I suspected that getting the right tools to build up a bike might be an extremely daunting & expensive journey to embark upon, but it turned out not too bad. You probably have the basics already – spanners/wrenches, screwdrivers etc. But you will need to buy some specialist stuff to get this done properly. It’s hard to be amusing or light-hearted about tools, believe me I tried, so I’ll just list what you need straight up.
You probably also already have allen keys, (I’ve never bought any – I’ve several sets courtesy of free gifts attached to the front of bike magazines & despite the advice to “get the best you can” – they have been more than adequate, never rounding off).
Now here’s an expensive one I hear you cry, but I took a gamble & bought a home made device off Ebay. You can see it in the pic here, below the chain whip. Pretty basic stuff and it only cost me £6. A proper headset press ranges from £40 – £140. Did it work, or did I humbly go to my local bike shop for help? Stay tuned!
Chain whip, headset press, cassette removal tool, bottom bracket tool
Incidentally, you won’t need a chain whip to put the bike together, only when you need to remove the cassette – it will stop it spinning.
BOTTOM BRACKET TOOL
I went for the best, it isn’t a huge amount of cash for a Park tool like this, only about £10. Considering the extreme load & stress placed on the bottom bracket, I thought it worthwhile to get the best.
CASSETTE REMOVAL TOOL
This became a little more complicated than I suspected due to the fact I opted for Shimano Centrelock (centerlock) rotors, which meant compatible wheels & more specialist fitting.
Lock ring removal tool & cassette removal tool
Now, you may read elated posts from elated bikers naturally pleased that they can save tool-money here, telling you that you’re in luck, because the cassette removal tool is the same as the lock ring removal tool; well not quite in many instances as you can see from the picture on the right.
You may gleefully fit your cassette, then your front centrelock rotor, only to find that you can’t fit the rear centrelock rotor because the tool doesn’t fit. Many of them are simply too shallow to engage the rear lock ring.
Lock Ring Comparison
You can clearly see the problem in the picture above, the specific cassette removal tool on the left is not deep enough for the splines to connect, the Superstar tool on the right, however, is easily long enough and cancels out the tool on the left in every aspect from now on. Superstar do tend to buck the trend with components and tools, using the same factories to manufacture their product that many other high end brands use, they say, but somehow forgetting to add the huge mark-up on the price tags – cost? £4.99..
CRANK TENSIONER TOOL (Shimano TL-FC16 Installation tool)
I guess this works in a similar way that your headset cap and bolt work to tension the stem & forks creating a perfect snug fit, so on that deduction I thought it worthwhile rather than trying to bodge it – only about £2, it’s made of a tough nylon and is designed to be tightened by hand to simply tension Hollowtech crank arms before tightening up – this will become clearer later, if not already.
CABLE / CABLE OUTER / HOSE CUTTERS
Well I already have cable cutters for my car so didn’t bother buying any, only to find that after mangling my gear cable outer / hose to the point it looked like I’d found it in the road it became pretty apparent that I needed to get some. It seems like you can be forced to pay through the nose with many bike tools (see “headset press” above), but you don’t always have to – I read a “check this out, suckers” kinda article on the web where a guy pointed out that whatever you call it, this tool is basically just a wire rope cutter. Nothing more fancy or specialised than that. So, I await my £10 wire rope cutter bought on Ebay instead of my £30-£40 “cable outer cutter” from a bike shop. Will it work? I’ve not got a scooby, but if it does, it will reinforce my growing opinion that the home bike mechanic is easily ripped off on the choice of tools made available to him out there. No picture here yet as it hasn’t arrived..
Yup, I also have one of these. Using it with the bottom bracket tool, it spun off nearly causing a nasty accident, so I also add the next item to the tool list..
OLD QUICK RELEASE SKEWERS
It’s one of those little genius ideas you stumble across, stop the force of tensioning something disperse into various bits of hard metal flying across the room, damaging you, your living room (yes folks, I build my bikes in the living room in winter..) & more importantly, your bike.
On the right, you can see I’m just loosely tightening the nut part of the skewer to stop the lock ring tool flying off while I tighten it. It works and once you try it, you will always use this method.
This was just a cheap £5 tube cutter, used for the seat post & the handlebars. Up to you if you want to trim or not, but I always have my handlebars a certain width – despite what fashion dictates. I know I can fit through certain narrow gates at speed without snagging my knuckles as I’m used to the size I prefer. I’ve been biking long enough to see fashions come and go and frustrating new size standards come in making parts of my bikes in the past obsolete. Are wider handlebars better? Not for me, I’m not cruising through the desert on a Harley, I’m more often as not dodging through people in the park on the way to the pub.
Thinking about changing fashions, here’s one that springs to mind; elliptical rings. Years ago these egg shaped chainrings were deemed to be the new wonder to help your pedalling rev’s work more efficiently… Then they disappeared amid cynical reviews saying no-one noticed any difference. I had some, I didn’t notice any difference. Well, last year I heard & read rumours that they were back. I guess new bikers will be a fraction too young to remember & will think it’s all new & exciting. I guess it just goes in revolutions & cycles, ironically..