I want to maintain my bike. There a number of tools which are very specific, which also cost a lot of money. I have an old road bike which uses a freewheel. The freewheel remover cost me something like 7$! This really seems overpriced.

It would be nice if we had some sort of tool translation thread. Like, "these are the generic tools you would use in place of each of these specific bike tools."

Personally, I'm looking for replacements for the following:

  1. The tools used to remove the bottom bracket.
  2. The cone wrench, or the necessary tools to clean the hubs. By the way, do they have adjustable versions of the cone wrench?
  3. The necessary tools for taking apart the headset. I've never done this. Maybe it can be done with generic parts?
  4. chaintool?
  5. anything else?

Maybe you really do need the bike specific tools for some of these. Oh well :(.

  • 2
    At least #1 and #3 depend very much on the kind of bike you have and the components it has. – cherouvim Aug 13 '13 at 18:46
  • 2
    A lot of places have bike co-ops that you can visit. They have tools that you can use for free, or a small fee, and people to help show you how to use them. I also recommend buying tools as you need them. Paying $7 for a freewheel tool is a lot cheaper than getting the bike shop to do the job for you. And it's a lot more palatable than spending $200 on an entire set of tools only to find that you never use half of them, or that it doesn't include the tool you need anyway. – Kibbee Aug 13 '13 at 19:33
  • although the majority of my tools are from random hardware stores (I have axle pegs that require an extension and a 19mm socket, but those and the ratchet are all from wherever), there are a few things that you just can't compromise on. Flat wrenches (cone wrenches) are one of these. If you buy the $5 set, you can use them 3 or 4 times before they blow out, the metal they use is just to soft. I have had my Parks Tool wrenches for years and used too many times to count. Same with chain tools. You CAN bust off a freewheel with a closed crescent wrench if you are in a pinch though. – BillyNair Aug 14 '13 at 10:47
  • IMHO: Quality tools last forever, and avoid damaging your bike. There are only a few worth building:headset crown race removal tool, headset press, chain whip. – Vorac Aug 27 '13 at 12:40

You are in luck! There are tons of threads on many forums talking about this very thing. However, I'll give you a head start.

  1. You can use a vice-grip type wrench, but try to get something in between the wrench and the BB cup otherwise you risk damaging the exterior of the cup. I recommend ponying up the cash for a BB wrench, it's worth it.
  2. While cone wrenches are nice because of how narrow they are, you can usually get away with any type of open-ended wrench. I've used an adjustable crescent wrench to great success.
  3. This depends on the type of the headset, as noted in the comments. However, if you're looking to just pull bearings that's not too bad and you can probably tap them out with a screw driver, tire lever, etc. To pull the cups you can make your own tool from a piece of pipe by cutting some slits and bending it out. Might not be pretty, but it works.
  4. Chain tools are cheap, buy one. You could try to clamp the chain and drive out the rivet with an awl or punch but you probably risk damaging the chain enough to need to replace it.
  5. Here's where some searching will net you more. Check out BikeRadar, PinkBike, mtbforums, etc. for a lot of insight into homemade tools or alternatives. That's how I found out how to make my own headset press (granted I bent all the washers, but it worked and $15 of hardware is better than a $70 press).

It really comes down to your own cost/payoff evaluation. If you thought $7 for a lockring tool was expensive, you're probably not going to buy any bike specific tools. But you're also going to spend a lot more time cursing and nursing sore knuckles from having wrenches slip or tools break. Some tools will last a long time and won't need replacing (chain tool, wrenches) while some are only-if-you-want-it like a torque wrench.

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