Bolsover | Tire Pressure

I have been meaning to write this post for some time.

In the previous post, I outlined the “15% drop” method of tire inflation.  I have just inflated my tires using the Filzer mini pump, the pump I have been travelling with for the past several years.  I’d like to take a full length floor pump but they are too big and heavy.  They certainly pump more quickly but the Filzer mini pump is more than adequate.

The pump measures 12” in length and the stand and handle fold into the body making it compact and very packable.  I have tried other small pumps but they take to long and too much effort to inflate a tire.  They are fine in an emergency (and I do carry one on the commuter in the city) but inadequate for higher pressure tires.  The Filzer pump is the perfect compromise.

If you follow this blog, you know that I am a fan of the Filzer bicycle tools.  I own a lot of them – full size floor pump, multi-tools, chain cleaner, hex wrenches, chain wear tool …  The essentials.  There is a full set of Park tools in the shop but I prefer the Filzer for day to day use.  They are well made, durable and innovative, combining the best features of all of the other manufacturers.

The Filzer tools are available at MEC in Canada ( and on Yahoo.  The next time you need a bike tool, give Filzer a try.  I am not compensated for this shout out.  I simply like the tools and price point.

Bike improvements …

A year ago, I rebuilt my city bike with a combination of new and old parts parts and have used it mostly as a commuter for the past 12 months.  Recently, I have changed things up as I begin to plan a few solo trips.

I added a set of carbon bar ends.  These are not new.  They were on the bike previously.  I found as I began doing longer rides, my hands would tire and I became uncomfortable.  The bar ends get me leaning forward in a more aggressive position and lower.  This helps a lot with climbs.  And, they also give me an alternative hand position preventing numbness in the palms.

I added full size fenders for the wet weather.  These were a “hand-me-up” from my son left over from his previous commuter.  They wrap around the wheel protecting the drive train much better than the mountain bike style of fenders that were on the bike before.

I put my Brooks Professional saddle on the bike.  This saddle is 37 years old and was initially on the Roberts bike.  I have taken very good care of the leather over the years and it looks and feels like new.

I put my Filzer bike computer on the bike.  I like to know my speed and distance.  In fact, I sometimes train on this bike after work.  It is not the fastest.  It is heavy but smooth rolling.  Climbs are harder and descents slower.  On the flat, with no wind or grade, I can easily average 20-25 kph.

And, I added a rear rack and panniers.  I use the panniers in the city instead of a backpack.  It is much more comfortable and safer.  But I purchased the panniers for touring.  These are 40L, waterproof with pockets inside to keep valuable items separated and easy to access.

Non of these items were necessary but they each have improved the functionality and comfort of the ride.

Preparing for Saturday’s ride …

I was preparing the bike for tomorrow’s ride up the Sunshine Coast when I realized how all the parts match.  It is not that I didn’t notice before.  I did.  Each time I added a component, I was careful to match what was already on the bike.  It just I never saw the bike in this light before.

It didn’t start out that way 3 years ago when I purchased the bike.  Over the years, I have changed the saddle, handle bars, wheels and tires.  Each time, I was careful to match the frame and other components as much as possible.  But this is ridiculous.  Don’t you think?  The red on the tires, seat post, handlebars and computer match the Garneau graphics.  Not too much red.  Just enough to tie everything together.  There is even red writing on the computer and, the spoke nipples are red too.

Everything matches.  Fi’zi:k saddle and bag.  FSA SL-K seat post and stem.  Dura-Ace cranks, chainrings, cassette, chain, derailleurs, pedals and wheels.

This is what happens when you pay too much attention to your bike.

“What does your kit look like?”, you ask.  Red, black and white of course.  And, made by Garneau.  What else?  I look like a Louis Garneau billboard.  I can’t help it.  The Garneau jerseys and bibs fit better than any others I have tried and they are remarkably comfortable.  And as for the bike, I have never ridden anything better.  I have tried Trek, Specialized, Cervelo and a host of others.  The Gennix R2 frame just suits me and my riding style.

There you have it.  If you see Team Garneau on the road tomorrow, stop and say hello.

Filzer Cycling Tools

Over the years, I have become a fan of the Filzer bike tools and accessories.

Filzer is a Vancouver, BC company.  All tools and accessories are designed by “Phil” (I don’t know his last name), a young enterprising engineer. His products are innovative, well designed and reasonably priced.  I have purchased a lot of bike tools.  All of the major brands.  Some are less expensive, many more costly but none are as pleasing to use as the Filzer’s.  Quality speaks loudly.  It says nice.  Refined.  Elegant.  Nice on the eyes.  Nice to the touch.  And, nice to use.  The Filzer products are nice.

I have been reorganizing the shop.  Trying to get more tools out of the boxes and more easily accessible.  In the process, I pulled out all of the tools and noticed I have accumulated a growing selection of the Filzer products.  I put them on the bench and took the above photos simply out of curiosity only to learn I have more items than I realized and, they are the tools I use most frequently.

Filzer keeps their prices low by cutting out middle men and extensive distribution channels.  Their products can only be purchased from MEC or Amazon.  If I were starting over, I would begin with them.  And now, when I need a replacement or new tool, Filzer is all I buy.

I value small, local businesses and, support them as much as possible.  I won’t compromise quality but have learned the best quality is produced by small operations with specialized, focused skills.

But I digress.  Buying local is the subject for another post.  It is a bigger issue than I am prepared to tackle at this time.  I simply want to give a shoutout to Filzer for a job well done.  Nice tools.  Nice accessories.  And, an imaginative business model.

The 1 bike tool you need

I have a toolbox full of bike tools, some dating back 30 years – crank pullers, freewheel removers, sprocket remover, double-ended cones wrenches, tire levers, spoke wrenches, a wheel truing stand, a cable stretcher, a third hand, allen keys, a torque wrench, chain wear gauge, an assortment of wrenches, needle nose pliers, chain tools, chain cleaner, side cutter pliers, pumps, screw drivers and pedal wrenches.  The list goes on.  I have an assortment of both metric and imperial tools.  Unfortunately, there is no standard for bikes.  And, as the technology changed, I needed to maintain disc brakes, cantilever brakes, suspensions, cassettes and carbon parts.  I use all of these tools from time to time depending on which bike I am working on.  But the most used tool in my box is the 3-way hex wrench (3, 4 and 5 mm) pictured above.  I use it regularly to adjust saddles, seatposts, stems, bottle cages, brakes and derailleurs.

I prefer the tools designed and manufactured by Filzer, a Vancouver company and available from MEC.  They are well designed, easy to use, reliable and conveniently available at all MEC locations and on-line.  Their 3-way hex wrench has a ball on one end, which allows the tool to be used at an angle off-axis to the bolt (this type of hex key was invented in 1964 by the Bondhus Corporation).

Some features I like –

  • The tool is small, light and easy to use.
  • The angled use feature enables you to reach obstructed components that otherwise require a small allen key.
  • The palm-fitting handle allows you to apply all the torque necessary, unlike single allen keys.
  • The contact surfaces of the bolt are protected from external damage.
  • The key fits snuggly into the bolts minimizing any potential for damage to the bolt head and enabling the tool to hold the bolt in place during installation.
  • Very small bolt heads can be accommodated.  I also have a 2, 2.5 and 3 mm version as well used for small adjustment bolts on brakes and derailleur assemblies.
  • The tool fits most of the components on both my commuter and road bike.  As the rides have been upgraded, I have been careful to use mostly Shimano components.

If I was just starting out, the 3-way hex wrench is the first tool I would purchased.

Filzer Chain Wear Gauge

FilzerChainGaugeChains wear.

And when they do, they may also wear the sprockets on your chain rings, cassette and pulley wheels.  How much and how fast depends on how you ride, where you ride and how regularly you clean and lubricate it.

Chain wear is commonly referred to as “stretch”.  This is attributed to the attrition of the bushings and not the elongation of the sideplates.  A worn chain is longer than needed and, as a consequence, the spaces do not precisely fit in the drivetrain spaces making gear shifting problematic and reducing effective power transfer.

Since chain wear is strongly aggravated by dirt getting into the links, the lifetime of a chain depends mostly on how well it is cleaned (and lubricated) and does not depend on the mechanical load. Therefore, well-groomed chains of heavily used racing bicycles will often last much longer than those of a lightly used, but not so well cleaned city bike. Depending on use and cleaning, a chain can last only 1,000 km (e.g. in cross-country use, or all-weather abuse), 3,000 to 5,000 km for well-maintained derailer chains, or more than 6,000 km for perfectly groomed high-quality chains, single-gear, or hub-gear chains (preferably with a full cover chain guard).

Chain wear rates are highly variable, so replacement by calendar is likely to cause either needless chain replacement or continued use of a worn chain, damaging rear sprockets. One way to measure wear is with a ruler or machinist’s rule. Another is with a chain wear tool, which typically has a “tooth” of about the same size found on a sprocket. They are simply placed on a chain under light load and report a “go/no-go” result – if the tooth drops in all the way, the chain should be replaced.

Keeping your chain clean and properly lubricated is the single most important thing you can do to lengthen the life of your drivetrain.

GaugeUseCheck chain wear regularly using a wear gauge.

I prefer the Filzer Chain Wear Gauge (CWG-1).  It has 4 markings at 0.0%, 0.50%, 0.75% and 1.0% wear.  And, is easy to use.  Simply slide it onto your chain as illustrated to the left and see how far down it seats itself.  The markings will tell you whether it is time to replace your chain or not.

Check with your chain manufacturer for recommended replacement criteria but it is generally recommended to replace chains after they are 0.75% – 1.00% worn.


Filzer Chain Cleaner (CC-2)

Chain Cleaner

This is a tool every cyclist needs.

I may be excessive but I clean my chain before every training ride.  A clean chain shifts more easily and reduces wear not only on the chain itself but the entire drivetrain – the cassette and chain rings as well.

Over the years, I have tried several different brands and learned not all chain cleaners are created equal.  Some clean better.  Some are easier to use.  Some make less mess. And, because they range in price from $5.00 CAD to $50.00 CAD, it is important you understand what your expectations are.

What follows is a brief review of 3 models readily available in Vancouver.  I have used them all.  And, all three are in my shop but one is used most frequently.

MEC Chain CleanerMEC Chain Cleaner

The MEC product is inexpensive ($5.50 CAD) but  awkward to use, messy and the cleaning brushes break easily.  It is not shop grade and is intended for the recreational rider and occasional use only.  There are an insufficent number of brushes to thoroughly clean and the cleaner spills out easily during use.

MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-Op) is a Vancouver company with locations across Canada.  Their chain cleaner is available at their retail locations or on-line at .

Park Cyclone Chain Scrubber

ParkChainScrubberThe Park Cyclone Chain Scrubber is shop grade and an excellent choice for the professional mechanic.  It is solidly made, includes more cleaning brushes than the MEC cleaner and minimizes spillage with use of foam pads at either end of the unit that the chain must pass through.  But, at $49.99 CAD, it is expensive.

Park Tool is a US company based in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Their chain scrubber is available through their network of dealers throughout North America.

Filzer Chain Cleaner 2 (CC-2)

A less expeFilzerChainCleanernsive but equally effective alternative for the home shop is the Filzer CC-2.  If has similar features as the Park – 168 cleaning brushes (more than any other model I know of) to get into those hard to clean recesses, 2 foam pads to minimize solvent spillage, a stabilizing handle that makes easy work of the process and a solid construction.  Filzer is dedicated to providing high-quality bike tools at a reasonable price.  At $19.50 CAD, the CC-2 is half the price of Park Cyclone Chain Scrubber and yet has the same features including a magnet at the bottom designed to collect steel burrs from the chain.

Filzer is a Canadian company based in Vancouver, BC.  Their chain cleaner is available at MEC or on-line at

Watch this instructional video to see the CC-2 in action.  You will also learn how to clean a chain effectively.  For example, did you know it is advisabe to let the cleaning solvent fully evaporate before applying a light coating of oil.  This seems obvious, but how many of you have quickly oiled your chain without waiting?