Tools recommendation for newbie

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Fishplate42
Posts: 12
Joined: 9 Jul 2019, 8:12am

Tools recommendation for newbie

Postby Fishplate42 » 9 Jul 2019, 8:36am

Good morning all! Forgive me if this is a bit basic, but I am new to 'modern' bikes. I am now in my 60s and have not owned a bike since I was a teenager. Then a couple of tyre levers, a puncture outfit and one of those bike spanners that looked like a dog-bone, were all I needed. I am reasonably capable when it comes to mechanics, having spent many years repairing and rebuilding my own cars and vans, among other things.

I have just bought a second-hand mountain bike to use for pottering around, as we have just moved from London to the coast. I need to give it the once -over but there seem to be all sorts of 'special' tools on offer. I want to strip it down and rebuild it so I can get an understanding of the workings and generally check it out. I must admit, I do enjoy understanding and maintaining mechanical things, maybe as much as using them!

I have had a look at the tool kits from Halfords they seem to offer most of what I could ever need. Is this the route to go or is there another recommended supplier that as a newbie to this, I am yet to discover?

Thanks, Ralph.

alexnharvey
Posts: 787
Joined: 10 Jan 2014, 8:39am

Re: Tools recommendation for newbie

Postby alexnharvey » 9 Jul 2019, 9:26am

I still use some tools from Lidl toolboxes I bought many years ago, cone spanners, chainwhip and cassette tool and crank extractor and I have used many others from time to time, lockring tools and so on.

On the other hand it is quite cheap to buy initial individual tools from eBay and other places now with you have to be careful that postage cost didn't rack up.

Pictures of the bike and work that is required might help people advise you on what to get

slowster
Posts: 938
Joined: 7 Jul 2017, 10:37am

Re: Tools recommendation for newbie

Postby slowster » 9 Jul 2019, 9:27am

I suggest you tell us what make/model/year of bike you've bought and/or post a photograph or two of it.

There is quite a bit of variation in some components, and they can require different tools. For example, when you last had a bike the standard bottom bracket would have had loose balls (or balls in a retainer) a separate axle and cups, which required to be dismantled and re-greased from time to time. These have been supplanted by cartridge bottom brackets (most but not all of which have a square taper axle like the previous type), and more recently external bottom brackets are now increasingly common on mid-range bikes and up. All these require different tools, and a tool that fits one manufacturer's bottom bracket might not fit another's (although most smaller manufacturers make their parts to accept the same tools as Shimano).

With regard to stripping down and rebuilding, a cartridge bottom bracket is largely treated as a consumable item, which usually is not designed to be dismantled or serviced, but rather replaced when it's worn out (a basic model typically costs around £15). So for now you probably would not do more than take it out of the bottom bracket shell, grease the threads and re-install it. Similarly a lot of modern hubs have cartridge bearings which are not designed to be stripped and serviced, although the biggest manufacturer, Shimano, still uses traditional cup and cone bearings in its hubs.

Personally I would just buy the specific tools that the bike needed rather than a 'universal' set like Halfords one, which will include some tools that you don't need and probably lack others that you do. You doubtless already have general tools like hex keys and spanners, and in your shoes I would therefore prefer to buy better quality individual specific bike tools.

I recently destroyed an old set of branded, but not very good quality cone spanners on an old hub, and that forced me to buy some new good quality ones (Park Tool brand) which were able to undo the hubs. Similarly with a second hand bike which may not have been well maintained and may have suffered a bit of neglect, you might have more need of better quality tools than with a brand new bike, but although they cost more you should be able to get away with far fewer of them than in the Halfords kit.

User avatar
andrew_s
Posts: 4898
Joined: 7 Jan 2007, 9:29pm
Location: Gloucestershire

Re: Tools recommendation for newbie

Postby andrew_s » 9 Jul 2019, 10:53am

Most hex-headed bolts on a bike have been replaced by hex socket (allen) headed bolts, so rather than the dog bone, the "on the road" tool is one of a multitude of multitools similar to this Lezyne SV11 (picked purely because the image shows all the tools unfolded).

For home/workshop use you will also want...
a proper set of long ball-ended allen keys,
maybe also a set of torx keys. (multitool may well be OK)
8 & 10 mm spanners (mudguard stays. light mounts etc).
10- or 12-inch adjustable spanner.
A cassette (or freewheel) remover (not the same, though very similar)
A chain whip
Bottom bracket tools as appropriate (this one for cartridge, maybe this for external)
A crank puller (if it's not an external bearing bottom bracket)
If the bike is old enough to use a quill stem (fits inside a threaded steerer tube rather than clamping round the outside of an unthreaded steerer tube) you'll want a pair of headset spanners (32 or 36 mm octagon)
Cone spanners for Shimano cup&cone hub bearings (my rear hub uses 15 & 17 mm, front are different, usually (13 & 17?)). Non-Shimano hubs are often cartridge bearings. Cone spanners that try to have 2 sizes at the same end using stepped jaws are universally poor.
A chain tool (unless you want to rely on a multitool) Mostly only needed for trimming the end on new or broken chains, as quick links are mostly used for joining the ends.
A pedal spanner, unless your pedals are allen key only.

If you want to get into wheel building or truing, you'll need a spoke key, and a wheel jig and dishing gauge if you don't use the bike frame.

David9694
Posts: 346
Joined: 10 Feb 2018, 8:42am

Re: Tools recommendation for newbie

Postby David9694 » 9 Jul 2019, 9:27pm

General purpose tools/supplies

As such, these are widely available, inexpensive and you may already have them. Try your local Wilkinson’s.

open end and ring spanners - 8, 9 and 10mm - Bergen model makers, or other mechanics sets that go up to much larger sizes (EBay). However, Some bikes these days have very little use for the traditional spanner as everything has moved to Allen keys. You can’t have enough 4 and 5 mm Allen keys!
Large adjustable spanner
Set of Allen keys 4,5,6 and 8mm are the commonest. Look for Draper on EBay.
Set of screwdrivers 3 posi, 3 flat - small, medium, large
Needle-nose and bullnose pliers. (I find the small model maker’s pliers useful to carry on a bike.)
WD40 or GT85

Specialist items:
Level 1 - inflate tyres, fix a puncture, clean and lube

Tyre levers - widely available - Decathlon do some, for example
Track pump - Wilko for £10, seems to work OK from the reviews. You can easily pay twice this amount. I’ve found with both Park and Topeak, after about 5 years, the pump loses its puff and can’t get over 80 PSI. The other question is which pressure gauge is telling the truth??
Cleaner and degreaser
Wet lube, dry lube


Level 2 cables and chain
150 watt light bulbs - still can be found - you need light. I’m currently running one incandescent “rough service” bulb and one LED thing of equivalent lux I found in our corner shop.
Workstand - worth having at this level if you’ve got space. Can be expensive; Lidl have had one previously - quite heavy, but works.

Chain rivet tool
Cable cutters - £13 from decathlon - seems to get good reviews and you can easily pay twice this
Chain wear checker - Wiggle, X-tools
Chain link opener/closer : e.g. https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Bike-Bicycle ... .l4275.c10
Swarfega or similar.

Stock items/ consumables
Inner tubes (what do others do : Wilco, Decathlon? Ebay not especially cheap IME.)
Spare valve cores for Presta (EBay)
Batteries for lights - Poundland!
Cable set EBay - c£4 (the current crop of Jagwire “complete” sets don’t appear to include gear cables)
Chain, spare chain links - I recommend the relevant KMC from EBay
Brake blocks (Aztec Koolstop?)
Grease

More general purpose items useful to the cyclist:
Hammer or rubber mallet
Hacksaw
Micrometer (quite cheap from EBay)
Torque wrench (if you’re running a lot of carbon fibre) - example from Merlin https://www.merlincycles.com/merlin-tor ... 14847.html
Electric drill
Mole wrench
Socket set, electric screwdriver


Level 3 - specialist items (included in the Decathlon kit) https://www.decathlon.co.uk/500-14-piec ... 60419.html - £25. I bought this years ago - it’s all good if it fits your bike - they just need to rethink the screwdriver IMO.

Spoke key
Bottom bracket bearing tool*
Crank remover tool as befits your bike*
Cassette remover as befits your bike and chain whip (mine has a spanner end for the headset) Cone spanners

Except: Alignment tool for derailleur hanger - I have been badly caught out on this issue - if your bike gets parked closely with others, this is worth investing in.

*If you’re running the latest splined Shimano cranks, you need different specialist tools. I’ve found that the 5800 b/bs now come with a plastic dedicated hand tool, one that doesn’t take kindly to being wrenched. My old long metal armed tool for 5700 doesn’t fits these latest. Then there’s the little plastic pressure nut that they don’t want just anyone to mess with, and road/ mtb are different.


Level 4 - bike builder
Star nut setter
Setting tool for crown race
Headset drift 1” or 1 1/8”+ (I found my original larger drift wasn’t effective on 1” cups)
Headset press
(In theory, all the above can be fashioned from bits of old pipe and/or you can do without - that’s after two turns of the Fred Whitton and a cold shower. I’ve bought all of them over time.)

Saw guide (for shortening steerers)
Wheel jig

These last two aren’t cheap, or IME consistently easy to get hold of:

Bottom bracket thread cleaner or b/b press (in stock at Wiggle £150 - I’ve got this.)
Facing Mill for headset and b/b (both recommended for new steel frame prep)
Gauges for rear drop outs - I bought a cheap pair - not entirely sure I understand exactly how they work/ how to use.)

Back to general purpose items, thread taps and a driver are useful.

User avatar
Sweep
Posts: 5644
Joined: 20 Oct 2011, 4:57pm
Location: London

Re: Tools recommendation for newbie

Postby Sweep » 9 Jul 2019, 9:45pm

Some excellent detailed advice above.

If you are new to this merry lark it would I think be handy to buy a modest sized starter kit of tools. You can add quality extra individual tools as you need them.

Park Tools do have a (generally) well deserved reputation, but they cost.

I have always found Xtools (not sure who they are) from Wiggle or Chain reaction well made, and they are substantially cheaper.

I would check out their kits.

Chain Reaction has a £10 off a £50 order I think at the mo if you are a new customer.

https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/?gc ... lsrc=aw.ds

Then, even if you don't get their tools, I can heartily recommend this book.

https://www.worldofbooks.com/en-gb/book ... gJSOfD_BwE

You sound very handy so I am sure that with that book you will soon be stripping bikes back.

And there is lots of wonderful advice on here.
Sweep

Fishplate42
Posts: 12
Joined: 9 Jul 2019, 8:12am

Re: Tools recommendation for newbie

Postby Fishplate42 » 9 Jul 2019, 10:27pm

First, thank you all for the above. There is a lot there for me to study and think about. I do already have a good selection of the basic tools, but it is the specialist tools that I am short of. Thank you for the detailed information on what the tools are and what they are for. looking at the Halford tools now makes more sense as I can now identify what they are.

In my first post I did not identify the bike I have bought as I assumed that all bikes had moved on together, and I just did not consider that there would be all sorts of different fixings/accessories, depending on make - Silly me! If I had thought about it I should have realised. As with everything, common standardisation is a thing of my youth. The bike I bough is a 'Raleigh max ogre 15' Below is a picture taken tonight just as it was getting dark - Sorry for the poor image, but I think you will be able to recognise it.

Image

Thanks again for the help, I have a bit more to go on now.

Ralph.

Marcus Aurelius
Posts: 405
Joined: 1 Feb 2018, 10:20am

Re: Tools recommendation for newbie

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 10 Jul 2019, 2:40am

I’d add a Dremel Power tool and various milling and grinding bits for it. Remarkably useful things they are.

Marcus Aurelius
Posts: 405
Joined: 1 Feb 2018, 10:20am

Re: Tools recommendation for newbie

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 10 Jul 2019, 2:45am

Fishplate42 wrote:First, thank you all for the above. There is a lot there for me to study and think about. I do already have a good selection of the basic tools, but it is the specialist tools that I am short of. Thank you for the detailed information on what the tools are and what they are for. looking at the Halford tools now makes more sense as I can now identify what they are.

In my first post I did not identify the bike I have bought as I assumed that all bikes had moved on together, and I just did not consider that there would be all sorts of different fixings/accessories, depending on make - Silly me! If I had thought about it I should have realised. As with everything, common standardisation is a thing of my youth. The bike I bough is a 'Raleigh max ogre 15' Below is a picture taken tonight just as it was getting dark - Sorry for the poor image, but I think you will be able to recognise it.

Image

Thanks again for the help, I have a bit more to go on now.

Ralph.


A lot of the ‘specialist tools’ would be overkill for a bike like this. It’s a very sturdy old Raleigh, and hitting stuff with a rubber mallet, will be fine ( for getting cranks off for example). Mostly everything else you’ll need are easily found on eBay ( if you’re on a budget ) or not that expensive from places like Decathlon / Wiggle / Halfords / BikeHut etc.

MarcusT
Posts: 264
Joined: 31 Jan 2017, 10:33am

Re: Tools recommendation for newbie

Postby MarcusT » 10 Jul 2019, 5:21am

I started off with something like this
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bikehand-YC-73 ... 339d6f8bf7

Then as the need arose, I purchased specialized tools. Since this kit is economical, as tools wore out, I purchased quality replacements. So, you know what you need or not
The only tools I recommend that you buy the best you can find, is the hex wrench set
I wish it were simple as riding a bike

francovendee
Posts: 954
Joined: 5 May 2009, 6:32am

Re: Tools recommendation for newbie

Postby francovendee » 10 Jul 2019, 7:21am

If you have some general tools and need to fix something on the bike take a look on Youtube. It may give you some ideas as to what you'll need in the way of special tools to do the job. Check out that your bike has the same sort of parts as in the video as it makes a difference to the tools needed
I'd always buy just what I need and the best quality you can afford. No point in buying a kit of tools as they'll be some you'll never use and the rest may be of a mediocre quality.

slowster
Posts: 938
Joined: 7 Jul 2017, 10:37am

Re: Tools recommendation for newbie

Postby slowster » 10 Jul 2019, 10:37am

Now we have a better idea of what bike you have, I would say definitely forget the Halfords kit: it inludes far too many tools that you would have no use for.

It will be better to get individual tools that you do need, and of better quality, especially since it is more likely that bits will be seized on that bike. Better still to find someone you know (friend, relative, neighbour) who already has the tools, because many of them you would probably only use once and might never need again. That's because some parts don't need to be dismantled/regreased very often, e.g. the headset, and some others you might only use the tool once to remove the existing component and you would then fit a modern component to replace it (which would use a different tool), e.g. replacing a loose ball bottom bracket with a cartridge.

With regard to the Youtube suggestion, there are some very good videos but there are also some which give bad advice/instruction. A better place to start is Park Tool's website, which has lots of technical advice and guidance, including videos, on pretty much everything you will need to know for your bike. Obviously Park provide this as a marketing tool in the hope that people will buy Park Tools to do the job, but equally obviously you can usually buy another brand tool that will do the job just as well (although the Park Tools are good, if somewhat overpriced for some items, e.g. especially generic non-bike specific tools like P handled allen keys).

I think you need to sit back first and think about what you want to achieve. You could easily get carried away taking the bike to bits and acquiring a lot of tools and replacing a lot of parts in the process, and the danger is that you would have been better spending your money on a much better second hand bike. The Raleigh Ogre is not a particularly good bike, e.g. see here and here, so it's not worth spending lots on. Hence also in part my comment about borrowing tools, since that makes the exercise more cost effective/justifiable. You are also likely to find yourself faced with some decisions after taking bits apart about whether to refit an obviously worn out part that still is (just about) OK and works after a fashion, or to buy a (possibly expensive) replacement. In your shoes I would be making a conscious decision now to limit what I was willing to spend and to make do with old and somewhat knackered parts as far as possible once cleaned up and re-greased, unless it compromised safety. Even if you want a project as bit of a hobby, a much better second hand bike may still be better value and provide more payback and both riding and fettling pleasure in the longer run.

Assuming you decide to go ahead, the things you are probably going to need:

1. Cone spanners for the (almost certainly) cup and cone bearings on the hubs. As per my comment in my earlier post, this is something for which I would get the Park Tool version. You'll need to get the front wheel out first probably and measure the locknut and cone flats sizes to see what size spanners you'll need. You might be able to use an ordinary spanner (or even a vice) on the locknut, depending on its design/shape). Park Tool website on cup and cone hubs.

2. Headset spanners. You have a threaded headset. Although it's a good design and you may need to do no more with yours than re-grease for it to give you many years of trouble free riding, modern bikes now almost always come with a threadless headset, so headset spanners are likely to be an expensive tool you will use only once or twice. Park Tool website on threaded headsets.

3. Bottom Bracket - take a look at the non-drive side. If it's got a lockring, then it's almost certainly a loose ball bottom bracket. You will likely need a lockring spanner and whatever tool the cup on that side uses (peg spanner or otherwise) to dismantle (Park Tool guidance on loose ball BBs). NB The non-drive side cup is the adjustable cup. The drive side cup is fixed (and reverse thread, as is also the pedal on the drive side crank) and you should not bother removing it unless it's visibly shot or you intend to replace with a cartridge bottom bracket. Again, you are likely to use these tools only once or twice.

4. Cranks - Before you can get at the bottom bracket you will need to remove the cranks, for which you will need a crank extractor. Park Tool guidance here. Warning - this is one of those tasks which presents the opportunity to cause expensive damage - many people have been careless or unlucky and stripped the threads from their aluminium crank when trying to remove it.

5. Freewheel - I suspect your bike has an old type freewheel rather than modern cassette. If the chain isn't skipping and you don't need to remove the freewheel to get at the hub bearings, it might be best to leave it until it's worn and needs replacing. Freewheel tools are not very expensive, but again it's something you'll probably only use once. You'll need to get the tool with the particular prongs or spline pattern for your freewheel and a chain whip. NB Freewheels are generally a consumable and I would not bother trying to dismantle it to salvage any individual sprockets or to re-lubricate the internals.

6. Chain and gears - A new chain might be a good idea, but equally the present chain may have worn so much that it has also worn the freewheel sprockets, such that they would not mesh with a new chain. In that case you just have to continue running the chain until you replace both it and the freewheel. You'll need a chaintool. My advice is to buy a Topeak Hexus, which is currently a bargain at £12.99. You'll still need some separate tyre levers (the levers on the Hexus are poor, but the rest of it is good). If you have a 3/4" ratchet handle and 3mm(?) hex bit, you can use that to operate the Hexus' chain tool (instead of the 3mm hex bit on the tyre lever), and the resulting tool is then the convenient size of a workshop chaintool.

For the rest, Park Tool's website, google, this forum and Youtube should tell you what you need to know.
Last edited by slowster on 10 Jul 2019, 12:29pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
NUKe
Posts: 3711
Joined: 23 Apr 2007, 11:07pm
Location: Suffolk

Re: Tools recommendation for newbie

Postby NUKe » 10 Jul 2019, 11:25am

buy yourself the Halfords bike boo, tells you how to do most jobs for the home mechanic and tells you what tools you need
NUKe
_____________________________________

kangaroo
Posts: 6
Joined: 5 Mar 2019, 9:06pm

Re: Tools recommendation for newbie

Postby kangaroo » 12 Jul 2019, 12:59pm

As a user of this forum, you can't help but notice that there's lots of expertise out there and lots of people generous enough to share it. One of the advantages of membership of Cycling UK is that you can tap into your local group, (I'm assuming there is one), where you're likely to meet one or two like-minded individuals who would be happy to advise you on all sorts of cycling related matters, especially useful if you're new to an area.
Some groups may be involved in running the sort of workshop sessions you might find useful.

Fishplate42
Posts: 12
Joined: 9 Jul 2019, 8:12am

Re: Tools recommendation for newbie

Postby Fishplate42 » 25 Jul 2019, 3:07pm

It has been a few weeks since I started this post and things have moved on somewhat. Having just moved house, other things have taken precedence over my now-found job-list. I took your advice and have done very little to my old mountain bike other than clean it and pump up the tyres, which are cracked and need replacing. The bike seems to do the job, albeit a bit on the heavy side, but for what I paid for it, I am happy.

I have now bought a few tools and ordered the Haynes bike book that somebody mentioned. The reason for this is I have bought two more bikes... in bits and recovered my wife's bike from storage! The main reason for buying the new (to me) bikes is that one is an aluminium-framed bike, but the whole lot came with a couple of good tyres as well as a full set of tyres for the bikes (6 in all) for just £50.00. Now I really do have a project on. I will start another post about my new acquisitions, as this is a totally different subject.

Thanks for all the help so far folks,
Ralph.