Visiting Cycling’s Largest Tool Company | Park Tool


Earlier this month I spent about a week in
British Columbia producing a short film. On my way home, I stopped in Minnesota to
visit my friends and colleagues at Park Tool Company. I use the word colleagues because Calvin,
Truman, and Scott run Park Tool’s YouTube channel, making them fellow creators. While there, we did a sit down interview,
a video where I tried to guess the purpose of several vintage bike tools, and a video
where Calvin graded my performance on diagnosing problems with mountain bikes. You can see all this on Park’s channel. Back at headquarters, I had some plans of
my own. Scenes like these do very little to justify
the existence of Park’s YouTube department. And in front of a hard working assembly line
on a Thursday, I felt just a little guilty having that much fun. But Calvin, Truman, and Scott are working
on the biggest catalog of bike repair tutorials on the planet, and that’s no exaggeration. As a tool company, these videos strengthen
Park’s status as an authority. They also provide screen time for Park’s
many products. In exchange, viewers get valuable information
and entertainment—even if it can be a little cheesy at times. These videos are so widely viewed that I got
text messages from two separate bike mechanics who saw I had met Calvin and Truman. In visiting the biggest and oldest bike tool
company in the world, I hoped to see lots of weird nerdy stuff, and that’s what the
rest of this video is about. We’ll start with Park Tool’s pimped out
event trailer, which they take to tradeshows and races. All the tools on the wall are bolted down
for display purposes, but there’s a duplicate of every one in the drawers. This allows park to securely show off their
product, while still using this as a functional shop. As you can see the rear and side of this trailer
open for additional floorspace. Let’s take a look at something a little
less modern. This is a very vintage bike repair stand,
in fact nobody ever sold these, you would need to make one. That old thing gave way to the first commercially
available bike repair stand, built by Hazel Park Cycle, which went on to be named The
Park Tool Company. Eric was happy to show me how repair stands
have changed. This electric work stand seems like a great
way to get shops to spend more money. But actually it was a response to lifting
restrictions in parts of Europe. This electric stand not only helps shops stay
in compliance, but it also allows for height adjustment at the push of a button. Eric showed me where the engineers work, where
prototyping takes place, and where products like that electric stand are manufactured. He also showed me Park’s enormous Schwinn
collection. Calvin even gave me a tour of his personal
toolbox that he uses for race support. But during my tour of Park Tool, my eyes were
peeled for anything weird and nerdy. And before long I had found the holy grail. I’ve dabbled in unicycling, but never on
something quite this big. Attempting to tackle the Giraffe, was pretty
freaking scary. I asked Scott, Park’s videographer if he
had ever ridden a unicycle before, and he said “yeah, I used to race them”. After that, there was no way we were going
to let him walk away from the Giraffe. I’d love to try a unicycle that tall again
someday, but at that the moment I wondered who would own a unicycle that tall anyway. It took a little goading, but Eric finally
agreed to come out of retirement and give her a go. All that excitement got us all pretty hungry,
so it was time for a lunch break. In the past, Park Tool has made quite a few
lunch related items, including a pizza cutter, a spork, and various bottle openers. But before my visit, they had begun development
on a new tool to assist bike mechanics during lunch. To get a working prototype made before my
arrival took a lot of R&D and a lot of coffee. But Park Tool delivered. Introducing the TH-1 Taco Holder, which fits
in a standard peg board, or a Park brand repair stand. Like any well engineered tool, Park designed
the TH-1 to work with multiple standards, both hard and soft. This of course meant speccing it to shells
because as everyone knows, flour tortillas will fit into anything U shaped. Bigoted taco elitists may scoff at hard shells,
but we’re talking about carbohydrates with cheese here folks. A hungry bike mechanic just wants their taco
to stay in place, and the TH-1 gets the job done right. During my visit to Park Tool we attempted
to ride some trails in the Twin Cities, but got rained out. Luckily that didn’t affect our weekend plans
in Duluth, where as I mentioned we did a video diagnosing bikes at Spirit mountain. After that I stuck around Duluth for a day
to check out the riding there. To say the least, I was surprised. More on that next time. Whether or not you use park’s tools personally,
they’re usually first to market with all the things shops need to perform their repairs. Park’s videos are free for anyone to benefit
from, so watch their channel if you’re interested in working on your own bike, and for our upcoming
collaboration videos. Thank you Park Tool Company for having me,
and thanks for riding with me today, I’ll see you next time.