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Tools & Workshop
Maintenance Essentials

If you’re planning to maintain your bike at home having the right tools for the job will not only make your life much easier, but also cut down the time it takes, giving you more time to go riding.

First and foremost, some cleaning products are an essential part of the kit. Biodegradable, water soluble degreaser and a chain cleaner are huge labour savers and will get the best results; far easier than scrubbing with an old toothbrush! Hot soapy water still has its place but it’s good to have other cleaning agents on hand, such as Muc-Off, to help shift stubborn grime. Bike specific brushes, sold in kits, will make the hard to reach areas easier to clean, such as hubs and between cassette sprockets.

After cleaning you’ll need a water dispersing lubricant to flush out the moisture from moving parts. The best choices are those that leave a protective coating, such as Teflon, to act as a barrier to grime the next time you ride. Caution must be taken on mountain bikes, not to allow any lubricant sprays to come into contact with disc brake parts.

For basic maintenance you’ll need at least a track pump, tyre levers, a good set of Allen keys, from 2mm to 10mm, a chain splitting tool, cable cutters, some screwdrivers (flat and Phillips) and a few sizes of spanners, such as a pedal spanner. If you’re a competent home mechanic then you may wish to extend this further to include tools for specific jobs like changing a bottom bracket, or cassette, plus spoke keys, cone spanners and a torque wrench. Some good grease and both ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ condition chain oils are also vital kit.

Maintenance On The Go

Occasionally things go wrong with even the best maintained bikes, finding yourself miles from home with no means of fixing it is no fun at all. There is a wide range of lightweight multi tools, pumps and air canisters available so there is no excuse for getting stranded. The most common mechanical for both road and mountain bike riders are punctures. You should always carry a couple of spare tubes and even a patch or two just in case. Mini-pumps are light weight and will inflate a tube within a few minutes, if you are racing or want to get back on your bike even quicker an air canister style inflator containing pressurised gas will get your tyre inflated in a matter of seconds.

Carrying a multi-tool with a chain tool attachment is strongly recommended for fixing broken links and including a joining link in your spares, such as SRAM’s Powerlink, will provide a quick tool-free fix.

There is a wide range of multi tools, some with everything but the kitchen sink, but choose a tool that reflects the riding you are doing. If you spend a lot of time riding in remote areas then you’ll need a tool for every eventuality, whereas if you’re buying a tool for XC racing then you can get by with the bare essentials. At the least, make sure you are getting all the Allen key sizes appropriate for your bike. Don’t forget the Torx key is becoming more commonly used on mountain bikes, for example, disc rotor bolts.

Workshop Stands & Storage

Every bike rider needs a well-organised shed to make working on and cleaning bikes easier. If you are a keen bike fettler and enjoy doing your own maintenance and repairs a bike stand is invaluable. Getting the bike off the ground and at eye level takes the pressure of your back, makes jobs easier to do and saves your bike from the irritating scratches and scrapes that happen when you try and work on it leant against a wall. There are a variety of stands available from the heavy duty work shop stands to light weight portable ones which are useful for taking to events for any last minute fixing or cleaning jobs.

A proper stand helps speed up your workshop repairs and storage for tools and parts will also make life easier as everything is to hand and clearly on display. Portable toolboxes for road trips are handy but nothing bits a well stocked tool chest for giving your shed that professional feel.


This story was last updated on 18/01/2012