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In our daily work as we deal with bicycle safety, technology and user manuals we come across lots of safety risks. The most frequent ones are published in articles of the leading German special-interest magazines TOUR – Europas Rennrad-Magazin Nr. 1, BIKE – Das Mountainbike Magazin Europas Nr. 1 and E-Bike – Das Pedelec-Magazin to make this information important for the sector accessible to a wider public.

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TOUR 02/2015
Reading time 2:00 minutes

Cheap tools are paid three times!

INTERVIEW with graduate engineer Dirk Zedler, bicycle expert, Ludwigsburg. As regards tools, the bicycle expert and TOUR technology expert is regarded as perfectionist and gourmand.

TOUR: It is said that cheap material is paid twice – for the first time when you buy it and then a second time when you buy a really functioning product ...

ZEDLER: As regards tools, you pay three times! The third time you can pay really expensive, because you then pay for screwed up bicycle components. The most striking consequence are rounded Allen screw heads which start corroding subsequently. Good tools protect the material. Apart from that you cannot work precisely with imprecise tools.

How can a non-professional tell that a tool is good?

First of all, the tool should fulfil certain precision standards. In the case of Allen keys these are for example the DIN 911 or the ISO standards. In the case of minitools you will, however, hardly find such indications. Minitools focus on appearance, experience and examination, if necessary, by means of callipers, to make sure that at least the tool diameter is correct. In general, I recommend buying tools which are not specifically bicycle tools in the metal goods trade. The classical German brand manufacturers are always a good choice.

Doesn’t it make more sense to buy a high-value complete set which includes all necessary tools?

I wouldn’t state that there are no good sets. But they always include a lot of superfluous tools which are paid by you in addition: If you are not the one who repairs all bicycles of your fellows, you don’t need special Campa tools, if you have Shimano components. But that is also included in the set. It has actually become less expensive to do all screwings by yourself: I can do 95 percent of all jobs by myself by using a set of 2 to 8 mm Allen keys or torx keys. With these tools in good quality, you need nothing more than a torque wrench with for example 3 to 20 Nm, a little grease and a pot of carbon assembly paste. For the torque wrench you should spend a little money: An extremely high number of claims caused by material failure which are subject to experts’ reports are due to wrong torque values. Premounting with an Allen key, tightening with the torque key – that’s how it works properly and safely.

In former days, it also worked without a torque key?

Yes, in most cases it worked. But the bicycles have evolved dramatically, they are meanwhile high-tech. On a car or motorcycle load bearing carbon parts where a non-professional can tinker about are not used. This does not apply to bicycles. The minimization of the screws is another thing. Some of todays stems, in former times clamped with 6 or even 8 screws, have titanium screws with a diameter of 4 mm and a torque value of 3 to 4 Nm. The stuff has simply become sensitive.

The interview was held by: Jörg Spaniol

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