Setting up your own workshop is a great way to save money and bolster your bike knowledge. If you’re looking to set up your own shop for the first time, here’s what you’ll need to get started.
Attempting to do any significant repairs without a workstand is invariably a futile effort. You can’t freely spin the wheels, you can’t access the underside of the bike easily and after about 37 seconds you’ll wish you had a physio on retainer. A workstand is a vital piece for any workshop.
T-Handle Allen Keys
Allen keys, also known as hex wrenches, are absolutely essential in any workshop. On modern bikes, every bolt except for the ones on the cranks have hex heads. Just to make things annoying, there’s at least seven different sizes. Allen keys come in a number of variants, standard or T-handle, and ball end or straight. To make things easier, and to avoid stripping every bolt on your bike, you want ball end T-handle allen keys. The T-handle provides a significantly more comfortable source of grip, and the ball end allows you to access the bolt from an angle without stripping it.
To unscrew every bolt on your bike, you’ll need a set spanning from 2.5 to 8mm. The set pictured below is the PRO 8-piece T-Wrench Hex Key Set.
Replacing your chain is incredibly easy to do, and it’s something you should be doing regularly. It’s not uncommon for mechanics and cyclists alike to have a date each month on which they replace their chain, regardless of how much they used their bike. Get yourself a chain tool, and experience pristine shifting firsthand.
To make sure you obtain the correct chain length, use the following formula:
L = 2 (C) + (F/4 + R/4 + 1)
Where L = the chain length in inches (round to the nearest inch); C = the chainstay length from the centre of the crank bolt to the centre of the lock ring; F = the number of teeth on your largest front chainring; R = the number of teeth on the largest cog on your cassette.
Hollowtech II Crank Tensioner
If you’ve bought a bike that uses Shimano cranks in the last seven years, and if you ever want to take off your cranks, you’ll want the Hollowtech II Crank Tensioner. It’s only three dollars, so this one is a no-brainer!
Without a doubt, changing chainrings is the single most terrifying job for an aspiring bike mechanic. Not only do you spend hours wrestling with overly tightened bolts that you end up stripping, but you also run the risk of mincing your hands on the teeth of your chainring. Having the correct tool for the job won’t solve all the problems, but it does make it a much easier task. The tool pictured below is the Shimano TL-FC22 Chainring Tool Peg Spanner and TORX T-40.
Cable cutters are an integral part of any workshop. To save yourself mucking around with chewed up outer ends, get yourself a pair of quality cable cutters to get a clean cut every time. Pictured below is the Park Tool Professional Cable and Housing Cutter.
Cassette Lockring Tool
Essential for removing cassettes and centre lock disc brake rotors, the cassette lockring tool is a rare example of bipartisanship in the cycling community, fitting both Shimano and SRAM cassettes.
It may seem like a money spinner, but a bowl in which you can place all your screws that guarantees they won’t get lost, even if you knock it over, is worth its weight in gold. Pictured here is the Park Tool Magnetic Parts Bowl.
Working on your own bikes for the first time is very much a case of learning on the job. This means you’re probably going to mess up sometimes. Always have a good supply of cables, chain links, chain pins, tie wire and other general things that you think you could break, misplace, or trash in a fit of frustration.
Whether you’re a novice or a veteran mechanic, a good bike maintenance manual is always a useful addition to any workshop.