Tools, bits and tips from the WorldTour pits

by Dave Rome


If you’re looking for unsung heroes of the travelling circus that is the WorldTour, take a walk in the pits. Pro mechanics are up earlier and into bed later than the riders, and their jobs are often without compliment, only complaint in the rare case things do go wrong.

Still, the team mechanics are truly dedicated to their craft – the relentless lifestyle requires that. And many of them could fully strip and rebuild their team bikes with their eyes closed.

The remoteness of the Santos Tour Down Under means the mechanics must work outside of the comfort of the service course and team truck. Instead, their livelihoods are based out of a few small boxes and the skill of their hands. Many of these toolkits are made up of a hodge-podge of favoured tools and slim travel cases. And it’s rare to find the obsessively organised cases found amongst the pro mountain bike mechanics battling for ToolBoxWars.

Join Dave Rome, our own tragic tool nerd, as he looks through the mechanic pits of the TDU seeking a few pro tips, some random bits and a whole bunch of lovely tools.

The mechanic of Peter Sagan, Risto Usin, has a rather sweet setup. With Silca as a team sponsor, there are many tool gaps for Usin to fill as he sees fit. I spy tools from Facom, Wera, Shimano, Knipex, PRO and more.

You wouldn’t have seen this in the WorldTour a few years ago. Brake fluid, syringes, bleed cups – it’s all becoming a common sight in the pits.

Aaron Fairley of Trek-Segafredo was seen setting up many new shoes. These shoe jigs are made-to-order for pro teams, and certainly, they’re not cheap.

Fairley double checks the jig’s readings with a pair of vernier calipers. His hot tip when matching multiple pairs of the same type of shoe: measure from the front of the sole (or tread) to a consistent point inside the cleat, as the outside of the cleat wears.

This UAE-Team Emirites mechanic has a box filled to the brim with Beta tools. A close look reveals a Effetto Mariposa torque wrench.

The tool bag of Mitchelon-Scott mechanic Craig Geater. The hole punch (bottom right) is typically used for mounting race number,s while the spare frame dropouts next to it allow perfect gap setting of the quick release levers on spare wheels.

Mitchelton-Scott mechanic Craig Geater carries a well-loved Abbey Bike Tools hammer in his bag.

New gear calls for new mothods. In this case, it’s SRAM’s soon 12-speed requires a demonstration from one mechanic to another. A close look reveals a chain gap tool, a similar plastic gauge tool is used on SRAM’s Eagle mountain bike groupsets.

This folding Facom tool bag belongs to a mechanic from AG2R-La Mondiale. It’s filled to the brim with random goodies.

Another view reveals that not all mechanics use expensive tools. Visible is a BBB chain whip and a SuperB dead blow mallet. Both consumer-grade items.

Katusha-Alpecin mechanic Roman Kononov has a few things on the go in this photo.. Up front sits thru-axle adaptors for the provided bike racks. While out back sits a Park Tool BX-2 box filled with everything needed to build up a fresh frame.

Muc-Off is a new sponsor to Katusha-Alepecin in 2019.

Deceuninck–Quick-Step use repair stands from Feedback Sports This Sprint repair stand is now always setup with a 12mm thru-axle adaptor in place.

Any guesses as to what tool company sponsors Team CCC? This tool bag of mechanic Luis Gomes is selected for easier transport compared to a hardcase.

Both Deceuninck–Quick-Step and Bora-Hansgrohe mechanics were seen setting up tubeless wheels. We haven’t spotted them being raced just yet.

The tool box beloging to Rune Kristensen of Deceuninck–Quick-Step. The box, and many of the tools housed within, are from Unior.

Unior tools sponsor a number of WorldTour teams, including Deceuninck–Quick-Step. These hex keys are a common sight amognst the WorldTour.

With team sponsorships in place, few mechanics will let you peer inside the hidden sections of their toolboxes.

This Gedore preset torque wrench is made in Germany and costs a good four times more than what shop-grade Park Tool, Pedro’s or CDI tools sell for. Certainly a prized item.

What good is an old-school cable puller tool on a Di2 and hydro brake equipped bike? Well, they’re still handy for tightening zip ties.

Unior screwdrivers, some awls, a sharpie, a disc rotor straightening tool and a handful of Knipex pliers. It’s good to be prepared.

I first saw Rune Kristensen using this Snap-On MicroLithium driver last year, where he was driving thru-axles in and out at the speed of light. Judging by the sounds of the pits, he’s no longer the only one with such a tool.

Nearly all professional mountain bike and cross race mechanics use tube-type work stands. Whereas road race mechanics have always used race repair stands which clamp the bike by the fork or frame dropout – such a stand allows for a smaller footprint and easy spinning of the bike. However, the adoption of discs is proving a little trickier, with mechanics having to adjust front brakes out of the stand.

Start of the season means a few setups aren’t quite dialled yet. This message sits awaiting mechanics of Bora=Hansgrohe to check that the rider’s bikes match.

Kristensen finishes the team bartape with this soft fabric tape, it feels a little like the soft-side of velcro.

A new chain is fitted. It’s universally known that it helps just a little to grimace the second before the rivet gives way.

This tool folder belongs to Astana mechanic Jerome Picart. The team doesn’t have an official tool sponsor and so Picart is free to mix and match all he likes. Unior, Facom, Park Tool, USAG and PRO are just a few brands spotted within. This kit is a good example of how different teams choose to travel. Where some teams bring all the tools to build up frames, others, like Astana, arrive with bikes fully-dialed and so just basic tools are required.

It’s common to find a few sets of digital scales shared amongst the pro mechanics. Usually, they’re making sure bikes don’t drop below the UCI’s 6.8kg weight limit, but at the start of the season, they’re more commonly used just to see what the competitor’s bike weighs. It was a large-sized Cervelo S5 on the end of the scale.

Why pump when you can gun it? This electric air gun was bought from a local hardware store and adapted to fit presta.

Deceuninck–Quick-Step mechanic Rune Kristensen was using this cheap solution for inflating tubeless tyres. It’s a basic air gun, some air hose and a Silca presta head. The only thing it’s missing is a gauge. Most teams have a similar setup at the race, with the event providing the air compressors.

I asked Aaron Fairley the biggest question of the day: what electrical tape does he use for finishing bar tape. Apparently you can’t go wrong with either 3M or Tesa tape.

Here’s an old trick used throughout the pro peleton. Got some long valves that rattle in your rims? Just grab a piece of electrical tape, punch or cut a small hole in it and slip it over the valve and onto the rim. It’s not a permanent fix, but it’s a good one.

Want a clean Di2 or EPS install? Shrink wrap the main wire to the brake housing. It’s what the best do.

What’s one thing every race mechanic does before every stage? They check tyre pressure and the drivetrain battery charge.

A little peak inside the Unior Pro tool kit belonging to Movistar mechanic Fermin Gómez.

Most team mechanics bring with handful of chain keepers for cleaning multiple bikes at a time. Pictured here are quick release and thru-axle keepers from Morgan Blue.

Sunweb mechanic Berteld Dekker travels with a Park Tool BX-2 box. A close look reveals the must-have Park Tool spork and matching bottle opener.

Not to be mistaken for the blue Powerade that sits off to the right.

Dimension Data mechanic Etienne Kooreman has one of, if not the nicest, selections of tools at the Santos Tour Down Under.

A closer look reveals an Abbey Bike Tools hanger alignment gauge, Facom pliers and a Wurth (made by Norbar) torque wrench.

Winner! A CyclingTips x Abbey Bike Tools bottle opener has made it into the WorldTour.

A look into the bottom of his case reveals a bunch of random tools. Including a fork steerer cutting guide, a second torque wrench and a BB30 bearing removal tool (and a mallet to make it work).

This box of small parts fits inside the lower compartment during travel.

Morgan Blue products are a common sight in the WorldTour. Pictured are two grease types. The Aquapaste is for use on parts that don’t move (clamped parts, pressfit bottom brackets, etc), while the Campa grease is for things that do move (bearings).

A quick brake bleed in process. The Shimano system and its clever cup bleeding tool allows mechanics to do super quick bleeds without having to flush the whole system. This is only done to remove a bit of air. Full bleeds are done on new bike assemblies and likely after a few months of racing.

Is there any order to this madness? In many cases, yes, there is. Team leader and protected rider bikes are put toward the outside for easy reach. The wheels are the second-set of spares, with the first set sitting next ot the mechanic in the backseat.

Teams were told to bring their own adaptors to fit disc brake bikes and wheels to the provided racks.

At the Santos Tour Down Under, riders and their bikes are transported to and from each stage in these team mini buses. It’s not the nicest experience for the mechanics.

Glueing tubs is a regular part of the job. One puncture or a flat spot from a locked wheel and the tyre has done its job. Most teams have plenty of spare wheels, so they do the glueing in batches.

As the Santos Tour Down Under is such a mission to travel to, many teams elect to leave bulkier items in Australia and return to them year after year. We suspect that’s just the case with these “well-loved” repair stands.

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