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Bike Tools

Old 05-08-20, 10:44 PM
  #1  
YankeeInTX
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Bike Tools

are so expensive. I try to buy used, but man. I have just recently started fixing up some of the bikes I have had sitting around, and I never realized how many specialized tools bicycles require.

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Old 05-08-20, 10:51 PM
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wgscott
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Yup. Even as a very amateurish bike person, I think I have well over $2K spent on bike tools in the last 10 years or so. (The Abbey Derailleur hanger alignment tool didn't help.)
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Old 05-09-20, 01:55 AM
  #3  
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The problem seems to be getting worse by the year, what with all the bottom bracket standards that each require their own tools and what not, for just one example. You've got hydraulic disk brakes now with all the extra tools and servicing skills they require, and with elecronic shifting slowly but surely coming our way, it's only a matter of time before you start needing to use your laptop to service your bike.

Which is to say that there is a solution to the problem, if you want to minimize the amount of special tools in your toolbox: just stick to old bikes with simple, outdated technology. It's a different kind of fun, but still a whole lot of fun.

You could rebuild an entire old bike with general-purpose tools from the nearest hardware store.

You could adjust a headset with a thin adjustable wrench and a pipe wrench or adjustable pliers.

You could use the same adjustable wrench with a spanner wrench to service a cup-and-cone bottom bracket.

You could use a center punch and a hammer to unscrew a freewheel.

The rest of the bike is just box and hex tools and standard pliers. The only "special" tools you absolutely need to have are a spoke wrench and a pair of cone wrenches for the axles, which aren't that expensive on their own.
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Old 05-09-20, 04:40 AM
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No disrespect to posts to the contrary intended.

When using "functional hacks" instead of the correct tool, you risk making whatever you are working on
unsuitable for reuse, destroy the integrity of the component, make the future adjustment(and fine tuning) difficult and
IMO, take away from the look/value of the item.

With the number of questions regarding "how do I remove a stuck XXXX" on bicycle oriented forums
I see a lot of work arounds that make me cringe.

Hammer and punch to remove a freewheel or chain? Even the correct tool make it tough to remove a
stubborn fw in some cases.

Adjustable pliers to remove a lockring instead of a correct spanner or hook wrench and you can mar the
component from every being able to adjust properly.

I always recommend the correct tool and procedure for the job.
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Old 05-09-20, 04:54 AM
  #5  
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I agree with 100bikes the right tool is advised. I have maybe $500-1000 in tools or so. I buy them one here or there as I need them when I have some extra cash. After 5+ years I have every tool I probably need. They will last me a forever for my needs. Money well invested IMO.
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Old 05-09-20, 05:26 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by sjanzeir View Post
if you want to minimize the amount of special tools in your toolbox: just stick to old bikes with simple, outdated technology.
This is my approach, old steel bikes with plain old square taper BBs work for me.
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Old 05-09-20, 05:27 AM
  #7  
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Originally Posted by sdmc530 View Post
I agree with 100bikes the right tool is advised. I have maybe $500-1000 in tools or so. I buy them one here or there as I need them when I have some extra cash. After 5+ years I have every tool I probably need. They will last me a forever for my needs. Money well invested IMO.
My father, a tool and die maker, told me "if you need a tool and don't buy it, you end up paying for it and still don't have it."
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Old 05-09-20, 06:10 AM
  #8  
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I've solved the tool cost issue by volunteering at non-profits. After a certain number of shop hours and a show of dedication, the shop can be yours in the off hours, along with the combined knowledge of some very talented people. And parts!

One of those non-profits is a co-op. If there's one in your area, it can be an excellent resource for occasional use of expensive tools.

I don't think I've spent more than $100 on dedicated bike tools over the decades. I just have the basics for cup and cone bearing overhaul. And some of those come out of the general mechanics toolbox. The old adjustable BB tools are gathering dust.

There was a thread a week or so ago on homemade dishing tools. Wheel building can be accomplished on a budget. I've made my own "rocket tools" for pressed bearing removal. A friend gave me a broken work stand and I fixed the clamp with hardware store material.
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Old 05-09-20, 07:02 AM
  #9  
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Buying expensive tools is still cheaper than buying cheap tools, then cursing a lot, breaking some parts, and then buying the expensive tool.

Some money can be saved with tools from actual toolmaker. For example tourque wrench from the actual manufacturer instead of the rebranded expensive Park "special bicycle tool". A hacksaw can turn into an expensive tool by making it blue, without improving it.
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Old 05-09-20, 07:17 AM
  #10  
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And I agree with 100bikes too. But it's obvious that some of you have never been impoverished students in a third-world country who needed their only means of transport to get them to class the next morning, where the proper tools - if they could be bought locally at all, let alone having the luxury of "ordering" them - would cost a small fortune.
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Old 05-09-20, 07:31 AM
  #11  
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My specialty bike tool acquisitions pretty much ended about 15 yrs ago, but I recently went down the rabbit hole
by not understanding the implications of a search for a 48/32 chain set for a 20 yr old Ti frame. Shimano had
none at the time so I elected an FSA, not investigating the higher prices of FSA BBs as the series
i chose has the 30mm axle, but this forced the need for an oversized BB spline tool as the MegaEvo BB
are larger than the Shimano/MegaExo BB splines. Tool only available from FSA of course but it was a bit
under $30. If I had read industry lit I would have known of the advent of the GRX from Shimano and saved
a good bit of money. I still have the high pressure pump for my little used ATB bike fork. OTOH when I
sold off the Phil BBs a while back the BB tool went with them, as well as the TA crank tool with the TA crank, (there
is a specialty item).
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Old 05-09-20, 07:44 AM
  #12  
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While I completely understand the appeal of having a specialty tool to fix each and every problem with your bike, I'd argue that the more cost effective route would be to invest a few hundred bucks in quality tools that will cover 90% of repairs... and then leave the truly specialty stuff to your LBS. I have to think that will net out in the end.
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Old 05-09-20, 07:46 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by dsbrantjr View Post
plain old square taper BBs work for me.
Amen to that! Unfortunately, fewer and fewer high-end, quality bikes have square taper bottom brackets today; all the boys want are "lighter" and cooler looking components to go with the colors of their lycra.

I remember a time when a bike having a square taper was the hallmark of quality and sophistication (as opposed to the ashtabulas and cottered cranks of the world.) Now a square taper will have them rich folks point your way and laugh. It's only a matter of time before they start laughing at your exposed shift cables.
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Old 05-09-20, 07:54 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by Greiselman View Post
While I completely understand the appeal of having a specialty tool to fix each and every problem with your bike, I'd argue that the more cost effective route would be to invest a few hundred bucks in quality tools that will cover 90% of repairs... and then leave the truly specialty stuff to your LBS. I have to think that will net out in the end.
That's pretty much my approach, as per the advice of many of the friendlier members of this forum. I started a similar thread after I got back into cycling a few years ago and having found it to be a different world than the one my life and career tore me away from a couple of decades earlier. A few wise people said to buy quality basic tools as and when I needed them, and pay the local bike shop to do the once-in-a-lifetime jobs that require expensive special tools.
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Old 05-09-20, 07:56 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by sdmc530 View Post
They will last me a forever for my needs. Money well invested IMO.
If you have kids, you can count on re-purchasing a few...
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Old 05-09-20, 08:07 AM
  #16  
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Or cats. Cats are even worse than kids: they misplace them rather than just lose them entirely; you end up finding that long-lost cassette lockring key lodged behind the leg of a table or tucked away in a shoebox after you've already bought a replacement. You know the feeling.
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Old 05-09-20, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by sjanzeir View Post

Which is to say that there is a solution to the problem, if you want to minimize the amount of special tools in your toolbox: just stick to old bikes with simple, outdated technology. It's a different kind of fun, but still a whole lot of fun.

.
Generally true, unless you wade into vintage French and Swiss bikes. In addition, I have a drawer full of vintage freewheel tools, yet still don't have them all. LBS may be no help on the old stuff like Stronglight crank puller, and some of the oddball freewheels.

Vintage bikes that adhere to the popular standards require just a handful of tools: think USA, Japan, Taiwan, and most Canadian built bikes. Tools tend to pay for themselves on the second or third use.
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Old 05-09-20, 08:21 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by Greiselman View Post
While I completely understand the appeal of having a specialty tool to fix each and every problem with your bike, I'd argue that the more cost effective route would be to invest a few hundred bucks in quality tools that will cover 90% of repairs... and then leave the truly specialty stuff to your LBS. I have to think that will net out in the end.
My MO. One time removal of a freewheel I don't have the tool for - LBS
I just took a bike in for a RD hanger alignment. I just haven't need to do this enough to buy the $75 tool. SAme thing with BB or headtube chasing & facing, pay to have it done on the rare occasions I might feel the need to have it done.
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Old 05-09-20, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
Generally true, unless you wade into vintage French and Swiss bikes. In addition, I have a drawer full of vintage freewheel tools, yet still don't have them all. LBS may be no help on the old stuff like Stronglight crank puller, and some of the oddball freewheels.

Vintage bikes that adhere to the popular standards require just a handful of tools: think USA, Japan, Taiwan, and most Canadian built bikes. Tools tend to pay for themselves on the second or third use.
BSA
JIS
Shimano
The "vintage" road bike that I have adheres to all three standards that happen to have been the most popular for the past few decades, so I could still buy new parts for it (68mm UN55 BB; many Shimano-compatible cassettes,) use modern or outdated basic tools to service it, and have zero quirks, oddities or one-offs to worry about. I was able to realign the rear dropouts with a hammer and a 12mm hex key in a socket wrench. Steel is real.
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Old 05-09-20, 09:04 AM
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When I was 11, I worked on my BMX bike with an adjustable crescent wrench and replaced my freewheel with a hammer and screwdriver.

After a couple of years, I somehow I acquired two double-sided chrome plated Park cone wrenches and a Park spoke wrench. I still have them today (35 years later), along with a set of tools that is better than most bike shops. That said, I only have one bike with hydraulics brakes and suspension (that goes to the LBS) and no bikes with electronic shifting. Short of brazing, I can complete any other task myself. While my tools would be considered expensive, they were acquired over a long period of time, so expense isn’t noticeable or painful.

I also get a large degree of satisfaction working on bikes, and experiencing the joy of a perfectly tuned machine.

My son likes working on bikes, and I started him out with a set of hex keys, metric combination wrenches, a floor pump, cone wrenches, and a set of cable cutters. Only the cone wrenches and the floor pump are bike-specific. When he needs a specialty tool, he buys it himself or borrows it from me. It also helps that I am a tool nerd and hand down the basic tool when I upgrade to a better version. For example, I gave him my Park Third hand tool when I purchased the Hozan that I had the pleasure of using at the Community Cycling Center. He got my basic stamped pedal wrench when I upgraded to the hatchet.

Life is too short to use cheap tools or the wrong tools. It always seems to cost more in time, frustration, or having to get the right tool when the wrong tool fails.

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Old 05-09-20, 10:35 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by dsbrantjr View Post
This is my approach, old steel bikes with plain old square taper BBs work for me.
Sure but I assume you have the specialized tools need to work on them too. Lockring hook spanner, pin spanner, fixed cup wrench, cone wrenches, chain breaker, freewheel removal tool or cassette lockring tool, etc., etc. None of these are particularly expensive but they are necessary to do the jobs properly.
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Old 05-09-20, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Sure but I assume you have the specialized tools need to work on them too. Lockring hook spanner, pin spanner, fixed cup wrench, cone wrenches, chain breaker, freewheel removal tool or cassette lockring tool, etc., etc. None of these are particularly expensive but they are necessary to do the jobs properly.
I think that dsbrantjr was trying to say “pick a vintage and stick to it”. Aside from my mountain bike, that is basically what I have done. I have one 9 speed and one 11 speed; everything else is 10 speed, even if 11 or 12 was available when I built the bike. I also choose bikes with BSA BB so I know that there is a limited set of tools that I need to maintain those.

If I tried to maintain vintage bikes with 5 speed freewheels and cottered cranks, square taper, and the dozen or so newest standards available when I bought new bikes, it would have been a much more expensive collection, and nothing would be compatible across my bikes.
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Old 05-09-20, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Sure but I assume you have the specialized tools need to work on them too. Lockring hook spanner, pin spanner, fixed cup wrench, cone wrenches, chain breaker, freewheel removal tool or cassette lockring tool, etc., etc. None of these are particularly expensive but they are necessary to do the jobs properly.
Actually I have standardized on cartridge bottom brackets and I have that one tool which services all of my bikes. I think I have enough bikes, tools and spares for them for the foreseeable future; I have common tire sizes and the other consumables should be available as long as I need them. I do not plan to buy any other bikes, my need are satisfied with what I've got.
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Old 05-09-20, 11:30 AM
  #24  
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Cost of tools is not that big factor if your bike cost you in the neighborhood of 10k+. But it is a problem when you buy cheaper bike that is a knock off from the brand top lineup bikes, except heavier and all those factors which make the bike cheaper to manufacture, because then you have the same specialty parts on it and the tools you need are no different from those required to service those 10k+ bikes. Similar reasoning holds when you buy high end bike secondhand for more reasonable price.

If you live in a place that is a bicycling hotbed, and or become a member of some bike club, you may share, borrow some specialty tools from others (some won't let you use their tools but are willing to visit you (or you visit them) and use it on your bike themselves) and if that doesn't pan out, you can have some confidence in your local bike shop to put their hands on your machine because they routinely service bikes like your fancy machine.

Problem is when you bike in a region where bike shops are far in between and what they sell and service is 99% consumer level bikes with maybe a couple nice machines at the end of the bike rack for sale. You may justifiably question their experience working on the nice bike you have. But I guess it more depends on the pride the shop bike mechanic has in himself to do good jobs no matter, that he doesn't look at time/cost equation only but also has some conscience.
I bike in such a region where you rarely see anybody biking outside towns for sport even if the road network begs for it. This forces me to be self reliant and inventive when it comes to specialty tools. You can get by even using hammer if you use your head as well.
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Old 05-09-20, 01:04 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by vane171 View Post
Cost of tools is not that big factor if your bike cost you in the neighborhood of 10k+. But it is a problem when you buy cheaper bike that is a knock off from the brand top lineup bikes, except heavier and all those factors which make the bike cheaper to manufacture, because then you have the same specialty parts on it and the tools you need are no different from those required to service those 10k+ bikes. Similar reasoning holds when you buy high end bike secondhand for more reasonable price.

If you live in a place that is a bicycling hotbed, and or become a member of some bike club, you may share, borrow some specialty tools from others (some won't let you use their tools but are willing to visit you (or you visit them) and use it on your bike themselves) and if that doesn't pan out, you can have some confidence in your local bike shop to put their hands on your machine because they routinely service bikes like your fancy machine.

Problem is when you bike in a region where bike shops are far in between and what they sell and service is 99% consumer level bikes with maybe a couple nice machines at the end of the bike rack for sale. You may justifiably question their experience working on the nice bike you have. But I guess it more depends on the pride the shop bike mechanic has in himself to do good jobs no matter, that he doesn't look at time/cost equation only but also has some conscience.
I bike in such a region where you rarely see anybody biking outside towns for sport even if the road network begs for it. This forces me to be self reliant and inventive when it comes to specialty tools. You can get by even using hammer if you use your head as well.
Cost of tool in most cases will be less than what LBS charges. Unless we talk about facing tools or other really never needed tools. Plus most work takes less time than bringing the bike to LBS and waiting for them to do it, or arrange a date in 6 weeks. My tools also work during a pademic....

"nicer" bikes are in most cases easier to work on than cheap ones. And even a shop that only has $500 bikes, should have an external BB tool, for example.
There may be a problem when you have a bike from one of the proprietary brands (looking at you Cannondale, Specialized) that keep inventing new "standards", though. but one should avoid pressfit BBs and other "improvements" anyway.
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