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What is in your essential tool kit?

Old 08-13-20, 07:47 AM
  #1  
Deepcherry
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What is in your essential tool kit?

As I am starting out from scratch, I am quickly discovering that my tool kit is wanting.

I have plumbing tools, tools for carpentry, I can correctly strip and rebuild a car engine, I can work on electrical systems, weld, build solid stone masonry.....
...but I can’t strip a bicycle down 100% without damaging it.

What special tools should I have, for example, to strip down a 90s steel mountain bike with the usual Shimano stuff?

I wish to build my own wheels, I wish to strip and swap and clean and fettle, take apart just to see what is in there.....

So please, share your knowledge, photos, homemade rigs (I have no trustworthy frame stand yet), and those few tools that one cannot be a bike mechanic without.

thanks!
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Old 08-13-20, 08:28 AM
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You will get some good feedback on tools to get. I want to emphasize that first and foremost you need a good repair stand. Almost every thing you do on the bike will use the stand and it makes it so much easier. Invest in a good stand, you will be glad you did. I have this stand by Park Tools and it works very well.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PDS5M7H/ref=dp_cerb_3
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Old 08-13-20, 08:44 AM
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+1 for a good quality repair stand. A set of good quality metric Allen keys is a necessity as are good cable cutters. Note the emphasis on "good". Don't buy shoddy tools, they will waste your money and damage your bike.

Beyond the normal tools you already have like screwdrivers, pliers, etc. the specific bike tools will depend on the make and models of your components. Buy what you need as you need it. Pre-made kits will contain a lot of obsolete tools.

Last edited by HillRider; 08-13-20 at 05:10 PM. Reason: correct typo.
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Old 08-13-20, 09:32 AM
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Thanks
I have spend a small fortune on tools over the years, and indeed, quality is foremost. Well said.

We live in off-grid isolation on a mediterranean island, so reliance on good quality goes without saying. Nothing worse than that bloody cheap and ajustable spanner that keeps reappearing and instantly jams up.
My standard workshop tools are up to the job so far!
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Old 08-13-20, 09:50 AM
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cone wrenches, tools specific to your bottom bracket and headset type, good cable cutters. cassette and or freewheel tool specific to what you have.
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Old 08-13-20, 11:09 AM
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I don't have bicycle repair stand yet but plan to build one. So far I made do with suspending bike from a tree branch but the bike swings too much, still better than nothing.
I don't like the idea of just one holding point like that reference above to the Park stand. That's OK for adjusting brakes and routine cleaning but not for serious wrenching, especially on today's CF or aluminum frames. There is CGC video on YT on DIY stand using bike handlebars to cradle the bike top frame tube in ...

Looking around, you get nice ideas like the 'sawhorse' stand, where you remove both bike wheels and attach the front and rear stays by means of quick release skewers to some stable wood base, sawhorse in this case, although that's not very stable setup, can think of much better. Can buy cheap skewers with hollow axles and attach the axles by some clamps to a 2x4 and take it from there.

On another thread here, someone had an idea making a repair turntable from a cracked bike frame (using BB as a swivel point and sawing off the frame tubing at some radial distance. This lends itself to make a stable three point frame attachment and mount the turntable (somehow made 'lockable' in a position) on some stand so you could rotate the bike 360 degrees in both vertical and horizontal position to get the ultimate easy access to every part of it.

Bike specific tools mainly concern the bottom bracket and headset as well as cassette removal sockets as pointed out already, the rest is mostly hex wrenches. Depending on how fancy bikes you have in mind, you may want to use torque wrench but that you likely already have, also I think, those mechanically more minded folks get by with using normal wrenches and their feel for the job at hand.
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Old 08-13-20, 11:31 AM
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Nice advice.

I dream of building my own stand too, the ones I have seen available locally are not to inspiring, they look fine for a wheel/chain service but perhaps not for hanging off your wrench..

I must admit that our bikes are fairly simple for reliability and daily errands, and mostly have Shimano parts.
My next job then is to take photos and references and go to the LBS to see what they have.

I see that a pair of sets of dedicated narrow fixed spanners / wrenches for pedals and axles would be useful too. Would that be the “cone wrenches”?
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Old 08-13-20, 11:36 AM
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no pictures.. sorry..
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Old 08-13-20, 11:37 AM
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I have one drawer in my toolbox for bike tools...
  • Chain tool and cable cutter, flat kit, Orange Seal
  • Shock pump
  • Bottom bracket and cassette and freewheel sockets, and a chain whip, a spanner wrench for old bottom brackets, a crank puller
  • pedal wrench, and cone wrenches (bought as required)
  • About 1/4 of the drawer is taken up by a spoke tensiometer in its box, but that's kind of a needless luxury for my skill level at wheel building. I keep a couple of other things in there like spoke wrenches and a long screwdriver bit that I ground down into a nipple driver
  • I have a few esoteric tools I only bought for one job, like a pin wrench for turning the eccentric bottom bracket in my tandem, or the Campagnolo offset saddle wrench
  • The most recent additions were a headset remover and a headset press - both simple and cheap versions
  • But I've also got a few "normal" tools that I save for only bikes so I don't lose them, especially a 4-5-6 triangle Allen wrench, an 8mm Allen socket for most modern cheap crank bolts, a crescent wrench.
  • I keep most parts in a separate box. In the tool drawer there are only a few small common parts like cable ends and stem spacers.
All of these were accumulated as required, I did not set out to build a comprehensive collection of bike tools as though I were a shop.

I pull out mechanic tools like the torque wrench as needed

I'm going to need to get a Race Face BB socket next, probably. I hear that the wrench version has problems with the flared out chain stays on Boost bikes
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Old 08-13-20, 11:52 AM
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I don't think anybody mentioned a truing stand yet. It doesn't need to be fancy -- I think I got mine on sale for $40 or so.

And the tensiometer Darth mentioned isn't necessary, but it certainly is useful. It's one of those things that substitutes for years of experience to build a wheel as good as, or better than, an old mechanic.
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Old 08-13-20, 01:27 PM
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On the bike essential will replace a punctured inner tube..

On the bike for an international bike tour has more tools on board..
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Old 08-13-20, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Deepcherry View Post
Would that be the “cone wrenches”?
https://www.parktool.com/category/hub-axle
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Old 08-13-20, 07:38 PM
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I'm like you. I can do quite a few different things except I cant do masonry, but I have hobby machinist on my list . Anyway I didn't have a small torque wrench or small metric allen sockets and I was going to be doing quite a bit of work to my bike so I bought one of these on a whim.
https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B08...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I usually dont like buying "kits" as they are always lacking in some respect. I'm really enjoying this kit though, most of the time I don't need anything else.
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Old 08-13-20, 08:39 PM
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Like cone wrenches, there are some inexpensive and affordable bike tools for which there is no substitute or makeshift tool that won't drive you daffy.

For bikes with threaded bottom brackets (most older bikes and some contemporary models), a good forged lock ring spanner with properly squared business ends to avoid slipping. The Holy Grail is the Hozan Rock Ring, cycling's finest example of Japangrish manufacturing. When my LBS offered to sell me one of theirs I pounced and happily paid the $20. But the later, unfortunately spelling-corrected Hozan Lock Ring wrenches, are just as good. You just won't giggle internally like a first grader while using it. Not that I still do that. Okay, I'm doing it now just thinking about it.

For freewheels -- still surprisingly common even on some newer bikes -- at least two sockets for the most common versions: one for Shimano and a few others (splined, a better design); one for Suntour four-prong, the most common later Suntour freewheels. Eventually you might need the older Suntour two-prong socket. None of 'em cost much and, like skinny cone wrenches, there are no substitutes or makeshift tools.
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Old 08-15-20, 04:53 PM
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Thank you all for your comprehensive answers, demonstrating the perfection of the bicycle by allowing maintenance with the simplest of tools.
Some I have, some I require. Good for me, I love a bit of tool shopping.
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Old 08-16-20, 10:04 PM
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It depends a lot on the types of bikes you'll be working on. 90's mountain bikes were changing quite a lot. you may have some with threadless headsets, but most cranks from that period were square taper style. I made a video about a month ago on this very subject. I've always been the type of person who gets the tools for the job as opposed to buying a complete tool kit, but it really comes down to budget and personal preference.

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