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Your advice on buying tools

Old 04-27-16, 10:54 PM
  #1  
sjanzeir
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Your advice on buying tools

Hello everyone,

I haven't attempted to by any bike tools since the mid-1990s, and I do realize that a lot has changed since then - including where I live (sourcing - local and/or online) and how much I'm willing to spend (poor college kid vs. financially comfortable man.)

So I was looking at some tools around Amazon, because a. "specialized" bike tools (such as chain tools, cone wrenches, and bracket extractors) are nigh on impossible to source locally, and b. because Amazon is just about the only site that offers free shipping to Saudi Arabia for plenty of stuff (they get a ****load of business here.)

I saw a few "tool kits" that looked identical in their contents, but varied widely in their prices - and user reviews. For example, the Fantacycart Universal Home Mechanic's Bike Bicycle Tool Kit appears to be identical to the Avenir Home Mechanic's Tool Kit and the M-Wave 43 All-in-One Bicycle Tool Set, but the M-Wave is exactly twice as much as the Fantacycart, with the Avenir just about in between. There were no user reviews of the M-Wave, but those of the other two varied widely. So I'm wary of ordering any of these from halfway across the world, only to find that I got something that's inferior in quality.

So, my question is, should I even buy a kit at all, or should I just order only those specialized tools that I need and that I know to be of high quality, and source the more "generic" stuff (hex keys, sockets, etc.) locally?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-27-16, 11:05 PM
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Personally, I only have the bike-specific tools that I need for the bikes that I own. Everything else comes from my collection of general purpose household tools.
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Old 04-27-16, 11:11 PM
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Don't buy one of those inexpensive kits. The quality of the tools is bad (they wear out quickly, break easily, or fit poorly), and you invariably end up paying for tools you don't even need. Get the name brand stuff: Park Tool, Pedros, Shimano.
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Old 04-27-16, 11:56 PM
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Buy the good stuff, and buy what you need when you need it. I take that back. If you know you will need it, go ahead and buy it (you're a long way from the source, and it will take time to get there). The time to have the tool you need is before you need it, and not after you're already working on the bike.
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Old 04-28-16, 01:19 AM
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I bought a small took kit 20 years ago at Performance, and it probably qualifies as "inexpensive" but the tools have been reliable. I tend to buy Parks or Pedros when I need a particular tool that's newer than my kit.

Depends on your budget really, but good tools are so much nicer to use.
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Old 04-28-16, 07:19 AM
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Amazon sells Park and other good tools so, as they say, buy good, cry once. As noted many of the prepackaged kits are poor quality and/or will have obsolete or unneeded tools. Buy only what your bike requires.
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Old 04-28-16, 07:49 AM
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I bought the Spin Doctor set from Performance a few weeks ago. I picked it up for $39 with a sale that they were having. It looks like the same took kit rebranded. I have some Park tools that I needed that were not in the kit. Clearly the Park tools are better made. However, if you are using these tools on your own bikes, they will get the job done. I am a diy type person so I have a lot of tools anyway. Most of the hex wrenches and screwdrivers are already in my tool boxes. For the price, it is hard to beat though.
I am normally not one to buy cheap tools. I use my home tools a lot and I tend to buy Bosch because I know what I am getting. There are some tools that you do not mind buying from companies like Harbor Freight because they will be used infrequently. For me, my bike tools are like that. I am in the process of changing out my groupset on my mtb. I have not had reason to do this in the past. My tool kit handled this with no problems. I probably won't use most of these tools for a very long time after this. Thus, you have to weigh out the investment. I do not work on others bikes so it was not worth buying all Park tools.
As for your question about the price, many of those are the same tool kit just rebranded.
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Old 04-28-16, 08:39 AM
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Bike specific tools I buy as\if I need them, and usually if I'll need it more than once and I can't find a substitute with the stuff I already have. The rest I'll buy at Lowes, HD or if I want to go really cheap Harbor Freight. It for working on a bike not the space shuttle. My wife on the other hand thinks I would go into withdrawal if I didn't buy some new tool every month or so.
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Old 04-28-16, 10:50 AM
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Don't skimp on driving tools such as hex keys and Torx drivers, and also consider them as expendable items; when they show wear sharpen or replace them. European brands such as Wiha and Bondhus seem to have better steel and workmanship. You can get a little more life out of hex drivers by grinding the worn ends down until new, sharp edges are exposed. But replacing them is cheap compared to the cost of damaged components. Shiny chrome or cadmium plating is usually a giveaway to low quality.

Get a good pair of cable cutters; the Park ones are OK but the best by far are Felco. They cost more but are worth it, I have never regretted the money I spent on them. I have had mine for decades and they are as good as the day I bought them.
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Old 04-28-16, 12:06 PM
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I agree stay away from the kits because the cheap kits tools are typically not all that good, the expensive kits likely offer much better tools but you may be paying for tools you will never use. Instead buy quality tools as you need them or if you can afford it buy those tools you know you will need so you have them at the ready. Nothing wrong with getting tools from Amazon.
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Old 04-28-16, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by techsensei View Post
Don't buy one of those inexpensive kits. The quality of the tools is bad (they wear out quickly, break easily, or fit poorly), and you invariably end up paying for tools you don't even need. Get the name brand stuff: Park Tool, Pedros, Shimano.
Yeah, no need to buy a kit with stuff you'll never use. Get the one tool you need when you need it and it will still be less than what you would have spent at the bike shop getting it fixed there.

For starters, just get a set of metric T handle Allen wrenches, tire tools and a pump.

After that, the most useful tools are probably a cable cutter and chain tool.
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Old 04-28-16, 03:02 PM
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Best to buy only the tools you need and buy the absolute best. If it's a bike specialty tool then Park, Hozan or VAR. If it's wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, etc then Snap-On. If Allen wrenches then Bondhus. You won't regret it.
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Old 04-28-16, 03:06 PM
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It is clear that those three links you provided are EXACTLY the same kit, manufactured in the same factory, but rebranded for different resellers. So among those three, you should definitely prefer the cheapest.

There are varying philosophies on tools, many are of the opinion "spend what it takes to buy a high quality tool every time", and they are well represented here.

I am much more of a cheapskate. I say buy a cheap kit, some of the tools may not last long, but most of them will be fine, so consider the cost of the kit to cover those tools forever, and a few other tools for a few years, or a fixed number of jobs, or whatever, and replace individual pieces with higher quality as necessary.

I have the nashbar essential kit (same as Performance/SpinDoctor), $49 incl shipping right now. I have replaced the pedal wrench (but still use the 14/15mm sockets on the back end of the kit's pedal wrench tho), and that's it. I will probably eventually buy better cone wrenches. I bought better spoke wrenches, not because the 3-in-1 failed, it's just single-size loop-style are easier to use.

The ball-end allen wrench set are my go-to allens (except I got a 5mm Park P-handle and a Park 4/5/6 Y-wrench too). The cheap reversible flat/phillips screwdriver is actually my go-to for screws on bikes. I have used the crank puller, BB cone tool && BB wrench, cassette tool+chain whip, and chain tool many times, they are holding up just fine. A few of the tools I haven't even used yet, and may never. But I consider the kit a great value.

One bike tool that is definitely worth buying name-brand is a cable&housing cutter. Cheap cutters make a recabling a very difficult job. I swap pedals a lot, so I get lots of use out of my pedal wrench and am glad I have a good one.
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Old 04-28-16, 04:18 PM
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Kit, individual, whatever...buy quality would be my singular, best advice. Cheap inferior tools will, at best, just lead to self loathing.
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Old 04-28-16, 08:52 PM
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Wow, so this is what self-loathing feels like? Imagine if I had bought more expensive tools how happy I'd be!
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Old 04-28-16, 09:18 PM
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My trouble with buying tools is that once I own them I'm tempted to use them even if I don't have any need to
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Old 04-29-16, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by dsbrantjr View Post
Get a good pair of cable cutters; the Park ones are OK but the best by far are Felco. They cost more but are worth it, I have never regretted the money I spent on them. I have had mine for decades and they are as good as the day I bought them.
Yup. There are few things more frustrating than a cable cutter that leaves one strand uncut.
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Old 04-29-16, 07:49 AM
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You can find Felco cutters used on eBay, usually when some shop goes out of business and is being liquidated. That's how I got my Felco C-7 cutters, for $22 shipped.
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Old 04-29-16, 11:10 AM
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The easiest way to acquire bike tools, is to buy them as you need them. That way the budget doesnt take a big hit. Do not buy "bike" tools that are regular tools, buy good quality wrenches screwdrivers etc from Sears or some the the good quality tool sellers.
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Old 01-18-18, 01:30 AM
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Sorry to be resurrecting an old thread that I started, but thanks to everyone are due.

I ended up taking sort of a middle road as to the advice you offered. Shortly after reading all your replies, I ended up picking the Bikehand tool kit, because that was what I needed and could afford to cover the basics at the time. I may not have needed a couple of items in the kit (yet,) but the ones that I use more frequently - the cassette lock ring key, the crank arm puller - have worked flawlessly so far. I've only got to use the chain splitter once, and it did its job as expected - any issues I had using it that one time were because of my rusty skill, and not due to any lack of quality in the tool itself. I haven't had an opportunity to use the bottom bracket key yet, but it seems to be just as well made as the rest of the kit. I've used the cone wrenches a few times, and they worked more than well enough - again, their quality proved to be higher than my rusty skill at the time I used them.

Afterwards, I started to buy other bike-specific tools as I needed them and when I could afford them: Park Took freewheel key, IceToolz brake cable/spoke cutter, Radon master link pliers/chain wear indicator (a discount kit)... that sort of thing. I would pick up the more generic stuff - combination wrenches, pliers... etc. - locally. Also, a local sporting goods place happens to sell some quality Super B tool kits, so I picked up a few, which have been very handy.

So, again, thank you all for the very helpful insight and advice!
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Old 01-18-18, 10:33 AM
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Yah, that's the Bikehand-branded equivalent of the Nashbar "essential" kit that I have.

If your experience is like mine, expect the jaws of the pedal wrench to mush out before long, and plan to buy a better-quality pedal wrench. And I broke one of the tire levers pretty quick; go with Pedro's there. But all the rest of the tools in that kit have worked great for me.
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