Bike Tools Song!

In October, 1993, Warner Brothers released an episode of their children’s animated series Animaniacs which contained a song that I latched onto like sealant in an old tire. I never forgot it and it became a beloved part of my musical inspiration. “Wakko’s America” was a parodied version of the old American minstrel tune “Turkey in the Straw“. In it, Wakko is called upon during a Jeopordy-like gameshow to name all U.S. states and their capitals. He proceeds to do so using this tune and the result is nothing short of amazing. (Some versions of the original song have a few negative racial connotations that I would prefer to avoid and will not discuss in this article).

As many old folk tunes can be, it’s a catchy tune (“ear worm“) that one may hum over and over for days on end, wondering just how it got into their heads and how to get rid of it.

My solution for cranial extraction of said worm was to write my own lyrics. In the fashion of the Animaniacs, I wrote a little ditty about bike tools. It is inspired by my enjoyment and fascination of all the unique and necessary tools that bicycle mechanics need in their day to day work. From the lowly lubrication to the mighty crescent wrench, we all have our go-to tool for a specific job, and this tune (hopefully) pays appropriate homage to all of them.

Writing the Song

The tune is familiar to many listeners. It first came into existence in or around the 1900s (this is debated) and entered into public domain in 2022. It was an obvious choice in terms of familiarity and ease of writing.

It all started with the compilation of a list of known bike tools. I spent a day rummaging through my garage shop and listing every tool that I could find; the more obscure the better.

I edited a public domain version of the music using Final Cut Pro and recorded lyrics using Logic Audio on my Macbook Pro. I am clearly singing outside my range (I’m a baritone, not a tenor!) but it kinda works and the imperfect performance helps with the idea that this entire project follows an “amateur” theme.

When writing the song lyrics, I attempted to group the tools into usage sets (“spoke wrenches with the truing stand”, or “drivetrain tools with derailer alignment” tools, for example). This helped to a certain extent, making it easier to build lyric sets that followed a theme for a verse or two. The rest of the verses were somewhat haphazard in nature, building on rhyme rather then following a theme.

I needed to inject some humor into the song in a few spots to keep it entertaining and to help it to not be overly educational. (After all, you wouldn’t want to FEEL like you are learning something, am I right)? to that end, I pulled the spork off my wall that I had purchased at the Sea Otter Classic Park Tool tent in 2021. This thing is, essentially useless but it carries a certain novelty. It was perfect to break up the lyrics and give a quick laugh.

At least the bottle opener is likely to be used in the shop! (The part number for the opener is “BO-2”. This implies that there was once a “BO-1”? What design was that? I must know!)

The rest of the lyrics pretty much fell into place. Some rhymes happened organically, and there were a few that I agonized over (what rhymes with “caliper”)??

Shooting the Video

The lyrics sat in a Google doc for a year. I liked them but I didn’t want to jump into a shooting project until I had a shop that could support the video appropriately. I suppose I could have asked a local bike shop to allow me to shoot there, but it was going to take a while and I didn’t know anyone who ran a shop in Durango (yet). So I had to wait until my new garage shop was built and ready before I could start shooting the video portion of the project.

The video was shot on a Sony a7S iii with a Sigma 24-70 lens. I shot it mostly using the natural light in my garage, and that was a risky venture. Our garage faces south and receives the day’s sunlight. As the shooting day progressed, and clouds passed or light rains fell outside, each individual shot’s light changed significantly. This made lighting and color grading pretty rough and added time to the editing portion of the project.

I lip-synced the lyrics. I had the music (with lyrics) on my iPhone off camera and played the individual verses over and over in one single video take. I repeated the lip-sync until I got a take I liked, than did it two or three more times just to make sure.

This process gave me WAY more footage than I needed, but “better too much than not enough“, right? I used the best takes from each clip and lined then up in Final Cut Pro to create the masterpiece you see on YouTube today.


Here are the lyrics. This is how they were written, the performance may have changed a word or two when recorded…

So many tools for fixing your bike
Some you’re gonna hate and some you will like.
Look at all the things on your workshop bench
From the lowly lubrication to the mighty crescent wrench.

Here’s your floor pump and compressor,
These will help you with your air,
Use a patch kit and a lever,
Just to get from here to there.

Pedal wrenches mount your pedals,
Socket wrenches make ‘em tight,
You can lose it on your workstand, 
You can find it with your light.

Build all your wheels on your truing stand,
Spoke wrenches work to build ‘em by hand,
And to make sure we’re all on the same page,
You can use your nipple driver or your spoke tension gauge.


If you’re chain is feeling stretchy
And you’re shifting like a fool,
Use a handy chain breaker
Or drop out alignment tool.

Or perhaps you need a towel,
As you’re cleaning off your chain,
You can check out your hydraulics,
and then top ‘em off again,

File down your bar ends,
Use friction paste!
Clamp in your steer tube,
Hacksaw to taste,

Measure up your pressure,
In your front shock and your rear,
You can open up a bottle,
And then have yourself a beer.

Snip your housing with a cutter,
Fix your crashes with your pliers,
Use the channel locks or needle nose,
To pull your cable wires!

Press your headset altogether
Making sure the cups align
Drift on over to your bearing press
And make your pivots fine!

Pull out your chain whip,
Take off your gears,
Or use the pliers,
And calm all your fears,

Verify your bolts,
Are set to proper torque,
You can true up all your rotors,
With your rotor truing fork.

Well Shimano takes an allen key,
And SRAM will use a Torx.
And for some ungodly reason,
I guess Park Tool makes a spork!

Make sure all your screws are tightened,
With screwdrivers big and small.
Trim your zip ties with some cutters,
But these snips will do it all!

Measure it all,
with a caliper or tape,
Use a rubber mallet,
To knock it into place.

Eliminate some headaches,
And you’ll hate your workbench less,
If you buy yourself a bucket
And a brake piston press. 

You can pull it with a torque bar,
You can grease it with a gun.
You can catch it in a magnet bowl,
And have a little fun!

Make your bottom bracket tighter
With a custom tailored wrench.
You can put it in a tool box,
You can hang it on your bench.

There is my rundown,
And I’m sure there’s plenty more.
Try to watch your knuckles,
Pick your tools up off the floor!

Buying all of these gadgets,
Costs a lot to buy or swap,
Or you could just take the easy road,
And call your local shop!

They’re probably better at fixing this stuff anyway!!!

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