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Because we are not octopi

June 24, 2008

If you ride an old-skool scooter, one thing you can count on is a cable breaking. You can also count on that cable breaking at the most inopportune time. And you are almost certain to be alone at that inopportune time when the cable breaks. That’s why you need a fourth-hand tool.

A what? One of these:

fourth-hand tool

Orin O'Neill photos

Like a third-hand tool, this is something you’ll find in a bicycle mechanic’s tool kit. The difference? The third-hand tool lets you grip a cable more securely than would be the case with your fingers, but you still have to find a way to keep the cable taut while you’re gripping it. The fourth-hand tool takes care of that for you.

The picture below shows how it works. The tool grabs the cable, then allows you to tighten it by squeezing the handles with the little ratchet thing engaged. Once the cable’s tight, you can use the two hands God gave you to easily tighten the pinch bolt (if there is one) or whatever other fastener applies.

Here's how it works

Pretty slick, huh? The tool in the picture is made by Prima, available at Scooterworks for $18 plus S&H. While any well-equipped bicycle shop should have this item, I was met with blank stares when I asked for a fourth-hand tool at a couple of local bike shops. Bike Nashbar had a fourth-hand tool… for 38 bucks, plus S&H. It looked an awful lot like the Prima tool. Favicon

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2 Comments
  1. June 25, 2008 7:40 am

    indeed, Park Tool (bicycle tools) does make a 4th Hand. I wish that Hozan made a 4th hand… My Hozan 3rd hand is great! I’ve actually used it a few times on the clutch cable/pinch bolt when swapping clutch levers. I think I might go for a 4th hand one of these days. While the 3rd hand does the job, it does take a little luck to get things right.

  2. June 25, 2008 8:26 am

    Two tools required in every Vespa’s toolbox: the Vespa-standard three-in-one wrench, and a 4th-hand tool. I love them. Love them love them love them.

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