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Where to begin with bike repair and maintenance?

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Where to begin with bike repair and maintenance?

Old 02-25-22, 10:04 PM
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SAScott
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Where to begin with bike repair and maintenance?

I am wondering about where to start in building my “bike tool chest” at home. I have no real experience in bike repair and general maintenance, having always had it done for me. But now in retirement, I have the time.

1. Where is a good place to educate myself for bike maintenance/repair? I’ve seen a “Master of Bikes” on FB, but I don’t really prefer to pay anybody.

2. Which tools should I start with and progress too. I don’t plan to buy an entire toolkit at once.

I’m thinking that I need to start with a reliable (not expensive) stand, a multi-tool, tire levers, a floor pump, and cleaning stuff.
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Old 02-25-22, 10:26 PM
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1. Youtube search for whatever issue/symptom/procedure at hand. No need for paid courses unless you need someone to hands on show it to you in person first. It's not complicated and you can then learn to dial things in with a bit of time, eyes and ears.
2. Bike stand, hex key set, floor pump with gauge, chain checker, tyre levers, pliers and and torque wrench will get you started to safely perform all major checks and adjustments. Thereafter, I would just acquire what is needed to do the job you wish to do and don't yet have the tools for and certainly buy good quality each time. At some stage you would have 'done it all' and your tool set has grown to completion.
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Old 02-25-22, 10:30 PM
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Do you have any basic tools now? A good work stand can't be emphasized enough, but a good one doesn't need to be expensive. Lots out there for DIY stands. Mine doesn't leave me wanting for anything and it was pretty much free (scrap wood and off cuts). What you mention in your last sentence is the a some of the bare minimum basics, how have you made it this far without a floor pump? lol

I would also highly recommend you get this kit, or one like it. It has every bit I need for working on bikes and a proper torque wrench is important. You can get by with just a regular allen key set but since you've made it to retirement (congrats!) without a collection of tools I'm guessing you don't have the experience to torque by feel. That little torque wrench kit will look real cheap if you strip an important bolt. For the specialty tools you're going to eventually need check out Chinese sources like Aliexpress. They're cheap for a reason, all the ones I've gotten have been fine dimensionally but the steel quality is questionable. For someone who will use it rarely they're perfectly acceptable, if you were in a shop using it many times a day the softer steel would deform and cause other issues.

For experience/education just get into it. There's sh*t tons of youtube vids and also this forum for a resource.
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Old 02-25-22, 10:52 PM
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As already mentioned there are YouTube videos that will help.

Get a decent stand.

I’d start with what maintenance you typically have shop do. Probably swapping cables, adjusting derailleurs, replacing cassette and chain, adjusting brakes and replacing brake pads, truing wheels, adjusting a headset.

Watch a video of what you want to do and get the tools; most maintenance tools are pretty cheap.

As you progress you can get into overhauling hubs, installing and lining up bottom brackets, installing headsets, etc.

Start with the easy stuff.

John
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Old 02-26-22, 12:23 AM
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Where to begin? Look at the components on your bike.
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Old 02-26-22, 06:57 AM
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https://www.google.com/search?q=bike...&bih=617&dpr=1
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Old 02-26-22, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by SAScott View Post
I’m thinking that I need to start with a reliable (not expensive) stand, a multi-tool, tire levers, a floor pump, and cleaning stuff.
Good start. The types of bikes you own, the components and the repairs you are going to make will have a bearing on what tools you need. Also IMHO this forum is the best place to look for help. For example if you are going to want to remove a crankset, freewheel or free hub, you can post a picture of the part of the bike you are working with and someone will quickly let you know what tool you need if you are in doubt.
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Old 02-26-22, 07:32 AM
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Start with metric combo and Allen wrench sets. Add specialized bicycle tools as you need them. Park Tool has repair tutorials and videos on their web site: https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help
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Old 02-26-22, 07:40 AM
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Is there a co-op or non-profit bike shop near you? Go volunteer. Start sorting parts and patching tubes, eventually you'll learn something.
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Old 02-26-22, 07:45 AM
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This is a good comparison to a bunch of different hex wrenches. Always buy quality ones and don't skimp on these. They are probably the most used tool.
Hex Key Brand Comparison (photo intensive)

In terms of other tools go for brands like Wera, PB Swiss, Beta, Snap-On, Knipex, Felco...for general tools. Most of the general tools from Park or Pedro's aren't all that great however Park and Pedro's make some decent bike specific tools that would work well for a hobbyist or a mechanic looking to save a little. However don't cheap out on tools. Cheap tools are for those with lots of money because they require more frequent replacement or can strip things or cause other issues that you don't want when working on anything.

A good stand is nice, I would recommend getting something with some height adjustment as I find that can be handy but not absolutely needed. Park makes decent stands on that front. Their repair videos are also quite handy. However one of the best ways to learn is to do it around professionals for a while. If you are truly interested see if your local shop is hiring or even looking for an intern. We have had several one day to a couple day a weekers that come in and can be quite handy. We have also had some great interns and it is a great way to learn stuff and get better.
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Old 02-26-22, 08:17 AM
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Whether you buy Park Tools or not, their videos are awesome. Here is one on what tools you need.


I find myself watching their videos on bike maintenance operations I never plan on doing myself .. just because its fun to watch! There are many other good bike maintenance video channels, you can learn a freaking ton watching all the videos. GCN Tech, Rides of Japan, etc etc.
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Old 02-26-22, 08:55 AM
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Great that you're looking for a stand right away. +1 on the Park Tool vids and I use their Big Blue Book constantly, to double check the things I "know" and to learn the new-to-me things like disc brakes and threadless forks. Metric hex and box, yup. A small grease gun and grease. Pedal wrench. I didn't get a 1/4" torque wrench until I was working on threadless fork/stems.
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Old 02-26-22, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by SAScott View Post
I am wondering about where to start in building my “bike tool chest” at home. I have no real experience in bike repair and general maintenance, having always had it done for me. But now in retirement, I have the time.

1. Where is a good place to educate myself for bike maintenance/repair? I’ve seen a “Master of Bikes” on FB, but I don’t really prefer to pay anybody.

2. Which tools should I start with and progress too. I don’t plan to buy an entire toolkit at once.

I’m thinking that I need to start with a reliable (not expensive) stand, a multi-tool, tire levers, a floor pump, and cleaning stuff.
That sounds like a good plan.
Start with whatever needs fixing on your bike. As it's mentioned above - ParkTools YouTube is a good source (nicely explained and shown). So whatever needs fixing and tuning on your bike, Google how it's done and what tools you need. Get those tools and give it a go.

Go slowly and patiently - you'll not even notice how better and more skilled you get over time.
For the tools you need - don't make the mistake of getting cheap, poor quality ones. In my opinion and experience, poor quality tools make the learning curve even steeper, because of poor ergonomy, poor fit (tolerances, strength and overall quality) and make the job more difficult, so you're never sure if it's you or the tool (until you get enough experience).

This is my take on starter tools:


And an even more boring video on the thought process:

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Old 02-26-22, 09:04 AM
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This guy also has some very good videos that show what it's like to actually work on a not perfectly clean bike with used parts and offers some ways to make your own tools if needed. RJ The Bike Guy - YouTube And, as mentioned, YouTube in general has probably thousands of good videos for whatever maintenance you want to know about. And HERE of course. Lots of knowledgeable and experienced mechanical types can answer almost any question you have. Just remember when you do post to provide as much info on bike/part mfr, model, and learn the proper names of each of the parts on your bike so there is less confusion and photos & links are often useful.
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Old 02-26-22, 09:25 AM
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I have been volunteering at the Bicycle Exchange here in Silly cone Valley for 10 years and can't recommend strongly enough that you start volunteering at a co op. There you will soon learn what tools you need on a regular basis. you will get coaching from experienced bike fixers, and you will get to work on a variety of bikes. I went from a complete novice to a competent mechanic and now do complete restorations of vintage bikes.

One first step, if you don't have a co op I would recommend, is to buy or otherwise acquire a few bikes in need of repair, stripping them to the frame, then re assembling them. keep a record both written and with photos of what you did and the sequence you did it. This will quickly give you an understanding of how things work. If and when you come across a problem , you tube will probably have a video to help you and you can always post here for further help.
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Old 02-26-22, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by SAScott View Post
I am wondering about where to start
I wrenched since I was a kid since there was no LBS around but mostly because I was a kid thus broke.

But you can't really get much experience from your own handful of bikes. Just not enough breadth.

I believe most of my experience came when I started flipping bikes, and having flipped hundreds of them (and still counting). The greed for profit is a big DIY motivator.

You can't really buy shop materials in advance. They come along when the need presents.

Even novice car mechanices don't start off with $20K of Snap-On tools.

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Old 02-26-22, 11:32 AM
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Bike stand, chain whip, cassette lock ring tool and a torque wrench.
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Old 02-26-22, 11:40 AM
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I find I replace the cables on almost everything I work on, so I’ve found it useful to have a cutter made for bike cables and a cable puller. Related to that, I’ve found it useful to buy bulk quantities of cables and housings (and end caps and crimp ends). I think my cable cutter came bundled with a package of cables I bought.
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Old 02-26-22, 11:40 AM
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Where to begin? I suppose start with what ever your bike needs that you feel like you can handle. Much can be done to a bike without special tools. The few things that need special tools you may never need to do. The exception being the slim wrenches you might need to tighten or loosen the cones and lock nut on the wheel axles if your bike even has them.

As for a stand, I've worked on my bikes since before I was eight yo. I don't have a bike stand. But admittedly in my 60's I'm finding that I don't like to bend down as much as I use too. So maybe a stand will be a first thing to get if you know you are going to be adjusting your DR's. For other stuff, I don't know what a stand will be useful for, unless you feel it wrong to turn a bike upside down on a table top.

Since you'll likely already have most of the tools you'll need, just buy the few special tools as you need them. And be certain that special tool will be universal to all bikes and component brands. I have quite a few tools I bought that were only used once. Some once to remove a part and I had to have another tool to install the new part. And that too was only used once and now sits useless since I'll never use that old style component again. So for those cases, a bike shop mechanic you've gotten to be friends with will come in handy. Many I think will be more than happy to loosen or tighten something for you either free or for a token sum. Though I usually buy some gloves, socks, bottle holders or something when they do that for me.

If nothing else, Part Park Tool makes some really good videos and guides about bike maintenance. Sometimes Calvin can get on ones nerves when he's horsing around, but he gives a lot of useful information.

https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help

There are plenty of bike maintenance videos on youtube too. The only issue there is some of videos are made by people that have no clue. So watch several to make sure they all agree.

Last edited by Iride01; 02-26-22 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 02-26-22, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by daywood View Post
I find I replace the cables on almost everything I work on, so I’ve found it useful to have a cutter made for bike cables
Agreed.

Park Tool CN-10 is one of my best friends.

Reminds me of the time I was at a LBS and explaining how awesome that tool was to a friend, when some yuppie stranger just chimed in, "that tool is obselete. Everything is hydraulics today!".

I gave the man-Karen a glare and rebutted, "I guess you never trekked out into the forest 50 miles away from a campsite without tools?"

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Old 02-27-22, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by soyabean View Post
Park Tool CN-10 is one of my best friends. Reminds me of the time I was at a LBS and explaining how awesome that tool was to a friend, when some yuppie stranger just chimed in, "that tool is obselete. Everything is hydraulics today!".
Hydraulic lines don't need to be cut ever?
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Old 02-27-22, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
Hydraulic lines don't need to be cut ever?
It appears that you too, believe that all bikes out there must only be hydraulic.

#MechanicalBrakesMatter
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Old 02-27-22, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by soyabean View Post
It appears that you too, believe that all bikes out there must only be hydraulic.

#MechanicalBrakesMatter
???

If you look at my sig you'll see juice brakes are not something I run or need.
My point was even if all bikes were hydraulic a cutter is still needed for lines and will not be an obsolete" tool.
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Old 02-27-22, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by SAScott View Post
I am wondering about where to start in building my “bike tool chest” at home. I have no real experience in bike repair and general maintenance, having always had it done for me. But now in retirement, I have the time.

1. Where is a good place to educate myself for bike maintenance/repair? I’ve seen a “Master of Bikes” on FB, but I don’t really prefer to pay anybody.

2. Which tools should I start with and progress too. I don’t plan to buy an entire toolkit at once.

I’m thinking that I need to start with a reliable (not expensive) stand, a multi-tool, tire levers, a floor pump, and cleaning stuff.
A good site to start with,
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/repairs.html
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Old 02-28-22, 03:13 PM
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It all depends on what bikes you have. Old bikes or IGH bikes need more tools, cone wrenches, cable cutter is a must, etc. A bunch of the tools I need, I take with me any ride.
The most useful is a 4/5/6 mm 3 arm allen wrench. Multi tools for this are clumsy at best. Multi Swiss army type plyers are good.
I've never used a stand once. Turn the bike over to work on the wheels, crank and chain.
I actually DIY a bunch of parts for my bikes. My metric tap and die set has been awesome. I make lots of CF stuff as well.

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