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Recommendation for home mechanic tool for commuter

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Recommendation for home mechanic tool for commuter

Old 04-13-11, 07:55 AM
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colleen c
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Recommendation for home mechanic tool for commuter

Long story short: A year ago I replaced my chain after monitoring the stretch using the 12" rule. Casette had some wear. Fast forward 1 year later: after 3k of commute miles, I went to change the chain but this time the most used gear on my Casette was worn where the new chain skipped. So I had LBS changed the Casette.

I'm at a crossroad of investing in more bike mechanics tools to do my own works. I notce that commuting can take a toll on the wear and tear of the bike. But how much tools do I really need? So far I have the basic such as, Allen, nipple wrench, screw driver, pedal wrench, pliers, truing stand, spoke wrench and even a Park PCS 10 stand. However what I'm lacking is the tools like chain whip, casette wrench, etc.

I'm considering getting the Park Tools advance mechanic kit from Amazon for about $210. Not sure do I really need it? But doing 3k a year and also having 6+ other bikes, I'm think it might be a good investment. What's your recommendation for tools kit? I'm also considering the Spin Doctor tool kit. Any other kit out there? Or should I buy the tools separate and only what I need?
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Old 04-13-11, 08:02 AM
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If you can afford the $210, you'll have tools that will show up in your will, and you'll be able to fix almost all of the normal "maintenance" related parts on a bike.

I got the Spin Doctor Team Set http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...1_20000_400625 for around half of what the Park set costs. I'm pleased and have been able to disassemble and reassemble both my bikes since the purchase. I was also able to buy a couple of maintenance/repair books (recommended, but not critical with all of the web tutorials out there) -

Good for you just thinking about being your own repair tech - it's loads of fun, you'll be better able to help friends and others, and you'll save $ in the long run.
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Old 04-13-11, 08:04 AM
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I always tended to buy the tools as I needed them. Might be a little more expensive in the long run, but it doesn't break the bank at any one time.
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Old 04-13-11, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by ZManT View Post
If you can afford the $210, you'll have tools that will show up in your will, and you'll be able to fix almost all of the normal "maintenance" related parts on a bike.

I got the Spin Doctor Team Set http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...1_20000_400625 for around half of what the Park set costs. I'm pleased and have been able to disassemble and reassemble both my bikes since the purchase. I was also able to buy a couple of maintenance/repair books (recommended, but not critical with all of the web tutorials out there) -

Good for you just thinking about being your own repair tech - it's loads of fun, you'll be better able to help friends and others, and you'll save $ in the long run.
How are the tools in the Spin Doctor kit? Are they ok quality. Right now it is on sale and can save me $100, but I'm afraid that the tools might not be enough. My bikes range from department store bike, MTB, roadie, comfort and a Scott CR1. Variety of different component. I got a feeling it may not have all the tools needed. But if it does and can save me $100, I may get one of those.
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Old 04-13-11, 09:07 AM
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I have a dozen bikes at any one time, many others built and let loose to others. I buy tools as I need them, maybe some on eBay ... and I hate the idea of being locked in to one brand...even a good one like Park. So, I suggest you get what you need when you need it. Over time, you'll be set. Frankly, if you get a kit you're going to find you're missing something you need, and you'll be buying oneseys anyway. And, you'll find that a few tools, like your hex key set, need to be superior quality, and others you'll use one a year at most and can be junky, and you'll be selective where you spend your money.
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Old 04-13-11, 09:23 AM
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For a chain whip use an old chain and a pipe wrench or vice grips.
A Bench vise is good.
Here is my tool box:
Old Chain
Monkey wrench aka pipe wrench
Large Crescent wrench (smooth jaws)
Assorted Allen Keys
Torx Keys
Assorted Phillips and Flat heads
Chain Breaker (I use a power link though)
Hammer (You never know)
Chain Scrubber
Dremmel tool for cable and housing cutting (Works and doesn't fray if you do it right)
Small pliers
Small Needle Nose
Wire cutters
Socket set
Jewelery Tools (micro screwdrivers)
Just stuff I accumulated over the years.

The only thing I need are spoke wrenches, bb tool, and pedal wrench.
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Old 04-13-11, 09:29 AM
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I started with a basic tool kit (~$75) from Nashbar or Performance. This gives you most of what you need. Then, I made my own Toolbox made from wood to hold the basic tool kit tools as well as the others I've bought as I needed them. I painted the toolbox yellow, green, red polka dot and world championship stripes. It's was a good activity to undertake during the Tour.
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Old 04-13-11, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by I_like_cereal View Post
For a chain whip use an old chain and a pipe wrench or vice grips.
A Bench vise is good.
Here is my tool box:
Old Chain
Monkey wrench aka pipe wrench
Large Crescent wrench (smooth jaws)
Assorted Allen Keys
Torx Keys
Assorted Phillips and Flat heads
Chain Breaker (I use a power link though)
Hammer (You never know)
Chain Scrubber
Dremmel tool for cable and housing cutting (Works and doesn't fray if you do it right)
Small pliers
Small Needle Nose
Wire cutters
Socket set
Jewelery Tools (micro screwdrivers)
Just stuff I accumulated over the years.

The only thing I need are spoke wrenches, bb tool, and pedal wrench.
I agree....I find that "kits" tend to give you several tools you will never use. There are only a few "specialty" tools required for maintenance. I am in the middle of learning to build a complete bike and I think there are only 3-4 special tools I need to buy. Shopping around you can beat park prices and quality.
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Old 04-13-11, 10:26 AM
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I just bought a $35 set from Nashbar. Good enough for me. I think it was the $70 kit on sale.

As for the chain, when I get to the point where a new chain skips, know what I do? I put the old chain back on and run it until things start acting up. I mean, what the heck, the cassette is wrecked anyway, I may as well use it as long as it's still working OK.

I normally have to get a new chain every 1800 miles. Last time I tried to put on a new one, the skipping started and I put the old one back on. I'm now at about 5200 miles on that chain and it's still running fine. I have a new cassette on the bench but at this point I'm curious to see how long it'll run.

Worst case is that the chainring will want to skip when I finally put on a new chain. If that happens, I just flip the chainrings over and start wearing out the other side of them.
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Old 04-13-11, 12:34 PM
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Thanks for all the ideas. Nashbar never even crossed my mine. Their kit looks decent enough to get by along with the idea of using an old chain and vice grips as a chain whip. I might just save me some money. Good idea of running the old chain with the old casette if it does not skip, because next on my next round, I've got a feeling a new chain will skip on my middle chainring as that has some sign of wear.
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Old 04-13-11, 12:47 PM
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I would definitely recommend just buying individual tools as you need them. For most tools, the cheap stuff works well enough (cable cutters are a notable excpetion). I've been very happy with the Spin Doctor tools I have, and I've also gotten some great deals at Price Point. The P-handled hex wrenches are a very handy upgrade from the standard Y-hex wrench. I'm don't think I've spent $100 on all my tools put together (excluding workstand and truing stand).
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Old 04-13-11, 01:03 PM
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Looking at the $70 Nashbar set (currently on sale for $40), I see a bunch of things you already have (screwdrivers, patch kit, hex wrenches) and a bunch more that you may not need (Torx wrench mosty needed with disc brakes, tools for both external bearing and cartridge bottom brackets, custom-molded tool box), but the tools that are definitely useful are probably worth the $40.
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Old 04-13-11, 01:25 PM
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For the cassette you'll want a chain whip and a cassette lockring remover.
Almost every other task can be handled with a Alien II multi-tool.
Add a pedal wrence when you need one.
Add a set of cone wrenches when you start re-greasing your axle bearings, and add a couple extra of the most used sizes (or get a second set).
See what your bottom bracket needs for removal tools and get those as you need them.
Pick up a "good" cable and housing cutter and only use it on cables and housings, never on spokes.
Add a set of open/box end wrenches (Craftsman from Sears).
Add a set of decent screw drivers.
Add a set of hex and torx drivers which will be easier to use than the multi-tool for major overhauls.
Two crescent style adjustable wrenches, a medium one that can also be used on the cassette lockring tool, and a wide jaw bigger one for those times when you need one.

The list grows as your skills and needs grow, and as your bike stable grows, and as friends and relatives learn that you work on bikes.

Ps, include a crank remover tool if your bike needs one (like most of my older bikes do).

Get what you need as you need it.
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Old 04-13-11, 02:11 PM
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+1 Get what you need as you need it.
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Old 04-13-11, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by I_like_cereal View Post
For a chain whip use an old chain and a pipe wrench or vice grips.
A Bench vise is good.
Here is my tool box:
Old Chain
Monkey wrench aka pipe wrench
Large Crescent wrench (smooth jaws)
Assorted Allen Keys
Torx Keys
Assorted Phillips and Flat heads
Chain Breaker (I use a power link though)
Hammer (You never know)
Chain Scrubber
Dremmel tool for cable and housing cutting (Works and doesn't fray if you do it right)
Small pliers
Small Needle Nose
Wire cutters
Socket set
Jewelery Tools (micro screwdrivers)
Just stuff I accumulated over the years.

The only thing I need are spoke wrenches, bb tool, and pedal wrench.
Thank you for this very helpful post.
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Old 04-13-11, 06:05 PM
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I'm also in favor of buying tools as needed.

The things I don't like about kits are that there's always something I'll never use, and it's hard to add stuff to kits, especially the ones the with custom cases. The kit is the kit and that's that.

I started out with a multi-tool, added a pedal wrench, chain whip and cassette lockring socket (all from Nashbar) to go with my existing socket set, and a chain tool (Park). That and basic homeowner tools kept me in good stead for years. I eventually supplemented with a set of P-handle wrenches from Nashbar. The Nashbar tools are perfectly fine for the amount I use them.

Since then I've added crank pullers and BB tools, (both Park) a torque wrench (Pedro's), a "torque key" (Giant), and I bought a set of hex bits for my changeable-bit screwdriver (ServiceStar Hardware).
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Old 04-14-11, 09:59 AM
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If you can afford the $210 Park tools collection, go for it. Look, for most folks, that is two weeks gas or one visit to the auto repair shop, so you can easily justify it.

Tools last a lifetime too, if you take care of them.

A fellow needs to be able to fix his bicycles by himself if he is going to be bicycle commuting. Bicycles often need work and it isn't practical to bring them back to the shop every time.

Good tools are a blessing. Park makes good tools.

Some of the other comments suggest buying tools as you need them. That is what I did until I finally had a full tool set. That is not t he way I recommend doing it. If you buy as you need them, you will constantly be stopped in your tracks due to a missing tool You will try to use the wrong tools and be constantly frustrated. Have what you need when you need them.
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Old 04-14-11, 11:14 AM
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I looked at the option last night. I was going to get what I needed. That was until my SO saw what I was shopping for on the computer screen. She was ok with whatever I wanted to buy, but then she hinted about having her K2 bike overhaul. I know the rear need works and her front chainring was getting to look like shark teeth. Plus she did not like the color of her crank. Ok, so that threw a monkey wrench into my plan. So now I probably get the deluxe kit from Nashbar plus whatever else comes up or just invest in the Park Tools.
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Old 04-14-11, 11:22 AM
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I'll chime in against the "as you need them" opinion. I have a LOT of tools, from a lifetime of working on cars and general DIYing, but hardly any bike-specific tools. When I found that I needed just a couple of bike-specific tools, they added up to about $23 worth. I bought the Nashbar set for $40, and the very next time that I needed more tools, had I been buying them individually I would have exceeded the $40, AND I wouldn't have had them on hand and would have had to wait for them to arrive, AND I wouldn't have a single nice blow-molded case to hold all my tools.
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Old 04-14-11, 12:38 PM
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Buy Park tools as needed. For general tools, Craftsman are good. Don't waste money on cheap tools.
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Old 04-14-11, 01:16 PM
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another option is buying used tools. i do this a lot for bike specific tools that i rarely use. They pay for themselves after one use instead of resorting to the bike shop. Plus you get to wrench on your own bike and whats better than that?
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Old 04-14-11, 03:59 PM
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I have used nashbar, the performance brand and Park.

Plain and simple, Park are higher quality, which means they last longer, work better and are less likely to damage parts. (tighter tolerances). my impression is that overall the Permance is a little better than the Nashbar, but many of the tools seem identical.

If you can afford the park kit, go for it.

I do like having a basic kit, as it gives you almost everthing you need. So a good option is get the base kit and add/replace with park as you decide what you use a lot.

A favorite it the park hex wrench with 3 wrenches attached to a center piece.

beyond that don't through any tools away...you just never know. A funky all purpose tool made of of stamped steel that I got in the 70's is still still my go to tool for removing some old bottom bracket rings.

Other than that, I would get a base kit (
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Old 04-14-11, 04:15 PM
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Buying tools as needed definitely works (I've done it that way, and probably get at least 1-2 new tools every 6 months or so for certain needs).
However, it is more expensive.
If you have a starting budget, it might make sense to get a basic bike mechanic's tool kit (the park one is excellent) then supplement with "as needed" tools as time goes on.
Never get rid of tools - I still have some of the tools I bought in the 70's, and am glad to have them (Sugino Cup/cone BB tools, for example).

There are definitely tools that warrant spending some money on.
- Cable cutters
- Allen (hex) wrenches - get the "T" handle style.
- Screwdriver - I've switched over to a style with a replaceable tip and use DeWalt or Milwaukee screwdriver bits.
- Chain tool - some may disagree, but a good quality chain tool makes life easier

Some other handy things to have in the workshop:
- handlebar stabilizer - simple but effective. This keeps the bars from swinging into the top tube. The cheaper solution is to use a long bungee cord looped behind the seatpost with the hooks on the bars.
- oil and grease. It is hard to go wrong with the Phil Wood grease and tenacious oil. If you have those two things, you are pretty much set for lube needs. You may have a preferred chain lube that is less tacky than the oil.

Once you are set up and able to wrench on your own bikes, and start to gain confidence in your capacity to do so (you'll find it is really easy once you get going), you will quickly pay for the tools in savings from LBS labor costs. Part of the joy of maintaining your own bicycle is a more intimate working knowledge of your bike, and a certain confidence that you can take care of whatever problems might arise.

Good luck!
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Old 04-14-11, 04:56 PM
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The "do I buy tools as a set or as needed" question is like the "what tire/light/Saddle" question as you've seen. I bought most as needed after accumulating a bunch of tools over the years working on my cars, motorcycles and other stuff around the house, and added some specific bicycling tools as needed. One thing I found over the years as the collections have grown is that having multiple tool boxes for different types of tools makes life easier, and allowing for extra room for the additional tools that keep showing up makes sense. Now when I need to work on my bicycle I can pick up my bicycle toolbox and carry it to the bicycle instead of trying to lug my overstuffed heavy toolbox that's mainly filled with tools I won't need when working on the bicycle. And if I ever do need my 3/4" drive 36mm 6 point socket again, I know right where to find it and won't have to lug it around when I don't
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Old 04-15-11, 09:51 AM
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Thanks for all of the suggestion. I just got my tax refund back and made a decision. I was going to get a used folding bike as part of my commute for those special errand after work where I have no place to lock my bike, instead I bought the tool kit. It is a done deal. I bought the Park Tools AK37. It was hard to pass up on the price and free shipping. I guess the folder can wait a little longer.

I chose Park Tools knowing that if there is a problem, most likely it is me and not the tools. I think my first fixing will be my partners bike with a new chain, cassette, and crank (maybe even the chainring). After that, I may change out the tires on my CF Scott bike. The best thing is that now I can keep my commuter bike going for the long term commuting.

Who knows, there might be a wishful thinking of building a bike someday, or not because I rather be riding than wrenching all the time
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