Saturday, August 09, 2008

Commuting with The Park Tool CCW15

Meet the Park Tool CCW15. This is a 15mm wrench that I use to tighten the track nuts on the rear axle of my commuter bike, the Bianchi Classica. It is the shortest handled 15mm wrench that I could find that would fit in the two types of seat bags that I currently own. Why is this tool so important? Most singlespeed and track/fixed gear bikes have sliding or horizontal drops that the rear wheel axle sits in. Below is an example of what I talking about from the Qball.

(photo: Qball Bikes)

A good example of a vertical drop, which is what most bikes have today in combination with a Quick Release axle can be seen on my old Cannondale SR-300 below. Chain tension is achieved by the rear derailler, a chain tensioner if you want to run singlespeed, or a ghost chain ring if you want to get really fancy.

If you are using a horizontal drop it will behoove you to use a chain tug or tug nut which holds the axle in place to maintain proper tension. These only work with the horizontal style drops found on track, bmx, and certain mountain bikes. The one below is from Surly Bikes.

Not only does the Surly Tugnut maintain proper chain tension it also acts as a convenient bottle opener when your frame doesn't already have one, e.g. the Qball.

Apparently, the Park Tool CCW15 can be used for tightening your crank arms and I could see that used on older bikes, however, according to the Park Tools website this is now a 14mm wrench. The CCW15 is also very good for spreading peanut butter and jelly according to Bicycle Sports in Beaumont, TX.

I imagine you are probably wondering what the Park Tool CCW15 has to do with commuting, well I found another use for this tool yesterday when I began my first day of commuting by bike. Now that I am no longer commuting four hours a day to work because my new office is a mere 9 miles away from home, I have decided to do my part for the environment (and my wallet) by pledging to ride to work at least two times a week (in the warmer months).

I outfitted the Bianchi with a seat pack, bike pump, front light so that I am seen in low light situations, my Garmin Edge, and a bell. The seat pack includes a spare tube, tire levers, a compact took kit, and of course the the Park Tool CCW15. Here is what the cockpit looks like.

I was probably 1/4 of a mile down Pond Brook Rd (3/4s of mile from my house) when I hit a washed out section in the road and flatted the front tire! I have never had to change a flat tire while riding a road bike since I started riding thirty years ago! Even when I was going to college in Tucson, AZ and riding to school during the week and 50 to 70 mile rides on the weekend - I never got a flat. Of course I gave up road riding in the early 90s, so you could say that this was essentially my first road ride on a road bike is quite some time, and just three minutes into the ride I already flatted!

I thought about bringing my new Pyramid levers that I use for Mountain Biking, but they were too long. I had some cheapo levers from Bell that were worthless and my last Park Tool lever. I had some other tools that I thought might work to get the last end of the bead over the rim so I decided to go for it, rather than walk back home and fix the tire. Fortunately, the lone Park Tool lever was instrumental in initially snagging the bead and then I used the lever from the compact tool kit to bring the rest of the bead over the rim.

I put the new tube in and got most of the bead back inside the rim but it was that last bit that always seems impossible to finish with the tools at hand. You might recall I broke two Park Tool Levers trying to do this the last time with this tire and rim and besides getting the Pyramid levers, I also recently purchased a Pedro's Downhill Tire Lever which does the trick on this tire and rim. The steel core levers from the compact toolkit didn't help because they were too compact themselves and did not provide enough leverage.

Then I tried the Park Tool CCW15. It was my last resort before giving up and walking home. It had the right amount of leverage and strength to get the bead up over the lip of the rim. All I had to do was slide it off the tool and into the well of the rim! It worked! Thirty minutes later, I was back on the road and riding to work.

Riding time to work was 41 minutes. I got one cautionary tap of the horn from a school bus on Rte 25 otherwise the drivers that past me were pretty good. It's always my biggest fear of riding during rush hour of some knucklehead trying to cut it too close getting around me on one of these roads and I end up getting sideswiped. That is why I only try to ride on back roads. Unfortunately, I do have to ride one section of main road which is Rte 25 for a half mile. Otherwise, it's a pretty good commute.

I need to get some riding jerseys with front zippers so that I can dry out a bit on the downhill sections. I wore a fanny pack to carry my wallet, cell phone, and work ID, but I think I am going to get a front handlebar bag. I might get panniers at some point in the future, one of the online bike shops actually sells a garment bag/pannier.
Next week, I am going to try a longer route with more climbing. Below is the route that I rode yesterday. On the way home, while riding on the dirt road section of Pond Brook, I happened to notice that the town's highway department fixed all the ruts in the road later that day, including the one that got me!

Edit: Window from MTBGuru is not working

Here is the profile of the ride. Again, some wacky readings from the Edge on altitude - the start and end points should be the same:


29ner said...

check craigs list for a pair of panniers in Norwalk. She wants 40 for both and I bet you will get um cheaper

Mark said...

I will check them out. Got a Topeak Baby Seat this weekend from a buddy and took my 4 year old out on it as a test ride with the Bianchi.

I am going to have to stick to flat terrain until I can build up my legs riding 42:16 with the additional weight.

-p said...

Yeah, peanut butter wrench!