Maintenance – Home Workshop Intermediate Bike Mechanic's Tool Kit

Home Workshop Bike Tools
In my first Home Workshop blog piece, I wrote about Essential Workbench Tools that every bike mechanic should have; whether you are new to cycling or an experienced home workshop enthusiast.

In this second piece, I look at the next set of tools in the spectrum—those required to perform 'intermediate' level maintenance on your bike; such as fitting new cables, cassettes, chains, and bottom brackets.

These are recommendations for products that I would add to your wish list as you become more confident at servicing your own bicycle.

Workstand – Feedback Sports Sprint Workstand

Feedback Sports Sprint Workstand Review
A workstand is a vital investment as you increase your volume of home bike maintenance; it makes jobs far easier and will save your back from constant stooping. 

I reviewed the Feedback Sports Sprint Workstand in 2013, and it has remained in my workshop to this day. It folds up super small, it is made of lightweight non-rusting aluminium, and I am a great fan of the stable 'spin-on-a-sixpence' design. With an increasing trend to aero seat posts, these kind of axle mounted stands are a safer bet for your frame.

Cable Cutter – Park Tools

Park Tool Cable Cutters
Replacing cables is one of the more simple jobs to approach on a bike. It is made a lot easier by a good set of cable cutters; and this is an area where an investment will pay dividends. The Park Tool Professional Cutters mean you get a cleaner cut on outer cables and a sharper (less likely to fray) cut on inner cables—those two objectives will make a noticeable difference to the performance of your gears and brakes.

Sharpened Spoke – Homemade

Sharpened Spoke
A simple tool, but very useful. If you have got an old (preferably bladed) spoke lying around, file down the end and you have a neat spike that can be used to open out cable ends, lever off bearing seals, and flick flints out of tyres. Cheap, but invaluable.

Cassette Lock-Ring Tool and Chain Whip – Pedro's

Pedro's Chain Vice Whip
In my Essential Tools post I included a chain tool—a vital bit of kit to replace and repair chains when they wear out or break. By a rough estimate though, for every three chains you replace you are also likely to need to replace the cassette. Equally, you might choose to replace it sooner if say you want a wider or narrower range of gears. Here enters the chain whip and cassette tool...

For a long time I used a traditional chain whip to hold the cassette steady as I undid the lock-ring. However, I recently came across the new Pedro's Vice Whip, and it is now one of my favourite tools. Designed by the legendary Leonard Zinn himself, the Vice Whip clamps onto the teeth of the cassette with soft rubber jaws and holds it perfectly steady whilst you undo the lockring.

It is a great design, which is quite similar to a monkey wrench with its adjustable jaws—the whip is adjustable to a wide range of cog sizes (between 11-23), and the tool works well on all of them. No more grazed knuckles or slipping chain whips, just a steady hold every time.

With a cassette chain whip you also need a lock-ring tool. I would recommend one with a pin, as it helps to keep the teeth of the tool evenly engaged and put even pressure on the lock-ring threads. The Pedro's one is very well made and can be used in a 24 mm socket handle or with an adjustable spanner.

Bottom Bracket Tool – LifeLine

LifeLine Bottom Bracket Tool
Bottom brackets take a beating in the winter, and it is not uncommon to need to replace one after a particularly wet season (especially if you do not have full length mudguards to protect the area from front wheel spray). The good news is that with the correct tool they are fairly easy to replace.

A Hollowtech II bottom bracket simply screws in with this tool. It is worth noting though, that if you have one of the more recent road bottom brackets, you will require an adapter as the size is slightly smaller. The Lifeline Performance BB Tool is an inexpensive and well made option.

Press-Fit Bottom Bracket Tool – Lifeline

Lifeline Press-Fit Bottom Bracket Tool
If you have a press-fit bottom bracket like a BB92 or PF30, then you will need a press to fit it properly. Whilst options from brands like Park Tool seem expensive for a piece of threaded bar with two handles and spacers, the Lifeline Press-Fit Bottom Bracket Tool is an affordable press. It is a worthwhile investment to ensure you get a good even fit and do not damage the bearings or frame in the fitting process. 

Spoke Keys – Pedro's or Park Tool

Pedro's Spoke Keys
Whether you are undoing the damage of a winter pothole or building a wheel, a set of good quality spoke keys is vital. Consider the Pedro's keys, or the Park Tool Spoke Key Set

Spanner Set – Draper

Spanner Set Draper
The final tool in this blog post. Nuts and bolts are less frequent on modern bikes, but they are still around on components like mudguards and fixed gear hubs. There are not many things more annoying than finding you do not have the right size of spanner for the job though; so make the investment and get a full set that will cover all the common sizes. I have a Draper Expert Spanner Set.

Happy home wrenching...


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