16 Feb 2016
THE TOP FIVE TOOLS FOR YOUR WORKSHOP
Keeping your bike in best condition is so important for performance, reliability, safety and longevity, and with it your confidence in your bicycle to always work just as you expect it to. Regular cleaning and maintenance are vital, and while we always recommend regular visits to your trusted bike shop mechanic, a certain amount of home maintenance is a win-win. There are plenty of specialist tools available, but what should you get first? Which give the greatest benefit? We count down the top five most useful tools, in reverse order…
5. Floor pump
You may think your portable pump blows air just fine, but if you’re changing tires even semi-regularly, one of these will transform your life. They’re massively faster and way easier to use. Double-sided heads are a real help as they accommodate both Schrader and Presta valves without adjustment. You’ll need a high-pressure pump if it’s for a road bike, while mountain bikers benefit most from a high-volume version. The choice between options costing from around 45-120 Euros is vast. Well-built plastic is just as effective as aluminum, and small adaptors make them useful for everything from footballs to airbeds, too – but it’s your rolling stock we care about most!
ESSENTIAL FOR: Tyre changes, seating tires on beads, sealing tubeless tires
Whatever your discipline, or your colours, a good track pump is a must!
4. Chain whip & cassette tool
We’re cheating slightly here with two tools, but these go together like a man and his shadow. Cassette lockring tools are cheap (around 6 Euros), though the best, with a central locator pin and a long fixed handle, cost slightly more. Chainwhips can be had for a similar price, and while you can pay 20 Euros or more, all it really needs is some half-decent riveting. Budget ones can work perfectly well.
ESSENTIAL FOR: Cassette replacement, wheel bearing replacement and maintenance, wheel changes, gearing changes
You may carry a mini one already, or have one on a multitool, but for workshop use a solid, hand-sized chain tool is a real boon. Prices range from around 7 to 30 Euros, but for this tool we recommend investing towards the top end of that price range, and only ever having to buy once. Look for a chunky metal head, a well-formed channel for the chain and a thick, comfy handle. Combine it with the chainwhip and cassette tool and you can service and replace or replace your entire transmission yourself – saving a lot of time and money (also check out our feature on chain maintenance).
ESSENTIAL FOR: Chain replacement, chain length adjustment, drivetrain replacement
Tired of scrabbling on the floor, trying to stop your bike falling over and working upside down every time you take a wheel out? A workstand makes every job easier. Budget between 45-130 Euros. While there are plenty at the lower end of the scale, it’s worth going for a quality brand and a sturdy build if you can. Stability is key, particularly with heavy mountain bikes. Check that the jaws open wide enough to accept your frame (top tube and/or seat tube), and that they’re well padded.
ESSENTIAL FOR: Everything!
Equip yourself with the best essential workshop tools for fuss-free riding and racing
1. T-handled Allen keys
Most kinds of bicycles have a late number of Allen-headed bolts, and if you’re still struggling with standard L-shaped keys of uncertain origin – and wildly uneven quality – you’ve probably had enough of rounding off bolts or scraping knuckles. T-handled keys are easily found between 20-35 Euros a set, and they transform the experience. The long bars reach awkward spots (look for ball ends to help with tricky angles), while the short ends provide torque. Heavy handles make rapidly spinning bolts in and out easy. The greater comfort, leverage and ergonomics speed every job up dramatically. Bike-oriented sets often include a very useful T25 Torx, too. Choose a set with a holder, for the ultimate in easy, tidy working.
ESSENTIAL FOR: 99 percent of upgrade, maintenance or repair jobs
OK, we said our “Top Five Tools”, but we can’t sign-off without mentioning this old favorite, FSA’s headtube guides: Hard-wearing stainless steel headtube guides to correctly determine headset fitment or to identify headset bearings (including gauges for internal diameter, external diameter and chamfer angles), or for quickly and easily determining the bearing that will fit in integrated headtubes and finding replacement bearings for internal headsets (measures inside headtube or bearing cup diameter and outer bearing angle).