Workstand and Tools

Author : Harv

Mike asks:

“Harv, was wondering if you care to make a suggestions as to which bike stand to get? Maybe used would be good… while I’m at it, where can I get tools for great prices? especailly bike tools, new or used? thanks.”

My recommendations here will be for a home workshop. A pro setup would lean toward more expensive, heavier duty and productivity-related tools and equipment. Entire books have been written about setting up a bicycle workshop, but only these two issues will be discussed here.

First, the workstand. A very basic work stand need only be something to get the bike off the floor and up to a reasonable height for easy access without you having to bend over or sit on the floor. There is a type of stand that supports the bike from the bottom bracket and down tube. This is an inexpensive stand and has the limitation of non-adjustable height and no rotation of the bike is provided.

Basic get-it-off-the-floor stand, Spin Doctor, about $40 on sale

I prefer a more elaborate stand, one that does not have these limitations. Park PCS-9 is the one I selected. Mainly, the difference between this stand and other similar stands is the clamp. Quick-release clamps have a spring to overcome to open the jaw and they remain at one clamping pressure setting until altered. My choice of stand has a clamping force that must be set each time by cranking the clamp closed, and it has no spring. Since I use a different clamping force for different bikes and clamp locations, I would rather customize the setup each time. These occasionally go on sale or are available used. Try Craig’s List.

Detail of Park PCS-9 Clamp

For bike-specific tools, I prefer Park. Unless a house brand tool, like Nashbar (usually made by Lifu) seems adequate for the job. They are sometimes on sale for half price. Park tools are pretty much uniform in price, but sometimes on sale at Nashbar.

A beginner might be interested in a complete set of either Park or Nashbar tools. If you have nothing at all, this might look good if the set is on sale. If you have some tools and don’t need any duplicates or inapplicable tools, you are better off building a collection one at a time. I don’t recommend used tools, as tools can be abused and rendered less than serviceable. Also, finding good used bike tools can be tedious and non-productive.

Another source is Bike Tools Etc. They have the cheaper Lifu tools as well as Park and other brands. Not everything is available from Park, like Maillard freewheel extractors for older Peugeots and Schwinns. But Bike Tools Etc does have these from other manufacturers. Park tends to discontinue tools for the older bikes. Cotter presses are no longer available from Park or any other tool manufacturer. I had to make my own cotter press. If you plan to work on old French, English, or UJBBTS (Universal Japanese Bike Boom Ten Speed) bikes, you will need a cotter press, or a lot of hammering and other destructive methods will have to be employed to remove them.

Non-bike-specific hand tools such as adjustable, combination, socket, and hex wrenches, screw drivers, pliers, punches, saws, hammers, etc can be obtained from a variety of places. I prefer Snap-On or Sears Craftsman for most of these, although some less expensive items can be obtained from Harbor Freight Tools. HF tools come with a caveat; not all are of sufficient quality for more than occasional use. When buying wrench sets, be sure the set contains the sizes most used for bicycle work. That would be 8, 9, and 10 mm sockets, 4, 5, and 6 mm hex keys, and 8 thru 16 mm combination wrenches. Not all sets contain all these sizes. You may have to buy individual wrenches to make up for these required sizes.

T-Handle Hex Keys from HF, not as long-lasting as Park due to not being hardened. About $4.00 on sale.

Newer bikes use socket head screws almost everywhere, so a set of t-handle hex keys would be quite useful. Older bikes use hex head screws, so a quarter-inch drive socket set and a set of nut drivers are essential. Don’t get the HF nut drivers, as there is no 9mm, one of the most common sizes required. Get Craftsman or Husky. Also available cheaper on ebay.

Come on in to the Bike Oven for an idea of what is needed to get started. Bring a camera or be ready to take notes. Actually, we haven’t reached the level of sophistication of the Bicycle Kitchen yet, but we are getting there as fast as we can.

Author : Harv