By Lennard Zinn
Mechanics need the right tools to do their jobs. While of course their trucks are stocked with myriad good bike tools, sometimes they choose to use tools they made themselves. Or they appropriate a tool that was made for a different purpose. And the truck itself is a tool that is critical to doing their job.
Homemade truing stand
Cervélo TestTeam mechanics use one of the coolest truing stands ever — a handmade free-standing unit made out of a steel fork with an additional pair of fork legs welded to it. The original fork of course holds a front wheel, but the welded-on legs are splayed out to fit a rear wheel. Its fork ends are positioned so that the rim lines up in the same spot as a front one would between the fork legs, and its slots are filed out to fit rear axles, which are fatter than front axles. Spring-loaded thumb screws are threaded into holes in the fork legs at the fork crown to check the lateral trueness of the wheel, and another screw secures a plate for checking the vertical roundness.
Homemade bike stand
Xacobea-Galicia mechanics have two different handmade bike stands that clamp the front and rear dropouts, but they are by no means the only mechanics at the Giro using handmade stands of similar design.
Fuji-Servetto also is using homemade stands. If you love your old homemade stand, there’s no reason to switch, despite the existence of commercial stands of this type from Tacx, Park, and Elite, among others.
A butter knife
Astana mechanic Alan Buttler uses a butter knife to scrape glue off of carbon rims. When asked whether that was a special butter knife, he said, “No, it’s just one that I really like the shape of.” He did point out that, while he is scraping glue off by pushing hard with that knife, he does have a lot of experience at it. After scraping the rim as cleanly as possible with a knife, he uses “Wasbenzine” (a.k.a. “Essence de Nettoyage,” or “Reinigungsbenzin”) solvent to clean off the dregs of glue.
The Astana team only uses carbon tubular rims — mostly the Bontrager XXX-Lite, Buttler’s choice for the world’s best wheel due to its high strength. But on flatter stages most of the riders use the Bontrager Aeolus, an XXX-Lite to which Steve Hed has bonded a deep carbon skin. Even on flat stages like stage 3 to Valdobbiadene, Buttler mounted a 26 cog due to a short 18-percent section that he had heard tell of but did not show up on the course profile because it was too short.
In Italy, Spain and France, there are occasional walls even steeper than that and also too short to show up on the course profile. Four hundred meters at 26 percent, which would not show up in the race bible and happens sometimes, can really hurt if you don’t have the 26-tooth cog.
All Astana wheels get glued with Vittoria rim cement to Vittoria-made Bontrager XXX-Lite tubular tires and are stopped by Bontrager special pads for carbon made out of an engine gasket material.
A Garmin mechanic used a standard hacksaw to cut down a number tab to size. This unit fits between on the rear brake bolt — between the caliper and the brake bridge. A hacksaw is an enormously useful tool for team mechanics when setting up new team bikes before a big race like the Giro, especially on the time trial bikes.