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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 11-12-10, 09:44 PM   #1
SouthFLpix
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Tools.......buy as you need, or get a 'kit'?

So here is my dilemma. Since going completely 'car free' a few months ago, it has become pretty obvious that I will now have to do all my own maintenance and repairs as well. It's not just that the bike shop is costlier, it is also much slower to the point where it's really not feasible for me to use them. Do you believe that I should buy tools only as I need them?; Or would it perhaps be better for me to spring for a 'tool kit' right from the start?

The way I see it, the 'kit' would probably be cheaper in the long run, but would require a greater up front investment. Another downside to buying a complete kit is that I would duplicate some of the (few) tools that I already have, and I might also get some tools that I never (or very rarely) end up using.

I would appreciate any advice based on your experiences.
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Old 11-12-10, 10:01 PM   #2
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Unless you have a fleet of bikes, stick to buying tools if and when you need them. Tool kits will always contain tools you don't need. For example, most tool kits include tools to fit various bottom brackets and cassettes, but your bike only has one of each.

That's only one example, but highlights the problem with kits. take it slow and buy any tools only when your actually getting ready to use them.

Another reason to pass on kits is because no one manufacturer makes the best version of every tool. Passing on a kit allows you to pick and choose, getting the best tools as you assemble your tool kit.
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Old 11-12-10, 10:05 PM   #3
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Buy as needed kits are ok but you most likely will never use some of them.
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Old 11-12-10, 10:13 PM   #4
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Thank you both. I was leaning towards 'buy as you need', and that is what I will do.
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Old 11-12-10, 10:32 PM   #5
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It really depends on how many tools you need. If you're starting from scratch a kit may make economic sense even though there will invariably be some tools you'll never use. You can often find kits at substantial discounts.
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Old 11-13-10, 12:05 AM   #6
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Going car free is really cool.
Riding my bike to work saved me $600 per year for a bus pass
And biking saved me a ton of other car expenses.

That meant I could spend money on my bike and not be cheap.
If I wanted $50 tires, I bought $50 tires...
I bought my tools one by one as I needed them.

I've got a car again, and I miss the freedom and anti-establishment vibe of being car free.
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Old 11-13-10, 12:43 AM   #7
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It really depends on how many tools you need. If you're starting from scratch a kit may make economic sense even though there will invariably be some tools you'll never use. You can often find kits at substantial discounts.
It really depends on how much you plan on working on bikes--it could turn out to be an ongoing obsession, as with many here on BF. I originally went w/ the common advice here to "buy-as-you-go," but I have to say, after many years now, I have a decent set of tools, but I've also got some crap economy-level tools, and I realized I've probably spent more on my tools than if I had bought, for example, the $220 (or thereabouts) Parktool kit. One thing that's kind of a hassle if you "buy as you go," is you end up being in that position where you start to take something apart and you realize you need a specific tool you don't have, and you either (a) have to exercise really annoying patience to order the tool online (at cheapest price, which happens to be across the country), or (b) over-spending on the tool in a compulsive, impulsive purchase at the LBS (where the markup on the tool is 100% or more). The thing about a tool kit that really counts for something is, once you've got it, you don't stress out too much about trying new repairs or maintenance tasks and not having the right tool for the job. And as mentioned above, when you buy the kits, you can get a good discount on everything together. One recommendation I have, however, is to also consider purchasing "repair accessories:" A magnetic parts tray, nitrile gloves, a shop apron, and--my latest happy purchase--a tool BAG. I got a cheapo bag from Home Depot, and I find it far easier to carry around and use than a tool BOX.
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Old 11-13-10, 06:46 AM   #8
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SouthFLpix, For general home maintenance the only bicycle specific tools you'll need are:
-spoke wrench
-chain tool
-cable/cable housing cutter
-tire tools
-floor pump
Non bicycle specific tools:
-metric allen wrench set
-metric wrench set
-pliers
-phillips head screwdrivers (small, medium)

Later on you can add a chain whip, freewheel/freehub tool, and a crank puller.. Beyond that the LBS is your friend for projects that require anything special tools.

Brad

PS A bike maintenance stand is nice, but I started with this little unit when I first started and it's just fine for simple jobs.


Last edited by bradtx; 11-13-10 at 06:50 AM. Reason: ps
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Old 11-13-10, 08:22 AM   #9
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Tool kits are a waste of money, some of the tools are tools you probably already have around the house, others you may never use, and most kits use inferior tools then what you can get individually. All my tools for the bicycles (and cars) have been purchased over the last 35 years as need arose. Also try to buy the highest quality you can afford. And by buying individual tools your not having a large initial out of pocket expense, thus you can spread the cost out for longer time.
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Old 11-13-10, 11:28 AM   #10
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I agree with the buy as you need crowd. for 'common' tools Craftsman screwdrivers, combination and ratchet wrenches and pliers are the best. get you bike spefic tools as you need them. if you need a new BB when you order it buy the tool for it.

don't get hung up on 'multi' tools. they are for emergency repair and not for regular use at home as bench tools.
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Old 11-13-10, 11:32 AM   #11
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I've been buying as I go for all of my adult life and it's worked out well. I've decided I want a full set both at home and at my shop, so I'm shopping tool kits at the moment.

As you go Pros:
-Small expenses spread out over time.
-Get only the tools you need, not a bunch you might never use.
-Get the exact version of the tool you need/want.

Kit Pros:
-Less likelihood of having to go 'round town looking for the tool you want, or wanting tool on a Sunday when all the bike shops are closed, or having to wait a few days for a mail order tool to get to you.
-If a set has most of the tools you know you'll need you could save money.
-Some come in a handy case.

Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 11-13-10 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 11-13-10, 03:27 PM   #12
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And with some creative thinking and some general tools, bike tools can be avoided almost completely (depends how much you care for a bike, but otherwise taking out freewheels with a hammer and a screwdriver is possible). Many proprietary tools can be manufactured or replaced (in bikes or in auto repairs, where there are thousands of types of pullers of joints but a universal hydraulic press resolves everything)

But a freewheel tool, or cassette tool (with splines) is useful, a crank puller is useful also, but a prong tool for some freewheels is almost useless (if used anyway rarely) - a hammer and a punch does the job, A pedal wrench I find them useless, is just a regular 14-15mm wrench (yes there are regular ones that are slimmer.. 3-4mm thick, and a grinder nearby I can always find), also strange tools for chain wear (a ruler is more than enough for once in a while job), etc.
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Old 11-13-10, 05:07 PM   #13
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I buy as I go since I have some of the tools already. If you don't have any tools yet then the way to go may be to start with a kit.
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Old 11-14-10, 07:22 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
SouthFLpix, For general home maintenance the only bicycle specific tools you'll need are:
-spoke wrench
-chain tool
-cable/cable housing cutter
-tire tools
-floor pump
Non bicycle specific tools:
-metric allen wrench set
-metric wrench set
-pliers
-phillips head screwdrivers (small, medium)

Later on you can add a chain whip, freewheel/freehub tool, and a crank puller.. Beyond that the LBS is your friend for projects that require anything special tools.

Brad
I have everything listed except for the 'cassette locking nut' and a chain whip, but I just ordered those today. I felt the need to add them because broken spokes almost always happen in the rear tire where the cassette is often in the way. As far as a bike stand, I think I'm going to try to tough it out without one, or build up something cheaply if I really start to feel like I need it.

Another issue that may come up...........I've been truing my wheels using the bike and the brake pads as guides, and that has been working fine so far. However, when I get my disk brake touring bike later this year, it seems that I may have to spring for a truing stand? Or is it possible to true the wheels while on the bike by rigging up some sort of guide (on a disk brake bike)?

Edit: One more question. Do you recommend the 'Park Tool Blue Book' for becoming more familiar with bike repairs, or can the info be found by doing research online?

Last edited by SouthFLpix; 11-14-10 at 07:26 PM.
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Old 11-14-10, 07:25 PM   #15
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is it possible to true the wheels while on the bike by rigging up some sort of guide (on a disk brake bike)?
yea a zip tie
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Old 11-14-10, 07:30 PM   #16
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yea a zip tie
Good idea.
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Old 11-14-10, 07:31 PM   #17
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If you're car free, the firs thing you need is a backup bike. Something relatively cheap off CL should do.

Then... buy tools as you need.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 11-14-10, 07:34 PM   #18
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Edit: One more question. Do you recommend the 'Park Tool Blue Book' for becoming more familiar with bike repairs, or can the info be found by doing research online?

blu-tack a spoke to the fork.

Most of the info you need to fix a bike can be found at Sheldon Brown's site .. completely free of charge.

In fact park tool's themselves has a website detailing how to fix some stuff but I've never really looked so don't know how good it is.
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Old 11-14-10, 07:47 PM   #19
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I've been buying as needed and it has worked out just fine.
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Old 11-14-10, 09:03 PM   #20
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Buy as you need there will be only a few that you will really need for a bicycle.A few that comes to my mind is a Bottom Bracket tool and a rear cassette tool for your bicycle.
And a good cable cutter tool for bicycle.And a hand full of metric tools to fit your bicycle again.A third had tool is nice to have too.And a good repair stand.
That's about all you would need for now that would get you going.And the more you get into bicycle repair the more tools you will need/want.My 2 cents on this.lol
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Old 11-14-10, 09:58 PM   #21
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SouthFLpix, For truing a wheel without a truing stand or a handy brake pad you can tape a business card to the seat stay or fork leg or even use a wooden clothes pin. A stand or a rack of some sort really comes in handy when adjusting the derailleurs, but just turning the bike upside down may also work.

Since you've become car free I too suggest a back up beater bike or don't sell what you have now when the touring bike arrives. Keep a supply of consumables, like tubes, patches and spokes at home also.

Brad
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Old 11-14-10, 10:04 PM   #22
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If you're car free, the firs thing you need is a backup bike. Something relatively cheap off CL should do.

Then... buy tools as you need.
+1
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Old 11-15-10, 07:03 PM   #23
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SouthFLpix, For truing a wheel without a truing stand or a handy brake pad you can tape a business card to the seat stay or fork leg or even use a wooden clothes pin. A stand or a rack of some sort really comes in handy when adjusting the derailleurs, but just turning the bike upside down may also work.



Brad
Actually all you really need to true your wheels is to turn the bike upside down and close the brake pads close to the rim then adjust according to where they touch the rim.
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Old 11-15-10, 10:23 PM   #24
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If you're working on an older bike, you may need other tools, as well. Oh, and I've found, after several years of having many bikes to work on, that way more important than a bike stand would be a bench vise. Those things are freaking key.
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Old 11-16-10, 05:27 AM   #25
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If you're working on an older bike, you may need other tools, as well. Oh, and I've found, after several years of having many bikes to work on, that way more important than a bike stand would be a bench vise. Those things are freaking key.
I'm glad you mentioned the vise thing because almost no one, including myself, never mention this valuable tool because we just forget about it the context of tools, especially for older bikes. A vice can be purchased cheap at Harbor Freight and their plenty good enough to use.
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