At Dirt, we always champion a DIY methodology for getting things done. And now that the weather has warmed up, your mountain bike is likely in need of some TLC before you hit the trail too hard.
As dedicated mountain bikers, we’re sure you’ve got a DIY bike shop in your garage or backyard. And if you don’t -- you should! It’s a great way to learn about bikes, and it’s super affordable. In fact, the cost of every tool on this list combined probably won’t get you that far at a bike shop. So, without further adieu, here are our top picks for must-haves in a DIY bike shop.
Tubeless Tire Sealant
There’s no shortage of brands available, and every mountain biker has their product of choice when it comes to tubeless tire sealant. No matter what brand you prefer, though, tubeless tire sealant is an absolute must-have for your DIY bike shop. Don’t be shy about stocking up either, this stuff constantly needs to be refreshed when exposed to dry climates.
If you’re installing or working on brake lines, you probably won’t get too far without these. Hypothetically, you could cut cables with several different tools, but proper cable cutters are going to protect against fraying and rough-cut edges. And at just $10-$15, it’s hard to argue against this particular investment.
Allen Wrench Set (Metric and Inch)
An Allen wrench set is beyond ‘suggested’ -- it is 100% required to do almost anything to your bike. It’s likely the most essential tool when working with mountain bikes. These are used on almost every piece of a bike, including pedals, headsets, bars, pivots, and more. For about $15.00, you can get a set of Allen wrenches that will last for years and years. The term ‘no brainer’ comes to mind.
Bike and Chain Degreaser
It’s hard (impossible, really) to overstate the importance of keeping a clean, well-maintained bike. Whether you’re riding in arid, dry-climate deserts or wet-and-muddy forest trails, the right degreaser is going to keep your bike running cleanly and smoothly. Be sure to use it on the chain, around the brakes, and generously in any areas which are vulnerable to dirt or grime.
Chains should be replaced every year. But, most of us push our chains to the very limits until we are absolutely forced to replace them. With that said, a chain breaker is going to help when replacement time comes. We’d even suggest buying two -- one for the shop, and one to take on the trail.
Yes, you can remove a Powerlink with your fingers. But why? For just $10 or so, a Powerlink tool can make your life a whole lot easier. Aside from helping you remove the Powerlink, this tool also helps put it back in place. For bike chains equipped with SRAM Powerlink, this little tool is an absolute must-have.
Not all grease is created equal. So, if you plan on doing anything at all involving a crankset or headset, you’ll need some bike-specific grease. This grease is going to do double duty: It lubricates the surfaces, while also sealing the area to keep out dirt and sand. What’s not to love?
Bike Work Stand
Ok, so the work stand isn’t the most budget-friendly item on our list. You can easily spend over $200 on a bike stand, but bear with us: once you work on a stand, you’ll never go back. If you plan on doing any robust work like installing breaks or building whole bikes, a mountain bike work stand is a very wise investment.
Rags, Rags, and More Rags
A bit of a no-brainer, yes, but you’ll certainly notice when you run out of rags. A bag of cheap rags can be bought for about $10. You should always keep a rag on hand for wiping and cleaning components. Whether swapping out a tire or building a new bike from the ground up, you’ll want to keep some rags around.
At last -- perhaps most important of them all. Cold beers make all work better, but we suggest drinking in moderation. There’s a lot that can go wrong with a bike, so be sure to not get too carried away.Alternatively, do get carried away and save the bike work for another day.