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Sea Otter 2024

Tools of the Trade Show

Photos Deniz Merdano
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The Anodized Branding

Green, blue, red, yellow and rainbow are some of the recognizable anodizing hues of the tools we use daily. While some of us are loyal to a certain colour that paints our peg boards and tool boxes, it is more often a Skittles-like mismatch shit show that adorns the everyday bike person's tool drawer.

While there is a functional benefit to using one brand to dress up your tool wardrobe, there is often a missing tool that one needs to facilitate a repair from another brand. The pre-assembled tool kits available to the regular public are often archaic in their spectrum perhaps full of cone wrenches and the like.

Sea Otter is a beautiful shit show. A 40,000+ people event that spans a kilometre in diameter and packs a whopping 1000 Exhibitors in to the grounds. As a team of three, we tried to cover as much of it as possible but with so much to digest and talk about, we undoubtedly missed some good stuff.

What we did try to accomplish was to quench our thirst for shiny new tools. So here are some of our findings.

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Park Tools TPT-1

Park Tool

The blue team was again out in full force and had some new tools to show. It is always fun walking through the Park Tool display looking at everything a commercial shop could be using on the daily.

They had a couple of new bits that I liked, the first one being the TPT-1 tire plug tool. I have multiple tire plug tools in my toolbox from failed and successful experiments. The main one I carry with me on rides is the Slug Plug tool. It is slim enough to fit on the door of my Orbea's storage compartment. It is also big enough to be used as a shop tool. This Park one however takes the shop use case to the next level with a sweet anodized metal handle that fits extremely well in the hands. The best part about the new tool is the rubber slide that is built into the prongs that pushes the bacon strip down into the tire while removing the tool. Simple and effective.

  • Includes 5 vulcanized rubber plugs (refills available — part #2370K)
  • Dimensions: 89 x 27 x 40 mm (3.5" x 1.1" x 1.6")
  • Weight: 79 grams (2.8 oz.) with plugs

The new TPT-1 will travel with me in the truck at all times for when a puncture threatens a good time at a ride. It may also come along for some bigger rides as a sure way to fix a flat in the backcountry.

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Mavens are brakes too. Park Tool 2602A is an adapter for existing Park mineral oil brake bleed systems.

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Crimp tool EP-1

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Tap and driver handle

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Spring loaded and threaded BB tool Retention System

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The Park Tool T handles are very pretty but I find them uncomfortable for the hands in high torque applications.

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Re-designed internal routing system IR-1.3 replaces all the pre-existing systems

Park Tool had a few more new bits in their booth in the shape of a crimp tool EP-1, TH-3 tap and bit driver, Bottom Bracket tool retention system and a redesigned internal cable routing system for Shimano and Bosch wires.

Park Tool Website

The tool belt of USA - Fix Manufacturing

Fix Manufacturing is a small, rider/skater owned business out of Laguna Beach, CA. Not to be confused with the other tool maker from the same neighbourhood, founder Tony Zentil (sweet ass name btw) came up with a wearable EDC tool for fixing up his skateboard and trucks.

The Fix Manufacturing however is not a monosport enterprise and making specific multi-tools for Bikes, skates, surfing and snowboarding requires an understanding of the nuances of each.

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Fix Manufacturing from Laguna Beach had their bike line up on display

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E-Flator and the tool bag Tony has been working on which should be available soon

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The 2-24Nm torque wrench. It is not often you find a wider range like this one.

For bikes, Fix will sell you their all time belt tool, which is a belt buckle mounted multi tool, the Wheelie Wrench Pro with or without the dynaplug option, and the E-flator digital tire pump that can fit in the palm of your hand.

All these little problem solvers are available directly fromFix Manufacturing.

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Brass is Greener on the other side (Abbey Tools)

This green anodizing identifies quality tools. The crowd-sourced nature of the company means there are solutions to unique and often unaddressed issues that mechanics face around the world.

Abbey tools had a couple of new tools at the show and I was excited about both of them. The star of the show is the new Bearing Extracting tool. Gone are the days of removing bearings like a Neanderthal. This new tool has a beautifully machined expanding collet that goes through the bearing and grabs it from the blind side. While the bearing doesn't have to be a blind* one. The idea is to reduce the use of drifts and punches to remove hub and other bearings and extract those damn things with a straight pull rather than rocking them and potentially damaging the bore

*If you are not familiar with the term, it refers to the bearing's accessibility

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The new tool is:

  • Compatible with bearing Inside Diameters (ID) from 12 to 20 millimeters.
  • Compatible with Bearing Outside Diameters from 24 to 37 millimeters.

Abbey doesn't claim to have invented the tool, admitting they borrowed the idea from the now-closed Noble Tools of the U.K. It's a 300 USD tool but it does cover a nice range of drifts and if saves you the headache of damaging parts with a hammer and sockets, so be it.

Next up, we have the Wheel building stand. It is simple, functional and is again, kind of pricey. I first saw a version of this at Crankbrother's wheel building factory during my visit couple of years ago.

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Abbey's new wheel building tool/stand

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The new wheel building stand will capture the hub in the centre and the adjustable arms will capture the rim on the outside allowing you to concentrate on holding the spokes and nipples instead. It's a third and fourth hand all in one and if you are the kind of person/shop who builds a couple of wheels per week, it may be a worthwhile investment. Sure you can make one yourself, but this one is made from precision materials and should last a very long time. Cost? 350 USD... it's a write-off.

Abbey also had a single, spoke wrench at the booth. It was nothing to write about until I held it in my hands. The ergonomics and the size were perfect and it was feather light. This was a working proto until the steel-tipped one arrives.

There was also a 1500 USD bench wise with a ball head table mount made by Orange Vice Company. This is not an anvil they say but I'd definitely tap on that once or twice.

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Orange Vise Company's Green Abbey Edition vice. 1500 USD

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Adjustable pliers Wrench and some flush cutters

Thanks for the Feedback

Feedback Tools make the best bike repair stands in my opinion. Lightweight, sturdy, functional and good looking stands are usually hard to come by. Sure my Park Tool Steel stand can hold a building up if needed but it is nowhere near as portable or easy to use as the stands from Feedback. The Pro Mechanic Bike Stand gets a 20th anniversary colour upgrade this year in some flashy colours. The Pro stand weighs 12.8lbs/5.7kg for portability. While I wouldn't call it particularly light, it folds down to very managable size. I Like the one handed release button and the speed you can attach a bike to it..

There were also a couple of new hand tools from Feedback at the booth. This one might trigger some people but here we are. The adjustable pliers wrench is a 35mm mouth capacity, Knipex-like wrench from Feedback. The scale is clearly printed on both sides and it is 7"/180mm long. At 55 USD this is going to be a tough one considering the Knipex is the same price and built a little sturdier and has better finishes. But bike shops do not carry Knipex, so for those who use bike shops to acquire tools, this one maybe a slam dunk.

The flush cutter and needle nose pliers were also new and nice editions to the non-bike specific tools you can get from Feedback. You can never have too many tools, so it's great to have more options when it comes to small hand helds.

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Pro Mechanic Stand

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You can hang your tool bag from it for a highly mobile setup

bruce

State of the Unior

Unior have not made as massive an inroad into the US bicycle tool market as might have been anticipated a few years ago. If the majestic silverback pictured above has any say, that may soon change.

The majestic silverback in that picture is Bruce Fina. He's the co-founder of Pedro's. As such, he has a bit of a prior history when it comes to tools and lubes and the bike shop landscape. Now, instead of retiring to his secret lair in Austrian alps and frolicking in his vats of money, he is getting his hands dirty once again; helping Unior and Sinter establish more of a presence in the US.

Unior is a Slovenian company, and is also the largest forging factory in Europe. So, in addition to stomping out all their own branded tools, there's a healthy business in stomping out pistons and con rods for the auto and motorcycle industries, as well as supplying forged metal parts for whoever else needs them. This is preamble to say that Unior is a big outfit, and not just some design firm that gets its name stamped onto tools that are made on a different continent.

The tools, well, there are hundreds of them. From very reasonably priced single items that are sensibly designed and ergonomically effective to full tool kits and specialty tools that are fully over the top, Unior have something to answer every conceivable need that a bike mechanic may have. Bearing tools? Facing, cutting, aligning tools? Boogered pedal thread repair kits? Suspension tools? Unior goes deep. Might be the only outfit that can go toe to toe with the Blue Army, and with some judicious selection, there is a lot in the Unior catalog that represents solid value. Definitely worth checking out.

Wera-r you gone?

Here is a fuck up. Wera tools were set up right at the entrance to the show so we made the grave error of leaving it to the last minute to go browse through their stuff. Usually a bottleneck for getting in and out of the fairgrounds, it's not a great place to hang out and look at products. When we returned to see what was new, they were already packed up and leaving. Damn it!

We are as bummed as you are but we'll be looking into fixing this. In the meantime, enjoy this only photo I took at the Wera tent of a curious little girl reaching for the soft-blow hammer!

In the meantime, you can have a look around their website.

Wera Tools

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Future is hammertime!!!

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano

5'8"

162lbs

Playful, lively riding style

Photographer and Story Teller

Lenticular Aesthetician

www.blackbirdworks.ca

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Comments

alexdi
+3 Andy Eunson Kos Allen Lloyd

I feel like the odd man out with Feedback. I really dislike the clamp design relative to Park. The shape is less flexible for what you can attach it to; it's really designed for a round post and not much else. There's also no memory to the clamp tension and the ratchet leaves a lot of slack, so I was constantly twiddling that handle to adjust clamping pressure (even worse with the tri-knob), which is facing you so it's awkward. I have a 10.3 and a BikeHand. The Ultimate was intended to replace the latter, but I opted to sell it after a few weeks instead.

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andy-eunson
+1 Kos

Agreed 100%. I have one of each. The park is in my home shop and the Feedback is the traveller and is in my away from home shop. The Feedback is superior for travel but I don’t care for the fiddly clamp.

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jt
+3 Jotegir cheapondirt BarryW

Re: the flush cutter. Am I the only one who looks at a $30+ cutter such as this and wonder what it does better than the $5 cuticle cutter from the local drug store?

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ShawMac
+1 BarryW

Or $13.99 Mastercraft side cutters.

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jt
+2 BarryW bishopsmike

Can't speak to those but they look like run of the mill side cutters. Cuticle cutters work a peach to get a completely flush, not-gonna-scratch-you-with-more-pain-and-bleeding-than-it-rightfully-should, cut on zipties. And they're cheap and easy to find. I enjoy nice tools as much as anybody, but these strike deep at the conspicuous consumption angle hard. To me at least.

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Jotegir
+1 BarryW

The best flush cut pliers I have used are these $7.50 (but actually free* because they give them out when you order irresponsible amounts of paint supplies which I have done many times) generic Flush Cut Pliers from Emerald Coatings. I'm sure the pharmacy ones are similar.  I can't imagine using something more expensive, maybe you get a better feel in your hands?  

These are great for all my bike flush cutting needs and they're sharp, precise, and maneuverable enough my cat prefers them to her actual nail clippers when her nails need a trim. How's that for an endorsement? Lenore Approved!

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FlipSide
0

I have ChannelLock flush cutters that probably did cost me over 30$. I may have a weird fetish about this, but I think using it to flush-cut cut zip-ties is most satisfying (simple and frequent) thing I do on my bike. Maybe none of that experience is due to the tool itself and cheaper tools would work 100% as well... I can't say. 

Side-note: Now that I think about it, I think pressing in a headset has to be THE most satisfying job you can do on a bike, but this doesn't happen very often. Achieving near perfection for cable length/routing/management in front of the bike is another excellent feeling.

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DaveSmith
+2 BarryW Mike Ferrentino

The perfectly cut bits of foam makes my heart flutter.

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kos
+1 hotlapz

Great write up. Once you catch up with Wera, I saw, on another site, that they had a new, cool looking, adjustable t-handle torque wrench with every bit under the sun. Details on that would be great, if possible.

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hotlapz
0

I feel like wera can do no wrong.

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whotookit
+1 Mike Ferrentino

I understand that it's good business to sell cheap copies of someone else's excellent work, but it's still a bummer to see Feedback doing it. On the flipside, getting Orange to make you a color-correct vise....can't afford but holy hell I want.

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FlipSide
0

I did not know about Orange Vise. I can't justify the price for one, but damn I'd love to work on such a nice piece. 

The only issue I see is that I'd miss the anvil on my peasant-level Motomaster Vise. Let's just pretend that's a show-stopper and keep that 1500$US in my pocket. :)

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mikeferrentino
+5 FlipSide JT Andy Eunson BarryW Allen Lloyd

On the flipside (sorry, couldn't resist...) to them fancy vises, I was gifted a 6" jaw Wilton from Chris Paretich's workshop after he passed. Probably 50 or more years old, made in the US, weighs at least 80 pounds. It is both the most awesome of all my tools and the biggest pain in the ass thing I have ever owned.

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jt
+2 Mike Ferrentino BarryW

Co I work at was gonna scrap a Wilton. I asked the right people if I could repurpose it rather than send it to the scrapppers. I regret nothing about that week's worth of emails to get the proper blessings.

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whotookit
+1 BarryW

Wiltons are items of beauty and deserve all the harumphing necessary to keep them in your good graces. Congratulations both of you on your gigantic helpful curses.

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andy-eunson
+2 Jotegir BarryW

My vice isn’t as old as me but close. It’s cast iron which is what a proper vice is made out of. Aluminum vice? Really? Maybe some of those popular bike packing bikes have mounts to carry a lightweight aluminum vice on a frame. 

Shop quality plug tool. Are there any bike shops that will plug a tire and guarantee it will work? It’s nifty and all but maybe it’s just me, the Oneup plug tool I carry seems to work just fine for few and I mean few times I’ve used it.

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denomerdano
0

I've had serious trouble with dinky little tire plugs and plug tools on the DH casing tires. I like this option for more force. Also I have successfully repaired many tires, they ran until the tread was worn or I had to give the bike back. Shops may just choose to sell the customer new tires though, but at $150+tax, maybe try a repair first.

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tim-lane

I plugged my car tire a few years ago using my OneUp stabber. It's been good enough that I forgot about it until now.

whotookit
0

Orange is a pretty reputable company that predominantly makes machining fixtures. Think of it more as a machinist's tool than a hold-to-smash implement, great for precisely putting force into/onto a part. And the main piston is steel if that helps!

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Jotegir
+1 BarryW

At least Trek had the decency to pay Knipex to slap "Bontrager" on a bunch of tools for them to sell. 

Tip for employees of shops that sell Trek: because they did label them Bontrager, they're eligible for your full off-cost employee pricing.

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mikeferrentino
0

yeah, agreed. I dig the people at Feedback, and a lot of what they make is decent, competitively priced, functional kit. But those imitation Knipex are not going to pass muster with any diehard tool nerd.

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JVP
+1 bishopsmike

Rather than knocking off the Pliers Wrench, Feedback should have made a flat-profile version that works as an adjustable cone wrench. I've seen it done on Toolbox Wars, and have thought about grinding down a Knipex PW to make one for myself.

I have juuust enough use for one to make it worthwhile. Mostly adjusting hubs or some rando work in the guts of a fork.

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denomerdano
0

I don't hate this idea!

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tim-lane
+2 Mike Ferrentino JVP

The Pliers Wrench is at least a 30 year old design and unfortunately* patents last only 20 years. The societal rational is that once a patent has expired everyone should benefit from Round Wheels, or Hot Fire, or Horst Links.

Knipex sell a mini pliers wrench which works as a cone wrench. IIRC the jaws are similar to the old Cool Tool, probably under 2.5mm thick.

*unfortunate in my eyes as an inventor, society as a whole benefits. I'm slightly jealous that a copyright is basically free to obtain and holds for 95 years.

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JVP
+2 Tim (aka DigitBikes/DirtBaggies) Mike Ferrentino

Nice, thanks for that! The Knipex mini is the 125mm handled version. Opens to 23mm. Tips are 3.0mm tapering to 5.0mm. That's probably thin enough for most of what I do, and if anything would need minimal grinding down.

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daithi
0

Oh I am so mad that I just read about that Fix MFG Torque Wrench. I've been on the hunt for a hex drive TW for months for doing fiddly fasteners that even the smallest 1/4 or 3/8 square drive are too big to reach.

The Wera A6 never goes on sale so I finally broke down and bought the Feedback Range Click TW. Thought I found a good sale in the States, but first I forgot to uncheck the box letting PayPal do the currency conversion. Then I got dinged $40 for duties at my door when it arrived a couple hours ago.

I already had buyers remorse without even using it. And now I open nsmb to see this beauty for the same price, in a nicer case and with a way bigger range.

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