The second in my maintenance installment of blog posts. In this post I will list a few of the bike tools you will definitely need to get your home workshop started. This will get you own your way to learning how to work on your bike to do basic maintenance and learn how to install some of those new parts you just picked up at the local bike shop or annual bike swap.
You may already have some of the necessary bike tools in your home toolbox, but some bike tools are very specific to your bike, and in some cases, very specific to the type of bike you have; i.e. some bottom bracket tools differ considerably form road to mountain bike, so knowing which one you should get is critical. You can purchase several of your tools directly at a home center (i.e. Home Depot) but specialized tools will require a trip to your local bike shop.
Having these bike tools, however, will never replace the expert a advice and service your local bike shop mechanics provide. If you ever have a doubt about anything you are doing on your bike please stop and take it to a qualified technician. A minor misalignment, or erroneously tightened bold can mean the difference between a great or miserable ride; worse yet, in some cases it may even mean jeopardizing your bike’s integrity and may put your safety at risk.
I strongly recommend that as you begin, and when you purchase components form your shop, you let their mechanics do the installation. In many cases, they’ll let you hang around to watch exactly how they do things. Great shops educate their loyal customers and will always be happy to show you how to perform basic maintenance yourself, their goal is establishing log term relationships, and by helping you help yourself they’ll ensure you keep coming back.
Several shops even hold basic bike maintenance clinics on site and often offer discounts during said clinics on the purchase of tools and components. Check your local bike shop for info. National retailers like REI always have these events on their schedules.
The bike tools and resources I list here will form the foundation for your workshop and will set you on your way, while I mention Park Bike Tools extensively be aware that there lots of other tool manufactures. Park has been the industry leader for some time, and as such have a devoted following. These must have bike tools will pretty much allow you to perform all jobs with the exception a few, including wheel building and headset installation; The bike tools required for these are quite expensive and you’ll be generally better of taking your bike to the shop for them. I do list some in the optional bike tools section in case you have the budget to get them.
Must have bike tools:
A home repair stand: I think this one is critical. You can get away without one, but having a stand to securely hold your bike while you work on it will make a world of difference. Professional stands are pretty expansive, but you can get a quality portable home repair for under $200. If you have a sturdy work bench, or a vertical anchor point, you can even just get a clamp to hold your bike in place.
A floor pump: Changing tubes and adjusting your bike’s tire pressure is quite possibly the number one thing you’ll do. Invest in a quality floor pump that you can use at home and take with you in the trunk of your car to the next ride.
Tire Levers and patch kits: Because changing and fixing tubes will likely be your number one maintenance task.
Cleaning Supplies: As discussed in my previous post, Washing your Bike, you should invest in some bike specific cleaning tools, including a bike specific brush kit and chain cleaner.
Tool Box: A sturdy tool box to keep all your tools in place. Park makes a bike specific box, but any quality box from your home center will do.
Allen wrenches: Pretty much all the bolts on your bike are metric allen bolts. Invest in a solid set of allen wrenches in various sizes. My kit includes everything from 1.5mm to 10mm. You’ll find yourself using the 4, 5, 6 and 8mm wrenches the most. Having a range of wrenches will cover pretty much any bolt you may run into. You can get these at the home center. Park Tool makes several sets.
Screw Drivers: Both Phillips and flat in various sizes. You can get these at the home center. Park Tool makes them as well.
Pliers: Both flat and needle nose in various sizes. You can get these at the home center.
Open ended wrenches: Also metric. Park tool has a set that spans from 6mm to 24mm but you can also get these at your local home center.
Adjustable wrench (spanner): For those times when an open ended wrench just won’t do. Also available at the home center.
Cable Cutters: I highly suggest you purchase a bike specific cutter that can also handle cable housing. Bike cables are very hard and having the right cutter will make a difference. Cable housing is also very hard and can be very difficult to cut cleanly. Having the right tool will ensure your housing cuts are crisp and clean. There are even cable housing specific cutters on the market, generally for steel braided housing that is extra hard to cut with a regular cable cutter.
Chain Tool: You’ll definitely want a quality chain tool. While most chains come with “quick-links” you’ll still need to size a chain accordingly before installing it.
Chain Whip: To tighten and remove cogs from your rear wheel. As you get more and more experienced riding your bike you’ll want to experiment with gear ratios; having the ability to change your cassette will help you do that.
Chainwhell remover: For the same reason you need a chain whip. Having a lock ring tool – Chainwheel remover will help you tighten that cassette back into position.
Pedal Wrench: A lot of pedals can be removed with an 8mm Allen Wrench but there are plenty of pedals on the market that require a pedal wrench. Having one of these is critical.
Bottom Bracket Tools and Crank-removing tools: Helpful if you want to change chainrings, or if you are doing a major clean-up/overhaul on your bike.
Rubber Mallet: A soft rubber mallet is essential to tap some things into place. Never use a hammer!
Multitool: Not necessarily a “shop” tool, but having a quality multitool to carry with you on a ride is essential for trail/road-side maintenance.
Lubes: Having a variety of lubes at the ready is essential for bike maintenance. Purchase some dry and wet lubes and always have a tube of grease handy.
Thread Locker: Loctite is probably the industry standard. A drop of lactate on the threads of a bolt before you tight it will ensure that bolt stays in place.
Optional bike tools:
Wheel truing Stand: Having one of these will allow you to tweak your wheels when they go out of dish. And, having one will tempt you into building your own wheels, great “bike therapy.”
Spoke Wrenches: To help you make minor adjustments when your wheels go out of true.
Headset Wrenches: Most headsets now a days just require an Allen Wrench, but there are a lot of threaded style units that will need specific sized wrenches.
Torque Wrench: Not absolutely necessary, but if manufactures call for specific torque tightening measurements these are perfect.
Nothing beats a good book; especially if it shows you how to accomplish something. In addition to reading the instructions – yes, read them all – that come with your components, I highly recommend you invest in some quality bike repair guides and books. Here’s a few I personally own and love:
Park tool actually makes it easy for a lot of home mechanics by selling several bike tool kits with lots of the bike tools mentioned above bundled in them. Here’s a few of them: