We Didn’t Forget The Accessories.


We’ve covered bikes and components that we really like and now it’s time for the final piece (cue the original Iron Chef suspense): Accessories.

I didn’t forget them. How could that even be possible? It’s not that there wasn’t enough accessories to look at, but it was the sheer amount of crap stuff that needed to be filtered out. It could get a bit daunting at times, especially after basking in all things bicycle for a week before parachuting into a tech conference on Cloud immediately after (yay day job). Alas, it’s time to put ’em together.

Feedback Sports

The media preview pregame night has always been fascinating to attend because it’s like a mini Interbike within Interbike. It is where I usually get to catch up and talk shop with buddies while looking at some cool and also some really shitty parts that would leave many people thinking why on earth would you even put that on your bike. Feedback Sports was there and their new Range torque ratchet combo was one of the very few accessories that I truly enjoyed seeing. While traditional torque wrenches are mostly made specifically to torque a bolt to a given value and not to be used as a wrench to loosen bolts, the Range is both a torque wrench and a ratchet wrench. Hold the anodized red handle to loosen/tighten bolts with one of the 14 most commonly used drive bits made with durable S2 steel bits which are included. Grab the Torque Knob at the end of the wrench to activate its torque-measuring function from 2-10Nm. The $79.99 wrench combo also comes with a molded foam protective case for traveling convenience.


LEM MotiveAir helmet

After launching a full line of helmets in the States earlier this summer, LEM came to Interbike with a few more tricks up its sleeves. Besides the slippery MotiveAero TT helmet with a removable tail attached by magnets, MotiveAir, the soon-to-be flagship road model, looked really good too. The helmet is said to weigh about 215 grams with an extensive carbon fiber shell, plenty of vents for ventilation and their own micro-adjustable FS3 retention system to dial in the fit. Price has yet to be determined but it will be available spring 2019.

Park Tool

Park Tools SPK-1 Stainless Steel Spork

If you’ve been around bikes for a while, chances are you probably already know about the Park Tool Pizza Cutter that seems to make its way into at least one cycling holiday gift guide every year. But did you know Park Tool makes a spork too? I didn’t either, but there it was hidden in plain sight at the massive Park Tool booth. The Minnesota firm didn’t just bum some stainless steel off their production line, but this dishwasher-safe SPK-1 spork is made out of 316 food-grade stainless steel for its high resistance to acids, alkalis, and chlorides (i.e. salt, remember chemistry?) one might encounter in everyday food items. Its handle is also predictably, vinyl-dipped in Park Tool blue. And it’s only $7.49.

Phil Wood

Phil Wood Tree Ornament

As if the Park Tool spork didn’t surprise me already, the petite Phil Wood hub did also. It’s got 16 holes, 61.5mm spacing, 32.5mm flange height, and weighs 26 grams… I am not sure what rim size this is for, but I know for a fact that this is a $30 machined, made in US aluminum tree ornament that could live a double life as one heck of a conversation-starting keychain. My holiday gift guide just got a lot more interesting.


MAAP Suplest Edge3 pro cycling shoes

Premium Australian apparel brand MAAP teamed up with Swiss shoemaker Suplest and the shoes from the collaboration are just so damn gorgeous. Based on Suplest’s flagship Edge3 pro featuring dual Boa dials, a stiff carbon sole, microfiber uppers, a custom insole by Solestar, a wrap tongue construction to accommodate a larger range of foot shapes, plus a thin carbon shield that sits between the upper and laces to distribute pressure more evenly, these shoes are high tech and they look great in both white and red.


stompump foot pump

This is not your grandparents’ old foot pump. Stompump is a miniaturized, high volume aluminum foot pump capable of inflating a tire three times faster than a hand pump. This $99.95 pump is just a tad smaller than my Snow Peak coffee mug and is designed to be mounted on the bike frame with its dedicated bracket. The fully rebuildable pump comes with a removable hose compatible with both presta and schrader valves, an integrated air filter to filter out contaminates that would otherwise roughen up the pump action or fail a pump altogether. And believe it or not, it even has a small storage compartment for parts like patches or tire plugs.

Effetto Mariposa

Effetto Mariposa Giustaforza 1-8 torque wrench

I know, I am including a second torque wrench in a roundup. But Effetto Mariposa’s Giustaforza 1-8 torque wrench deserves a shoutout for its +/- 4% measurement accuracy down to as low as 1Nm. The Italian-made, calibratable click-type 1/4″ drive torque wrench is available either as a tool only for $115 or with its tool roll plus with S2 steel bits in 14 common sizes for $160.

Patch Book

Patch Book glueless tire patch

First time Interbike exhibitor Patch Book occupied a booth that consisted of pretty much a table and these flexible eco-friendly glueless tire patches packaged like a matchbook. Each package includes four patches plus a piece of sandpaper. The San Diego-based husband and wife team was also eager to point out the graphics on the package which can be easily customizable for a bike shop, or if you just want to give a very unique gift to your riding friends.

Option Lock

Option Lock packable bike lock

It’s like a u-lock, but it’s not, so I am going to call it an u-lock inspired rectangular lock. It consists of four parts: two cylinders each with a locking mechanism connected to two steel cross bars to complete the lock. With its modular design, the entire 3.5lb lock can be disassembled into smaller pieces for travel in the included case while the dual locks will sure provide more options of locking and unlocking. Option Lock will be available for $69.99 in November.


Smith Ignite aero road helmet

Smith had a number of new products at the show and the Ignite is the firm’s newest aero road helmet for 2019. The competitively-priced $250 helmet incorporates sections of Koroyd crumple-zone cylinders in high impact areas to absorb harmful kinetic energy and a MIPS layer to reduce rotation energy in the event of a crash. On the aerodynamics side, the helmet employs eight strategically-placed vents for ventilation while the overall design is made to support changes in speed. It is also sunglasses friendly too in such that there’s a place to secure your precious shades. The Ignite will be available in five colors this coming February.


Ortlieb Atrack 35L waterproof backpack

There are many backpacks out there, and this backpack is by no means cycling-specific, but Ortlieb’s new Atrack series backpacks are different. Besides the fact that it’s made of lightweight and waterproof material, I particularly liked the robust, adjustable harness and how the main compartment opens like a duffle bag with one central waterproof zipper between the harness which creates a very minimal appearance and prevents any unintended openings while traveling.

Ortlieb Atrack 35L waterproof backpack

A trio of colors (mustard yellow, black or red) will come along in three sizes: 25L, 35L and 45L. Despite its capacities, the packs also don’t take up a lot of space when not in use. There are also plenty of internal pockets, compression straps and mounting points for additional accessories such as a hydration pack.


100% SpeedCraft Air

We were told Peter Sagan approached 100% a few years ago looking for some unique sunglasses that would stand out from the rest of the Peloton. 100% went to work and one of the more radical designs from the Italian firm is the Speedcraft Air. The Speedcraft Air shares a similar lens shape as the regular Speedcraft sunglasses, with the biggest difference being the fixed rubber nosepiece being replaced with an adjustable one called the AC Systems that controls nasal dilation for better breathing. It’s a similar concept to the breathe right strip.  Adhesive tape is placed on both sides of the nose. Embedded within each tape is a small piece of metal designed to connect to corresponding magnets on both sides of the Air’s temple. Once connected, users will be able to pull their nostrils open by turning a small dial on top on the sunglasses. Each of the $325 Speedcraft airs will come with a kit of nose pads and pre-application cleaning towelettes. Replacement pads are available for $15 for a pack of 20.


Assos Trail long sleeve jersey

Assos introduced a cross-country specific XC collection during Sea Otter and they are expanding the efforts further with the new Trail collection. More than just branded jerseys and baggie shorts, the Trail collection incorporates what Assos calls trailFit, a relaxed fit designed to fit the more upright body position better without the excess bulk and heavy fabric that inhibits breathability. While the collection features a circular-knitted short and long sleeve jersey, we were particularly interested in the $149 long sleeve version for its proprietary reinforced dyneRope fabric on the forearms for abrasion protection against the elements, or that crash you would never admit to with your friends.

How Park Tool Keeps the Bike World Running, One Blue Handle at a Time

Park Tool CEO Eric Hawkins. Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly
Park Tool CEO Eric Hawkins. Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly

Pegboards full of blue-handled tools—nipple drivers, caliper wrenches and the like—cover nearly every inch of wall, and the floor is a kind of obstacle course of repair and truing stands.

It is the showroom and final stop on the tour of Park Tool’s 85,000-square-foot facility in Oakdale, MN and when CEO Eric Hawkins leans against it’s newest repair stand with a hydraulic lift, this seems to be where the tour will end.

But Hawkins likes to end the tour where the story of Park Tool actually begins. He walks over to an odd sculptural piece on caster wheels. It is made with the base of a dining room table, a shell casing filled with cement, a ’37 Ford truck axel and a broken hockey stick.

Hawkins never tires of showing his father’s creation, the very first bicycle repair stand.

The first repair stand made by Park Tool founders Howard Hawkins and Art Engstrom. It consisted of a dining room table base on caster wheels, a shell casing filled with cement, a truck axel and a broken hockey stick. Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly
The first repair stand made by Park Tools founders Howard Hawkins and Art Engstrom. It consisted of a dining room table base on caster wheels, a shell casing filled with cement, a truck axel and a broken hockey stick. Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly

Two Sore Backs

Bicycles, whether in the peloton of the Tour de France or meandering along some state park bike path, are likely on the move because of Park Tool. Bike mechanics in more than 70 countries grab the tools to change break pads, spoke wheels, and adjust front and rear derailleurs.

That Park Tool rose up from a local fix-it shop in the Hazel Park neighborhood of St. Paul to having a 90 percent share of the global market for bicycle maintenance tools is a great American business success story.

“With us,” Hawkins says, “we have been in the right place at the right time with the right thing.”

The story, however, did not start with ambition. It began with two sore backs.

Howard Hawkins repairing a bike on the first production stand he and Art Engstrom made for Schwinn. (Courtesy of Park Tool)
Howard Hawkins repairing a bike on the first production stand he and Art Engstrom made for Schwinn. Photo: Courtesy of Park Tool

Howard Hawkins had just graduated from a technical college, where he learned welding and blacksmithing, when he bought a repair shop in 1956 with a friend, Art Engstrom. America was in the middle of a post-war housing boom and with it came all sorts of things to repair, like radios, televisions, and lawnmowers. Ice skates were in constant need of sharpening during the long Minnesota winters.

The housing boom also meant growing families with children riding bikes. From their shop, Hawkins and Engstrom sold and repaired Schwinn bicycles. The two were growing tired of stooping over bicycles on the ground when they came up with the idea for a contraption that could hold a bike off the ground and rotate 360 degrees.

The Prototype

Even today, the first stand is something to behold. The odd mix of items are smartly arranged to provide a solid, anchored weight in the base, along with a strength to support and balance a bike. Howard Hawkins laid down sure and economical beads in his welds and his first stand still stands ready for any bike triage.

Engstrom and Howard Hawkins repaired bikes with it for a few years before showing it to Schwinn in 1963. At Schwinn’s direction, the two designed a commercial stand that soon took its place wherever Schwinn bikes were repaired.

“He didn’t know anything about bikes, but he learned by putting his hands on things,” the younger Hawkins said of his father. “To him, everything was about common sense.”

Schwinn Stingrays in the office of Park Tool, which originated out of the back room of a Schwinn dealership. Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly
Schwinn Stingrays in the office of Park Tool, which originated out of the back room of a Schwinn dealership. Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly

That Midwest ingenuity began to come up against new challenges in the late 1960s, when the shifting and breaking mechanisms in bikes became more complex. Repairs were difficult because the tools for the new components did not exist.

The Tools

Engstrom and Howard Hawkins began making the tools: wrenches, frame alignment gauges, bracket and cable tools. The tools in the early years were built from scratch with whatever materials were left over in their shop.

Meanwhile, the two were among the nation’s top Schwinn dealers and at one point operated out of three different locations. The demands for tools became so great the two sold the shops in 1981.

Park Tool. Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly
Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly

As the tool line expanded, Park Tool have out-grown a couple of other facilities. They make close to 400 different kinds of tools for bikes and hold more than two dozen patents.

Park Tool tracks the cycling industry and seems to have a tool every time something new is released. Because of its standing, companies often share the specs on new components so that Park Tool can make tools to be available at the time of the item’s release. It has enjoyed spikes in growth thanks to mountain biking, BMX and American success in international cycling.

The company also recognized that cyclists began to learn how to take care of their bikes and has a robust line of consumer products, from folding allen wrench sets to tire patch kits.The Park Tool website is also a repository for informational articles and video tutorials.

Tools get shipped to more than 70 countries. (David Pierini)

Tools get shipped to more than 70 countries. Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly

Bottom bracket tools (David Pierini)

Bottom bracket tools. Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly

Chain whips ready for shipment. (David Pierini)

Chain whips ready for shipment. Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly


Some of the employees commute to work by bike and factory floor fans are a good way to dry off clip shoes on a rainy day. Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly

Some of the tools past and present in the Park Tool showroom. (David Pierini)

Some of the tools past and present in the Park Tool showroom. Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly

“I think its important for us to take the mystery out of the bike,” Eric Hawkins said. “If you can show someone it’s easy to fix a flat tire, they’re likely to go for a ride. For a lot of people, being able to work on the bike is an ultimate goal. We are happy to give them that education.”

The Heir

Eric Hawkins grew up in his father’s bike shops and learned the business just from watching. He went off to college and came back to work for Park Tool for a while until he could figure out what he wanted to do with his life.

The younger Hawkins started making suggestions from what he learned from college marketing classes. He suggested having a presence at trade shows and other cycling events and his father agreed.

An employee affixes the Park Tool name to a product. Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly
An employee affixes the Park Tool name to a product. Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly

It was Eric Hawkins idea to patent the Park Tool shade of blue, Pantone 2935, which in cycling has become as recognizable as the green of the John Deere tractor.

“What better childhood than to hang out in a bike shop,” he said. “I learned a lot about assembling bikes and without knowing it, common sense. My dad did have any great ambitions, he was content making a living with the bike shops, but to his credit, he let me try some things.”

Park Tool CEO Eric Hawkins. Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly
Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly

Even after both Engstrom and the elder Hawkins retired, Howard popped into the factory a couple of times a week just to check on things. He even helped assemble display boards for the industry’s two biggest events, Interbike and Eurobike.

Hawkins and Engstrom were able to revel in the company’s 50 anniversary celebration in 2013. This past January, Howard Hawkins died in Arizona from a heart attack. He was 82.

Eric Hawkins has done much to modernize the company, but is a careful steward of his father’s legacy. There are pictures and newspaper clipping throughout the Park Tool office and one of every color and model of Schwinn Stingray ever made is lined up along an office, much like it looked in the old Hazel Park shop.

One way Eric Hawkins enjoys honoring his father is with a joke he always told people when asked how many people work for him. When I asked Eric how many work at Park Tool (between 50 and 60), he repeated his father’s line, “About half.”

Part of Park Tool's 85,000 square-foot facility near St. Paul, MN. Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly
Part of Park Tool’s 85,000 square-foot facility near St. Paul, MN. Photo: David Pierini/Element.ly