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.

QUESTION #1 – Your colour ‘Park Blue’ is pretty synonymous in the bike world. How and where did it originate from? Also where did the name come from?

PARK TOOL: Good question. When we started in the mid 60’s our official colo(u)r was red! We made a line of tools for Schwinn Bicycle and their color was red so the tools were red. Not long thereafter we started selling tools to other distributors and retailers who didn’t want Schwinn Red so we changed to blue and the rest as they say, is history. In America you can still find red Schwinn tools in shops from time to time.

Our name comes from the original bike shop which was called Hazel Park Radio and Bicycle.  The original repair stands we made were labeled with “Hazel Park Cycle Center Repair Stand Company”.  A little too long to catch on and hard to remember!  In 1966 we moved from the Hazel Park area of St. Paul Minnesota so the Hazel was dropped for both the bike shop and the fledgling tool company.  Park Schwinn went on to be a top ten Schwinn dealer for 15 straight years in the mid 60’s and 70’s.

Here’s a short video we made for our 50th anniversary that touches on our history as well.

QUESTION #2 – I’ve built my own wheels for many years but only recently considered proper spoke tension as it relates to clincher vs. tubular rims. I use the Park Tools tension meter while building and truing my wheels. When building clinchers, immediately after building the wheel and mounting and inflating the tire, a check of spoke tension shows quite a big decrease in spoke tension (unlike tubular rimmed wheels). This makes me wonder whether the build spoke tension for clinchers should be increased slightly for increased wheel durability, so that the spoke tension levels with a mounted and inflated clincher are correct? I typically keep my road bike clinchers well inflated, so the psi probably never drops below 70 to 80 psi or thereabouts. What say you Park Tool?

PARK TOOL: Generally, rim manufacturers give recommendations for the wheel spoke tension without tire inflated. The assumption is a wheel builder is doing the work, and then the wheel is boxed and shipped out.  Pressure from the tire squeezes the circumference of the rim and that drops the tension.  How much tension drop depends on the design of the rim. A thin walled and smaller profile rim tends to drop more.  A taller rim and/or one with more mass will tend to drop less. Do not raise the tension more to account for this unless you start running into issues of spokes shaking loose. Also realize that a drop in tension from pressure will also change very slightly the wheel centering or dish. But that’s a story for a different day.

QUESTION #3 – Why do you not make JIS (Japanese industrial standard) screwdrivers? This standard as far as Im aware is the same used on most Shimano derailleurs. Considering how prevalent Shimano are as standard equipment on most bikes, wouldn’t it make sense to make this style of screwdriver as well as the others in your range?

PARK TOOL: Great question and one that we get frequently.  But the answer is not what most people expect.

First a little history. If you look at the Japanese tool makers who invented the JIS standard long ago and then fast forward you see that none of these JIS “inventors” make a true JIS screwdriver today. The reason being that, over time, there has been a convergence of the various crosshair style screwdrivers. In other words, on most modern, quality screwdrivers you see tool makers (including Park Tool) making crosshair screwdrivers that incorporate the best parts of the various crosshair styles (Phillips, JIS and other crosshair standards) into a single, unified design. As a result, even the Japanese tool makers phased out dedicated “JIS” screwdrivers years ago in favor of these improved, universal “phillips” (with a small p) heads.

To compound the issue, the fasteners (such as derailleur limit screws) are themselves not true JIS fasteners either.  Without going into the minutia of the different types of screw heads all you need to do is to look at the limit screws on a derailleur to clearly see that they are a hybrid of JIS, Phillips AND flat blade screw drive designs. In essence, there are mechanics who think they are using a JIS screwdriver on JIS fasteners when in reality neither the screwdriver nor the fastener is truly JIS at all.

With that said we are always looking to improve all of our tools. Could you see improvements to our tools (including screwdrivers) in the future? Absolutely.

Got a question of your own?  Click here to use the AASQ form, or find the link under the Contact menu header up top anytime a question pops into your mind! And keep the questions for Park Tool coming, they’re answering for the next few weeks!


  1. Ethan on

    Interesting! I love seeing some of the history and stories behind different brands. Thanks for the good questions and insight! Keep it up.

  2. Greg on

    In the end, Vessel screwdrivers fit into Shimano screws better than Park… or Craftsman, or even PB Swiss, which is DIN standard, which is supposed to be equivalent to current JIS.

  3. David R. on

    I really don’t like phillips screw heads, compared to torx, allen or square heads — too easily chewed up in any high torque situation. I’ve always assumed this was intrinsic to the screw/driver interface design — but maybe it is more a result of poor driver fit? The other designs have more positive engagement and don’t slip out as torque ratchets up. Straight rather than tapered interfaces help, and you can’t fudge on the driver size…

    • Dockboy on

      Torque out is why Phillips drivers are still around, especially in cheaper applications. Flats are here because the tool to screw it is the tool that cleans it out, unlike anything else.

    • Kevin on

      I’ve found that that’s mostly from using the wrong driver bit – either not the right size or a posidrive in a Phillips socket or vice-versa. I bought a set with everything and make sure that I only use the right one and it’s much better.

      I do have trouble with the limit screws on derailleurs though so this article makes sense. I think I’ll stick to a straight screwdriver as anything else seems to slip.

    • xcracer on

      Phillips screws are designed to cam out at a certain torque level. It’s entirely intentional, but also what makes them suck so bad (in my opinion).

  4. Jack on

    A better question about screwdrivers would be why doesn’t Park make screwdrivers to the ISO standard, to which nearly all fasteners these days in the bicycle industry are made, and also the standard adopted by JIS in 2008 (or thereabouts). As a long time professional mechanic, I’ve tried many brands of screwdrivers, made to several different standards, and find that drivers made to ISO standards work the best across the board. My current favorites are Wiha mainly because I like the handle best, but Vessel, Felo, and others make drivers that fit fantastically in the fasteners found on bicycles these days, and they even work well in older JIS cruciform fasteners, unlike Park drivers which will ruin these fasteners.

  5. Shawn on

    When is Park going to make a base for the NEW BIG FAT TIRE TRUING STAND? I was told it would be released ‘soon’ when I bought one as soon as it was released almost a year ago. DEFINE “SOON”.

  6. P Doff on

    I think that there is confusion about Phillips and JIS. The JIS standard for crosshead drivers evoloved into an ISO standard that merged with a DIN standard. Those designs place responsibility for torque limitng on the tool user or more commonly on the powered driver.

    The original Phillips fastener head and driver design was purposely intended to limit the amount of torque that could be appluied by an unskilled tool user. When the requirements for higher torque values arose in the machinery industry, the need shifted to requiring a fastener that better suited power tools, and Phillips participated in the development of a newer ISO standard.

    Today the “JIS” and the new Phillips drivers are virtually indistinguishable, They both work with new and old JIS and Phllips fasteners. BUT when used as manual tools, while cam-out and head recess damage is reduced, an unskilled use can shar off the fastener head.


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