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Bicycle Repair Tools

By Captain Dondo at PerformanceBike

Part 1 - The Home Shop Tools You Need

Spend a little money on home shop tools now and you’ll save oodles down the road (or trail). With the basic tune-up tools outlined here and a bottle of chain lube, you can make sure your machine is at its best every time you ride. Then, add tools and supplies to your collection gradually as it comes time to repair, overhaul, or replace parts. And if you really have an independent streak, check the advanced tools for a look at some of what you’ll need to be a master wrench someday.

Top-of-the-line basic tools (wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, etc.) are made for the rigors of repairing and maintaining machines much less delicate than bicycles. I’ve found home-shop-worthy models at the dollar store. If they don’t last, I replace them with better ones. Save your bux for the bike-specific tools that aren’t made in as many levels of quality.

Click on the tools that are underlined to see what they look like in the Performance Shop. In some cases the exact tool you need may be different, depending on the brand and model of your equipment.

FOR BASIC TUNE-UPS

Floor Pump - Get a good one with a built-in pressure gauge.

Allen Keys - I like a ball-end set (allows working at odd angles) with 1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm, 3 to 6mm, 8mm, and 10mm, plus a long-handled (6 to 7 inches) 8mm for crankarm bolts.

Screwdrivers - Three flat-blade (small, medium, large) and two phillips (small and medium).

Wrenches - One set of metric open-end wrenches (not box/open). The deluxe version includes 6mm to 24mm, but you can get started with 8mm to 19mm.

Park Chain Checker or Steel Ruler - Important for assessing chain wear.

Pliers - Needlenose, regular, and reversible lockring/circlip. All medium.

Cutters - Medium diagonal cutters plus bike-specific cable cutters.

Spoke Wrench - Three-way to fit most size spoke nipples.

Headset Wrenches - 32mm for 1-inch steerers; 36mm for 1 1/8-inch. None, if you have a threadless system.

Pedal Wrench - Save $$$ and buy one mated to a headset wrench.

Crank Bolt Wrench - Usually 14 or 15mm, if you dont have the allen key type bolts.

Chainring Nut Wrench - One size fits all!

Third-Hand Tool - A big help when doing brake work, if you don't have three of your own.

Shop Apron - Often overlooked. Handy pockets. Fewer trashed clothes.

FOR OVERHAULS, REPAIRS, REPLACEMENTS

Chain Rivet Tool - Fancy or simple -- your choice, same results.

Cone Wrenches - 13, 14, 15,16mm. Two of each size.

Cassette Lockring Tool - To fit your brand(s) of cassette(s).

Chain Whip - With headset wrench attached, if you want to economize.

Crank Extractor - Removes crankarms from the bottom bracket axle.

Tire Levers - One pair.

Derailleur Hanger Tool - An absolute must for trail riders.

Bottom Bracket Lockring Tool - For your BB brand.

Sealed Bottom Bracket Tool - Also for your brand.

Adjustable Wrenches - In 6- and 12-inch sizes for truing chainrings, turning cassette removers, and other odd jobs.

Flat File - One 8-inch mill bastard, with handle, should do the trick.

Mallet - Plastic or hard rubber. It just aint a bike shop without a "persuader."

SUPPLIES

Chain Lube - Your favorite dry and wet formulas.

Grease - One tube, lightweight, bike-specific.

Degreaser - One small trigger-spray (non-aerosol) bottle for spot cleaning, and a big bottle for soak jobs and refills. I prefer non-petroleum.

Cable End Caps - Crimp them on to prevent fraying.

Sandpaper - Coupla sheets of medium (100ish) grit.

Handlebar End Caps - Always getting lost, but for safetys sake dont ride without them.

Hair Spray - For retro-Mohawks and sticking grips to mountain bike bars.

3M FasTack - For ornery grips and gluing tubular tires in hurry (remember them?).

Shoe Goo - For saddle gashes.

Thread Locker - Mild, such as blue Loc-Tite.

Small Bucket - To catch/soak small parts. A coffee can works.

BIG Coffee Cup - Hang in there. It always takes a little longer than you think.

ADVANCED TOOLS

Repair Stand - Most people wouldnt put this here. I do because I believe you can improvise a way to prop up your bike for simple maintenance and that its more important to spend money first on the right tools. When you get ready for a stand, dont buy a cheesy one. Decent ones start around $50. The best ones are several times that amount. Meanwhile, hang your bike from an overhead floor joist or screw a couple of 2x4 arms to a bench or exposed wall studs and hang your bike there for now.

Truing Stand - For major truing, repair, and wheelbuilding.

Dishing Tool - For wheelbuilding. Centers rim on hub.

Pipe Cutter - For sizing handlebars.

Hack Saw, Saw Guides, Bench Vise - For sizing steerer tubes on new forks.

OK, now where are you going to put all of this stuff? In the next installment, Captain Dondo discusses three home-shop setup scenarios.

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