We know, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. But there are definitely some questions too embarrassing to ask your local shop or riding buddies. This is our weekly installment where we get to the bottom of your questions – serious or otherwise. And this week, Park Tool is answering your questions about their brand, products and related inquiries.
This week, there seemed to be one question that needed answered more than any others. Three different people wrote in with essentially the same question and considering they all came from different IP addresses, we’ll assume it wasn’t just the same person asking the same question in different formats. Regardless, it’s a good one and one that we know mechanics and riders alike have fussed over through the years…
#1: “When will Park Tool finally make a tool to quickly and accurately align the stem with the front wheel?” Another reader asks, “Is there any reliable method to line up a short MTB stem with the front wheel perfectly?” AND “Many Park tools are expensive and always (always) worth it when I finally break down for the good stuff. How should I finally find a way to align my bars/fork that is perfect? Practice hasn’t helped (been practicing this) since oh… 1981? Starting w/ BMX bikes to whatever I’m on lately. Every time I’m fine w/ it and pedal plenty. But when anyone tries a bike I’ve built they are all wondering how I can manage such mis-alignment. Minus some vital (though likely expensive) clever Park Tool, how would a wrench clown like me go about adjusting these more accurately? Thanks.” – seems like a lot of questions about stem alignment!
Park Tool: This is an idea that we bat around at Park Tool HQ frequently but unfortunately for those that lack the machinist eyeball, we haven’t come to any conclusion on how we’d do it. Until the ducks are lined up there are a lot of ways you can figure out how to square up your handlebars. Essentially what you need to do is get the bars and wheel as close to perfectly perpendicular to each other as you can. You can use straight edges of any description, carpenter’s squares, a laser pointer, a plumb-bob… anything will work as long as it gives you a reference point. The common method in a bike shop is to look from the top of the stem/bar and line them up with the front axle. Huey Lewis was right, it is hip to be square.
#2:” What are the top 5, or 5 most important, Park Tools to have on your workbench (or in your tool box)?”
Park Tool: It’s difficult to say because every bike is different and they don’t all require the same tools, plus five isn’t very many…. but here’s my list:
FWS-2 Fold Up Wrench Set, which is two different fold up tools, one hex and the other for Torx® compatible fasteners.
TL-6.2 Steel Core Tire Levers (or one of our three other models of tire levers) because if you ride at all, you will get a flat tire.
CT-3.2 Chain Tool because it’s important to change your chain every now and again. A new chain needs to be sized to fit your bike so you’ll most likely need to remove some links.
CM-5.2 Cyclone Chain Scrubber. A clean chain is a happy chain! It works better and lasts longer and can help make your other components last longer as well.
PCS-10 Repair Stand. It won’t fit in your toolbox but once you’ve worked on your bike on a workstand, elevated and at the perfect position, you’ll never work on the ground again!
BO-2 Bottle Opener, because hydration is key.
PZT-2 Pizza Tool, because pizza is delicious.
#3: “What’s the difference between the BBT-2 and BBT-22 and why did the BBT-22 replace the BBT-2?”
Park Tool: This is another case of our tools needing to evolve with the times. As bottom bracket designs changed, so must our tools. The BBT-2 and the BBT-22 are the same tool for all intents and purposes, the BBT-22 just has some slight dimensional differences that allowed it to work on a wider range of bottom bracket cups where the splines were the same pattern but recessed a little further in the cup.