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Essential tools for newbie DIY mechanic

1196 Views 15 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  agabriel
I have been taking my bike into the shop for repairs for way too long now...I'm tired of spending the $50 + an hour for things I can (hopefully) do in my garage.

Just curious what you think the essential tools are for all around bike repairs at home.

So far I have:

park tool 4,5,6 mm allen wrench
shimano bb tool and cassette tool
pedal wrench
assorted screwdrivers and pliers

I know that I will need a bike stand and a chain whip to help remove the cassette.

Can you think of any other tools I should consider for working on my classic blur?

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Really, until you get a few screw-ups under your belt, you don't need much more. I wouldn't mess with actually cutting and facing a fork for installation, or getting a crown race tool, star nut removal/install tool (although you CAN install a star nut with a long allen bolt and a hammer........I just don't suggest it.), other more specialized stuff. For now, let the mechanic do the harder stuff. Learn, first. Get ahold of a good repair manual (I suggest Barnetts, there may be better out there now) and read up. And whatever you do, do NOT try to true or tension your wheels yourself, you're going to end up taking it to the mechanic anyway to fix your screw-up. :)

You should get a good cable and housing cutter, and learn how to properly install new cables. That, you're going to be doing often. Might as well learn that one.
JPark said:
Cone wrenches.
When the High Master hears of this he will surely cut off my plargh and hand it to me.

Sorry. Had to. :D

Here's a newbie question: what do you use cone wrenches for?
Notcher said:

Here's a newbie question: what do you use cone wrenches for?
Adjusting the cone nuts and locknuts on your hubs. Keeps the axle centered and spinning properly.
I would advise to pickup a full set of Allen wrenches similar to this set:

I also like to have a folding multitool to carry in my pack for trailside repairs.

A chainbreak is nice to have for shortening/repairing chains. I like the mini as it is small enough to have in my pack as well:

You mention that you have a cassette tool, to enable you to use it easy I would suggest a chainwhip to hold the cassette while torquing:

Once you start getting serious about bike repairs (helping friends etc) I would suggest a torque wrench to prevent over-torquing / stripping threads.
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JPark said:
Cone wrenches.
What if he is using a wheelset that does not use cup/cones?

That too. Expensive-ish, but has everything he'd need and then some. There's a beginner kit as well, tosses out some of the more specialized stuff that he could buy seperately later. Portable-wise, I still use an original Topeak Alien I got for Christmas years ago. The latching clip to hold the halves together broke, but otherwise, the tools are fine. Has just about everything you need. I added a seperate spoke wrench, but that's it.
lube, grease and blue loctite....
I have hadley xc hubs, which were recently serviced, so hopefully I won't need any cone wreches soon?

Seems like having cable cutters would be handy since shifting cables are usually always changed when I take the bike in for a tune-up. The next step would be to figure out the right tensions for proper shifting
CHUM said:
lube, grease and blue loctite....
Proper weight fork oil, extra bolts..........meh, list goes on and on. I lived in a small town, so I bought the basics, got to know the shop owner fairly well, volunteered to work the counter on Saturdays so he could get in a day ride, and got to use the expensive tools as payment. Works out for everybody. If I break something, well.......I guess I buy a new one. :p
heff® said:
...And whatever you do, do NOT try to true or tension your wheels yourself.....
why?'s really not difficult....just need a spoke wrench, zip tie and a little patience...takes all of 5-10 minutes after you get the hang of it....

as far as tensioning just squeeze on your'll feel a loose one.

there's more than info enough online info to true a wheel yourself....

BUT....when learning i would not recommend drinking.....things can get outta hand quick ;)
"Getting the hang of it" is the problem. I've watched more experienced mechanics than me put a wobble in a wheel they couldn't figure out before. I can do it now, but geez.....took me more than a few tries and a giggling mechanic to get it right.
Get a good cable cutter.
you can make a chain whip from some old chain and whatever for a handle.
cassette tool, the pin type is easy to use.
Assortment of lubes and grease, Loctite blue.
Chain breaker,
If you can, borrow the specialty tools rather than buy. or have your LBS press bearings, face etc.
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