I first saw the Stein Mini Cassette Lockring Driver years ago when working in a little bicycle shop in the suburbs of Vancouver. They seemed like a great thing for the bike tourist heading out into the wilderness of Canada or Australia who wanted to make sure they were covered for all eventualities. The basic theory is that if you break a spoke on the rear wheel, taking off the cassette allows for a new spoke to be replaced easily. I see frames that have spoke holders on the chain stays, but if you can't take the cassette off, you can't replace a drive side spoke. So when I was looking at ordering more of the Stein Crank Extractors (which sold really well over the past while) this winter, I thought this might be the time to order some for Velo Orange.
I think these are great for the Boy (and Girl) scouts amongst us who like to be prepared. These are designed to fit on Shimano/Sram cassettes. (Sorry Campy fans, we'll have to see how well these sell and how much interest is in those). Small, light and made in Arizona by J.A Stein, folks with years of experience in making quality tools for bike mechanics, they weigh only an ounce and come in a handy little zip lock bag with the instructions. In terms of space on a bike tour, it's pretty much a non issue. Cassette removal (unless you have a Grand Cru free hub that doesn't need tools to disassemble) is one of those bike jobs that does require specific tools and this is one of those tools, but much much smaller and lighter than most. With it you don't need a big crescent wrench or anything, just hook it to your quick release skewer and spin the cranks forwards. You can reinstall the lockring with the tool by spinning the cranks backwards when you're done. Even if you don't use it on a tour, it's a little piece of mind that you have in the tool roll “just in case”. Hey, even if you don't use it, perhaps you can play the role of super hero and help save someone else's tour.