7 mountain bike tools that pay for themselves the first time you use them
While most home mechanic tools will eventually reduce your bill at the local bike shop, some reduce that number more effectively than others. For example, a good pair of cable cutters will allow you to refresh a few hundred transmissions in their lifetime, and just a few of those cable swaps would cost the same as the tool if you pay someone another to do the job. Conversely, a pro-level wheel-adjustment stand can be quite expensive, and the task of building and adjusting wheels requires a level of patience and precision that not everyone possesses. At an average cost of around $30 per wheel build, some of us might be better off paying a pro to lace the spokes and get it right while saving money on most other wheel repairs. bike.
Below are some examples of tools that pay for themselves quickly, saving you a lot of money for more fun things.
As mentioned above, an accurate cable cutter will undoubtedly save a load of scrilla. The Park Cable and Housing Cutter above has been hard at work for over a decade and it still creates a flawless cut. It is ideal for cables and housings and I also use it to cut brake hoses, cleaning the end with a razor if necessary. There are a handful of great options for this tool from Pedros, Unior, and Pro, all for around $40.
Cable and housing swaps at many bike shops are around $20, so this purchase will pay for itself pretty quickly.
On the expensive side, a bearing press and the required rudders will pay for themselves in 1-2 uses if you replace the pivot cartridges. They can be used to press bottom bracket bearings and hub cartridges into place, keeping everything smooth without the huge shop bills. Sure, you can press the bearings in with the right spacers and vise, but this tool will allow you to do so with much less risk of damaging that fancy carbon frame. If you ride full-suspension bikes or like to pedal in the wet, a press like this one from Enduro Bearings will pay for its cost of around $224.
Some bearing press tools can be used to install headset cups, saving an extra $15 whenever the need arises. Shops can charge upwards of $100 to replace pivot and linkage bearings, $15-20 for wheel bearings, and an additional $30 for pressed BB bearing swaps, so a well-made bearing press is well worth the money. investment given the number of jobs it can handle.
Bike parts will break. It’s a simple fact of things being made as light as possible. When they do, it’s great to be able to get a warranty replacement, as long as you’ve followed all the torque specs and haven’t thrown the component in a microwave to “see what that could really take”. Purchasing a torque wrench with a wide range of force values is an easy way to satisfy your warranty. This one from Syncros has served me well in tightening things down without over-tightening those precious carbon bars, and there are plenty of cheaper options at your local auto or hardware store. Just make sure yours is rated for the lower torque specs required by bikes and is properly calibrated.
This tool can be used on all of the fasteners included on your bike, and overtightening any of them may cause damage. In short, the value of owning a torque wrench is both immeasurable and useful.
Any work you are comfortable doing on the suspension components will pay for itself almost immediately. For example, if you want to service a set of lower forks, you will need flat face sockets like the ones above, smaller sockets to loosen the leg nuts, a seal driver, cleaners and a little oil. Altogether, these products should cost less than inferior in-store service, and they’ll see you through countless refresh sessions.
Dropping your fork lowers is something anyone can learn to do, and at around $50 a pop at the store, you’ll save some quick cash with a few simple tools and specific lubricants. If you dig deeper and learn how to rebuild the shock and air spring, those savings multiply quickly.
Pipe cutter and facing tool
At some point your alloy bars or fork steerer will need trimming and a classic plumber’s pipe cutter like this one from Kobalt paired with a boring and facing tool from Ridgid will provide a precise, clean surface for less than $100 all told. The cutter takes about two minutes to hand-spin through alloy tubing, and the boring and facing tool can clean up that edge to get as smooth a surface as needed. High quality helmets like Chris King’s have seals inside the dust cap to keep moisture and dirt out, and a badly cut steerer will catch on this seal and the will damage. This little cylinder from Ridgid takes care of that and a host of other issues.
While the bike shop will only charge a few dollars to cut the steerer or handlebar (or around $50 to completely install a new fork), both of these tools will make your home bike shop more convenient by reducing trips to the LBS, especially if cutting off the steerer is the only thing stopping you from installing a new fork at home.
Bottom bracket key and channel locks
While several other tools could be on this list, a BB tool that fits your bike’s bottom bracket and preferably also fits the splines of a center lock rotor lock ring is a great friend to have around. the tool drawer. Like a cassette tool, these simple wrenches are used for a few different applications around the bike shop. Second up to this appropriately sized tool is a set of channel locks like the red-handled pair above. If you don’t have the right size instrument for your BB splines, this massive clamp will probably take care of things. You will need to be careful when installing or removing a BB with channel locks as too much compression force could damage the bearing cup. A little patience and some well-directed force will get these cups on or off in no time.
Like the pipe cutter, most stores will only charge a few dollars to swap out a BB, but the good thing is that the tools aren’t too expensive either, usually under $20 each.
Brake bleeding kit
Learning to bleed your own brakes is a right of passage for any DIY mechanic, and it’s one of the first tasks many of us delve into. Owning the right bleed kit for your brakes will set you back $30-50 depending on the brand. Park Tool offers more generalized bleed kits that work with a range of brakes for around $100. If you ride often and do a lot of long descents that can heat up the hydraulic fluid, you can save a mountain of money with a bleed kit. Most stores charge about $30 per brake for a bleed, and in my case that would be about 6 times per season, or $360 total. If you ride often and let gravity push the speed, a bleed kit becomes an extremely necessary part of the toolbox.
What tools or products have saved you a lot of money in the workshop? Please share them with the Singletracks community in the comments below.