People are choosing bikes as their primary way of getting around more and more. One of the most appealing parts of owning bikes, especially compared to cars, is that you can maintain all the parts yourself relatively cheaply.
Whether it’s a small kit for emergencies or a full toolset in your garage, here’s what you need to budget for to become a full service mechanic for your two wheeled steed.
It might seem like you can just flip your bike and work on it that way, but if you want to do any work that involves your wheels having mobility, you’ll need a repair stand. Repair stands can be fairly minimalistic or can be the centerpiece of your workshop with a lot of bells and whistles.
Some repair stands are really just wall mounts for storage that give you the added ability to work on your bike. Slightly more expensive stands sit on the floor and give you more space to work with as well as more stability. It depends on your own workspace and how much free space you have to spare.
A flat tire is one of the most common roadside emergencies you’ll encounter. You can’t control what’s on the road, but you can control what you have with you when you’re riding. Having a patch kit and/or a spare tube can keep you prepared for a flat any time.
There are two main kinds of patch kits: emergency patch kits, and permanent patch kits. Emergency patches are like spare tires for cars: they’ll help you get home, but you’d better not use it much longer than that. Permanent patch kits include a self-vulcanizing fluid and will last much longer, but they take several minutes more to seal, and require you to clean the cut portion of the tube. That means permanent patch kits are less convenient for roadside maintenance, and work much better at home.
Inner tubes are even easier to use on the side of the road than an emergency patch kit. If you both carry a spare with you and keep a permanent patch kit at home, if you get a flat, you can switch out the spare, take the tube home and patch it up. You can use the patched tube as your new spare. Throw in some plastic or metal tire levers to pry your outer tire from your inner tube, and you should be good to go.
Torx and Allen keys
Bikes have a variety of different screws and fasteners, from Phillips heads to hex socket heads. Torx and hex socket (or Allen) heads are two of the more common ones. Torx screws are becoming increasingly more popular in bike parts, and Allen heads are an old standby. Ten-piece Torx key sets are usually around $15, whereas the more common allen key sets cost around $5. You can take a look at your specific bike to see what keysets you’ll need, but more than likely you’ll need both of these toolsets.
If you want to adjust your chain, you’ll need a chain tool. A chain tool is just about the only way to remove the pins connecting the links on your bike chain. Whether it’s shortening your chain to convert your 6-speed into a fixie or replacing a damaged link, a chain tool will be a requirement. Most toolsets will include a chain tool, and there are some multi-tools that have them built in as well. Figure out how you are going to fill out your proverbial bike tool chest before buying a chain tool, because it may be included with some other purchases.
Having a full size pump with a pressure gauge at home is a good idea for maintaining precise tire pressure. For emergencies, you are going to want to have a mini hand pump on your bike at all times so that, no matter what, no matter where, you can always keep your tires inflated at a workable pressure. There are scores of mini pumps available that can easily be stored in a pannier or mounted to the body of a bike available online. Look for something around $10; if you want to spend more, look for a full-size pump with a gauge.
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