The Best Tool for the Job

Rule #94 and The Evolution of the Pedal Wrench

Rule #94 and The Evolution of the Pedal Wrench

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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.

// The Rules

  1. @unversio

    Why seal pedal threads?

  2. @DerHoggz Not seal. Create separation as the pedal tightens — acting like grease, but won’t migrate out over 2 or 3 years.

  3. @DerHoggz Previous Mavic (8mm hex) pedals were in for 2 years. Once removed (forcefully) could see plenty of white grease at the edges but not so much on the threads. Guessing that it migrated out ??

  4. @ErikdR

    Cheers @Gianni – this article brought a welcome blast of mirth and some pleasant musing at the end of a very long working day. Great stuff!

    Cheers yourself. Glad someone sees some mirth there. I’ve been waiting to introduce Father Flavin for quite some time.

  5. I got me one of these, it’s called a popener.  If we throw a picture of the Prophet on it we could call it a Merckxener.

  6. Damn it. My phone didn’t post the picture. Google “popener” to get the idea until I figure it out.

  7. I really should have learnt, after all these years, not to eat and read this site at the same time.
    Still, a wet-wipe will sort out the evidence currently deposited on my desk.
    Genius!
    David

  8. @Rhodri

    If you’ve ever used a torque wrench on a hex Pedals do require quite a few Nm, wouldn’t be surprised if there’s plenty of people who under-tighten their’s probably as a result of using a shiny undersized bottle opener ;)

    Nah really I imagine most pedal wrenches are so long for getting the damn things off. Putting the chain on the big ring helps the knuckles.

    @unversio

    @tessar

    Also, it’s far more difficult to reach the inside of the cranks than the outside, and I still managed to bash myself on the chainrings.

    After scaring my hand this past week my mechanic politely informed me “Oh yes forgot to tell you to put the chain on the big ring.” Why did I not see? I was blind.

    And why, pray tell, is the chain not on the big ring all the time?!

  9. @Ccos

    I got me one of these, it’s called a popener. If we throw a picture of The Prophet on it we could call it a Merckxener.

    I read the first syllable as “pop” and couldn’t imagine wtf it could be. Quite a different thing when pronounced correctly!

  10. @Bespoke

    And why, pray tell, is the chain not on the big ring all the time?!

    Because you’re supposed to leave it on the small ring-biggish rings when not riding.

    IIRC it’s  to do with derailleur tension or something like that but I’ve never seen a controlled experiment in a peer-reviewed journal so it could be load of bollocks.

  11. How much leverage do you need?

  12. @ChrisO

    @Bespoke

    And why, pray tell, is the chain not on the big ring all the time?!

    Because you’re supposed to leave it on the small ring-biggish rings when not riding.

    IIRC it’s to do with derailleur tension or something like that but I’ve never seen a controlled experiment in a peer-reviewed journal so it could be load of bollocks.

    Similar method to a torque wrench — don’t leave a forceful setting that was used when putting it away — set it lower to relieve tension.

  13. @Marcus the only problem with that photo is the Italian beer.

  14. @ChrisO

    @Bespoke

    And why, pray tell, is the chain not on the big ring all the time?!

    Because you’re supposed to leave it on the small ring-biggish rings when not riding.

    IIRC it’s to do with derailleur tension or something like that but I’ve never seen a controlled experiment in a peer-reviewed journal so it could be load of bollocks.

    I don’t buy it.  As long as you aren’t putting the RD springs past their plastic deformation point (and there is no way that is happening), it shouldn’t matter.

  15. I’ve spent most of my life thinking I was the only person alive who loves Conan, Over the Top, The Warriors, Red Dawn, and a few other 80s gems. But nope, the Followers/Keepers also love Barbarians! And Destroyers!

    Thanks be to my older brother! I was listening to AC/DC and watching the movie “Colors” when I was all of eight years old. Nice!

  16. @Tartan1749

    @ChrisO

    @Bespoke

    And why, pray tell, is the chain not on the big ring all the time?!

    Because you’re supposed to leave it on the small ring-biggish rings when not riding.

    IIRC it’s to do with derailleur tension or something like that but I’ve never seen a controlled experiment in a peer-reviewed journal so it could be load of bollocks.

    I don’t buy it. As long as you aren’t putting the RD springs past their plastic deformation point (and there is no way that is happening), it shouldn’t matter.

    Nor should it matter if your valve stems are not aligned with your tyre labels, your bike is burdened by an EPMS and your stem rises priapically.

    See where I’m coming from here?

  17. @ChrisO

    @Bespoke

    And why, pray tell, is the chain not on the big ring all the time?!

    Because you’re supposed to leave it on the small ring-biggish rings when not riding.

    IIRC it’s to do with derailleur tension or something like that but I’ve never seen a controlled experiment in a peer-reviewed journal so it could be load of bollocks.

    I have so much to learn. And more to unlearn.

  18. @ChrisO

    @Bespoke

    And why, pray tell, is the chain not on the big ring all the time?!

    Because you’re supposed to leave it on the small ring-biggish rings when not riding.

    IIRC it’s to do with derailleur tension or something like that but I’ve never seen a controlled experiment in a peer-reviewed journal so it could be load of bollocks.

    I do this but I put it in the little ring and little cog.  That’s where the rear mech is in its most relaxed position.  Easy enough to remember on Campagnolo: press both thumb levers down all the way.

  19. Other tools that fall in the same category as the pedal wrench (i.e., otherwise useless tool whose existence is owed to specifics of bicycle mechanisms) are the chain whip and lock ring tool.  You can get the lock ring off without them, but fuck if you won’t lacerate your hands and ruin your clothes while doing it, while considerably expanding the sailor vocabulary of your nine-year-old (who, unbeknownst to you, is listening with rapt attention in the next room).

  20. @TheVid

    @Ken Ho

    For removal, getting the crankshaft in the right position os at least as important as using a good tool.

    This.

    This squared.  I find putting the bike in a trainer works best, especially when the pedals have been over-torqued.

  21. @Bespoke

    @Rhodri

    Putting the chain on the big ring helps the knuckles.

    And why, pray tell, is the chain not on the big ring all the time?!

    Because it was someone else’s bike. Honest.

  22. I am in love….

  23. @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.

  24. 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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