Photo: Brad Kaminski/ VeloNews
It doesn't take much in the way of know-how or tools to keep your bike working well.
But the ability to adjust a brake, tighten a shifter cable, or change a cogset could mean the difference between having your bike out of commission for a week, or being back on the road in just a few minutes.
To help you on your way, here's our list of essential bike tools for your home shop.
Virtually every bolt on your bike requires a 3, 4 or 5mm Allen wrench. Easily the most reached-for wrench in any bike shop or mechanic's tool kit, a good set of Allen keys is essential in your tool kit for home or travel.
• Park Tools' AWS-1 three-way Allen wrench costs $9.
The current age of carbon fiber and lightweight fasteners means that you have to pair your Allen wrench set with a good torque wrench. Carbon parts can crush and titanium bolts can strip if you overtighten them, so err on the safe side by tightening bolts only to spec, and no more.
• The Park Tools TW-5 ($109) and TW-6 ($125) "click type" torque wrenches are easy to use, and are sized appropriately for every application. Just twist the handle to adjust the desired torque, then tighten until the tool clicks.
Changing shifter cables and housing is the quickest way to improve shifting performance, especially if they are gummed up after rain rides or a long season of road grime. Without good cable cutters, you'll never get clean cuts on cables or housing.
• There are plenty of good cable cutters, but pros know that a Felco C7 wire cutter ($70) gets the job done and lasts a lifetime.
A good pair of needlenose pliers is possibly the second-most reached for tool in a pro kit, essential for tensioning shifter or brake cables.
With the prevalence of pre-built wheelsets, truing wheels is somewhat of a dying art. But if you plan to keep your wheels rolling for a long time, touching up spoke tension is part of the job.
• Check out Park Tools' new master mechanic spoke wrenches ($23).
A good chain tool can mean the difference between a useable new chain and a mangled link.
• Pedro's is introducing a clever new chain tool called the Evolver ($100, est.). It's 9-, 10- and 11-speed capable, by means of a rotating drum to position and hold the chain links in place. Each position on the drum fits a different chain size; the fourth position acts as an anvil to perform the final rivet flare on a Campy 11-speed chain.
Chain Whip/Cog Removal Tool
Right next to a good chain tool, the requisite tools for changing cogsets can make your life easier. You'll need a chain whip to secure the cogset, like Pedro's $80 Vice Whip (pictured left, top), and the appropriate cassette lockring tool (Campy and Shimano tools are different).
•The Park FRW-1 cog removal tool ($47) is our favorite. You'll also need the FR-5G cog lockring tool ($7) (or BBT-5 for Campy), and pair it with a Pedro's Vise Whip to secure the cogs while you crank the lockring off. An added bonus: the Park FRW-1 makes quick work of Shimano Centerlock disc brake rotor installation.
Every now and then a hammer or mallet is required to gently tap a pivot, bearing or other part into place. If you have to use one, use it with care.
• At one time, the only combination metal/plastic mallet hammer available was a $75 model from SnapOn. Take advantage of the HMR-2 shop hammer ($12) from Park Tools—every bit as functional but only a fraction of the price.
You won't get far without air in your tires!
• The Lezyne Alloy Floor Drive ($70) has a classic look and functional, all-metal construction, with a reversible alloy air chuck to fit Presta and Schrader valves.
A complete set of screwdrivers will always get used, but keep a #2 Phillips handy for derailleur limit screws.
Washing your bike is easy with a good set of brushes, a sponge, and a bucket of warm soapy water.
• You can assemble your own brush kit, or check out the Easy-Pro brush set from Finish
Line ($17). It includes five different brushes to help keep your bike clean.
A good bike repair stand makes everything easier, from changing tires to washing the bike.
• The Pro-Ultralight ($200) from Feedback sports is the lightest, most portable work
stand we've found, used by pro mechanics everywhere.