Tools for cycle maintenance

Tools for cycle maintenance

It's worth investing in good tools to maintain your bike. Over the years you'll build up quite a workshop and be able to tackle almost any job that comes your way. But where do you start? The following article includes a list of essential and 'good to have' tools, plus a few tips for the home mechanic.

Toolbox

You'll need a few tools to look after your bike so a toolbox is a good idea. Cantilever style toolboxes allow your tools to be better organised than the single compartment type with tote tray. Alternatively, the chest style with pull out drawers also offer good tool organisation.
 

Buy the best tools you can afford. Cheaper tools normally prove very frustrating to use. Buy tools as you need them rather than buying all at once.
Vice

A vice is an essential workshop tool. If you do not have the space to have a vice set up as a permanent fixture it is still possible to have a good vice to use. A 100mm vice is plenty big enough for bicycle work. This can be bolted onto an off cut of kitchen work surface about 60 x 30cm.

1. With tin snips cut a piece of sheet steel about 20cm square. Fit it to the underside of the board where you want to mount the vice with small wood screws.

2. Drill holes the correct size (normally 10mm for a 100mm vice) for the vice mounting bolts in the board.

3. Bolt the vice to the board. The bolts will protrude below. Use some off cuts of wood (Hard wood is best) screwed on the underside of the board either sid of the bolts. Attach these with wood screws to the main board.

4. At the corners of the mounting board nearest the table edge fit some reinforcing plates for the G clamps to clamp to. Fit some similar plates to the piece of wood you use between the underside of the table and the clamps.

The board complete with vice can then be clamped to most tables. Don't attempt to do really heavy-duty jobs in the vice - and make sure that the table is reasonably sturdy. The vice will then be easily secure enough for most bicycle jobs but be aware it is not as secure as a vice bolted to a proper bench.  A truing stand fitted to another board in a similar way will enable you enable you to set up a fully equipped workshop when you need it.

Essentials
  • Set of metric Allen keys - good quality absolutely essential, cheap ones round off very easily
  • Small adjustable spanner - top quality such as Bahco essential
  • Small Philips or crosshead screwdriver
  • Small flat bladed screwdriver
  • Large flat bladed screwdriver
  • Cassette lock ring tool
  • Pliers
  • Cable cutters
  • Chain whip - essential to use with cassette lock ring remover
  • Crank extractor - type with integral crank bolt socket is the most economical. One of the best crank extractors is the Park double headed crank puller CCP-2, a separate crank bolt spanner is then required.
  • Crank bolt spanner
  • Pedal spanner - Cyclo make an economically priced one that works fine
  • Cone spanners - Campagnolo cone spanners are the best
  • Chain link extractor - Park CT-5 is excellent, cheaper alternative is the Cyclo Rivoli
  • Tyre levers - VAR make an excellent tyre lever that will help you put very tight tyres back on as well as take them off
  • Side cutters - best for cutting cable outers
  • Spoke key - make sure it fits your spoke nipples
  • Chain cleaner - one like the Barberi makes cleaning the chain almost a pleasure
  • Y spanner with 8, 9 and 10mm heads
  • Track pump
  • Cartridge bottom bracket tool
  • Headset spanner (if you have a traditional style headset)
  • Chain wear checker - Rohloff chain caliber will save its own cost very quickly
  • Copper or rubber mallet
  • Small ball-pein hammer
  • Work stand
Good to Have:
  • Ball ended Allen keys
  • Medium size square file
  • Second cut 3/4in half round file
  • Drills
  • Wheel truing jig
  • Wheel dishing gauge
  • Third hand - will hold the brake shoes in to the rim when adjusting or fitting a new cable
  • Fourth hand - will pull brake and derailleur cables taut during fitting
  • Venier calliper
  • Bench grinder
  • Sutherland's Manual - a great guide to the specs of a huge number of components. Includes spoke length charts, and many other tips but it does cost over £150!
  • Headset press - enables you to fit headset cups to frame
  • Torque wrench and sockets to fit
  • Thread gauges
Set of bottom bracket taps - These are the most useful of the heavy duty tools enabling the bottom bracket threads to be cleaned out after a re-enamel or cleaned out to take a new bottom bracket. Generally you get what you pay for though the Czech Cyclus are very good value at just under £50.
Taps for rear derailleur hanger, mudguard eyes and gear lever bosses - these are cheap at only about £2-3 each from your local engineering supplier.
Bike stand

Bike standWork stand

If you only do occasional repairs you can just lean the bike against a wall or hang it by ropes from rafters in the your garage. However, if you are serious about becoming a 'home mechanic' then you will appreciate a good quality work stand to hold the bike securely and bring it up to a comfortable working height.

There are numerous designs on the market:
  • Some support the bike under the bottom bracket shell and hold it in place with a clamp over the down tube but these won't work with unorthodox framed bikes such as full suspension bikes, folders or Moultons and they are generally more fiddly and less secure to use.
  • Others hold the bike by the front dropouts but these are quite restrictive - for example you cannot adjust the front brake or headset properly.
  • The most versatile and easiest to use are those work stands that have jaws to clamp the one of the bike's tubes or seat pillar.
  • Tip: Point the bike slightly 'downhill' in the work stand will stop the front wheel from turning to one side.

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