The 2009 Christmas Wishlist

12.16.2008 | 2:23 pm

For each of the past three years (2005, 2006, 2007) I’ve posted a list of Christmas gift ideas you can use to either help you shop for other cyclists in your gift-giving circle, or to forward around, in the hopes you might get something you like.

I just reviewed these lists and am happy to confirm that they’re top-notch. You can and should still use them.

For this year’s list, then, I’d like to get a little more thematic.

Basically, for Christmas this year I want two things:

  1. To have the means to learn to start doing some basic bike maintenance.
  2. To fight cancer.

And since I (rightly, I’m sure) assume that each of you is exactly like me, I will now expand on these two “wants,” and then you can forward them to friends, families, and coworkers with the subject line “hint hint” as you like.

1. I Want To Become Less Clueless About Maintaining My Bike

I intended to start this section by saying it’s ironic that I’ve been cycling for fifteen years and yet have not yet learned to do even basic bike maintenance. Except if you know me, you’d realize that it’s not ironic at all.

Why? Because I don’t do even basic anything maintenance. I don’t mend the fence. I beg neighbors to assist me in draining the sprinkler system each fall. I buy Hondas so I don’t ever have to worry about fixing the car.

So why do I suddenly want to start fixing my bike? I don’t. I just want to be able to do some basic maintenance — the equivalent of putting gas in the car’s tank. I want to be able to properly degrease a chain. I want to be able to adjust a derailleur. I want to be able to adjust the brakes so they don’t squeal. I want to change my single speed cog. And maybe — I know this is pushing it — I’d like to be able to swap out the brake pads.

Why? Because my two favorite bike shops — Racer’s Cycle Service and SLC Bicycle Company — are each about a 45 minute drive from my house. (Yeah, there are several closer shops, but they either don’t know me or don’t like me at those shops.) It’d be nice if I could take care of a few things myself.

And that means I’m going to need some stuff. Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • A bike stand: As a home mechanic, I’m going to want a more sophisticated way to keep my bike upright than my current technique, which is to lean my bike up against my car. I’ve been looking around and am tempted to get a wall-mounted bike stand. I am, however, interested in counter-arguments and recommendations.
  • Some bike tools: Really, all I want is the right tools to do the basics that I mentioned above: clean a chain, make adjustments to derailleurs and brakes, and maybe — when I’m feeling ambitious — swap forks. The problem is, though, I have no idea what tools I need for all this. Is there a pre-fab toolkit I should buy? Or should I get the parts piecemeal? Also, should I buy a tool apron, to make me look dapper?
  • Lessons: I know, I know, I should just buy a Lennard Zinn book, but I’ve bought DIY books before, and they just make me sweat and panic. I need to hire Racer to just teach me how to do the stuff I want to do. I’d hire Brad, but I’ve noticed that his bikes break more than anyone else’s, which isn’t all that confidence-inspiring. Is anyone aware of bike maintenance classes? If there isn’t such a thing out there, why not?

2. I Want to Fight Cancer

OK, the truth is I don’t even really care very much about whether I get the stuff I need to start doing some DIY bike maintenance. In fact, come to think of it, I think it might be best if I don’t get that kind of stuff, because I know it’s just going to sit in a corner, unused. And then when I go to the shop to get my bikes worked on like I always have I’ll just feel even lamer about my lameness.

And — trust me — while it sucks to feel lame about not knowing anything at all about bike maintenance, it sucks even more to feel lame about your lameness because you have everything you need to fix your bike…but you don’t.

So, instead, what I want to do is fight cancer for Christmas. Here’s the letter I’m sending out to friends and family — anyone who might conceivably be buying me a present, and many who would never buy me a present, but I think I can shake down, anyway:

Dear [person's name here],

I know you’ve been lying awake at night, wondering what you ought to buy me for Christmas. I imagine that your train of thought goes like this: “What should I get Elden for Christmas? Something really unique? Something really functional? Something really expensive? Something all three?

And while I would normally be glad to encourage and facilitate that line of thinking, this year I’d like to ask you for one very specific thing instead:

Help me fight cancer for Christmas.

See, I’ve signed up to raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, because I’ve seen firsthand what good work they do. And frankly, I can’t think of any cool toy in the world that I’d rather have than help someone who has cancer, or help someone who’s working on a cure for cancer.

So if you want to give me a Christmas present this year, here’s what you do.

1. Go to this website:

2. Donate as much as you would normally spend on a present for me.

I’ve seen too much cancer in my family — my sister’s had it, my grandma’s had it, my dad’s had it, my stepfather’s had it, my stepmother’s had it, and my wife has it. I can’t think of another fight that is this personal, or this important.

So, if you want to get me a present for Christmas, help me fight cancer, and know that I’ll regard it as the best present you’ve ever given me.



PS for Team Fatty Members: Feel free to use a variation of this letter yourself.

PPS: As of today, Team Fatty has raised more than $50,000, and have 312 team members. Thanks to everyone who has helped Team Fatty — especially Shimano, Masi Bicycles and Twin Six — with a great start!


  1. Comment by Jesse | 12.16.2008 | 2:33 pm

    Mad Dog Cycles in Orem offers the Park school classes. I’ll bet they even know you!


  2. Comment by Jodi | 12.16.2008 | 2:41 pm

    That’s just great. Now I have to return those socks that I got for you. Good thing I didn’t get them embroidered with “World’s Best Big Brother” like I’d intended before the recession was announced.

    Also, would it be lame for me to send that letter to you?

  3. Comment by Jake from Ithaca | 12.16.2008 | 2:44 pm

    Bike Tutor: Good videos about how to do basic stuff.

    Win Susan!

  4. Comment by cth | 12.16.2008 | 2:46 pm

    I highly recommend the Ultimate bicycle repair stands. Specifically, I have the Pro-Classic model and love it.

    It’s great for most DIY repairs. It’s sturdy enough for larger off-road rigs, yet it folds nicely for easy storage and is very portable.

    By far, this was the best bike tool I’ve ever bought.

    Also, check your favorite shops for basic maintenance classes. Many are free.

    Good luck,

  5. Comment by nickc | 12.16.2008 | 2:48 pm

    Don’t get a wall mounted stand, they are gash. get a proper one.

  6. Comment by Lizzylou | 12.16.2008 | 2:58 pm

    I use my trainer as a work stand… which comes in handy until I need to do something that requires taking wheels off.

  7. Comment by Mike | 12.16.2008 | 2:59 pm

    Between you and me (and everyone else on this forum), I change the fork on my mountain bike out by using a dumbbell and a book. Someone else just holds the frame and I stick the book on top of the steer tube and wack it with the dumbbell. There’s just a teeny lip that hangs on to the fork, so it pops right out.

    You might still need to take it to the shop if your steerer hasn’t been cut yet.

    You don’t need classes for most bike maintenance/repair. Just remember what it looked like before you started taking it apart.

    Personally, I’ll never spend the money on a bikestand. I just haven’t thought of anything I can fix off the ground that I can’t fix on the ground. But that’s just me.

  8. Comment by fish | 12.16.2008 | 3:07 pm

    I think I can help with number 1. You and Racer can come over and have some food then have a bike maintainence class in my basement. It’s a win-win. I’m serious. Give me a call.

  9. Comment by Woody | 12.16.2008 | 3:10 pm

    First – how could anyone at a bike shop not like you?!?!

    Second – am I really supposed to degrease my chain?

    Third – I am so sending that letter!!

  10. Comment by dug | 12.16.2008 | 3:12 pm

    you want to start working on your own bikes? i don’t even know who you are anymore.

  11. Comment by Mike Roadie | 12.16.2008 | 3:21 pm

    Well, I already have the work stand, and I just bought myself a new 2008 FC t-shirt, so all i can do for Christmas this year is fight cancer!

    My page only has $200 so far, but it is a start,

    May all of your Christmas Wish List dreams come true!

  12. Comment by GenghisKhan | 12.16.2008 | 3:33 pm

    No wall mount, yes on the apron and great letter! If I thought anyone was getting me a present, I’d sent it out–better off to save and donate the postage… ;o)

  13. Comment by T1mm0 | 12.16.2008 | 3:50 pm

    Get a Pedros Folding Workstand, that way you can use it to clean your bike outside etc. It’s very sturdy and the vice-clamp grip is really easy to use compared to most other work stands.

  14. Comment by Tim D | 12.16.2008 | 4:00 pm

    get a free standing workstand, not a wall or a bench mount one. Then get a big lump hammer, the biggest adjustable spanner you cna find, a medium size screwdriver and a bit of wood. Everything else is poncy crap used to inflate the prices of “proper” bike shops.

  15. Comment by RS | 12.16.2008 | 4:04 pm

    Fatty, you are the best. My REI offers bike maintanance classes each month, one free basic maintenance class, and one more involved class. It seems like what you are looking for.

  16. Comment by Kathleen | 12.16.2008 | 4:09 pm

    Love the letter Fatty – thanks for sharing. Definitely will use my own version of it.

    As for bike maintenance, even I know how to degrease my chain. And I’m a chick. And not a tough chick either.

  17. Comment by Roo | 12.16.2008 | 4:27 pm

    Most mechanics are getting paid well so they’ll probably love the chance to make some extra cash. I paid a guy from my favorite shop to give me a lesson. He told me what tools I needed to buy and then I just gave him a list of what I wanted to learn and I knew it all by the end of the day. Best money I ever spent!

    I have the Pedros folding stand. Love it.

  18. Comment by Roo | 12.16.2008 | 4:28 pm

    That was supposed to say AREN’T getting paid well…..

  19. Comment by Al Maviva | 12.16.2008 | 4:47 pm

    >>>A bike stand: As a home mechanic, I’m going to want a more sophisticated way to keep my bike upright

    Get a free standing bike stand that holds bikes by the seat post, preferably with a rotating, screw-able (not spring-loaded) gripper. It will cost money but it is worth it. Reasons: You can take it with you to races. Standing up and working on the bike beats crawling in the dirt. Spring loaded grippers or clamps can crush carbon, but you can use a shop rag and gently tighten up the screw-in clamps. Rotation is nice so you can drop the nose or tail and work on one end of the bike, or in case you take the seat post off you can clip to the seat tube (gently). Do not under any circumstances get the kind that clips onto the downtube. Crushed and chipped frames and splintered carbon will be in the offing if you do.

    >>clean a chain

    A rag, a hose, and maybe some Simple Green if you’ve gotten the thing really cruddy. If it’s nasty, spray on a little SG for 10 minutes, leaving it tilted to the right to keep the stuff out of the bearings, then hose off. Don’t spray it in the bearings. Really. Otherwise – normal maintenance – just lube the chain, then run in through a rag, lube, run through, repeatedly until the chain looks clean and free of debris. Use the rag to carefully get big hunks of crud off the chainrings. Alternately, Pedros makes a bag of brushes which has two that are great for this. But be really, really careful if you’re doing this to your fixie, the simplest yet deadliest of the biking world’s poisonous creatures.

    >>>Make adjustments to derailleurs and brakes,

    Fingers. Your der. and brakes should have quick adjust knobs. Screw them out to tighten the cables. Screw in to loosen. If a rear der problem, unscrew, or screw, a quarter turn at one time. Test it out by shifting. When it stops ghost shifting, it’s good. Otherwise you need strong hands – usually about three of them – and maybe a 4mm allen wrench to loosen the cable stop, tighten the cable, then re-secure. My rule: Minor adjustments, do it myself. Major adjustments (more than the quick adjust’s range of movement), take it to the shop. Unless I have lots of time to mess about, and plenty of beer.

    >>>swap forks

    Ho ho ho. This is like saying you need bandaids, some toenail clippers, and the ability to do neurosurgery. Stay away from messing with forks or cranks unless you know what you’re doing. Especially the carbon ones. Uninformed messing with forks & headsets, for a guy who lives on a mountain, is probably inadvisable. Why not take up snake handling, or BASE jumping instead?

    >>>tool apron

    Unless you’re a good mechanic, a tool apron is only called that because it will make you look like a tool. Avoid the apron. Plus it will get get sucked into your fixie drivetrain and screw it up. Losing your fingers will be bad enough; you don’t want to mess up that $49 Park Shop Apron, do ya?

    >>>Bike maintenance classes

    Put a ball peen hammer in your pocket, and ride out 25 miles from your house on a really cold day when bad weather is closing in. Hop off the bike. Take a deep breath. Now smash the derailer with a hammer.

    The bike maintenance class will ensue immediately thereafter. You’ll learn how to untangle a shattered derailer from your spokes, how to true a wheel by bashing it on a rock, how to convert a geared bike into a single speed, and how to fix bikes in the dark. This approach never fails. Except when it does.

    Glad I could be of some assistance to you Fatty.

  20. Comment by Charisa | 12.16.2008 | 4:49 pm

    Oh thanks, must add bike stand to my list as well!

  21. Comment by Hilslug | 12.16.2008 | 4:52 pm

    Hey Fatty,
    A couple of Christmas’ ago, I received all the bike maintenance stuff you are requesting. One thing I forgot to ask for has kept me from really using the gifts. I forgot to ask for the time to learn. . .Gotta include that in the list too.

    Win Susan!

  22. Comment by Di | 12.16.2008 | 5:16 pm

    Hmmmm…I think you just gave me an idea for a lazy blog day! :-D I might just post a version of your letter to see if I can get at least two people to donate. However, everyone already reads your blog, and I’m sure anyone who reads my blog has read your blog cuz your blog is listed on my blog, so maybe simply posting the letter won’t do. Hmmmm. I wonder if either of my readers have donated… ;-)

  23. Comment by KanyonKris | 12.16.2008 | 5:36 pm

    Who won the raffle for the Shimano wheels?

  24. Comment by KanyonKris | 12.16.2008 | 5:40 pm

    I bought a cheap tool kit from Nashbar years ago and I’ve used it a lot. I haven’t irreparably mangled any of my bikes yet and I’ve learned a lot about bike mechanics along the way. Having the tools is a good way to get started.

  25. Comment by kellene | 12.16.2008 | 6:26 pm

    Thank you for the encouragement to fight cancer. Haven’t signed up for team fatty, but am raising money here in Grand Junction for a good friend fighting his own personal battle of cancer. Also a cyclist. He is 32 yrs old and has been deemed terminal. Thanks to visiting with the Lance Armstrong Foundation this week they are making a quick trip to the west coast to see a specialist that they recommended. Funds were an issue. We decided to put on a dinner, silent auction and entertainment last week to help them out. So much support and goodness came about. We made over $22,000 in one night! Instead of donating to the foundation we gave it all to this family to help with direct medical costs and his care. Cancer is mean, but so many good people have stepped forward to help in the fight. Thanks for your support and for all of the donations for us to help with the auction!

  26. Comment by Grant | 12.16.2008 | 6:27 pm

    Al Maviva: forks/headsets and bottom brackets really aren’t that bad…

    No special tools required for a headset/fork swap out – I use a block of wood, a hammer, and a couple of flat blade screw drivers (might also need a bread knife or something similar to remove a crown race – I have used this little cheese knife in the past…)

    The only issue with bottom brackets is to make sure you have a good tool with good, secure leverage so you don’t slip and screw up the teeth that the BB tool go onto. This was only a problem with the older BBs – the new outboard ones are a dream to work with, but again, you do need a specific tool.

    Anyway, my wife and I have been giving Oxfam xmas cards or similar instead of presents the last couple of years… Lets face it, most people would have pretty much all the crap they *need*, and giving a donation to a charity instead of something that is not quite what a person wants is much betterer.


  27. Comment by jdott | 12.16.2008 | 6:28 pm

    Get a workstand. Throw your bike on it. Pick up Zinn’s book or the Park Tools book or whatever. Take the kids out to play in the snowy yard while you tool away in the garage. Start with a good set of allen wrenches, a pair of cable cutters (Shimano rules the roost here), some washing brushes, a bucket, dish washing detergent (you’ve probably become very familiar with this stuff lately) and degreaser. Have fun. You’ll figure out what you need – just read the instructions. Look at the kids just enough to call it quality time – unless you can get one or more to ‘help’, which will, one day, actually be help. Anything you mess up, Troy or Racer will pick up the pieces and show you how to do it right next time.

    If you can find someone to come over and show you around the bike – that would be great. Heck, shoot me a note and I’d run by. There are plenty of classes around – the best way is probably volunteering at a bike collective and helping while learning – but I’m thinking you’re looking for ways to do it staying around your family. BTW, doing it yourself will save lots of 45 min trips in the long run.

  28. Comment by Lucky Cyclist | 12.16.2008 | 6:39 pm

    You’ve been riding for fifteen years and don’t know how to degrease your chain?
    There may not be a class than can help you.

  29. Comment by Bobby | 12.16.2008 | 8:06 pm

    Hey Elden,

    i know that I’m not as good as Racer, but seeing as we’re related and all…I could definitely give you some pointers on bike maintenance. I’ve been wrenching for a couple years now and I think I’m more than proficient. Let me know if you get some time and want to take me up on it. Consider it a Christmas present.

  30. Comment by chris | 12.16.2008 | 8:40 pm

    Bike stand – for basics like brakes, adjusting deraileurs, oiling chains, etc you can’t beat the adjustable basketball hoop already next to your garage. Lower it to 8′ or whatever, and then loop the horn of your seat over the rim of the basketball hoop. You bike will hang there with the drive train at eye level, PERFECT for that up close work. Of course it is HANGING, not fixed so if you have to apply pressure (serious wrenching etc) it can get a little tricky but it can’t be beat for those regular quick jobs.

    Tools – buy them as you need them, this is one more excuse to occasionally run down to the LBS on your lunch hour.

  31. Comment by deprogram | 12.16.2008 | 11:00 pm

    Everything I ever needed to know about working on bikes I learned at Well, almost everything. Some of the latest and greatest technologies aren’t explained there, but then, most of those improvements involve sealed cartridge style bearings which aren’t user serviceable anyway.

    If you aren’t mechanically minded, though, I can’t see you happily wrenching on your bikes. I see your bike stand sitting, dusty and neglected…

    Taking things apart and putting them back together successfully is quite the rush, though. Perhaps you’ll acquire a taste for it.

  32. Comment by ChefJT | 12.16.2008 | 11:24 pm

    I agree with the posts about the Pedros workstand. My wife gave me one for my birthday (okay…she gave me permission to go get one for my birthday) and I love it. Not only does it fold for easy storage and do all a workstand should do (which is, simply, hold your bike while you work on it), but the quick releases on the main shaft and legs double as bottle openers, which was, for me, the deal maker!

    Best to the family. God bless.


  33. Comment by Weean | 12.17.2008 | 2:14 am

    Edinburgh Bicycle in Scotland do maintenance classes for all levels of ignorance (they certainly used to anyway- haven’t checked their website).

    I don’t suppose that helps Utahns.

  34. Comment by Blu | 12.17.2008 | 3:57 am

    For bike maintenance start with a bike specific multi-tool, and just about everything you need to know is either at or The hard part is not getting grease all over your keyboard when you’re working!!! You’ll accumulate other tools as you need them, but so far the cheapest kit from nashbar has worked great for me for like 50 bucks. You’ll need a stand when you get sick of working on your bike upside down. At that point, try to find one of these 56741266_full.jpg – I got mine for like $30 nzd (which means like $15 usd), and work great. Good luck and have fun!

  35. Comment by Hamish A | 12.17.2008 | 4:45 am

    I’d advise Pedros tools all the way of you can Elden. Not only are they great tools the Company actually does its bit to look after the environment. I’ve had the Workshop kit for 2 years now and having used Park Tools in the past there’s no way I’d go back now.

    You don’t NEED a full tool kit (even though it can be nice to walk into the garage and see your toolboard all nicely laid out and fully stocked, Geek? Me? Yeah…) I’d advise the following if you plan on buying bit by bit:

    Set of T handled ball end Allen Wrenches,
    Full set of combination spanners from 6mm – 15mm OR 3 good quality adjustable spanners,
    a deadblow hammer,
    Clip on chain degreaser / bath,
    Workshop (not trail) chain tool,
    set of high quality screwdrivers (flat & crosshead),
    A full selection of lubricants,
    Good lighting.

    The Park ‘Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair’ does live on my bookshelf and has been a handy guidebook for those unfortunate enough to ask me to teach them how to look after their bikes. It’s not the most advanced repair book in the World but it covers most everything you’re ever likely to need.

    Thanks for the draft letter, I’ll be making use of it for those who can’t decide what I ‘need’ this year.

    It’s fantastic Team FC is doing so well, keep up the great work!

    WIN Susan!!!

  36. Comment by Tom | 12.17.2008 | 4:54 am

    For the ultimate in workstands look at the kestrel ones, they’re a small British engineering company (the best kind of small engineering company) and their workstands are without equal.

    As for tools, a decent set of allen keys (none of this ball ended nonsense) possibly a torque wrench and sockets for carbon bars and the suchlike. Good cable-cutters, a large adjustable spanner, lockring tools, chain tool, chainring bolt tool, and a chain whip will be the easiest way to start. Things you might want to add later are crank extractors for all your sets of cranks, cone spanners, pedal spanners, bb tools.

    The best way to learn is to put a bike in your bike stand and replace the cable inners. It sounds simple, but it’ll force you to fix the brakes and dérailleurs. You’ll almost certainly want the internet handy for advice, the park-tools website has a lot of good videos.

    After that you can progress onto changing rear sprockets and cleaning chains. The best way i’ve found to clean cassettes is to put them in the dishwasher… The chain is best done in the sink so you can scour the outside without immersing the chain too much.

  37. Comment by Shiny Flu | 12.17.2008 | 7:35 am

    Go all out and get a portable work stand. Even if you don’t learn to do anything mechanical, it makes cleaning and lubing your chain about 1 million-spectacular-billion times more fun! or better, easier even.

    Plus, if it’s too cold in the garage, simply bring it inside much to the dismay of your kids ans Susan as smudged greased fingerprints will decorate the house. Really though, good for taking to races (especially team enduros) and road trips further away from home.

    You could go all out and get a Park Tools one, but I do just fine on my ‘Generically Made in China- sold under many brand names’ stand which go for about $70-$120 depending which brand name matters most and what deal you can get.

    Oh, and for a tools, again I use basic cheapies set. Sure, you can splurge for the Park Tools/Pedros set, but even in at my workshop we use some Ice Toolz tools.

    The 21 tool sets (in a flat plastic case) should cover you pretty easily. The Chain breakers tend to be rubbish – I’m a snob when it comes to that, I have the wooden handled Shimano one. But it’s got cone spanners, tools for your cassette etc. All the basic stuff you can easily do yourself for about $50- again, generically made in China, available under many names. Depending how much you like to swap parts around, consider T-handle Allen key set of a Y-hex wrench.

    That mixed with some Sheldon Brown/Leonard Zinn should have you spending hours yelling at your bike/s!

    PS: I use an old worn pair of thin-ish gloves when working around the drivetrain or anything that requires a lot of force. All it takes is one slip and you’ll have nice chainring holes in your hand.

  38. Comment by Tinker | 12.17.2008 | 7:42 am

    Amazon has the basic Park Tool Kit, ~$75. I’d order a larger toolbox if you want to have in all in one place (hammers, adjustable wrenches in three sizes, etc) and be able to take it to the bike. I use a battleship grey ammo box (grenades) of about 14″ x 8″ x 8″. Keep small tools in zip lock bags. Metric sockets/ratchets, Lee Valley/Veritas screwdriver set, Bondhaus Ball-end Allen wrenches, and about 2 kilo chinese (soft) hammer make a good start. Its the nature of things that you need two identical sockets/ratchets or combination wrenches for most general mechanical work, one for each side of the bolt, or very strong finger tips. Get 1/4 “, 6-sided sockets, they fit more precisely than 12 point, better for amateurs (You wouldn’t want to take it back to the shop with rounded fasteners, would you?)

  39. Comment by Clydesteve | 12.17.2008 | 8:19 am

    Go with the upright portable folding toolstand and the $50 Nasbar kit plus a Park pedal wrench and a good chainbreaker. Actually the allen set in the $50 kit will work fine for you.

    Good letter. I will use it on Valentines Day. That’s when I generally send out my Christmas letters.

  40. Comment by Clydesteve | 12.17.2008 | 8:23 am

    Oh, I forgat – You want the upright folding style of stand so you can set up in the kitchen, Or the hotel room at the race or Livestrong ride.

    I mostly use mine to hold my bike when I am not riding it, and to lube the chain, but I also actually do more involved maintenance & parts upgrades – including forks.

    Do not clean the chain on the LR carpet. It is a temptation, but trust me it is so not worth it.

  41. Comment by Rob | 12.17.2008 | 9:53 am

    First…great letter and a great idea. Thanks for all you do to fight cancer. WIN Susan!!

    Now for bike maintenance….

    – don’t get a wall mounted stand. In the summer when it’s nice, you’ll want to do you maintenance out in the sunshine. I have the basic Park Stand, and love it. And like Al said….the “clamp” on mine screws, so not risk of damage.

    – Kanyon Kris is correct. The Nashbar kit is great…has nearly all the basic tools, and you can’t beat the price. You just don’t need Park for that once in a while repair.

    – I have both Zinn and the Art, as well as the Bicycle Magazine book. I find the Bicycling one far more informative, with instructions I understand better. You mileage may differ.

    – I hate to disagree with the esteemed Al Miviva, but an apron is a must. I have an old one from the pizza joint my wife worked at for about 15 minutes, 20 years ago. And it Park blue, so I look like I know what I’m doing. When I don’t use it, I spend all my time wandering around wondering where I put the wrench/lube/screwdriver I now need. When I do use it, that item in right in one of the pockets.

    Merry Christmas, Nelson family!

  42. Comment by cyclingeurope | 12.17.2008 | 10:01 am

    All you guys who gave maintenance tips (Al, etc) thank you so much! Now I don’t have to read the manuals. I’ll just cut and paste your replies into a word doc and I’m set!

    We have both a repair stand fixed to the workbench in the garage as well as a sturdy portable one (my DH is a tool geek), and I always prefer to work on my bike in the sun instead of in the garage (if, in fact it is sunny). So that’s why I would recommend the portable one. Plus if you’re washing your bike, you don’t get a bunch of water in the garage.

    I also have a simple stand like Blu posted a picture of, which I take in my bike boxes on bike tours to Europe and it works out fine. Lightweight and portable.

    Thanks for the letter – I’m going to post something very similar on my blog and send to my family and friends!


  43. Comment by Dan O | 12.17.2008 | 10:02 am

    If we ever meet I’ll give you a few tips on No. 1, in a past life I was a bike mechanic. For No 2. I’m with you all the way, look for my participation on team fatty in one of the livestrong rides next year, probably Austin. I’ll be the big guy in the FC jersey riding the steel Ibis!

  44. Comment by cheapie | 12.17.2008 | 12:12 pm

    the only reason fatty said he wanted a stand and to learn how to work on his bike was because it led to some humorous writing.

    famous biking people like fatty neither pay for nor work on their own bikes. ;-)

  45. Comment by Tinker | 12.19.2008 | 12:49 am

    To add to my comment about needing an assortment of basic tools, go to this website and look at the basic tool kit they suggest, and when you wish to add more tools, they give the names and models that they suggest. They even have a list of advanced tools (including Headset tools).


    The include links to the toolmakers sites, too.

    For those too lazy to go to the site, the basic Kit:
    Bondhus Ball Hex Key set 1.5mm-10mm
    8mm thru 17mm combination wrenches (I prefer 6 sided in small wrenches.)
    #2 phillips, 1/8 and 1/4 slotted drivers (or bits).
    12″ adjustable wrench (make sure it opens to 36mm)
    Needle nose pliers
    Channel locks
    Awl (?? Scratch awl? Executive autopunch awl? Leather awl, machinist’s awl? Come one, come awl?)
    Diagonal cutters.

    This list is through the courtesy of Aaron’s Bicycle Repair.

  46. Comment by Smellvin | 12.20.2008 | 8:00 pm

    I was pleased to read that you dont work on your bike(s). For me, beside being lazy and mechanically inept, having someone else work on my bike(s) makes me feel like a real pro. PRO IS PROGRAM GO to the bike shop for a tune up. (Thanks BKW).

    My girlfriends sister passed away in August after a brief battle with cancer. E left this world with grace and dignity and on her own terms. So I wish all the best for Susan, you and the kids.

  47. Comment by SLC Bike | 07.22.2011 | 8:35 am

    I’ve always wanted to work on my own bikes, but never ponied up the cash for the tools. Having a good mechanic tune your bike is great piece of mind as well.


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