal levers and most of the other plastic ones I’ve used seem to bend easily. The little red case keeps them together in the tool box. I usually take two with me on the road.

Used for: 25+ years
Price paid: $5
Purchased at: don’t remember
Rating: 5 stars!

Kool Stop Sport Tire Levers

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Shimano Dura Ace Freewheel

The Dura Ace freewheel is one of my favorite bike parts of all time. They are basically indestructible. I have six or seven of these either on bikes or in boxes, plus a ton of extra cogs. I don’t weight much, so I was never one of those guys breaking axles on freewheel hubs. But before Dura Ace freewheels came along, I had to suffer with Suntour freewheels, and before that, Regina freewheels. The Dura Ace freewheels lasted longer and shifted better. The cogs were evenly spaced, shaped better, and were easier to swap out. The freewheel bodies never seemed to crap out. And the splined freewheel tool was a huge improvement over the old two-pronged design used by just about everyone else. More pics after the jump!

Used for: 25 years
Price paid: don’t remember
Purchased at: don’t remember
Rating: 5 stars!

Shimano Dura Ace freewheel with removal tool

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Park 3 Way Hex Wrench

I didn’t even realize until recently that Park updated this tool. It always seemed pretty much perfect to me. When I worked in shops we always used to remove the sleeve on the 5, which helped to quickly identify the one you used most, and also made it easier to get in to tighten or loosen road brake levers. Of course I like to have the full slate of Bondhus allens, but these Park 3-way hex wrenches indispensable for the home or pro mechanic.

Used for: 20 years
Price paid: around $5
Purchased at: don’t remember
Rating: 5 stars!

Park 3 Way Hex Wrench

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Homemade Headset Press

To continue this week’s headset theme… I saw someone’s homemade headset press on the intertubes years ago and decided to make one for myself. A Park headset press is a no brainer if you work in a shop, but for the home mechanic who might only press in a headset every few years, building your own press makes a lot of sense. Just go down to your local hardware store, get a threaded rod, some nuts and a few washers. It will probably cost you around $3 (the Park is about $120). Works like a champ. Also, using one of these will slow you down a bit, unlike the Park, which allows you to slam it in, and possibly damage the headset or headtube if you aren’t paying attention. And the only way you can go cheaper is with a block of wood and a hammer.

Used for: 10 years
Price paid: $3
Purchased at: Home Depot
Rating: 5 stars!

homemade headset press

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Surly Cable Hanger

My only complaint about my Surly Cross Check is the rear brake cable routing. The slotted cable stops run down the right hand side, which makes no sense unless you want to run your rear brake to the left brake lever motorcycle style, or enjoy having the brake housing rub the paint off your head tube. My Cross Check is about five years old, though, and since then Surly has moved the top tube cable stops to the to the 12 o’clock position, which is an improvement, but I still think they should just move it over to the 10 o’clock position like just about everyone else.

Surly also decided against brazing on a rear housing stop (perhaps thinking that lots of folks would use V-brakes?) and instead went with a cable hanger. My Cross Check came with a generic one that is kind of short, and I know a lot of people had trouble getting the housing cut to just the right length (I found it worked best to cut the housing on the short side, and run it under the seat post clamp). Surly has tried to rectify the cable hanger issue with their new cable hanger. These come with the new Cross Check frames, but if you have an old one like me, it’s gonna cost you $11 at the LBS. Worth it? Well, I just installed mine, and it looks kind of cool, but I didn’t notice much improvement in brake feel (then again, mine wasn’t that bad to start with). But if you’ve been struggling with the old hanger, or would like a barrel adjuster, it might be worth it. More photos after the jump!

Used for: 1 week
Price paid: $11
Purchased at: Free Range Cycles
Rating: 4 stars!

Surly Cable Hanger

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Zog’s Headset Wrench

I picked up this awesome Zog’s headset wrench at Interbike sometime in the mid-90s and had assumed the company had gone the way many of other small, US-based manufacturing companies. But no, these thin, laser cut tools are still being made in Oregon under the name Thinwrench. They don’t seem to make this particular headset wrench anymore, which was way thinner and more awesome than anything else available at the time (and makes for the perfect companion to the Park Professional Headset Locknut Wrench), but here are the bike tools they still make. The Headset Pedal Cone Take-Along Combo Wrench looks pretty sweet.

Used for: 15+ years
Price paid: don’t remember
Purchased at: directly from the Zog’s guys
Rating: 5 stars!

Zogs Headset Wrench

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Park Professional Headset Locknut Wrench

The Park Professional Headset Locknut Wrench is a work of art. It won’t bite into or round off the top nut of your spendy Chris King or Campy threaded headset. And unlike most of my other Park stuff, they haven’t change this one in 15 years. I guess you can’t mess with perfection.

Used for: 15+ years
Price paid: probably around $30
Purchased at: don’t remember
Rating: 5 stars!

Park Professional Headset Locknut Wrench

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Phil Wood Hand Cleaner

This is my favorite hand cleaner and I just picked up two more tubs in my recent Rivendell order. It doesn’t totally trash your hands with chemicals like some of the more commercial stuff. It claims to be “100% natural and biodegradable” and Rivendell says it’s made out of wood pulp. Someone told me that Phil Wood simply repackages a product that is available for a lot less, but I haven’t found it–if someone does, let me know. A few more pics after the jump!

Used for: 10 years
Price paid: $8
Purchased at: Rivendell
Rating: 5 stars!

Phil Wood Hand Cleaner

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