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Tools! What tools do I need?

Old 10-14-16, 09:33 AM
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zze86
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Tools! What tools do I need?

I am a tool fanatic and have quite a collection of hand tools already but I'm thinking of adding some bicycle specific tools to my tool chest since I'm hoping to work on my own bikes. I am wondering what special tools do I need to work on bikes? Specifically, I know I want to be able to remove and clean the bottom bracket and quite possibly switch cassettes around on different wheelsets. I firmly believe in paying extra for a high quality tool, many of my automotive tools are professional grade SnapOn, Matco, Bosch and Milwaukee brands despite me being just a home tinkerer (oh yes, I can tell the difference between these and the very decent Craftsman handtools) so is there a specific brand(s) that anyone recommends?

For a bike repair stand I am actually looking at re-purposing an engine stand (these thing are not only great for holding engines but make great portable bases for all sorts of things)
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Old 10-14-16, 09:51 AM
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What Job on the Bike do you want to do?

There is the Tool of The forum Archives to look up all the times other people asked the same question you did...




I have 4 Snap On combination wrenches , an 8, a 9 And a Short 10.. and a Long 10.

And their 1/4" drive screwdriver handle and a bit to hold 1/4" hex bits

Cable cutters ? Swiss Felco.





Decades ago Campagnolo made a whole set of Tools for New frame Prep; special taps, dies, and holders for reaming, chasing and facing the frame .

Nickel plated they deserve a Display case with a see thru Lid.





'/,

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-14-16 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 10-14-16, 09:52 AM
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What kind of bike do you have? That will drastically change what tools you need, specifically regarding bottom bracket, crank and cassette tools.

Personally, I buy them as I need them, but a couple things almost anyone will need to start out with:
Cone wrenches
Tire levers
Chain tool
Cable cutters
Spoke nipple wrench
Chain whip
Crank puller, to fit your bike
Cassette tool, to fit your bike
Pedal tool, to fit your bike, if standard tools don't work (they do on mine)

Generic tools you may already have:
Nice allen key set (so much nicer to have than one of those all-in-one sets)
Nice metric wrench set
Adjustable wrench that opens to an inch and a quarter or so (useful for everything from old bottom brackets to turning your cassette tools)

From there, you can kit yourself out with a whole pile of specialty tools, but that is the basics in my tool box that gets regularly used.

As far as brands, Park Tools is the standard SnapOn of the bike world, but i hear a lot of good things about Pedro's, and I've used some Performance brand stuff without issue.

Last edited by jefnvk; 10-14-16 at 09:56 AM.
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Old 10-14-16, 09:58 AM
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Park tool is good go-to for shop grade stuff. They sometimes have two versions of a tool, a cheaper home and shop grade version. The home stuff is perfectly decent (Craftsman grade). Pedro's also makes similar quality stuff. If you want truly exceptional, Abbey Bike Tools, which are borderline between tool & art...

Dedicated stuff you might want:
1) Bottom bracket and/or crank tool appropriate for your bikes (Shimano external, square taper, any of the press-fit standards). There's like 10 different versions of this stuff now, so just get the one you need.
2) Lock-ring remover. Since you've got automotive stuff, just get one with a 3/8-drive.
3) Chain whip or cassette pliers.
4) Cable & housing cutters (if you don't have an automotive version).
5) Pedal wrench

Beyond that there's a ton of small stuff specific to various bikes. Adapters and things for bleeding brakes, etc.
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Old 10-14-16, 10:00 AM
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Im not an expert but i have:
tire levers
phillips and flat screwdriver
allen wrenches
vise grips
coat hanger
chain breaker tool

They can do most things on my bikes. ETA: i know you want to work on bikes vs basic repairs but dont forget the little tools are just as important!
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Old 10-14-16, 10:04 AM
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Most of my bicycle specific tools are by Park Tools:
Pedal wrench
Bottom Bracket socket
Locking Nut socket
Chain Whip
Chain Breaker
Grease

I want the Rear Derailleur Alignment Tool so badly but I don't think that I really need it.

My two non-Park Tools bicycle specific tools:
Finish Line Fiber Grip
Finish Line Teflon+ Dry Lube


My generic tool that is absolutely necessary for my CF frames:
Torque wrench
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Old 10-14-16, 10:14 AM
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I just went the simple route and bought the larger Spin Doctor kit from Performance a couple of years back when they had the annual June blowout sale.

Spin Doctor Team 33 Tool Kit

Park Tool is the more "professional" brand they carry - they have some kits for pro mechanics on the site.
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Old 10-14-16, 10:24 AM
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I buy Park tools as I need them, so I don't have to see the whole cost at once. I really like the Park cable cutters.
Bottom brackets can be very frustrating without the correct tools (which are specific for each type of BB).
What I wish I had on hand would be a nice set of small files, and every polishing accessory available for my Dremel.
Also, depending on the type of headset you would be working on- if you search Youtube there is a video instruction for a homemade headset press, which costs ~$12.00 and works great for older stuff. Disclaimer- I would not use that on anything with carbon.



Beer comes in handy, too.
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Last edited by Jadesfire; 10-14-16 at 10:27 AM. Reason: Added a few specifics.
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Old 10-14-16, 10:41 AM
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1/4" drive torque wrench in the 2nm to 10nm range.

Grease is not a tool.


-Tim-
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Old 10-14-16, 10:55 AM
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T handle metric allen wrenches. 2-12 mm.
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Old 10-14-16, 10:58 AM
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The following is an opinion, not fact

Requirements:
Metric T-handle allen wrenches
Metric L-bend allen wrenches
Adjustable wrench
Ritchey 5nm torque key
chain tool
screwdrivers
multitool
tire levers

Nice to have:
cable cutters (might be a requirement based on the person)
repair stand (ditto)
pedal wrench
click-type torque wrench
BB tool (if you have a splined, external BB)
chain whip
appropriate cassette removal tool
cone wrenches (if needed)
appropriate spoke key
lockring tool (if needed)

Advanced study:
truing stand
dishing tool
tensiometer
BB bearing press (if needed)
Hub bearing press (if needed)
Headset press (if needed)
crown race setting tool (a PVC pipe of the right diameter works fine)
digital calipers
hacksaw with steerer guide

Almost never need / go to a shop:
BB facing tool
Headtube facing tool
RD hanger alignment tool
Frame / fork alignment tool
Crown race puller
Star nut setter
Headset cup removal tools

Last edited by Hiro11; 10-14-16 at 11:02 AM.
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Old 10-14-16, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
Almost never need / go to a shop:
...
Headset cup removal tools
Easy to make at home. Get a copper pipe a bit narrower than your headset, take a hack saw and cut an X into one end, pull the "petals" outwards. $4 and works exactly like the far more expensive Park Tool option.

For press fit installation, a 2' section of threaded rod, a couple fender washers, and some nuts, and you effectively have the same tool Park sells for about $8 total.
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Old 10-14-16, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
Easy to make at home. Get a copper pipe a bit narrower than your headset, take a hack saw and cut an X into one end, pull the "petals" outwards. $4 and works exactly like the far more expensive Park Tool option.

For press fit installation, a 2' section of threaded rod, a couple fender washers, and some nuts, and you effectively have the same tool Park sells for about $8 total.
I know. We all know.
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Old 10-14-16, 12:34 PM
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Add this to your list. Maybe not absolutely necessary but cheap enough that it makes sense to have one.

https://www.parktool.com/product/chainring-nut-wrench-cnw-2
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Old 10-14-16, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
I know. We all know.
One who is asking about tool may not.
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Old 10-14-16, 12:46 PM
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Here's another that isn't absolutely necessary but makes the job much easier.

https://www.parktool.com/product/master-link-pliers-mlp-1-2?category=Chain
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Old 10-14-16, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by zze86 View Post
I am a tool fanatic and have quite a collection of hand tools already but I'm thinking of adding some bicycle specific tools to my tool chest since I'm hoping to work on my own bikes. I am wondering what special tools do I need to work on bikes?
It depends on what bikes you own. Cone wrenches aren't needed for most contemporary cartridge bearing hubs. Most new bikes have threadless headsets which use a hex key not two 32mm open-ended wrenches for adjustment. Many new bikes have switched to press-fit bottom brackets which don't need a big socket or special wrenches for classic cup-and-cone. Some pedals have flats for an open ended wrench where only a thin bicycle wrench fits, some take an 8mm hex key (get a nice socket which positively retains the bit - they tend to stick on crank arms bolts, especially alloy ones. I have a Snapon with a roll pin holding the parts together). Many crank arms (most these days) have self-extracting bolts, although older ones require a puller with a larger pusher required for ISIS/Octalink and odd thread for some (TA?) cranks.

Specifically, I know I want to be able to remove and clean the bottom bracket and quite possibly switch cassettes around on different wheelsets.
If you have threaded bottom bracket shells you'll want a socket like Park's BBT-19 (for 16 spline cups used by most external bearing cranks) and torque wrench which works going counter-clockwise (I really like Stahlwille's 730 series split-beam wrenches - instant torque setting with two thumbs, accurate over the full-scale, interchangeable heads, no need to store at zero)..

Icetoolz makes cassette tools which have a 1/2" socket drive, including a Shimano flavor with a guide pin. Campagnolo cassettes take a different tool.

I use my cable cutters a lot more often than either (rear shift cable every 2000 miles which can be 10 weeks, housing twice that). I have Park's which are OK, although Felco makes better ones.

My tire levers get some use too. While not needed with thin (two wraps of 1 mil Kapton totaling .005" not .020" for Velox) rim tape, they're more pleasant especially in cold wet weather which puts more flat causing crap on the road.

The chain breaker and master link tool are next every ~4500 miles for shortening replacement chains and removing old master links which are a bit stubborn.

You'll eventually (I got 12,000 miles out of my last bottom bracket before it got gritty, and could have gone longer if it didn't install with excessive preload) want a pin spanner which is missing from everyone's list. Without left-handed threads, the cap on self-extracting crank bolts can loosen so it eventually comes loose and falls out while you're riding. The pin spanner insures it's tight after you reinstall a crank arm.

A chain ring wrench is useful to keep traditional slotted nuts from spinning, although some of those take 6mm hex keys or T27 Torx so that's not a given.

Wheel building and rim replacement are rare activities which work best with spoke wrench (there are different sizes, Park's SW0-4 are nice enough), truing stand (Minour'as is OK), and dishing tool (Park portable). Properly built wheels don't go out of true unless crashed or beak spokes, although that's usually not what you get buying a bike.

For a bike repair stand I am actually looking at re-purposing an engine stand (these thing are not only great for holding engines but make great portable bases for all sorts of things)
You want a Park PCS-10 with a quick release clamp (less work when you're holding your bike), clamp which rotates with a bike mounted, and adjustable height (higher for drive-train work, lower for bar tape replacement, etc). We have one at my office.

Other stands are superficially similar but don't work as well - the clamp on the Spin Doctor G3 sags doesn't adjust nicely with a bike mounted. It's not bad enough to spend money replacing with a Park, although I wouldn't buy one again or recommend it.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 10-14-16 at 01:38 PM.
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Old 10-14-16, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
1/4" drive torque wrench in the 2nm to 10nm range.
A 1/4" hex drive (I like Stahlwille, get them from TBS-Aachen tools at half US prices or watch ebay) with matching bits fits better in tight spaces without the added length from protruding square drive plus bit socket, and quality bits (I like Wiha) cost much less than nice hex bit sockets (Snapon).

1/4" non-ratcheting hex drives fit even more spots.


Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 10-14-16 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 10-14-16, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
T handle metric allen wrenches. 2-12 mm.
Everything bike related I've owned took 3, 4, 4.5, 5, 6, or 8mm. The 6 and 8 require more torque than you'll get with a T-handle. The 8mm fasteners need more than a hex key or standard length socket wrench (especially for removal).

P-handle ball-end are the best option - you get the torque of a conventional L-key when you needed it, can spin fasteners in like a T-handle, and the ball tolerates misalignment.

You may also need a few Torx keys - Campagnolo uses T25 on their shifters (T or P handle optimal for clearance), and T27 is common on alloy chainring bolts/nuts.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 10-14-16 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 10-14-16, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
1/4" non-ratcheting hex drives fit even more spots.

OP said he likes nice tools. I've been eyeing the Giustaforza II 2-16.


-Tim-
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Old 10-14-16, 01:22 PM
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I also appreciated Snap-on's quality and ergonomics early on; even with the corresponding price tag:
My Snapon Screwdrivers by 1nterceptor, on Flickr

For bike specific tools; I buy mostly Park Tools and some Pedro's:
Random Parts & Tools by 1nterceptor, on Flickr

OP may want to check out Abbey Tools. I have no personal experience; but hear some good buzz from bike mechs.
Check out the oak handles on their US$130 pedal wrench
Pedal Wrench - Abbey Bike Tools
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Old 10-14-16, 01:32 PM
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Just get a whole kit.

Nashbar Essential Tool Kit

And an engine stand wouldn't be a great bike stand. You can get a real bike stand for less than $50 on Amazon.
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Old 10-14-16, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
OP said he likes nice tools. I've been eyeing the Giustaforza II 2-16.
The Stahlwilles are nicer, but somewhat more expensive provided you import from Germany (don't think about buying a new one already in America).

The 730N/2 is 2-20nm and 20-180 in-lbs but requires dialing a torque (with no opposing spring pressure).

The 730/2 is 4-20nm, and 730a/2-1 17.5-87.5 inch pounds (about 2-10nm, with the metric 730/2 no longer available) both with single scales. Dual scales are only present on the larger 730 not N wrenches starting at the 6-50nm and 5-36 ft-lb 730/5.

You set the 730 wrenches instantly with your thumbs countering no opposing spring tension from the torque mechanism, where the smallest sizes work like this


instead of cranking on the end. You don't need to drop to the bottom of the scale for storage. They work counter-clockwise for left hand fasteners (as used in some Campagnolo shift levers). They have interchangeable ends including 1/4" hex bit ratcheting and fixed which is smaller. You could use a 3/8" or 1/2" ratchet on the smallest wrenches given an odd situation.

Moving past the click is more noticeable than on the micrometer wrenches I own where the best is a Craftsman. Better ones micrometer wrenches might be nicer, although as long as I was spending the money I wanted a split beam design.

CDI also makes split beam wrenches sold directly and through Snapon, although they have fixed heads, aren't reversible, don't promise accuracy in the bottom 20% of their range, and don't come in small sizes.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 10-14-16 at 03:21 PM.
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Old 10-14-16, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
Everything bike related I've owned took 3, 4, 4.5, 5, 6, or 8mm. The 6 and 8 require more torque than you'll get with a T-handle. The 8mm fasteners need more than a hex key or standard length socket wrench (especially for removal).

P-handle ball-end are the best option - you get the torque of a conventional L-key when you needed it, can spin fasteners in like a T-handle, and the ball tolerates misalignment.

You may also need a few Torx keys - Campagnolo uses T25 on their shifters (T or P handle optimal for clearance), and T27 is common on alloy chainring bolts/nuts.
2.5 sometimes as well. I have L handles, T handles as well as socket drives. I dislike the loose fit of the ball end. And the the short end of the T handles serves me well for needed torque. Some of the BB caps are 8 and 10 mm. My kit came with a 7 mm. Ever seen that on a bike or car? More are better. back to the OP. For me, if I were to get one set, it would be a T handle kit with the range of sizes. The torx 25 is common for disc rotor bolts too.
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Old 10-14-16, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
What kind of bike do you have? That will drastically change what tools you need, specifically regarding bottom bracket, crank and cassette tools.

Personally, I buy them as I need them, but a couple things almost anyone will need to start out with:
Cone wrenches
Tire levers
Chain tool
Cable cutters
Spoke nipple wrench
Chain whip
Crank puller, to fit your bike
Cassette tool, to fit your bike
Pedal tool, to fit your bike, if standard tools don't work (they do on mine)

Generic tools you may already have:
Nice allen key set (so much nicer to have than one of those all-in-one sets)
Nice metric wrench set
Adjustable wrench that opens to an inch and a quarter or so (useful for everything from old bottom brackets to turning your cassette tools)

From there, you can kit yourself out with a whole pile of specialty tools, but that is the basics in my tool box that gets regularly used.

As far as brands, Park Tools is the standard SnapOn of the bike world, but i hear a lot of good things about Pedro's, and I've used some Performance brand stuff without issue.
Buy them as you need them... that's what I've always done too. The irony is that I have tools my LBS doesn't have. I have old tools that fit now defunct BB and freewheels... I went into a shop about 5 years ago looking for new old stock parts, and the mechanic piped up, "I don't even have the tools to pull that freewheel... " I replied "I do." Grinning.

Over the years, whenever there was some odd tool needed to wrench my bikes, I bought it... and now have odd Suntour and other adapters.

You just never know.
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