Daimeon Shanks, pro mechanic and co-owner of The Service Course repair shop in Boulder, Colorado, has compiled his list of must-haves for the cyclocross pits. Missed the last article on brake setup? Go back and check it out. Now that you’re licking your – and your bike’s – wounds from this past weekend, prepare for the races ahead with a pro setup that’s sure to see you through to glory.
by Daimeon Shanks
As a mechanic, your toolbox is your best friend. This elegantly shaped plastic crucible contains every imaginable tool and part I need to build and repair race bikes. There’s no wasted space; every square centimeter is used perfectly and proficiently.
So what do you do when your toolbox is not available? It’s not practical to lug a 40-pound box to the pit, especially when you’re also schlepping a couple of pit bikes, wheels and a wash kit. What I use, and what most other mechanics I know use, is a pit bag. While definitely not as complete as a fully stocked toolbox, the pit bag contains enough supplies that you can take care of pretty much any emergency that might come up during a hectic ’cross race.
Organization is key. Just like when you’re dating several girls at the same time, a misplaced item or a forgotten trinket can spell disaster. I keep my bag organized with several pockets that house like-minded parts. Here’s a list of what I carry in the pit and what it’s used for:
- Tire Gauge – Riders often pit so that they can ask for a change of tire pressure. Even though I carry an air gun, I’ve been using this simple air gauge for years, so I’m very familiar with it.
- Zip Ties – The fix-all.
- Toe Strap – Used to carry a pair of wheels to the pits, once there, used to hang the pit bag to the fencing.
- Tire Boot – For clinchers… never been used, but just in case.
- Business Cards – Who knows who’ll want to employ you next season?
- Glacier Gloves – Hands down THE best gloves for washing and wrenching in cold weather.
- Scarf and Hat – Rapha, of course. ’Cause anyone can work on bikes, I make this shit look good.
- Spray Lube – For pesky to reach places, like inside SRAM shifters or into unattended coffee cups (Preferably the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld’s pit crew’s).
- Tire Sealant – Yeah, you might get three punctures in a race.
- Lube – The go-to, after power washing a bike, this goes on EVERYTHING.
Small Parts Pocket:
- Bolts – A selection of commonly used bolt sizes: 3, 4, 5mm bolts, some barrel adjusters, etc.
- Bike Small Parts – A derailleur hanger and seatpost clamp specific to the bikes you’re working on.
- Quick Connect Link – Again, specific to your bike, I carry 9/10sp pins as well.
- Brake Pads – Carbon and Aluminum versions.
- Chainring Bolts – For the chainrings, duh.
- Bar Plugs – Easily lost and easily replaced.
- Air Gun – Portable and light, comes with an electronic gauge to double check your analog gauge. Craftsman makes the only model I know of, it can be bought at Sears, but must be modified with a cycling-specific head.
- Rags – For wiping down the bike after a pressure washing. Keep a clean one for the saddle and bar tape. It’s good for a rider’s head to see a clean cockpit.
- Cables and Housing – One complete set each for brake and derailleur.
- Electrical Tape – For everything.
- Chain Tool – Compact 10sp chain tool. Do you know anyone who uses Campy 11 for ’cross? Neither do I.
- Tape Measure – For measuring things. Specifically, bike things.
- Allen Wrenches – 5, 4, 3mm and two 2.5mm (needed to adjust straddle cable bolts on TRP Eurox brakes)
- Torque Wrench – Indispensible for delicate stem and seat bolts.
- Torx Wrenches – 25 and 30 Torx wrenches for Dura Ace 7900 chainrings and other bits and pieces.
- Side Cutters – For removing the zip-ties that you’ve been putting everywhere.
- Screwdriver – With both Phillips and flat head bits.
- Needle Nose Pliers – Great for grabbing things when your hands are too numb to feel. Also good for scratching your nose.
- Spoke/Wheel Tools – Specific to whichever wheels you’re using
- Box Wrenches – 10mm (adjusting straddle cable hangers, e.g. Paul’s, TRP low profile, etc.), 13mm (for brake post hardware), 15mm (adjusting spring tension on Paul’s, Avid Shorty Ultimate brakes).
- BAW (Big Ass Wrench) – (Not Pictured) Large, adjustable wrench for toe-in on Mafac style brakes. Can be used to bludgeon unruly fans, as well.
- Bottle Opener – For beer. And spreading mustard on Brats.
Additional, But Not Required:
- Beer – Post race celebration; tearing down/packing up libation. All-around mechanic fuel.
- Water – When beer is not available.
- A $20 Bill – To buy waffles, brats, bbq, frites or other delicious snacks at the venue.
Cute Girl – Or guy, depending. It’s all good.
That’s pretty much everything you might need in the pit. Be aware of your specific needs, too… If you’re using special parts or have crazy modifications, make sure you have the parts and tools to take care of what you’ve got.