The Best Bike Tools You’ve Never Heard Of: A Profile of Brett Flemming and Efficient Velo Tools

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Photo by Bob Huff.

Five Maintenance Tips From EVT’s Brett Flemming

EVT’s Brett Flemming fixes thousands of bikes every year and has deep discussions with bike maintenance guru John Barnett of Barnett Bicycle Institute about all things repair. Here are five quick tips from the master you can use:

1. Carry a Spare Derailleur Hanger - Insist your shop carries replacement hangers for the bike you bought and carry one with you, especially on your mountain bike. You will bend or break one eventually and this will save your ride. Also make sure your limit screws are correctly adjusted to keep the derailleur cage out of your spokes.

2. Change Your Cables and Housing Often - Most people are pretty good about changing their cables, but often neglect to change the housing which deteriorates very quickly and causes sub-par performance. Do yourself a favor and change it more often than you think you should.

3. Watch the Water - The amount of water you use to clean your bike will escalate your maintenance exponentially. Unlike, say, a motorcycle, bicycles are light and delicately sealed. Go easy with the hose and give your bike a sponge bath rather than a power washing. Try not to get water in the feehub bearings. The more water that comes in contact with your bike, the more you should expect to do to maintain it.

4. Lube Your Cables – A cable should be treated like a precious violin string–no kinks, and only gentle curves. Delicately lube cables with Shimano’s SP41 cable grease–it will make your bike shift smoother and keep it that way for a long time. Just the lightest of coatings–so as not to retard the action–will reduce the effort needed to change gears and just feel beautiful.

5. Lube Your Plastic - There’s no such thing as self-lubricating plastic. Bottom bracket cable guides tend to get gummed up with the dried sugar from energy drinks because it’s at the lowest point of the bike. Clean it off with warm water, lift the cable up and put it down a bead of SP41 to keep shifting smooth. On a SRAM rear derailleur there’s a sharp bend in cable routing which causes friction. A little grease there will keep it shifting smoothly and extend cable life.

For more information visit www.efficientvelo.com.

The Best Bike Tools You’ve Never Heard Of: A Profile of Brett Flemming and Efficient Velo Tools Gallery
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Efficient Velo Tools - Brett Rivett

Efficient Velo Tools’ Brett Flemming makes parts for his pro bike shop tools on a series of vintage machine tools, including this circa 1942 Rivett 1020 Toolroom Lathe. Photo by Bob Huff.
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Efficient Velo Tools - Right Arm Repair Clamp

EVT’s $354 Right Arm Repair Clamp holds bikes firmly but gently and is compatible with both EVT and Park Tool PRS-series repair stands. Photo by Don Palermini.
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Efficient Velo Tools - Repair Stands

The E-Z Lift repair stand is the kind of apparatus that makes you look forward to overhauling your bike. Photo by Bob Huff.
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Efficient Velo Tools - Right Arm Clamp CU

Replaceable leather jaw pads are a hallmark of EVT’s Right Arm Repair Clamp. Photo by Bob Huff.
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Efficient Velo Tools - Brett Holbrook

Flemming lovingly collects, restores and uses vintage machine tools like this 1964 Holbrook H15 Toolroom Lathe. EVT uses this machine to make the E-Z Lift Work Stand. Photo by Bob Huff.
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Efficient Velo Tools - Vice

EVT beckoned show goers to get their hands on the tools, like the $539 Machinist Vice and the $77 No-Tilt Axle Vice (holding the hub). Photo by Don Palermini.
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Efficient Velo Tools - Brett Talks CU

Flemming’s energy seemed boundless at Interbike earlier this year. Even in a tucked-away corner, his modest booth had no shortage of visitors. Photo by Don Palermini.
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Efficient Velo Tools - Brett with Stands

Flemming inspects the bottom bracket cable routing of a classic Tomassini held overhead by the $1385 E-Z Lift Repair Stand and Right Arm Repair Clamp combo. If you don’t have a floor to bolt the E-Z Lift too, the Steel Base Plate will set you back another $385. Photo by Bob Huff.
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Efficient Velo Tools - Trigger

Flemming says his tools aren’t sexy on purpose but the $462 Trigger Dishing Gauge is a looker. It’s also a fine, precision tool, built for years of service. Photo by Bob Huff.
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Efficient Velo Tools - Hand Trigger

Flemming’s hands literally touch every aspect of his business from design to delivery. Photo by Bob Huff.
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Efficient Velo Tools - Brett Holding Court

Flemming preaches the gospel of tools to onlookers at Interbike earlier this year. His talents are also in high demand from the bike industry, bike shops and the bike riding public. Photo by Don Palermini.
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Efficient Velo Tools - Brett's Hands

Flemming’s well-weathered mitts hold the Knuckle Saver Pedal Wrench Adapter, a tool that lets you use a pedal wrench on hex-only spindles. If you’ve ever broken free such a pedal only to have your hands auger into a chainring, you’ll gladly hand over $31 for this tool. Photo by Bob Huff.
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Efficient Velo Tools - Brett Ultra DTL

EVT strives to build a better mousetrap or, in this case, a better derailleur alignment tool. The Tru-Arc Derailleur Hanger Alignment Tool is worth every letter in its longish name, and every cent of its $585 price. Photo by Bob Huff.
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Efficient Velo Tools - Chillax

Photo by Bob Huff.
About the author: Don Palermini

Chicago-born editorial director Don Palermini became a cycling-based life-form in the sixth grade after completing a family road bike tour of his home state. Three years later he bought his first mountain bike to help mitigate the city's pothole-strewn streets, and began exploring the region's unpaved roads and trails. Those rides sparked a much larger journey which includes all manner of bike racing, commuting, on- and off-road bike advocacy, and a 20-plus-year marketing career in the cycling industry. Now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area and pedaling for Mtbr, his four favorite words in the English language are "breakfast served all day," together in that order.


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  • euclid says:

    Rein/reign? Canon/cannon? Hanger/hangar?

  • George says:

    Looks like good stuff…

    Please fix the link though on the last page…

  • Whitekitten says:

    When I worked as a wrench in a bike shop for a few years, it was always a pleasure to use EVT tools. Amazing how Brett could improve such a simple tool, such as a derailleur hanger alignment tool, so significantly. In the video he describes how his designs are inspired by the ultra badass lathe in his shop – totally makes sense after using his tools. The sense of permanence, superior craftsmanship, and great tactile feel are what separates a decent tool from the best. And it’s all made in his garage in Portland, Oregon. Great work, Brett.

  • Bob says:

    This:

    1. Carry a Spare Derailleur Hanger – Insist your shop carries replacement hangers for the bike you bought and carry one with you, especially on your mountain bike. You will bend or break one eventually and this will save your ride. Also make sure your limit screws are correctly adjusted to keep the derailleur cage out of your spokes.

    If I had followed this advice a few weeks, I would have had a few hundred bucks to spend on other bike bits rather than getting a wheek rebuilt, rear mech, hanger and chain replaced… etc….

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