Bike Maintenance for Beginners

Thought i’d start a new thread rather than clog up the Bike Cleaning one that has lots of good advice on the chain waxing stuff.

I imagine i’m likely to be a lonely voice in this thread, from the ‘question’ side of things, but hoping there are more voices available from the ‘answer’ side of things!

I’m not going to apologise for my starting point. I’ve always hated anything mechanical. Got to start somewhere though.

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So, as per above I’m starting to get to grips with bikes and mechanics at a seriously basic level. I’d like to slowly transition that level up a notch if at all possible. I am THE most UNmechanically minded and handed person I know. Like a total idiot. I have a tendency to rush (without realising) and my hands just don’t do what my brain tells them when attempting fine motor tasks. I’m trying really hard of late, but I am just crap at this stuff. Puncture repair is about my limit, though I think I’ve repaired minor gearing issues on mine and Mrs GB’s bikes with a bit of tweaking of the cable tightener thing and the R and L screws (though they still blow my mind a tad). That said, there’s only one way to get better eh.

So I’ve moved from just owning a bike, to at least owning cleaning equipment and products and have washed my new bike more in 6 months than my previous one in 7 years! I like the idea of the chain waxing thing, especially if saves time down the line, but I just don’t have the space for sonic cleaners, slow cookers etc. It’s not gonna wash. So maybe one for the future.

That said I would like to be able to remove a wheel (I can actually take a wheel off right now!), chain and a cassette myself. Whether that’s for a deeper clean or to replace parts. By way of example, Mrs GB has a broken freehub on her bike at the mo. I’ve located and sourced the part but now can’t get to my mate’s house to fix it. So naturally I looked it up online. I don’t even know how or have the tools to take the cassette off to even access the hub!

I don’t want to spend silly money here, as I’ll only be doing light duties. But at the same time, I do understand the false economy of Home Bargains tools that are made of cheese. But I most definitely have zero interest in going full @fatpom and spending more on a few allen keys than I would on 2 month’s worth of food :wink: I jest of course, but you get the point. So I guess lower mid range if such a thing exists?

Currently my tool box consists of (relevant to bike repair) an alright set of standard allen keys that I nicked off a mate, pliers, screwdrivers and that’s about it. I don’t so much as own a single wrench/spanner.

So where do I start? Having a quick look online - Park Tool website - it looks like:

A chain whip
Casette lockring tool
Freewheel tool wrench (what even is this?)
Grease (ties in with my earlier post on the bike clean thread)
Some sort of chain tool?

But what types? There seem to be loads of options and versions! I have Shimano 105 R7000 GS 11speed with a HG700 11-34 cassette- if that makes any difference?

Anything I’m missing?
Any good resources? Park Tool seem to be a bit of a go to?

Thanks in advance!!!

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When I’ve finished on Zwift, I’ll take a photo of my tool kit - I’ve fixed everything with it :+1:t3:

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List looks good
I’d suggest quick link pliers
Not sure what a freewheel wrench is but then my wheels use standard allen keys
White lithium grease covers most stuff

Pick stuff up cheap on ebay from China in advance of needing it because of the 6 week+ delivery time.

youtube has videos on every type of fix

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If you have a carbon bike I would advocate for:

Carbon assembly paste
A bike specific torque wrench set

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I was in the same spot as you a couple of years ago. I have zero interest in fixing stuff and didn’t even have a home toolbox. There is an expert for everything so why fux it up yourself? Then I was being charged for my LBS to fux it up instead so I decided to learn.

Anyway I can now do most basic things to my bike. I’ve always been able to sort punctures but last year I bought new wheels, replaced the disks & pads, chain etc. Can switch cassettes depending on events, changed front mech, & adjusted height, cable etc.

The tools you listed above, a couple of screwdrivers and YouTube is all you need.
Oh and a 1/2 decent bike stand. My kids got me mine for Father’s Day :smiley:

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Have a look at the small bike specific tool kits that have the items you’ve listed plus a few other odds & sods too. Often cheaper than buying everything individually.
I got one of those then added bits and bobs as I need a more specific or unusual item but it’s still my starting point for jobs as has everything in one place.
This is similar to the one I have and they do a better one for £50 too. You’d soon get to that price buying bits individually.

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+1 for this, you struggle along for years without them then when you buy some you can’t believe you didn’t do it sooner. Plus the wire thing that holds the chain ends while you join them (I made my own with a bit of bent welding wire)

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Dont get a chain whip - get this - its SO much nicer to user!!

I’m also a complete imbecile with anything practical - but removing cassettes and stuff are even within my remit!

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Allen keys, chain whip, cassette thingy, pedal wrench is likely all you need for most things.

The next tool would probably be a spoke wrench, but that depends a bit on luck.

Do not pay park tool money
You do not need a freewheel tool.

You don’t need quicklink pliers, just swap to wipperman chains.
Do not buy bikes that need stupid bottom bracket tools.

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I’m a mechanical numpty but this book is pretty good:

Was able to built my TT bike from used frame + new groupset just by following the instructions.

It is sprinkled with dry humour too. For example I was looking up something to do with chains in the index, and stumbled across an entry “chase. See wild”. So I looked up wild, and found “wild. See goose”. And you guessed it, “goose. See chase”.

YouTube is good too, but it’s sometimes hard to know the quality and relevance until well into the video. And before you know it an hour has gone by and you’re watching something about a man who shares his apartment with owls.

Edit to add: the first few pages set out beginner, intermediate and “shop” level toolkit setups, in my old edition anyway. Might be possible to preview on Amazon? I found that useful, the beginner stuff is definitely necessary, the intermediate stuff is nice to have, and the “shop” stuff probably belongs in a shop.

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I’d add a decent pair of side cutters to your list, as that is all you really need to be able to replace brake and shifter cables…

You can easily get carried away and add cable tighteners, cable end crimps, etc, but you don’t really need them unless you replace cables all the time.

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I bought a pair of cutters/crimps when I re-cabled my wife’s bike. I’d only suggest getting some if you are actually doing that job, they’re not expensive at around a tenner but did make life easier.

For the sake of a tenner why be locked into Wipperman? They make the job so simple.

Never seen one of them, it got me looking at alternatives & I also saw this which looks handy.

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'cos quicklink pliers in every bikes saddlebag is a lot more than 10 quid and you need massive saddlebags to even fit them in.

Of course, if you’re off the “taxi home” generation on any mechanical that may not be a consideration.

Id argue its better than those too. It just sits on the cassette (9, 10, 11 and somet else speed are all fine). Absolutely rock solid. Its difficult to describe why its so much better… only brought it on a whim after seeing it suggested elsewhere and then gave my standard whips away.

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Nah, they don’t go in saddlebag. Multi tool with a chain breaker for emergencies :wink:

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that’s what i have … not that i know how to use it!

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Exactly, so now you don’t get the benefits of easily being able to break the chain when on the road - Breaking chains when out and about is a feature worth having, hence wipperman. To be fair, I do find stopping to help people with chains so jammed up that breaking them is helpful a more common occurance than on my own, but it’s still a feature I want I think.

Oh and yes I forgot about the chain tool, you need that anyway.