The Right Tools For The Bodge

I’ve been spending far too much time this year moving house (twice) and changing jobs (also twice, but maybe three or possibly even four times depending on how you define it) and not enough time racing, or even riding bikes in general.
I therefore haven’t got much to write about in the way of race reports, and with my thoughts now occupied with plumbing, fireplaces and floorboards this is unlikely to change until next year. I have however entered the Keilder 101 and am threatening to have a go at Relentless.  In the meantime I’m going to have another attempt at a product review.

The Pedro’s Vicewhip is one those gadgets which is just brilliant, a really simple solution to a problem everyone has and is so obvious it just leaves me thinking ‘why didn’t I come up with that?’ The legendary Lennard Zinn did however, which probably shows that he is cleverer than I am.

I hadn’t even heard of it until a year or so ago when I needed to remove the cog on my singlespeed during a trip to Afan Argoed. I popped into the bike shop and asked to borrow a chain-whip. I was handed what I thought was a set of mole-grips. I checked to make sure he had given me the right tool and was reassured that he had. I returned to my bike, clamped it onto the sprocket and removed the lockring.

That was it. No spending hours slipping, swearing, skinning knuckles or anything like that. Just lock the tool on and undo the lockring, no faffing at all.

It has a mole-grip-like handle but where the jaws would be is instead a semi-circular adjustable clamp which goes around your cassette and holds the teeth of any sprocket up to 23t, so it is plenty big enough for any cassette and all but the biggest singlespeed sprocket. It’s a league apart from the usual ‘bit of chain on a stick’ (which did sort of work when I made my own by, no prizes for guessing, simply nailing some old chain to the end of a small block of wood). It is especially brilliant on seriously worn singlespeeds when a conventional chainwhip would slip like crazy and remove every last trace of skin from your fingers before it would allow you to undo anything. Not that my SS is that badly maintained of course…
I was so impressed that I immediately went and got myself one and I remain very impressed, the build-quality has proved equally good, I like it even better than my fancy Snap-On mole-grips.

The (very!) eagle-eyed among you may have noticed a slight modification to the cassette tool in the picture, it's slightly more obvious in close-up above. This is a conventional Park Tools FR-5 of which I have ground the top with an angle-grinder, an idea I nicked from my friend James. This means that a very big spanner will still fit around the base for lots of leverage, but the narrower bit at the top will fit a much smaller 5/8” spanner. Why? Airline baggage limits. The weight difference between my huge spanner and the little one is considerable. And I’m sure that the half an ounce I’ve taken off the tool helps too.
Pedros Vicewhip:

I like: It just works. Genius.
I don’t like: It’s how much!? £50 seems a lot for a chain -whip

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