13 January 2015

Smart Dumbbells And Other Tools

Recently, I saw this tool in a bike shop:

 The mechanic referred to it as a "smart dumbbell wrench".  

My first reaction is, of course, that a "smart dumbbell" is an oxymoron.  Then I remembered a tool I carried on bike rides--and sometimes even when I was off the bike--not so long ago.


This is the not-smart dumbbell wrench.  Actually, given the time it was invented, it was a smart tool, as recessed allen-bolt fittings were still uncommon.  As recently as the 1980's, Campagnolo's Gran Sport derailleur attached to the dropout with a hex-head bolt.

The tool was also called a "dog bone" wrench.  A smart--or, at least, a modern-- dog bone wrench might be this:


I'm sure you've seen it before.  I've mentioned it on this blog: the Park Tool MT-1.  It now serves the purpose my old dumbbell wrench did back in the day:  I even have one on my keyring.  

It really is a smart tool in all sorts of ways, not the least of which are its shape and style, which makes it sleeker and much easier to carry than the old dog bone or dumbbell wrench.

Speaking of old-style wrenches:  How many of you still have one of these?


 If you bought a Raleigh three-speed in the 1970s or earlier, you more than likely got one of these with it.  The smaller "tombstone"-shaped opening was, if I'm not mistaken, intended for installing or removing pedals, though you can't get as much leverage as I think you need, especially if you're removing a pedal that's been in the crank for a while.

Back in the day, we didn't use the term "multi-tool".  Nobody believed that  a spanner (or wrench to you Yanks) could be made to handle everything short of a full bike assembly, contrary to what some multi-tool designers of today seem to think.  We usually carried a small adjustable wrench or a small spanner with 8 and 10 millimeter heads, 6 and 7mm allen keys and a few other things, depending on how long we intended to ride and how far we planned to be from our favorite bike shops.

That way of thinking, I believe, gave rise to mini toolkits, like this one:


If you bought a Peugeot before the late 1970s, you got one of these Mafac tool kits with it.  They were pretty smart, actually, given the bikes and components of the time.  About ten years ago, you could get one for practically nothing.  Today, with all the collectors and others who are doing "period" restorations, and those who are building nouveau retro, if you will, bikes, those kits are fetching decent money.  Just recently, someone sold eight new-old-stock kits with the brown pouch (instead of the black one shown) for $39.00 each.

Are they smarter than the dumbbell wrench?  That depends...

Note:  Some Gitane bikes came with the Mafac kit in a bag shaped like the Mafac but with softer material and printed with Gitane's logo:

1 comment:

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