Bicycle Mechanics - Park Tool kit vs. piecemeal
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02-07-09, 10:28 PM
When you started to invest in bike tools, did you throw down 289.00 for the AK-17 kit, or did you buy piecemeal? I worked with a guy for a short time with the whole kit, never got the chance to use every tool in it. But it was fairly nice.
Now that I have to work on my own, I am trying to figure out: Is it more cost effective to buy each piece as I need them, rather than the whole kit? Don't they jack up the price for each piece? I haven't had time to crunch the numbers.
In the kit, you pay for some stuff like the chain cleaner which will probably break, and some other stupid stuff like screwdrivers. I do like the brake wrenches, but you could probably tape an 8 MM and a 10 MM Sears together and there you go. I do want the tri- hex wrenches, though. Much faster than my Autozone sets.
A friend of mine has a nice set, he used to be a bike mechanic. He's very anal, which is the only way to be with bikes. He has about 6 personal bikes in his basement.
I noticed his set didn not contain 389 pieces in a huge box, it appeared that he had the most commonly used tools.
I do a lot of retro classic bikes now, steer clear of post 1990 shimano index and the stuff I need to go to bike-college for... Reading the Park Tools website gives me a headache. Right now, I can handle pretty much everything except wheel builds.
Thoughts? reccomendations? I'm targeting the major stuff right now, it just kills me that a bottom bracket tool that looks like a piece of stamped steel costs 20.00. This guy has campy cone wrenches, I mean how cool is that? Ebay has not produced anything amazingly noteworthy.
He's helped me out a lot, my speed has increased tenfold with better tool organization. I don't have a tool-board, because I work in my apartment. We built a stand out of steel pipe, and it rocks!! I like it better than a Park stand. He taught me how to true wheels, and other stuff.
I just feel guilty hitting this guy up for info all the time, he has a kid and works 60 hour weeks, so I hit his garage for an hour once in a while, and try to bring him bike stuff for his kid.
It's great, though to have a mentor who can pass it on. The sad thing is he got divorced recently so he has no time to ride all his beautiful bikes that he built. Like most folks now, he's probably struggling to make ends meet.
So any vet advice much apprec. Trying to pique the brain of a full-time bike shop mechanic helps too but it's not easy. They get burned out.
I've read all the Sheldon Brown stuff and watched videos...
Things are going fairly well, though, sold a beautiful 21" Univega today to a nice middle aged woman who actually knows how to shift a friction shifter. This was a needle in a haystack. The bike ran great.
You know what the best thing is? These "bike boom bikes" are now getting back into a second bike boom.
After being forgotten, they are getting a second chance... This Univega was given to me by this mechanic guy, who was going to eventually put his kid on it, but he'd have to wait 5 years for him to grow and the bike was in the way. I'm sure you've all been through that scenario.
02-07-09, 11:08 PM
I got the AK-37 equivelant 7-8 years ago and yet to use some pieces plus I had to get additional pieces for specific needs. If I had to do it again I would buy piece by piece as I need them. Also, some of the tools in the Kit are the lower tier models. Like the BBT-9 in the AK-37 cannot be used with a torque wrench and the better choice is the BBT-19.
02-07-09, 11:16 PM
While the kits look like a semi-bargain on the face of it, the savings will likely be swallowed up by buying tools you may never need. And still leave discernible gaps in your tool-collection. I suggest the following:
Look at your bicycle(s). Examine each component. Now figure out what you will need to service and make a list as you go. Now go look up the tools that will do these jobs. Check the cost of each. Now start looking for bargains - sales, eBay, so forth. When you find a true bargain for a tool you know will be needed - write down the prices. This could be done as a dry run the first time. Now take a look at the tool-set from Park you were thinking of. How much did it cost? Would the tools you absolutely need be included? Next - look at your list: What was the current total cost after you hunted down the eBay's and the sales, and so forth? Is the Park Tool set a real bargain?
Another thing about buying a set from Park is the fact you are buying their name. What would a good set of hex-wrenches cost from Park? What would they cost elsewhere without the illustrious 'Park' name tattooed on them? Often times I've found the Park Tool version of a tool to be inferior to another brand, and costing more.
I think you'll find most of the mechanics (myself included) here advising that careful shopping and research on your part will result in a better tool set than what Park is offering. And likely for less initial capital outlay. What you might do is ask people here where they buy their tools from. I'll start by sending you here:
Good luck. I hope you turn semi-pro (at least) and make your money back.
02-08-09, 12:03 AM
If you're only working on your own bikes, I'd just buy as needed.
02-08-09, 01:20 AM
I'm with Panthers007 here. Although if you have no tools the cheap Cyclepro box is an ok start.
I pieced together my set, but i had access to shop prices and catalogs to compare stuff.
I bought my allen keys, 4-way and multi-micro screwdrivers at Sears, have SK open end/box wrenches, and two Snap-on adjustables. Other stuff is mostly Park. Notable exceptions are the Minoura truing stand/dish tool, Topeak workstand and a few odds and ends from Pedro's etc. I chose stuff to be the best product for the job made. Park while a little pricey has the best customer service and will always have my first look.
My portable kit is here:
and this all fits into a Park BK-1 with ease.
With this setup i can overhaul most bikes made in the last 10 years no problem.
02-08-09, 09:05 AM
How 'bout a "shops pics" thread?
02-08-09, 09:45 AM
as for myself i buy them as needed and after 30 years of service I can repair almost anything out there . I prefer Park & Craftsman tools to work with.
02-08-09, 09:55 AM
If you're only working on your own bikes, I'd just buy as needed.
I'm frequently surprised at how far a couple of allen wrenches will take you.
02-08-09, 12:31 PM
How 'bout a "shops pics" thread?
Is that a hookah in the corner behind the bench?:innocent:
02-08-09, 12:38 PM
Always chronically poor, I started out with a Nashbar tool set that was mostly trash but worked OK for a while. Replaced broken or worn bits as needed and bought other tools as needed.
I think the only things I still have from my original set are the spring "third hand" brake compressor and the spoke wrench, which is one of those circular jobs that appears to be quite unbreakable.
I'm with the other posters. Since you are working on older bikes, most kits will give you a bunch of stuff -- like BB tools for BBs that didn't exist when the bikes you are working on were built. My approach was to start with allen wrenches, a good adjustable wrench and some needle nose pliers and build from there as needed. Since you have older bikes, probably a couple of good headset wrenches for threaded headsets will come in handy and pin spanners to adjust cup and cone BB. If you are working with freewheels, you won't need a chain whip but the tool you'll need to remove freewheels will vary from bike to bike, so best to buy those as needed. Besides avoiding owning a bunch of tools you don't use, the other advantage is that lets you spread cost over time. Oh, and hawaiiwrench's picture shows a combination wrench set. If you are working on old bikes, many don't use hex bolts for brakes, pinch bolts, etc, but more standard nuts and bolts. I managed to chew up a few nuts on my 80s Schwinn Paramount with pliers before breaking down and buying a combo wrench set, very useful.
02-08-09, 02:12 PM
A "good" headset-wrench is mighty expensive. And I've found that a 12" adjustable (top-quality and very tight) wrench works just fine on older, threaded headsets. Never had any trouble. And the 12" adjustable has many other applications as well - like removing freewheels. Or fixing the leaky plumbing in the kitchen-sink.
02-09-09, 09:27 AM
As I posted, it would take me hours to crunch the numbers to figure out the value comparison, and I already have a lot of basic stuff, just regular garage tools, enough to do most older bikes. I used my ancient "cool tool" to break chains, but it broke, so I finally plopped down 16.00 for the Park CT-5, oh man it works great. So that was cool.
It was funny, when we recieved the Park kit, there was no item description included in the box, and some tools I pulled out and went "what the hell is this thing for?". So then you have to log into their website and read all the itty bitty print for three hours to discover the tool is geared for a 2001 Mountain bike. Yes, my impression was, "Am I ever gonna use this thing?" Maybe it's some evil marketing ploy to get you to buy more stuff piecemeal.
The tool pics were great, thanks. I've lost my fear of adjustable (crescent) wrenches, when I was a kid I stripped a lot of non-bike stuff with them, but they work pretty well on bikes. I've noticed they are also a bit quicker than box wrenches to apply and remove to nuts, as you can loosen them to get them off.
I need a good quality smaller one for little stuff. Yes, a good quality crescent is a must, big difference.
At least I've stopped cranking away with vise-grips (cringe) Craftsman makes a great pair.
great idea on the Herman Munster 12" crescent for headsets, maybe I can find one on CL or at a yard sale. I have a bike- buddy who has one, he's a french bike enthusiast, he waved one at me the other night, I almost ran out the door.
On some headsets, I've been gently applying channel locks covered with a rag so as not to scratch the chrome but this doesn't always work. I've gotten away with these on some BB rings also.
yes, the pin spanners!!! ugh. some BB's like Raleigh stuff I've been able to tap out with a hammer and screwdriver. I've read that a 16 penny nail works on pins for a touring road fix... I have a peugeot PX 501
in pieces that has pins.
The coolest thing about riding road is you find tools in the road. Especially in the summer when all the gardeneing trucks are bouncing around here.
This weeks' score, a whole roll of red electrical tape, three almost new shop towels, and a Leatherman!
My new towel cleaning method: save those large quart sized won-ton soup containers. toss some detergent/water/Simple Green in there. Put in ONE towel per container. Add two golf balls. Shake. Let 'em soak, stack the containers.
I don't like putting them in the washing machine, I think it leaves an odor/residue.
02-09-09, 09:49 AM
How 'bout a "shops pics" thread?
It's been done, but it's been a while. It's been a while since my shop has been this neat and clean, too.
I went piecemeal since the beginning. It's been about 10 years now so my kit is getting pretty complete. I recommend, like others, determining what you need to work on your bike and go from there. Kits can be restrictive and you end up with a bunch of stuff you don't really need.
I still go piecemeal nowadays, since I work on bike for others and sometime need a specific tool. Like, for instance, now, I'm working on 90's Marinoni full Campi and need some tools for the adjustable BB. Never had those since all my bikes came with some sort of cartridge BB.
Biggest investment I did was to buy a TS-2. Seems expensive, but it pays so have such a good tool in the long run. Also, most of my bike specific tools are Park. Would like to try Pedros though.
02-09-09, 01:10 PM
The tool pics were great, thanks. I've lost my fear of adjustable (crescent) wrenches,...
....Yes, a good quality crescent is a must, big difference.....
....At least I've stopped cranking away with vise-grips (cringe) Craftsman makes a great pair...
Now you're scaring me... :)
Seriously the proper tool for the proper job is always the cheapest way.
Do not use your adjustable wrench if you have the proper box/open end or socket for the job.
A true headset cone wrench is pretty useful and cheap actually.
I have one of these for threaded headsets, i think they are about $15:
and use the adjustable for the lock nut. I also use the adjustable for the various bike tools that won't fit on a ratchet/breaker bar.
Park pin spanner is about $6...
Surely you can scrounge up a Jackson and a few quarters...
02-09-09, 04:15 PM
I've used my green Park pin-spanner for over 25 years. And for many applications beyond bicycles. One of the best and cheapest investments I've made.
02-09-09, 05:15 PM
i guess i'm on the other side of the fence as most other people in this thread. i bought the AK-37 equivalent 3-4 years ago and the only thing i HAVEN'T used is the patch kit.
my kit did not come with screwdrivers, which i agree is a little silly, but it also did not come with an external BB wrench, which i am off to buy literally tomorrow because i picked up an FSA crankset at a swap meet this weekend. it did, however, come with 2 headset wrenches, like pictured above, that have come in handy many-a-time (provided you deal with threaded headsets, of course).
i agree with the advice of look at your bike(s) and look at the tools in the kit and see if they match up, but i would totally buy the kit again. the only bike tool i've bought since i bought the kit (until tomorrow anyway) is a tiny crank extractor adapter for ISIS/octalink, my kit may have even come with one and i just lost it.
anyway, my kit has served me well time and time again. while buying piece by piece, as needed, may give you a more tailored kit, i've spent many an evening in front of the tv or radio playing with my bikes, and as i sit here, waiting until the LBS opens tomorrow morning, i can't help but enjoy the fact that great majority of the repairs, cleanings, tinkerings, etc i have been able to do without having to find out i need another tool and running out (or sitting and waiting) to get one. they were all already there, sitting in the box.
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