Tools I Must Have – Post 1 in a Series

I’ve been drooling over several new tools lately, so I’ve decided to start a list of which tools/items are striking my fancy.  Here’s the first of many:

Abbey Bike Works Dual Sided Crombie SL

This gem is a sweet new tool from Abbey Bike Works, called the Crombie.  The Crombie does the obvious job of removing a cassette lockring.  There are a few different models of the Crombie, including a single-sided model with a Campagnolo or Shimano head , a dual-sided model with Campagnolo AND Shimano heads, and a dual-sided SL model with both heads and a hollow handle.  The hollow-handled SL model is made with the traveling mechanic in mind, understanding that for those mechanics, like myself, who utilize air travel from time-to-time, there are weight restrictions on toolboxes that we must meet, in order to spare extra fees.

It’s a pretty handy tool with these functions alone, but one additional function of the Crombie makes it stand head and shoulders above the rest.  The Crombie fits over the quick release nut, enabling the mechanic to swap cassettes without removing the QR skewer.  This is a HUGE plus for anyone having to make a cassette swap in a hurry.  Sure it doesn’t take THAT much longer to remove the skewer, but every second counts in a race mechanic’s day… why not make it easier on yourself?

The fact that I can carry a handled multi-use tool, and eliminate two small bits and a wrench, makes this a tool that I must have.  Several mechanic friends already have the tool, and are really enjoying it.  Abbey Bike Works is also beginning production on a chain whip that the Crombie will slide into, making a very lightweight and compact two-tool combo.  Both tools are on my shopping list, and will be purchased soon.

Oh, yeah… for an extra $10, you can get your name engraved on it, making it a truly custom piece.  Yes, I’m a nerd.  Yes, I’ll probably pop for the custom tool.

For more information on Abbey Bike Works and their line of tools, visit

Repair Stand Roulette

After working USPRO Championships with Team Exergy in May, I sold my trusty Park Tool PRS-21 repair stand to a buddy back home, so I could purchase a new stand I had seen on some cycling blogs, the Feedback Sports Sprint repair stand.  The SRAM NRS West Coast crew and Josh from Team Exergy had already been using  the Sprint stand since Sea Otter, and being a fan of the fork-mounted repair stand, I wanted to get my hands on one.  I called Feedback, and placed one on backorder to ensure delivery as quickly as possible.

Fast forward a few months… no Sprint Stand yet.  I called back and forth to Feedback to see if there were any updates, and they told me that they had received some feedback (pardon the pun) on the stands from the prototype units that had been sent to the race teams, and were making improvements before they put them to market.  I completely understand that, and as an end-user, I’d rather not hassle with additional modifications needing to be made after the initial purchase.  It should be as simple as pulling the stand out of the box and getting to work.

Unfortunately, the delivery date on the Sprint stand is August 9th-10th, and I’m flying out for the Tour of Utah on the 5th of August, so… I had to make a switch.  This time around, I had to pass on the Sprint stand for the good ol’ Feedback Pro-Elite stand.  I’ve used the Pro-Elite in the past at several events, and used the same clamp in a Park floor-mounted shop stand before.  It works well, and I’ve had no issues with the ones I’ve dealt with on previous occasions, so I don’t mind making the switch.  It will be here next week, just in time for the Utah trip.

Thanks to Feedback Sports for not compromising the integrity of the product by pushing it to market before it is ready, and ultimately looking after the customer.  Even though the outcome isn’t exactly what I had hoped for, I appreciate the honesty and the willingness to work with me to get me taken care of in a pinch.  I look forward to dealing with Feedback Sports again in the future, because of their great products, but more importantly, because of their amazing customer service.

(Another quick customer service note about Feedback Sports:  Earlier this year, at the CTS Bucket List Tour of California Race Experience, we didn’t have any racks to hang the bikes from before or after rides, and were in a bind.  We had been leaning the bikes against the truck and trailer for the first two days of the event, which was not very safe, especially with the quality of the bikes that the CTS clients were riding.  One of our mechanics, Mike Hetrick (Mr. Goodbike, Gainesville, FL) called his friend Doug (founder/president of Feedback) and he was able to ship us two A-Frame portable event stands NEXT DAY from Colorado, allowing us to be safe with the bikes, and to be more efficient in our work for the remainder of the trip.  This is one reason I decided to choose Feedback Sports for my repair stand purchase.  Kudos to the staff of Feedback Sports for all their good work!)

VeloReviews Podcast #1

We started the VeloReviews Podcast in hopes of driving a few more members to the site.  Since our first podcast two weeks ago, we’ve moved into 3rd position for the Most Popular Outdoor Audio Podcast on iTunes (as of five minutes ago).  Here’s the proof:

If you want to take a listen, you can find the direct link here:

SKS RaceBlade Fenders

“Rainy days and Mondays always get me down…” I heard that somewhere once, but I’ve come to embrace it as of late. I started commuting to work by bike again, and I’m starting to see more of each of those while I’m on my bike. I can’t do anything about the Mondays, but I can fight the rainy days a little better when I use my SKS Race Blade Fenders.

The SKS RaceBlade Fenders come in two different sizes for different tire widths (RaceBlade, for 700×18-23c, and RaceBlade XL for 700×25-32c), and are affixed onto the bike by four small rubber straps per fender, for quick release situations. You also have the option of using zip-ties to attach them a bit more permanently, if you are leaving them on the bike for longer periods of time. Once the bracket is set to the right position on the frame, the plastic fender can slide in its bracket for different style frame designs and fits, allowing extreme adjustability and fit for almost any bike. The tight profile of the RaceBlade Fenders makes it very non-intrusive and keeps with the minimalist-type gear that most roadies crave.

If you’ve ever ridden behind someone in the rain, you are aware of the “rooster tail” effect of the water coming off the ground from the bike in front of you. If there’s nothing there to keep the water from continuously spraying you in the face, then you either have to ride twenty feet back, or ride to the left or right of the person that’s ahead of you. This does two things; it splits the group and kills the efficiency of the group, and it makes you ride farther out into traffic, becoming much more of a risk for you, and for the sometimes unaware driver traveling behind you. The benefits of the SKS RaceBlades for the individual are that they keep the bike slightly cleaner from road spray, and they keep the “rooster tail” effect from leaving a nice wet stripe up your back while riding. I know from first hand experience, the more water you can keep off your body in adverse weather conditions, the less miserable you will be.

The SKS RaceBlade Fender Set is a must-have for any cyclist facing a possible commute in the rain, or if you like to ride when there’s water on the roads. Rain and inclement weather has stopped me from riding before, but not as much, thanks to this product. These fenders are one of the best purchases I’ve made in the last few years, and are a great value at just under $60 for the pair. For more information about the SKS RaceBlade Fenders, please see, or check them out at most local bike shops.

Cycling During Winter Months

Would You Ride This?

Question… How do you do it?  How do you stay motivated to ride (indoors or outdoors) during the winter months?  I’ve got a charity ride planned in the morning to benefit Toys For Tots, but the forecast is for freezing temperatures and snow/precipitation.   How do you wrap your mind around stupid-cold, crappy weather?

I remember back to 2003.  A group of Canadian cyclists made their way down south for the early spring to conduct a training camp in Clemson, SC, where I was living/working at the time.  They came in the shop, hung out, bought some parts and accessories over those few weeks, and developed a relationship with myself and the other guys at the shop that lasted quite a few years.  They continued to visit in following years, and we kept in touch via e-mail frequently.

In one of those e-mails, Don (the “leader of the pack”) sent me a picture of a group of cyclists from the club from the Great White North.  They were running a pretty solid paceline down a road, in what looked like blizzard-type conditions.  I quit complaining about cold weather at that point.

So what’s your solution for riding in the cold?  Is there a particular “dress code” that you abide by?  Do you use embrocation in conjunction with your attire?  Is there a certain temperature at which you say, “that’s just too cold?”  Please leave your feedback below.  Thanks.

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