Bewildered by the range of tools that you can buy to stock your home bike workshop? Don’t worry, we’ll make it simple for you with our guide to help you decide what you need!
To ensure the longevity of your tools, and the integrity of the bolts and screws on your bike, you should choose tools made from the best quality materials.
Tools made from low-quality metals will be liable to wearing and rounding – that is, when the hexagonal shape of Allen keys or star shape of Torx bits becomes worn over time and lose their shape. Not only does this impact the tool’s functionality, but risks rounding off the bolts that you’re working on. Rounding a bolt on the bike can lead to components becoming ‘stuck’ in place – and when that happens you need to drill out the bolt that has become rounded, which is a difficult and stressful experience!
Our range of workshop tools, such as the 6-in-1 Y-Wrench and 8-in-1 Multitool, are made from either cold-forged or heat-treated steel, which means that they will retain their shape and not wear down through years of use.
RANGE OF BITS
When choosing your tools, you need to consider both how ambitious and how experienced you are. If you’re planning to carry out complex maintenance and installations, or build a bike from scratch, you’re going to need a wide range of tools. If you’re planning on just performing essential, everyday work such as changing chains, swapping basic components such as stems and seat posts, or adjusting brakes and gears, you can get by on a relatively small amount of kit.
The beauty of bike maintenance is the relative standardisation of the bolts used on componentry, and the size of those bolts. This makes the selection of tools a lot more straightforward. If you’re planning on just performing essential adjustments on your bike, a tool with 4, 5, and 6mm Allen keys, and a set of screwdriver heads is usually more than sufficient. Some manufacturers and brands, for example, Zipp and Focus opt for the star-shaped Torx bolt as an alternative, as they are less likely to round out.
Given this standardisation of bolt, you’re going to be able to carry out nearly all the work you require with just the simplest of tools. At PRO BIKE TOOL, we engineer our products to contain just the essential bits, so that we can make the products lightweight, user-friendly, and cost-effective. Our 8-in-1 multitool and 6-in-1 Y-Wrench both contain 4, 5 and 6mm Allen keys, a T-25 key, and a cross-head screwdriver so that you can perform all the work you need with minimal tools. The multitool also comes with additional sizes of both these shapes of tool.
REVERSIBLE DRIVES AND RATCHETS
If you’re going to be working on components that are in awkward places, for example saddle clamps, or performing repeat adjustments (you may be setting up your bike and finding the correct handlebar rotation, for example), tools with reversible drives and ratchets are super-helpful.
A ratchet mechanism enables you to keep the tool bit engaged in the bolt and perform repeated tightening and loosening movements, without needing to move the tool’s position in the bolt every time. This saves a significant amount of time and is particularly helpful if space is tight.
A reversible drive is useful for similar reasons. A reversible drive allows you to swap the direction of the tool’s action, so you can easily adjust the tool between a tightening and loosening action – again, this helps for awkwardly placed components.
CHOOSING YOUR CHAINS
If you’re planning on changing your own chains, rather than have a bike shop do it for you, you will need either one or two tools, depending on the type of chain you plan to use. Most chains nowadays come with a ‘master link’, which is an easily removable link designed to make the process of swapping chains a lot easier.
If you’re using chains with a master link, you may be able to get by with just a set of master link pliers, which help you detach and re-connect the chain. If you’re using chains without that master link however, you’ll need a chain tool to remove and re-insert the pin that holds chain links together.
At PRO BIKE TOOL, we recommend that a home mechanic have both a chain tool and set of master link pliers in their workshop, as, even if you’re only ever using chains with a master link, there will be occasions when you need to re-size the chain to make it the correct length for your groupset.
So, TO TORQUE OR NOT TO TORQUE?
At PRO BIKE TOOL HQ, we commonly get asked whether it is worth having a torque wrench in their range of tools. You can check out our blog explaining what torque is, and why it matters, here.
However, to put it simply, we suggest always using a torque wrench when working on expensive components, and when performing the final tightening when installing more basic items. It’s surprisingly easy to over-tighten a bolt, and this can lead to the cracking or damaging of carbon components, or more simply, cause you to round out a bolt. The remedy in either of these situations is time-consuming and costly, so always best avoided.
We offer two types of torque wrench, a small adjustable wrench that works to 4, 5 and 6Nm, and comes with a range of just the essential Allen and Torx bits, and a full torque wrench that is supplied with 11 tool bits and can work over a full range of torques from 2.0 to 20.0Nm.
The adjustable wrench is great for quick final adjustments – it is small and compact, and so can easily be moved around the bike and used to carry out those final checks on your work. The full torque wrench set is a great option for if you’re performing more complex and meticulous work however. We even included a 100mm extension bar in the set to help you with access to difficult areas of the bike with this tool to help out with this.