mobile repair
Bike Gear

The Bicycle Fixer
Mobile Bicycle Repair Shop
                                                                     
253-486-7468

joe@thebicyclefixer.com



Are you planning to purchase a new or used bicycle or already own several, the addition of a few select accessories offers solutions for safer riding, a more pleasant cycling experience and less hassle if you have a flat tire,ride your bicycle in the dark or rain. We'll cover lights, fenders, pumps, racks, seat bags and basic tools. Also there's some information on solutions for a bike repair stand.

Bike Lights and Light Systems
 
Only one item will truly mark your presence in the dark and they're generally required by law, bicycle lights. Look for headlights offering LED bulbs with at least 350-500 lumens (rear 180) for good all-around lighting. Bicycle lights come in several types, including rechargeable (li-ion),  battery (alkaline) powered, motion activated and generator systems. We'll discuss the more modern rechargeable and traditional battery operated systems as they dominate the marketplace and are what most riders are probably most familiar with. Rechargeable light systems first came to the marketplace over 20 years ago with heavy, inefficient ni-cad battery systems and halogen bulbs. These were a marked improvement over the battery operated lights of the time. They were much more powerful, had extended battery life, offered high lumens, and gave us helmet attachment options. For commuting, racing 24hr mountain bike events, or just needing good light, all you needed was offered in this type of system. Today we've seen advancements in bulb technology (Cree LED, see link below), programmable modes, battery material (Li-Ion) and optics design. The modern rechargeable bike light can plug into a USB port as well as a wall. Alkaline battery systems have improved and for the occasional jaunt at dusk you'll get a decent amount of light to see and be seen by. They offer long run times at the expense of less power. Small battery operated led tail lights are a nice safety addition to the main system if you're a year round rider. I've taken the liberty to list some pro/cons on the various light types though todays offerings aren't so cut in stone.

Rechargeable: 
    (Li-ion batteries)                                              starting at $45(rears $20) 
    Pro's: higher lumens, efficiency, programmable, lightweight, usb compatible, CREE Led, Li-ion battery, durable, compact
    Cons: cost

Non-Rechargeable:
    (Alkaline battery)                                             starting at $20(rears $7)            

    Pro's: cost, long run times                    
    Cons: inefficient, bulb technology, optics, limited modes, lower lumens, battery disposal

I offer lights from Planet Bike, Cygo-Lite, Niterider as well as LightandMotion. I was always impressed with the service provided by the folks at Cygo-Lite. You don't necessarily have to go back to your dealer for warranty solutions though here at The Bicycle Fixer I'd be pleased to help you out with any issues. Both Cygo-lite and NiteRider assemble everything right here in the U.S.A. and have been producing bicycle lights for over 20 years. Though Light and Motion has only been around a few years, they have caught the eye of the shops and consumers with their functionality, technology, looks and wide array of offerings for a reasonable price.


                                                                                                topeak.com

niterider.com
So I previously mentioned Lumens and you ask, what's this lumen thing we all see thrown around? It's all over the lighting manufacturers packaging these days!

Well, in the old days, whenever that was, we used watts as in a 40 watt bulb, but watts are basically a measure of electricity needed to power that bulb. Lumens are a measure of brightness. If you'd like more information about lumens, the internet is full of sites discussing this or use Wikipedia.

Note in blogs and light system websites, things like LED and CREE LED light bulb technology are used extensively. CREE LED bulbs are found in all the major, better quality bicycle headlight systems. Expect to pay more for this technology, but having worked for a national distributor in sales when CREE technology came to the bike industry, I can tell you the costs of bulbs and Li-Ion batteries have steadied which allowed manufacturers to add more features.

                                                                                                cree.com 

Bicycle Fenders

Western Washington liquid sunshine! Rain........are you tired of a wet butt and a dirtier bike?! Maybe you need a new set of bicycle fenders. Offeriings from SKSTopeakPlanet Bike and Portland Design Works (or PDW) range from mtb and road fender sets that attach directly to the frame, seatpost and fork. Those that don't use struts or rods to support the fender have come to be known as clip-ons. The more traditional fender can be referred to as full fenders as they cover more of the tire. If you want something more durable in an all metal road type fender set, try the bicycle fenders from PDW (Portland Design Works). If it's for the old beach-cruiser look and chromes your king, look at Wald fenders. Note: not all bikes were designed with fenders in mind so customized installation is a possibility. The prices listed are a general starting point.

Full Fenders:                                                            $38/pr plus
    Pro's: coverage, durability, adjustability, stability, something for most bikes
    Cons: cost, installation
Clip-ons:                                                                  $16/pr plus (singlets from $10)

    Pro's: something for all bikes, cost, installation
    Cons: less coverage

                                                       

Bicycle
Pumps

Something that really isn't thought of too much as an accessory until you realize your tires are flat! High pressure, narrow profile tires like those used by racers and road bike enthusiasts have a tendency to lose about 8-10% of air pressure in about 24 hrs. So if you pump those tires to 100lbs, the next day they're down to about 90lbs and riding at that level with a heavier load can potentially ruin the rims they're mounted to. With a high-quality alloy rim like Mavic's Open Pro, that's about $90 worth of rim plus labor and spokes to rebuild it. Carbon rims/wheels can crack if you are unfortunate enough to hit a pothole in the road and those carbon rims run into the several hundred+ dollars range. Larger section tires will still lose air but only about 4-8 lbs overnight because they only are pumped up in the range of 40-80 lbs yet they still lose about 10%. Ok you say, so what should I do?

There's a wealth of prices and types to meet your needs. A quality bike pump for home is needed since tires lose pressure every day as noted above. All quality bike floor pumps come with a gauge to accurately read tire pressure. For most riders and those with a families worth of bikes, brands such as
SKS , Topeak , Park , Pedro's and Lyzyne all offer a range of price points and quality levels. My fave is the SKS line of floor pumps. Look for a tall barrel at least 20", a gauge with large numbers for easy reading, a stable base and comfortable handle grips. If you must have a pump that measures in tenths of a lb. like for race mechanics, Sears Craftsman offers a digital, handheld li-ion battery powered pump but cost is about $150. Leave that for specialty mechanics. Something in the $50-60 range is good. I should note, I found a decent floor pump I sell for about $25 that has most of the above noted features (gauge numbers are smaller than what's found on more expensive pumps).  With the advent of tubeless tires, pumps needed to match the capability of shop air compressors and CO2 cartridges to seat the tire bead, but a quality pump design remained elusive until the last few years.  A few companies offer a separate cannister/barrel that can be charged with a standard floor pump or compressor. Specialized Air Tool (about $55) and the Airshot ($94+) fill this niche. If you're looking for a pump that fills the need for tubeless and standard tubed tires,  the Bontrager Flash Charger ($120) and newer Topeak Joe Blow Booster ($159) fill the bill. I've tried the Bontrager a few times and find it adequate but as a shop mechanic, I prefer a longer hose. This led me to try the Topeak Joe Blow Booster and though it's the most expensive, I can see why.  It features a larger, easy to read gauge, much longer hose, integrated charge/inflation switch, bleed button and a larger, more stable base. Also, Topeak offers easy to access replacement parts and it's patented "Smart head". SKS is introducing a new pump head that accepts a CO2 cartridge (available with 2 cartridges) to help seat tubeless tire beads or use it as a standard floor pump head. The head will fit floor pump hoses with a 4.5-5.5mm diameter hose. Reported cost is $29.99. It should be available in shops by mid-November.

But what about if I have a flat tire while I'm riding?  Frame fit pumps and in the last 20 years, mini-pumps, have been fitted to bicycle frames to help with the inevitable. Frame-fit pumps, which by design have a longer barrel, are quicker to use if you don't want to stand by the side of the road pumping that tire for a while. Mini-pumps are offered by all the major pump manufacturers and distributors under their house-brand name. There's only a few companies offering frame-fit pumps, Park, Topeak and Zefal. A nice compromise is offered by Topeak with their 
Morph line of mini-pumps. They have a foot that folds up when not in use but allows the user to pump like it's a floor pump. I guess we can call them a mini-floor pump. Costs runs about $34 - $45. Co2 systems fit into the mini-pump realm as they are very small. Some incorporate a Co2 cartridge with a mini-pump that can work with or without the cartridge as in the PDW Magic Flute. Most mini-pumps are 7"-8" in length. Co2 cartridge inflaters also work for tubeless tires out on the trail or on the road.

Last but not least, one thing that kills the ability of any pump to work effectively is what the head clamps onto, the tubes valve stem. There's a rubber insert within the pumps head that seals around the valve. Though better pumps can be rebuilt, why kill the pump prematurely? Over the course of usage on threaded
Presta valves
, and to a lesser extant, Schraeder Valves,this rubber insert wears out and leaks air while pumping up the tube. One way to alleviate this problem is to use smooth presta valve stems. These types of valves are found on a limited number of tube brands and generally only on narrow road and some mountain size tubes. XLC, Michelin and Specialized come to mind. They don't cost any more than a threaded valve stem, about $7-$8 (Michelins about $10)

Frame-fit Pumps:                                                        $22 plus
    Pro's: longer barrel, durability, rebuildable
    Cons: Cost, doesn't fit all bikes

Mini-pumps:                                                                 $10 plus
    Pro's: compact, cost, fits any bike
     Cons: short barrel, durability
Floor Pumps:      $10 (no guage) +
   Pro's: readable guages, stroke volume, durability
             long hose, broad price point
   Cons: price
                                                      
Bicycle tools, Seat Bags and Bike Repair stands


The ability to finish a bike ride sometimes depends on the tools carried during your ride. Flat tires, a tire cut, broken chain and other maladies can cut your ride short or leave you late for work on a commute without basic bicycle tools and repair parts. At a minimum, one can carry a multi-tool (several tools that generally fold into a compact holder), a patch kit, tire levers and tire boot. A seat bag allows you to carry bike gear out of way under your seat. Most of the companies with links on this page offer seat bags while the companies with links above produce several different compact tool kits or multi-tools. Park Tool and Topeak offer probably the widest range of these multi-tools. Todays bikes have many types of fasteners so at a minimum I'd recommend a tool that contains a flat blade screwdriver, a selection of hex wrenches and a torx t25 wrench. Also carry a set of tire levers from Kool-Stop, Park or my personal favorite, the Quik-Stik from California bike gear. I've been using the Quik-Stik since they came to market in the late 1980's. It's a single tire lever vs. using two or 3 levers though some riders will find it easier to use 3 levers with wire-bead tires. I don't recommend riding tubeless tires for commuting as they generally require special tire levers and at least CO2 cartridges to reinflate while on the trail. A patch kit from Rema or another favorite of mine and many experienced cyclists is the offering from Park Tool, the GP-2 pre-glued super patch kit...no fuss, no mess. The GP-2 includes several self-adhesive patchs and piece of sandpaper to roughen the area around the hole in the tube. The other item most riders may not be familiar with or don't think much about until a slice occurs in the tire sidewall is a tire boot. In an emergency, a dollar bill or something that can withstand tire pressure will do in a pinch but better yet is an actual tire boot. Again, our friends at Park Tool offer us this, TB-2, or more formally, the emergency tire boot. Just remove your tire bead from one side of the rim, take out the tube and install the boot. Reinstall the new tube (if you cut the tire it's highly likely the tube is toast) and tire and inflate and be on your way.

To carry the spare tube, tire levers, patch kit, phone, wallet, keys and extra food, you'll need something to hold all of it. A seat bag will do the trick and there's many to select from. Smartphones can mount on the handlebar stem. SKS and Topeak offer probably the best mounting systems for security though most bags are fine. There are sizes that are compact enough to carry a tube, tire levers, CO2 inflator and room for keys. If you want to carry that plus food for a long ride, consider an expanding seat bag.

If you like to tinker and perform your own bicycle repairs then a bike repair stand makes it that much easier. You can find dyi repair stands on youtube but if you're looking for something more stable and compact, then I recommend something more traditional. Again, Park Tool bike stands are the leader and offer the widest range ( 7 portable, 8 shop and 6 wall mount) and arguably the best repair stands in the market. I own 4 bike repair stands, all Park bike stands; PRS-3 for home, PRS-25 for The Bicycle Fixer bicycle repair shop and race service, PRS-20 Team race stand used for bike washes and the original Park Tool race mechanics stand, the PRS-15, now out of production. The PRS-25 is my favorite to use but is a bit expensive for basic work but great for more extensive repairs at about $307. I'll review 3 stands from two companies, Gearup and Park Tool for your home repair needs. Park Tool also offers Repair stand accessory tool/lube trays priced from about $16-$32. Some need adapters costing $13-$15.

1) 
Gearup Simple Man. This would be the absolute minimum I'd recommend for a bike stand. If you only need a bike stand for adjustments, headset service, on bike wheel truing and bicycle cleaning, this will do the trick. I wouldn't use it for heavy duty work. It has limited height adjustment though ok if you're not much over 6' tall. In my early years as a race mechanic, a bike stand similar to this was pretty much all race mechs had available that was collapsible.

Features:
   Foldable, 3-point stability, price. 
   Includes parts tray
 & frt wheel stabillizer                   
               $47
                                                                     
                                 




2) 
Park Tool Repair stand PCS-10
. This Park stand is for the serious home mechanic. 

Features:                                                                    
   3-point stability, height adj 39"-57", clamp to 3", 360' rotating head, 
   foldable, powder coated steel tubing, capacity 80lbs.
 
  $185

                                        





3)Park Team Race Stand PRS-20. The features of this stand are geared towards teams and tri-bike owners but will work just fine for all repair Jobs except cutting. Also available is an adapter for bikes wit thru-axles. Perfect for bike washing. Note, it's height adjustable but is limited. Height isn't a requirement for bike washing.

Features:                                                                       

    Height adj; stability; horizontal rotation 360'; bike secured via dropouts (adaptor for thru-axle systems); 
    tall, integrated bottom bracket cradle w/ strap; tripod base. There's a lightweight version designated the PRS-21. Aluminum is                 substituted for steel supports
.



                      $234 (PRS-20) - $261 (PRS-21)

           






There's several high-quality bike repair stands and bike tools I didn't mention here as I could write several pages on that. Read reviews from other consumers with a wary eye on what is said. Bicycle repair stands can be a fairly expensive investment but then so is a multi-thousand$$bike. Same with tools. Cheap, not inexpensive, bicycle tools will kill your bicycle and it's components. Park, Pedro's, Bondus, and CDI (Snap-On torque wrenches) tools are highly regarded in the bicycle industry. Next time you're at your local IBD or LBS have a look at the wall of tools in the service area...do they all pretty much have the same blue color on the handles? All industry folks know the blue immediately, as Park tools, and the color is actually trademarked! If you want to invest in a bicycle tool kit, then again find your way to the Park Tool website (
http://www.parktool.com/) and look at the mechanics tool kits. There's something for everyone to take on the road (WTK-1) to the shop starter Master mechanic kit (MK-257) that "only" costs anywhere from $6800+, plus shipping. Oh, there's no kitchen sink included or a repair stand. At about $4420+ is the Base Master mechanic kit (BMK-243). It comes minus any major frame cutting tools compared to the MK-257. If you're serious about maintaining your own bicycle, consider nothing less than Parks PK-2. It's cost runs at least $720 but it includes general bike tools plus advanced tools for removal/installation of headsets, cutting steer tubes, installation/removal of bottom brackets and Dropout hanger alignment tool. Another good option in bicycle tools is the brand Pedro's mentioned earlier in Bike pump section. They also offer a good selection of tools and kits but not quite the spread of Park Tool. Whatever tool kit you buy or build up, make sure you have a chain checker tool. A chain checker will save you hundreds on prematurely worn cogsets and chainrings.

More to come another day!


                                                       

Safety ~ Efficiency ~ Enjoyment

S.E.E.

Enjoy Your Bike!

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