Rule #94 and The Evolution of the Pedal Wrench

The Best Tool for the Job
The Best Tool for the Job

Given the fact that everyone over-tightens their pedals to the crank arms, one needs a long lever to get too much torque. Rule #94 decrees using the correct tool and using it correctly. While the proper tool has always been available, it is up to us to evolve, to understand the difference between right and wrong, between vice-grip and open-ended wrench. And to understand that there is a large gulf between the right tool for the job and the best tool for the job.

Early in the Velominatus life cycle, the bicycle and its pedals arrived as one, fully formed. We were not removing and rebuilding our tricycle pedals. Our first “starter bike” ten-speed also came with “starter” pedals but the pedal, as an obvious point of contact with the pavement, might have demanded replacement. Replacing a pedal would happen long before rebuilding one. Removing the ruined one would only require a wrench and assuming the V-father was not a mechanic, the  adjustable wrench was the only tool in the box. Here the Pedalwan uttered his or her first curse words. The jaws of the adjustable wrench may have been a bit too fat and a bit too loose to do the job. Turning the left pedal ever tighter (the wrong direction?), instead of looser, a wrench might slip, a pedal surface damaged and perhaps blood was spilled. What better reason to curse your god? What better reason to wonder about a better tool while holding your bloody hand under the faucet?

If you had a savvy father who owned a set of open-ended wrenches and entertained the possibility that a pedal could be reverse-threaded, you were of the chosen few.

The correctly sized open-ended wrench is the right tool for the job.

Campagnolo made a bottom bracket fixed cup/pedal tool. Though not their most beautiful one, it was the right tool. When over-torquing a pedal, one gripped the fixed cup end of the tool. Biomechanically, it was imperfect. Park Tool improved on it by including a comfortable and longer hand grip for efficient over-torquing. Not unlike General Motors, at some point Park Tool quietly modified their pedal wrench. I don’t think they came right out and said “For the unfortunate many who now have permanent scarring on their right hand from driving the big ring teeth deep into your flesh, we are sorry.” If the Velominati were still “saving themselves” from using the worst kind of anglo-saxon curses uttered in their lives, misusing the Park pedal wrench would guarantee a trip to Father Flavin’s Confessional Booth. “For fuck’s sake Father, pardon me Father, but I’ll have a greasy tattoo scar across my knuckles forever because of this shiet, pardon me Father, wrench”.

Incorporating a beer bottle opener into various tools did not occur to the engineers at Park Tool. And this is why we love Lezyne so much. Yes, it is more expensive and yes, it is a better pedal wrench and yes, they mill a beautiful bottle opener into it. To hold it is to love it. It is Rule #94. It is not just the right tool for the job, for there are many functional pedal wrenches available but it is the best one for the job. Even without the bottle opener it would still be the best pedal wrench. Its handle and heft make it an item one would happily wield to slaughter the advancing hoards of the undead. If, in the slaughtering, either the handle or the business end gets worn down, it comes apart and one end or the other could be replaced. When the slaughtering is done, at least for now, (because that job is seemingly never really done), one can open a fine cold beer with it and debate if this tool is the correct one for this job.

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105 Replies to “Rule #94 and The Evolution of the Pedal Wrench”

  1. @VbyV Tool savvy father is spot on.

    I have stuff I inherited (snap on amongst others) that is 40 years old and as good as when it was made.  My dad taught me nothing about bikes and everything about bikes because he taught me understanding of mechanics and appreciation of good tools.

  2. My Dad taught me that any nut can be loosened using a Sidchrome ring spanner slipped into  a suitable length of  2″ water pipe for added leverage.

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