Road Gear

Upgrade your workshop for big repairs and full bike builds

You proudly house 4+ bikes in the garage, but how’s your arsenal of tools? Here are some suggestions to upgrade your workshop.

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If you already have many of the tools to perform the most common and even annual repairs at home, from Allen wrenches to tire levers, cable cutters to chain breakers, the following tools (and just a sampling of everything you could acquire) will allow you to really dive deep into repair and perform complete builds from the frame up.

They can be extensive (and sometimes expensive) and ensure that your riding buddies will show up not only to ask your sage advice but also to borrow your tools. If you are willing to lend tools, you may want to mark your collection and keep a list of who borrowed what, to help recover items that may otherwise take a long time finding their way back to your workshop. I have yet to consistently take this advice and am missing some favorite tools, in fact. The full list of tools I recommend for road bike repair is detailed in Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance.

Setting Up Your Home Shop

Make your shop clean, well organized, and comfortable, and you’ll find that the speed and quality of your work will improve. Hanging tools on pegboard or slatboard or placing them in drawers, bins, or trays helps maintain an organized work area. Being able to lay your hand on the tool you need will increase the enjoyment of working on a bike. It is hard to do a job with loving care when you can’t find the cable cutter. Placing small parts in a bench-top organizer, one with several rows of little drawers, is another good way to keep chaos at bay.

All around road bike tools

All-Rounders

Pre-set torque keys are faster for tightening stem bolts, cleat bolts, and other small bolts. These torque key handles accept standard hex-drive tool bits and are pre-set to a given torque setting. Most of them click over when the pre-set torque is reached; CDI pre-set torque keys ratchet when the torque setting is reached (like an automotive gas cap) and won’t allow over-tightening.

A European-style race mechanic’s bike stand, which supports the bottom bracket and has a long arm with a quick-release clamp to hold the fork ends or the rear dropouts, can be the only way to work efficiently on a bike with an integrated seat mast or an aero seatpost, as there is no way to clamp such a bike in a conventional work stand. Alternatively, Hirobel’s Carbon Frame Clamp adapter for carbon frames that do not have round tubes or a round seatpost allows you to safely hold them with a standard repair stand.

Bottom bracket tool set

Bottom Brackets

Bottom-bracket tap set. This tool cuts threads in both ends of the bottom bracket while keeping the threads in proper alignment. English threaded taps are required for most modern road bike frames. Most Italian-made metal frames, however, have Italian threads and will require appropriate taps. French threading and Swiss threading are separate standards and are extremely rare.

Bottom-bracket facer. This tool cuts the faces of the bottom-bracket shell so that they are parallel.

BB30 reaming cutter and base plate that fit on bottom-bracket tap handles.

Park BBT-39 bearing remover for BB30 and BB90 bottom brackets.

Bushings for pressing in bottom-bracket bearings and cups.

Park CBP-5 and CBP-3 bearing puller for Campagnolo/Fulcrum Ultra-Torque bottom brackets, arm puller, plug and pads for Campagnolo Power Torque cranks, and bearing puller extension for removing Campagnolo Power Torque drive-side bearing.

Tools for dropouts and cassettes

Dropouts and Cassettes

Dropout-alignment tools (a.k.a. “tip adjusters”).

Derailleur-hanger-alignment tool to straighten the derailleur hanger after you shift the derailleur into the spokes or crash on it. If your bike has a replaceable derailleur hanger, keep an extra hanger around.

Cog-wear-indicator gauge determines whether cogs are worn out.

Tools for wheel repairs and new builds

Wheel Repair and New Builds

Three-way internal-nipple spoke wrench with square-drive, 5mm, and 5.5mm sockets for the purpose of tightening spoke nipples internal to a deep rim. A specialty wrench may be needed for a non-standard internal nipple.

Spoke nipple screwdriver with bent, free spinning shaft for quicker wheelbuilding.

Antitwist tool for preventing bladed (aero) spokes from twisting during truing; Mavic and DT make good ones.

Spoke-tension gauge. Brings spoke tension up to precise specs for long-lasting, stable wheels.

Headset tool set

Headsets

Head-tube reaming and facing tool. This tool keeps the two ends of the head tube parallel and bored out to the right size.

Park universal fork-crown-race remover. This hefty tool can remove a fork-crown race from any shape of fork without using a hammer and screwdriver and suffering consequent collateral damage to the fork.

Heavy-duty headset press installs headset bearing cups and bottom-bracket bearings and bearing cups into threadless bottom-bracket shells more quickly and accurately than a simple threaded headset press can. The press should not push on the bearing’s inner race; if it does, get the appropriate insert to adapt your headset press to the particular headset and bottom-bracket bearings and cups you will be installing so that the insert presses only on the outer bearing race.

Cutting guide for threadless steering tubes. The guide slot keeps the hacksaw blade lined up perpendicular to the steerer. Park makes a good one.

Disc brake tool set

Disc Brakes

Rotor-alignment dial indicator. Rapidly finds out exactly where a disc brake’s rotor is out of true.

Rotor-alignment levers. Use in conjunction with dial indicator to precisely bend the rotor into alignment.

Feeler gauges. Measures precision of disc-brake pad spacing from the rotor.


Adapted from Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, 5th edition, by Lennard Zinn with permission of VeloPress.