Looking after your bike doesn’t have to be tricky and carrying out your own day to day maintenance can be satisfying.
Here’s a look at the top 5 tools and workshop provisions that will help you on your journey to self-sufficiency:
Tyres don’t stay pumped up to the recommended PSI by themselves – ideally, you should be checking them and pumping them up every week if you’re riding daily. Cycling on tyres with a lower than recommended PSI puts you more at risk of punctures, and also increases rolling resistance, basically making your journey more difficult.
There is the option of trundling down to your LBS every week to ask to ‘borrow’ a pump, but this does become a tad excessive after a while, and a good track pump will only set you back £20 or so.
Spend a little extra, and you’ll get durability, and a pump you don’t have to sit on to get to 120PSI (if you have weak arms, you’ll understand). The Topeak Joe Blow Sport II costs just over £30 and has served me well for many years.
If you’re going to be changing your tyres and replacing punctured tubes, tyre levers will help. Early in my cycling career, I used a pair of aluminium tea spoons – this is not advised – you will damage your rim tape, can damage your wheel rims, and you’ll probably bend the spoons, too.
Metal tyre levers look cool, and will last forever – but unless you’re an expert they aren’t recommended, as it is easy to pinch the tube. Park Tool make a very popular plastic set that is used by mechanics throughout the industry.
Changing saddle height, changing handlebar position, replacing brake pads, replacing cables, removing derailleur for travel, tightening headset – all of these jobs require an allen key on the majority of bikes (a few exceptions for quick release saddles and disc brakes..). Whatever sort of bike you’ve got, an allen key will be useful for something.
Multitools are allen keys for taking with you on the ride. Multitools give very little leverage, so it’s easy to round off bolts, therefore when you’re working on the bike at home you are much better off using a set of ball ended allen keys, like these from X-tools.
Built up grease and grime will clog up your bike if you don’t remove it. The good news is that doing so is very easy.
For areas like the chain and cassette, good old GT85 will have you sorted. Spray this onto the grubbiest parts of your bike (EXCLUDING braking surfaces), leave it to work it’s magic for a couple of minutes, then scrub it off – remembering to rinse, dry and lubricate afterwards.
And what to scrub with? Something like the Park GSC1 Gear Cleaning brush will have you sorted. The stiff bristles are ideal for cleaning a chain, and the hard end with the strange triangle cut outs is for running between the cogs of the cassette. A brush like this will genuinely make your job easier.
For a guide to how to clean your bike – check out our London Cyclist post here.
Lube & Grease
Is your chain crying at you with a raspy voice as you pedal? Have you noticed a light dusting of orange rust settling on the surface? Your chain needs lubing. Bike lube keeps everything running smoothly. In wet weather, use wet lube, and in dry weather, use dry lube. You only need to apply a very thin layer, otherwise it will attract and collect dirt.
If you’ve ever come to remove pedals, and found you simply were not able – it was probably because they had no grease on them when last replaced. You should always grease pedals, headsets, bottom brackets and seatposts when replacing them. Again, only spread on a very thin layer.
See also: Bike lube – what’s all the fuss?
Are there any workshop items you couldn’t live without?