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Servicing tools

sunny's picture

By sunny - Posted on 08 October 2010

Its something I've always been meaning to learn about but never got around to. Servicing/rebuilding my own bike, the works!

The dollar is still doing good, so I thought I'd stock up on some of the tools that one might have for servicing their bike and bit by bit get more familiar with them.

Theres the obvious stuff like allen keys etc, but I don't have a chain cleaner which I'd imagine is quite useful, maybe even a service stand. Anything else one might find useful?

(will probably be going to wiggle)

hathill's picture

Depends on what you need for your bike but

Cassette tool and chainwhip.
Hollowtech BB tools.
Cone Spanners.
Good spoke key
Truing Stand
Chain breaker
Cable cutters
Lubricants i.e grease/oil etc.
Torx drivers if you have need them for your disc brakes or chainwheels.
Torque Wrench

The workstand is a great idea. Forget the chain cleaner - install a SRAM powerlink and take it off to clean it properly.

Fatboy's picture

You can get neat cases with most of the tools you'll need. Pro do a good one.

daveh's picture

Crank puller (not a huge deal...until you need one!) and a grease gun? This,, was also kind of handy recently but definitely not a must have tool.

Pratters's picture

If you're looking to do the odd bit of work and for interest then one of the tool sets (Xtool for a cheap one) and Park (for a good one) is really all you need.

Here are 4 I found from a 3 minute search

$60 (and you get a puller!)

$160 (very basic)

$210 (nice case)

$8000 (everything)

For occasional work there is no reason not to buy the cheapest one. Seriously how often are you going to change your cranks/bottom bracket/cassette? Unless you like nice stuff, the low end stuff is fine these days.

I included the last one to show what buying tools can turn into (this really is everything including headset tools).

The other option is actually buy a tool when you need it. You'd be surprised how much you can do with a good set of Allen keys.

I'd add in the following:

- Don't under estimate the amount of time doing your own repairs takes. Chances are you'll need to unpack what you want, work on it, go to YouTube, read a book on the topic, then fix it, and then, pack everything up. Unless you're super keen I would not recommend going beyond the basics. Others on the list might disagree, I have lost hours out of my day for something that seems 'simple and easy' at the time.

- If you start working on older bikes you'll realise you need more tools again (e.g. free wheel hubs - yes they still exist!) Then there are incompatibilities, it never ends!

Finally bike shop mechanics are usually pros. Whenever I watch them I amazed how fast they are. If you're being charged for 1 hour of labour and want to do that yourself, allow at least three hours.


Btw I find the chain cleaners useless!

philberesford's picture

I find my chain cleaner an essential bit of kit. I get it out after every wet ride. It helps get the bulk of the crap off. I still remove the chain and finish it off with an old tooth brush however. Yes it does take many hours to clean and service my bike but I find the process rather therapeutic and learn new things everytime. Others may disagree but there are Zen moments to bike maintainence. I particularly enjoy pulling the cassette of and giving it a good old scrub.

FWIW I bought all my tools separately as a went along. But don't let that stop you from buying a kit. Even a basic kit would be helpful. You can always add to it with more specialist tools as you go.

Finally, get a workstand! I can't recommend this enough. It makes life so much easier. Torpedo7 have them on special regularly. Mine's a cheapy from T7 ($70ish). It does the job and has a tray to put my parts in.

Logan's picture

Has the Park toolset for $299 that was listed above and with the parity that is a pretty good deal imo.

I am probably going to order that shortly as I want to do alot of the stuff myself as well.

sunny's picture

Thanks for the listings everyone Smiling I guess in the short term, I'd like to be able to at least thoroughly clean the bike (removing the cassette, chain, cranks...others?) and making minor adjustments here and there.

A cheap kit seems to be the way to get started (the X-Tools one looks ok), though Chain Reaction has a $418 quota for free shipping Sad

The Park kit looks very comprehensive - for kits like that, I'd imagine it has tools of varying sizes that one might not need if they're just servicing their own bike?

Logan's picture

However it wasnt

Link Included:

philberesford's picture

The best a man (or woman) can get.

$418 for free shipping - easy! My problem is always keeping the cost down. I always end up with free shipping from CRC.

hawkeye's picture
Others may disagree but there are Zen moments to bike maintainence.

... may I suggest that you invest $40 in a copy of Zinn and The Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance.

The book really is every bit as good as good as the pun in the title.

Has saved me hours and many dollars in broken parts. The illustrations are excellent and the step-by-step instructions in eh text are very clear.

Pratters's picture

Buy some tools, have a go, learn about your bike and contribute to the body of knowledge of the world. Just remember unless you sit around bored for days on end at home, you'll have to trade your time off elsewhere. For many people (on this forum) this is fine and they (mostly) enjoy it as I do.

FWIW I think people forget when they first started pulling apart their bike that it takes time, you make mistakes and you break stuff (and that in turn costs money). I destroyed a brand new XTR chain because I didn't know you can't reset the pins and that you need to replace them.

For me it really comes down to time. I currently have time to look on the internet for good deals and I have time to play around with the bikes I own and I don't get out riding that often.

If you work long hours and just want to ride I think you're better off having a good relationship with the LBS who you trust to do your servicing.


Btw That Park tool kit looks excellent value.

sunny's picture
Just remember unless you sit around bored for days on end at home, you'll have to trade your time off elsewhere

Smiling All of that is very true! I was almost sold on that Park kit on special! I split myself between 4 hobbies including going of them is flying RC helicopters. For a heli that was a $800 purchase I've spent 4-5k on parts and tools, but over a couple of years I've learnt to be able to repair/rebuild this heli pretty much from scratch if I ever have (another) total loss nose dive crash.

The Pro tool kit ( seems to be a good balance in range and price (I'd love that Park kit, but I don't think I can justify $300 yet!).

Oh, and the book from Amazon too Smiling

philberesford's picture

That's just one visit to your LBS...

Buy a man a fish and he can eat for a day, teach a man to fish... etc

$300 on a tool kit looks pretty good to me

My 2¢

CookPassBartridge's picture

Phil Beresford...

are you quoting an Oxfam appeal advert?:

"Buy a man a fish and he can eat for a day, teach a man to fish... etc"

Shame on you! Eye-wink

hawkeye's picture

... they pinched it from Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and Steve Covey probably pinched it from somewhere else.

On the time front, yes it takes time to do repairs, but I do the sums this way: it is something I enjoy doing (mostly), the more I do it the quicker I get, and I don't have to leave my bike at the LBS a whole week because I can't get there during opening hours.

If I can fix it myself at least I can ride again the next day.

With a copy of Zinn there is little need to learn by breaking things.

CookPassBartridge's picture

"On the time front, yes it takes time to do repairs, but I do the sums this way: it is something I enjoy doing (mostly), the more I do it the quicker I get, and I don't have to leave my bike at the LBS a whole week because I can't get there during opening hours. "

Here here.

My riding companion (one of those softer, more boobied human types) has had two, no three bad experiences with two different Bike Shops. She took her bike in for a service and asked them to give it a full service and get it ready for Capital Punishment. ~5-10km's into the race, there was no pad left on her rear disk brake, metal on metal. 30kms into it, no pad left on the front brake.

Second issue was a different bike shop serviced the bike and put a new cassette on the bike. But didn't tighten it and the cassette more or less worked itself undone.

And the final issue... whilst riding through Sparrow Hill... and this is no word of a lie she unexpectidly came off the bike trying to get it over a log. When she picked it up, she noticed something wasn't quite right... oh that was it... the pedals were both pointing the same way! They must have lubed the BB and not tightened it back up properly. Fortunately, being a Giant XC1, I was able to tighten the crank back up with my trusty Crank Bros. 19 piece multitool.

I'm not saying she was right, but she took the approach of "I work full time, I'm not mechanical, so I'll outsource the responsibility of my bike maintenance to my LBS." And was metaphorically bitten 3/4 times.

thehairynurse's picture

has anyone used the union tool kit from torpedo7 ?(sorry bit technophobic and dont know how to post link) looks very similar to the x one at crc but $70 plus shipping and was wondering if its anygood, have to service my rear hub soon and was hoping to do it myself if i could, and service the bb as well ( havent had the bike in a lbs for 5 years- just a high pressure hose and dry rag wipe down after everyish use if i feel like it Smiling

Buck's picture
~5-10km's into the race, there was no pad left on her rear disk brake, metal on metal. 30kms into it, no pad left on the front brake.

To be fair I don't think anyone's brakes held up too well in the Capital Punishment. You should have seen the rate people were going through pads at the Sydney 24hr in the last 2 years........

I just gradually built up my tool collection as I got more comfortable working with my bike. Most of those all in one tool kits are fine. While the cheap T7 ones may not be the best quality I think they will be fine for most home mechanics. After all the home mechanic is no bike shop mechanic so the tools won't be used everyday. Therefore the cheaper tools should be ok in most cases.

I did get a decent hex set though as I use that fairly often.

Tools that are handy to have:
a good hex set
chain whip and cassette tool
crank puller (only required on some cranks....not on Shimano Hollowtech)
chain breaker
bottom bracket tool
pedal spanner
cone wrenches....only if your hubs require it though
spoke keys

I may have forgotten something but that is what I seem to use most regularly.

Edit: chain wear checker....must have tool

pat.o's picture

If you can wait a while they come down to about $40 fairly regularly - hard to pass up at that price. I figure if I get a couple of home services out of it before it dies I haven't blown my cash.

I haven't tackled the rear hub yet but the bottom bracket wasn't too difficult - just made sure I had enough time and didn't rush. Of course, that wasn't the source of the annoying squeak - but it only took the LBS about half an hour to track it down to the rear der hanger & they greased a few other spots along the way. They even offered to fit the bike in at short notice & I had it back in an hour & could commute home the same day.

I also find it pretty relaxing to have a go at servicing myself, when I have time - as others have said, there's plenty of info here and on you-tube. The good LBSs will be happy to finish the job if things go awry.

BT's picture

I bought the AK-37 Advanced Mechanic kit from Jenson a while ago. Without a doubt it's one of my best bike related purchases. With the AU dollar doing so well now it's a lot cheaper than when I bought mine.

A word of advice though is to buy it from Jenson. Park Tools are made in the US and are cheaper if bought directly from there rather than going via the UK and CRC.

MarkkyMarkk's picture

In addition to obtaining all the necessary tools, does anyone know of any short courses for bicycle mechanic stuff available around the Nortern Beaches?
I, too have been accumulating a series of bike tools for DIY repairs & so far have had good results but it can be intimidating pulling apart bit & pieces not really knowing if I'm going to be able to get all the parts back together again.

sunny's picture

Just thought I'd share - I just picked up the Park AK-37 kit from eBay brand new for AUD$314.24 delivered from a US seller.

Only regret not doing it last weekend when we were closer to parity Sad

muvro's picture

Most of my tool kit is off the good ol' Snap-On truck.

However, sometimes buying the cheaper kits is a great way to get into working on your bike. Then as your skills and knowledge improves, you'll start seeing the short comings of the cheaper tools and start upgrading bit by bit. Either that, or you'll quickly find out that fixing your bike yourself is not for you, and you've not blown a heap of money. In saying that, better quality tools does actually make a difference. The tolerances are tighter and materials better, so there's less stripped allen keys, and rounded bolts.

Discodan's picture

I held off commenting on this thread originally until I'd had a chance to use the set properly which I now have so I feel qualified to pass judgement. I've used the internal and external BB removal tools, the crank extractor, pedal spanners, the chain whip and cassette nut tool so far.

I'm a fan of good tools being an engineer and having spannered on racing motorcycles for many years and been saved by the right tools on a few occaisions. Having said that I think this set is perfect for the intended purpose which is home maintenance. The standard tools (allen keys, screwdrivers, shifter) are rubbish but the specific bike tools are fine and haven't caused an issue.

I wouldn't buy the set if I was working on bikes all day every day but for what I need the're perfect and at the price you can't say no. I picked up the set from T7 for $40 on special.

just my few cents worth

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