Setting up a home bike shop makes it easy to perform basic maintenance on your bike. Having the right setup even makes working on your bike, dare I say, enjoyable. Of course, you may not have the space to dedicate to a full-fledged shop, but there are still options. I’ve been there myself – I started riding when I lived in a 600 square foot apartment on the 3rd floor of the building and space was at a premium! There’s also the fact that some bike tools are expensive, and you may not want to spend a lot of money on tools you’ll only use once a year. So here are a few different set-ups and some additional tips for setting up a shop to work with whatever space and budget constraints you might have.
The “Just the Essentials” Set Up
You need very few tools to do basic maintenance on your bike: adjusting shifting, installing a new chain or shift cables, adjusting fit and control positions, changing tires, etc. An allen wrench set, adjustable wrench, pliers, chain tool, floor pump, and tire levers will take care of most needs. A small toolbox will easily swallow all of that, is nice and portable, and doesn’t take up much space. Also, tackle boxes work really well and are often cheaper than proper tool boxes.
The 95% Set Up
A few additional tools will take care of 95% of the work you might do on your bike. Some bike-specific tools like cone wrenches, bottom bracket wrenches, cassette lock ring sockets, and a chain whip will take care of almost everything your bike could need, including swapping entire drivetrains, changing fluid in suspension components, hub overhauls, etc.
My garage. I can do most of the work on my bikes, but there’s still a few things (like installing headsets) I take them to the LBS for.
The “Better Than Most Real Bike Shops” Set Up
Some folks are dedicated enough to go all out, and set up an at home shop that rivals most actual bike shops. They have all the tools, even the ones very rarely used. They can build a complete bike with no trouble, everything from facing headtubes and installing headsets, pressing bearings into suspension linkages, building wheels, and trimming brake hoses to fit – they can do it all. This isn’t the sort of shop you put together in a weekend – it’s something a person builds up over the years. A shop like this is kind of like a boat or a pool – you may not have the budget/space/desire to have your own, but it’s good to have a friend who does!
Singletracks member azdrawdy has one of the nicest home shops I’ve seen.
A Few Other Tips
A proper work stand will make your life much easier when working on your bike, especially anything related to drivetain work. However, work stands do take up a lot of space, and they’re certainly not cheap. If you’re handy you could always build your own and if space is at a premium, look into the various folding models that are on the market. If cost is an issue, you could use a storage stand (like one of these two I reviewed recently). You can also just flip the bike upside down on the seat and bars.
Peg boards (or nails in the wall) are a great way to keep tools organized and have easy access at the same time.
Keeping your shop organized is important. Whether your shop consists of a single tool box or an entire garage or basement, every tool should have a place, and you need to always put it back in its place. That way you spend your time using the tools instead of looking for them. Using a peg board to hang up your most often used tools is a good way to keep them both organized and readily available. When it comes to buying tools, remember: they’re an investment, so buy the quality stuff so you only have to buy it once. Quality tools will last you a lifetime, and it’s cheaper in the long run! Many tool manufacturers sell kits that come with a bunch of different bike-specific tools. These kits are a good option and although they are not cheap, they’re generally cheaper than buying each tool individually. Most come with a nice case to keep everything organized and easily portable so you can take them with you on your next mountain bike trip. You can check out all the tool reviews here on Singletracks to make sure you’re buying good quality gear.
azdrawdy has pretty much every tool that might be needed, and his work bench is highly organized.
What kind of home shop do you have? Tell us about it in the comments below and include a link to a photo if you’ve got one.
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