Tools. Wonderful Tools

Over the last few years, my tool collection has ballooned massively, so I thought I might make a quick post on tools, and which are important to have, and those that are helpful, but not a nessesity for the home mechanic.

Tools, that are important

  1. Allan Keys. These are probably the most important item you can have. Each time you work on the bike, you’ll be using an hex wrench. Generally, you’ll need 4,5 and 6mm for the majority of bike stuff. For cartridge brake pads, you’ll need a small 3mm too. Most sets of hex wrenches will have every size you’ll ever need.
  2. Cable cutters. Wire cutters and pliers just won’t do for bike cables, unless your just trying to mash the cable! Cable cutters will neatly cut the cables and housings. A metal file is also handy to square off the housing ends after cutting too.
  3. Chain tools. Chain cutter, chain wear tool,chain whip and cassette lock ring tool
  4. Bottom bracket tool, and crank removal tool.
  5. Torque wrench
  6. Pedal spanner
  7. Torx wrenches (a T25 is likly to be the only one)
  8. Screw drivers.
  9. Tire levers
  10. Floor pump
  11. Grease, paper towels
  12. Degreaser, GT85 and WD 40

Tools, nice to have

  1. Spirit level, long handy to have for saddle adjustments, and ensuring shifters are level..
  2. Tape measure
  3. Bearing press.
  4. Picks
  5. Grease gun
  6. Sockets
  7. Ratchet spanner
  8. Spring clip pliers
Bike Repair Stand

If you’re planning on doing even the most basic bike repair maintenance, don’t underestimate the importance of a quality repair stand. Yes, they can be a little expensive and yes, they take up a little room in the garage. That said, a quality stand will save you from a lifetime of turning your bike upside down and bending over to make repairs and adjustments.

Another learning curve.

So I had my bike up in the workstand cleaning the gunk after the very, very wet ride I had earlier. In the lower gears, the chain jumped off the lower jockey wheel, jamming between the jockey and cage.

Not being quite sure what was causing it I started to look into it. I initially didn’t think it could be Todo with the wet ride so I looked at the jockey, not worn, so cleaned it off and ensured it still spun freely. Put it back on and the same thing happened. Ok, perhaps the derailleur cage is bent. Nope, that was fine, so check the hangar, that’s perfectly straight.

Could it be the chain? Time to break out the chain cleaner. A good scrubbing of the chain, and bingo, no skipping off the jockey. So all I can think of is that some filth had worked into a chain link causing it to be skipping off the jockey.

Time to Change..

I went out the other day for a ride. Only the second ride for a good few months, and still had the dry lube on. I’d applied squirt lube, and this ride was very wet. I mean it wasn’t just a bit wet, it was properly chucking it down. I’d not had reason to think of the lube during the ride.

Gear shifts where remaining crisp and even, chain noise wasn’t an issue. I’d heard that Squirt was a good lube even in the damp, and this certainly was a wet ride.

Getting home, I dried off the bike, and did the ritual of spraying the derailers with GT-85, and running the chain through a rag to dry it off, the lube had gone a little runny with the rain, but it was still there doing its job.

Squirt really is a great lube and well worth the cost. It is however time to change back to the wet lube now the winter is here…

Full breakdown and rebuild

So, with the weather as it is, scuppering any riding, I decided todo a full strip and rebuild.

So each part taken off, checked and cleaned.

  • Remove seat post, clean and regrease post, collar and seat tube
  • Remove and clean saddle, and saddle clamp. Regrease if required.
  • Reinstall seat post and mount in work stand.
  • Remove front wheel.
  • Cut all break and gear cables
  • Remove handlebar tape
  • Remove all old cables and housing
  • Remove and clean bottom cable guide.
  • Mark handle bar position.
  • Remove handlebars, check shifter alignment and torque
  • Check derailleur alignment
  • Remove rear wheel
  • Remove all banjo nuts and clean threads regrease.
  • Break and remove chain
  • Remove rear derailleur and clean and check. Dismantle cage and clean jockeys.
  • Remove pedals, clean and regrease. Grease speedplay.
  • Remove cranks and chain rings. Remove chain rings, clean and regrease bolts.
  • Check and clean front derailleur
  • Check bottom bracket, remove clean and replace/regrease
  • Remove headset.
  • Check headset bearings and cups for wear.
  • Clean steerer and crown race
  • Check wheel bearings for play or bearing wear.
  • Remove rear cassette, check for wear
  • Check freehub for play, remove, regrease.
  • Grease quick release skewers.

More Maintenance

It’s been a few days of maintenance again. Mostly this time centering around the headset.

For a long while I’d had issues with the bearings coming loose, and causing headset knock. No amount of tightening would seem to cure it long term. I just could not get it tight enough to stay put. It was all down to the carbon steerer bung. Tightening the top cap would pull out the bung up, negating it’s very function.

I tried everything I could thing of to get it to stay in. Tightened it to 8nm, slipped. Added carbon paste, slipped.

This was with the factory bung. Which to be honest is pretty crap to start with, as it only expands at the Base. This puts less surface in contact with the steerer, and also causes a bulge. So that was pretty much consigned to the bin.

Nipping down to the local bike shop, they only had one in stock.

Worth a try for £7. Fitted it at 8nm. Still pulled out. This one had slight knurling on the barrel, but it was alot shorter, and had no lip on the top so would fall down the steerer tube, and was a complete and utter pain to install due to the three independent plates that pressed out onto the steerer.

On to wiggle and ordered a Deda version. This one arrived, unlike the Pro version, it had a lip, and was longer offering more support to the stem clamp, it was also more knurled.

So, bunged it in, did it up a fair bit tighter this time. And it didn’t pull out as much, allowing me to tighten down the top cap.

All seemed good on a quick 10 mile ride where previously it would give me grief straight off the end of the first down hill.

So time will tell if this is now cured.

More Maintenance headaches. 

Been quite a maintenance heavy week. I decided to change the cassette and chain, and after changing out the chain there was a terrible metallic scraping noise from the front derailleur.

I could not see where it was scraping on the derailleur, so I changed the cabling, reset the derailleur. Still the scraping. Looking at the inner chainring, there was a slight deformity to some of the teeth. Nothing major, but it was enough to keep hold of the chain on each rotation.

So, decided to replace the inner ring, as it had done nearly 3k, but finding one was harder than I thought. These things where rarer than hens teeth, Everyone was out of stock. However chain reaction sent an email the next day, they had four in Stock that day. I grabbed one while they had them, they where all sold by the end of the day…

Dismantled the drive chain, full clean and fitted the ring. All good. Bolts snugged down and ready to go.

Bike rides silently again. Back to the pleasures of silent running!

But getting used to a 12-25 cassette again..

Lubes

The dizzying array of greases on offer is bound to confuse people. Any cycling website will all have page after page of people explaining what’s the best grease, arguing over the perceived advantages over everything else. 

The truth is that a bicycle isn’t a demanding machine when it comes to grease. Any grease will do. Some, is better than none. 

I do however have my favourite greases on hand for maintenance:

  • Park Tool Polylube 
  • Weldtite TF2
  • Exus EG-01
  • Crystal Grease 

I use the park tool grease for almost everything and anything. 

The weldtite grease I use exclusively for greasing my speedplay as it’s bright red colour makes it easy to see when the old grease has been flushed out. 

The exus is a very clingy grease that sticks to everything. I don’t use it much. And it stinks. I mean it really stinks. 

Generally, don’t worry about grease, just use whatever you want to.