Michael Hanslip Coaching

If you want to go faster, you have to pedal harder

Unusual tools

When I made the switch to Campagnolo components, I purchased as many tools along with them as I knew I would need. That didn't begin to cover what I'd actually require over time. As lovely as Campag components are, perhaps their tools are nicer again. Many a shop mechanic loves to own a set of the traditional tools from Italy. I almost took a job once simply because I would get my hands on a multi-thousand dollar set of Campagnolo frame preparation tools (headset and bottom bracket facing tools, to name only two in the set).
The Campag chain is meant to be joined by their unique method. Like Shimano, there is a specific joining pin with a pilot that breaks off after use. Unlike Shimano, the ends of the pin need to be peened to assure a secure connection. So I got the Campagnolo chain breaker. It is a beauty. Not only does it have chain breaking and rejoining functions, but an anvil against which the pin can be peened and a retaining device to ensure the chain doesn't slip upwards and damage either the chain or the tool mid-use.
My chain whip is very old and I have repaired the chain on it numerous times. Plus it dates from 8-spd days, so it is a properly wide chain (perhaps 5-spd?). It really doesn't fit on 11 or 12 speed sprockets properly. The Campagnolo chainwhip came with a nice section of Campagnolo chain on it (not the cheap chain on my older one) and it is just pleasant to use.
Every hydraulic brake system is a bit different (size and type of opening, fluid requirements, etc) so I got the Campag bleed kit. Which is a re-badged Magura bleed kit as the calipers are so close to production Magura brakes that they share pads. It works really well.
The Hirth joint that connects the two half axles on the cranks uses a big Allen headed bolt. I didn't buy - or even check if they offer - the appropriate large allen key to drive the bolt, but I did purchase a socket driven Allen tool so I could put it on my torque wrench. It is unfortunate that the Super Record cranks use a left-hand threaded titanium bolt where the Record cranks use a right-hand threaded steel bolt. My, and most, torque wrench doesn't guarantee accuracy when used on left-hand threaded fasteners.
I have adjusted the rear hub several times in 3 years of riding the wheels. The axle is a large aluminium tube, onto which threads various pieces. To get the drive-side locknut off requires either two 18 mm cone spanners (I only have one of this size) or an 11 mm Allen key to fit the hex inside the axle shaft (I do not have nor have I ever seen - except in a Campagnolo catalogue - an 11 mm hex key). However, it doesn't need to be very tight so an 8 mm plus a 3 mm pair of Allen keys will fit pretty well inside, and if coupled with an 18 mm cone spanner on the opposite side it can be tightened sufficiently by using my smallest shifting spanner on the locknut. I had to do this to replace the freehub body (Campag to SRAM XDR) and all the videos are of people doing it with Zonda wheels. I can see from the info supplied with the freehub that both the Shamal Ultra and Zonda use the same freehub body - but the Zonda rim-brake wheels use a 6 mm Allen key in the axle making life so much easier. Of course it is left-hand threaded, which is unexpected but makes sense to keep it from loosening in use.
Way back when, the original Campagnolo cassette lockring tool also did double duty as a bottom bracket tool - the cartridge BBs had the same toothed socket profile around the axle. Two for one was nice while it lasted. It could hardly look different to the Shimano one, but it is enough different to necessitate a separate tool. SRAM just used Shimano's profile, even with the XDR cassettes.
I found that they make a caliper alignment tool that fits in the brakes in place of the pads with a slot for the rotor to get optimal alignment when building the bike. I probably would have purchased that if I knew about it first. I do have a Birzman alignment tool that fits a thin stainless plate between the pad and the rotor on both sides making it hard to get the alignment wrong. But the Campagnolo part is just nice.

Now that I've swapped to SRAM on and off the road, I don't see many specific tools that I either don't already have or aren't included with the parts. An example of the former is the bleed kit. I have a SRAM professional bleed kit with both threaded and push-fit ends so I can bleed road or MTB brakes with bleeding edge calipers as well as the older threaded port calipers. My original Eagle XO1 bikes didn't come with the B-tension gauge tool. My Eagle AXS XX1 bike did come with the - different - B-tension gauge tool. My new Red AXS derailleur came with the - road specific - B-tension gauge tool. And the front derailleur came with the alignment tool installed, ready to go on the bike perfectly. Shimano used to have dealer-only front derailleur alignment gauges that were harder to use than the eyeball method most mechanics were used to. But this SRAM tool sits on the teeth of the big ring over enough teeth to practically ensure perfect alignment by even a semi-competent mechanic. The derailleur cage has alignment marks on it too, so should it ever come loose or get bumped it will be easy to see it is out of position.
Thankfully, I didn't encounter any tools I required but didn't have in assembling my Checkpoint because I wanted to get it ride-ready as soon as possible. I have three chain breaker tools and only one fits the flat top chain large diameter rollers in its guide, but one was sufficient to shorten the chain for installation.
The T47 DUB bottom bracket - of course - doesn't use the same installation tool as the BSE DUB bottom bracket tool. Therefore it was serendipity that the bike shop installed it for me before I took the Red ensemble away.
The brakes appeared to be fully bled on delivery. That won't work for me because the hose has to run through the frame to near the axle before emerging, and the tunnels they run in are so narrow the olive has to be cut off the hose to slide it through. Luckily I know how that all works from lots of SRAM brakes around the house.
SRAM doesn't really make tools aside from the mentioned ones (bleed kit, b-tension gauge). So there are fewer opportunities for a weird one to pop up in assembly - if it is a routine tool then I have it and if it is a very specific purpose tool then they probably make it and I'd know I need it.
The rollers on SRAM 12-spd chains are larger in diameter than any other chain, even though they retain the 1/2" pitch of other bike chains. That means that you shouldn't try a Red chain on another brand's rings or cassette, nor should you try another brand's chain on Red sprockets. It is a good thing that they are a decent chain given the lack of options. My chain wear checking tool (a Shimano one - almost all the tools for this on the market are useless, although more 3-points-of-contact checkers are around than before) probably won't do the trick. I rarely use it anyway because a 12" ruler is best.