Home Bike Mechanic

I think it is time for me to actually learn to work on my own bikes now that I have a garage and the space to work on them. My experience with working on bikes is very poor usually me resulting in a tantrum - especially when fitting mudguards. BUT I am going to learn.

  • What would be the essential items I would need to get me started?
  • Can anyone recommend a tool kit that is good value for money that will cover general maintenance. Any job specific tools I will take to shops (bleeding hope brakes, certain crank extractors etc).
  • I will need a bike stand. Something stable for cleaning bikes but will fold down when not in use
  • Recommendations for particular brand/parts and where to get them online would be appreciated. Is there such a thing as Parktool OEM stuff?

Good news is I have an air compressor from when I was renovating the house.


Have a read of these:


Too late for the flag pole repair Jono - the damage is done!

(this is an in joke - I broke Jono’s flag on his kiddy bike trailer, it turns out that they don’t bend that much)

Not the most cost-effective way, but I went about it over the years by buying each tool as I needed it, usually by googling what tool I needed (ie, if I was thinking I needed to bleed brakes for the first time, I googled what I needed to do).

But you might start a Park toolkit and then build from there whenever you need something specific for a job.

A few essentials:

  • torque wrench
  • a good set of hex keys
  • cable cutters
  • a good set of spanners, and a shifting-spanner
  • pedal wrench (don’t just rely on your 15mm spanner)
  • chain whip (a 1 1/8" will work on both your fixies and your roadies)
  • lockring tool for your fixies
  • whatever lockring tool you need for your cassettes (note campy and shimano/sram have slightly different cassette lockrings)
  • chain breaker (11 and 10 speed you can use the same one, but get a separate 1 1/8 for fixies)
    (I’m assuming you’ve already got tyre levers and a good track pump)
  • oh, and a hacksaw

For the generic stuff Stanley is a good go to brand for quality tools that are ok priced. Bondhus makes good hex keys.
For cycling specific stuff Park is the go to brand. Their stuff is easily sourced online and made well.
Try not to buy cheap tools. If you must, try at least not to skimp on good hex keys and spanners.

Feedback stands are awesome. And they’re light too so you can easily take it with you on a longer cycling holiday.

This is pretty much what I do too. I already had a lot of basic tools from back in the day, so acquiring the bike-specific tools as needed was the way to go for me.
That said, a fancy matching toolkit would be pretty nice to have.

Another thing - not tool related - hold onto every little spare bolt, washer, little screw, etc that you come across and keep it in a box with your stuff. They come in handy, a lot.

I’m in an apartment and so I don’t have all that much space to keep spare parts etc. But I have one big plastic crate that keeps:

  • tools (just kept together in a Coles bag)
  • spare tubes
  • little plastic box of spare nuts, bolts etc
  • bigger plastic box of spare cables, brake pads, other random bigger bits
  • collection of lubes and rags
  • shower curtain (which I put down on my apartment floor when I work on bikes)
  • box of latex gloves

For lubes I keep these:

  • Finish Line teflon lube for pretty much everything
  • Rock and Roll chain lube
  • carbon paste for carbon seatposts and handlebars
  • dry lube, for random stuff
  • a can of silicone spray, for random stuff (also good around the house)

For rags, cut up random old clothes that have a good fabric. You don’t want anything that pulls into threads too easily or that pills and breaks apart on a chain (threads get caught in everything). My favourite is some random old North Face fleece of my wife’s that is the perfect balance of absorption and softness and toughness that doesn’t pill like other fleeces (it might be pontetorto fleece?).

I recommend buying a basic toolkit for cheap like a bikehand or superB one. They have all you need initially. Just add some spanners and screw drivers. Then add more specific tools and replace/upgrade things you end up using lots, like cable cutters.

Unless you end up doing heaps of stuff I think park tool kits are overkill.

I basically did what Mike suggested and it’s been fine. But I had a pretty good basic set to start with then added Super B toolkit and have since added decent cable cutters, a torque wrench, a campy lock ring tool and a tri-allen key

I think Bondhus Allen keys are worth buying straight up. I also think Knipex cable cutters are way worth it. Otherwise a basic kit like Mikdee suggests, and then buying good individual tools like Diddy suggests is a good approach. I wouldn’t personally prioritise a torque wrench.

The above all sounds like great advice. not sure if this is useful, but I bought most of my tools when i was assembling our wedding bikes from scratch, and was moving to the us with good exchange rate. I use a lot of the stuff i bought, and would recommend it, if you can get a good deal and live with not using all of it all of the time. I’d also recommend spokey nipple keys in yellow at least, and maybe red?

Tool kit

Truing stand

Repair stand

A more recent tool that I was gifted is this, and it is super duper handy, fast, strong holding. I never use any spanners (or even shifters) any more.

If building wheels, this thing is so bloody great, and I’m sure my version was cheaper than this.

I really like borrowing and loaning tools, too.

Tools are important but more important is a proper way of storing them.
I’d look at either a peg board or a toolbox with drawers, nothing worse than knowing you have the tool but not being able to find it.

Bondhus or pb Swiss Allens, 4sided spoke key, knipex plier-wrench and felco cutters are all stellar tools.

This^ peg boards are great, I have some you can have from an old exhibition if you can get them down there.

Thanks everyone for the replies! I will be wrenching for the euro pros in no time.

EDIT: For Allen keys, any preference for those with the handles and the standard L shape ones? I am guessing the L shape ones are good for getting into tighter spaces?

The ball head ones are great for getting into hard to reach places

You need a hammer and a piece of two by four

and an 8mm allen key.

Fuckkkkking hell there it is

I use allen keys with handles straight up, but then need to grab a standard L-bend one pretty frequently for tight stuff. So if I was just getting one set, I’d get a Bondhus L-bend set. (I also actually use a little 1/4" ratchet driver with allen sockets a fair bit after having one in my everyday travel toolbag that I’ve since replaced with a lighter one)

Peg board is good. So is slatboard. I have slatboard on my walls, but it mostly holds parts. I have some spare long narrow sheets if you (or anyone else nearby) wants them. Most of my tools are in a big wheely toolbox, with some in nails above the bench. My handled allen keys are bolted to an old bar stool that I can move around to wherever I’m working and use as a staging space.

(this kinda sounds like I know what I’m doing. I don’t really. I’m incredibly inefficient in the workshop)

I don’t use T handles much at all anymore. They used to be handy for quill stem bolts but I haven’t had quill stems for ages.

On the special tools front, the Pedro’s Vice Whip is probably my all time favourite bike tool. Say goodbye to chainwhips forever!!!*

*unless you use 1/8" sprockets