Antique-headset-press

From the first three articles, someone could easily put together a home shop to do 75% of the repairs on their bike. But once you get past the surface of adjustments and basic components, it is gonna take some pretty large and expensive tools to start working further.

A lot of home mechanics have low-buck ways of replicating these tools, and those methods probably work. Coming from a shop background though, we recommend using the right tool, or taking it to a shop. While you might save money making your own headset press from threaded rod, nuts and washers, the cost savings evaporate if you accidentally wreck that new Chris King headset. A proper headset press will keep the surfaces parallel, and with the proliferation of press-fit bottom brackets, they now double as BB installation tools, so much that Park re-named theirs “Bearing Cup Press” instead of “Headset Press”.

A caveat applies to this post in the series, that all these tools need proper training. Any of these large special tools can do a lot of damage if used wrong, so if you don’t know what you are doing, it would still be best to pay a pro for installation or removal. Or take a class.

DAG-and-Race-Setter

TIM: In our last post, a lot of commenters mentioned we were missing a derailleur alignment gauge. Not missing, but I felt like it belonged in this post. Quite an essential tool, especially if you are a mountain biker, the Park DAG-1 (DAG-2 is currently being sold) is both a gauge to check the alignment against the wheel, and a nice long lever to bend the hanger back into shape. If you feel comfortable with that, adding one of these to your kit will always allow you to optimize shifting performance after a crash knocks the derailleur around.

Below are two things you’ll want to have sitting next to your headset press – a crown race setter and a headset cup remover. Both are commonly short-cut by home mechanics using screwdrivers, but if you spend the money to protect your frame with a headset press, you should also do the other parts of the process right.

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Zach: The Park DAG-2 has served me well for years but there are more accurate hanger tools out there as I found with the Abbey Bike Tools HAG. There is a huge difference in price however, so most home mechanics will likely reach for the DAG-2 before shelling out for the HAG. However if want your tools to be really, really good looking…

A crown race puller is another tool that has many workarounds but if you switch out forks often or hate scratching your parts it can be very useful. The Park CRP-1 (pictured) or newer CRP-2 have been updated to fit nearly every steerer tube and fork combination out there. The CRP-1 makes it a breeze to remove crown races, but if you come across a stubborn race pour some hot water over it. That’s a trick that Park’s own master of tools Calvin relayed to me long ago – it works. When you really get into headset installation there are many more tools like headset specific drifts, reamers, facers, and threaders that start to leave the realm of the home mechanic.

Home-Workshop-Cutting-Guide

TIM: Even though it is actually a pretty small, inexpensive tool, a saw guide can be very involved. I’ve seen a poor mechanic cut right through the guide itself. If you are installing brand new forks, the cutting guide is a must.

TYLER: And that bench mounted vise to hold it make the job even easier!

Zach: I have to admit – at the shop I used to work at, our old Park saw guides worked great. Just before I moved on from the shop I bought the new SG-6, and have to say I’m not all that pleased with it. The slot for the hacksaw blade is much wider than the actual blade which leads to wavy cuts. Maybe I got a bad one…

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Tyler’s right on the vice, they are super useful to have mounted to your bench – especially with an axle vice like the new Park AV-5 (older AV-3 pictured) and a pair of soft jaws. Acting like a second set of hands a vice can hold that piece of metal while you saw, grind, cut with a torch, or wrench on just about anything. You don’t need one as massive as the 6″ Wilton General Purpose mounted to my bench, but I decided I wanted something I could use for other projects including automotive repairs and the like. I will say that this is one tool not to skimp on. Just about every Kobalt, Harbor Freight, or any other bargain brand vice I’ve used ended up breaking – usually at the clamps for the rotating base, or the actual handle itself. Used bench vices can be a great option since like many tools they don’t always build them like the used to.

park-tool-cone-wrenches

TYLER: For years I relied on adjustable pliers or the cheap multi-size cone wrenches that came with my all-in-one Nashbar tool kit. Finally I broke down and got the Park Tools Cone Wrench Set and it’s been awesome. It includes each size from 13mm to 28mm, and only rarely do I need something beyond that. There are still a few occasions when I need two of something (usually 19mm), but these generally cover anything you’d need a cone wrench for, and they’re way more solid than the ones that come in most kits.

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Zach: I’ll second the Park SCW-SET.3 which includes one 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, and 28mm. Added to the cone wrenches from my original AK-32 tool kit, I’ve had all the cone wrenches I’ve ever needed with the exception of needing a second 28mm wrench.

effetto mariposa carbocut hacksaw blade for cutting carbon fiber tubes

TYLER: This one definitely falls under the rarely used but good to have category: A carbon-specific hacksaw blade. Effetto Mariposa’s Carbocut has made clean work of several carbon steerer tubes on the Rockshox forks I’ve tested.

effetto mariposa carbocut hacksaw blade for cutting carbon fiber tubes

The cutting edge of the blade’s a bit thick, so it doesn’t fit in Park’s cutting guide Tim mentioned above and you’ll have to freestyle it. But, it cuts a smooth clean edge without fraying the carbon like a metal blade can.

Pedros-Star-Nut-Setter

TIM: Also a must for installing new forks is a star nut setter. A few years back Pedros came out with this self-guiding one, and I haven’t had a star nut go sideways since.

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ZACH: There are a number of great star nut setters out there, but the Hozan C-460 is my favorite that I’ve used.

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This should qualify as a big tool. Often you need as much leverage as you can get when dealing with frozen bottom brackets or crank bolts. That’s where this Craftsman 1/2 Flex Head Teardrop Ratchet comes in. The 1/2″ drive fits Shimano Hollowtech II and SRAM GXP sockets without an adapter, and a 1/2″ to 3/8″ adapter allows it to be used with other sockets. The flexible head allows you to keep your knuckles clear of the frame reducing the number of cuss words when that BB finally breaks free. This ratchet also works great for loosening your car’s lug nuts.

TYLER: You can always make what’s affectionately known as a “sissy bar” by putting a piece of pipe over the end of your standard-length ratchet handle, too.

Truing-Stand

TIM: Last, but not least, the big, bad truing stand. Expensive and awesome looking, they can help you mend a bent wheel, or build a new one. Of all the tools though, if you don’t know what you are doing, you can make a mess in a hurry. There are some great consumer grade ones out there that cost less than 10 truings down at the local shop, just make sure you know what you are getting in to.

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Zach: Tim’s right on the money with the truing stand. It can definitely lead to some wonky wheels if you don’t know what you’re doing, but there are probably many out there who, like myself, view building wheels as a rite of passage. If you’re in that club or aspire to be, a quality truing stand is the first step to wheel building zen. Start by working on trashed wheels or your neighbor’s huffy, read Sheldon Brown’s take on wheel building, or one of the Zinn and the Art of Bike Maintenance books, and give it a try. If you want to step right into the big leagues right away, the Park TS 2.2 is hard to beat. We just wish it was fully fat bike compatible, but wheel and tire sizes have been rapidly changing which makes it hard for tool manufacturers to keep up. We’ll get into my homebrew 197mm fatbike hub adapter in a later installment. The Tilt base that Tim and I are both using makes using the stand more to your preference and also acts as great storage for nipples, or thru axle hub adapters.

If you haven’t seen them already, make to check out all of the other installments from our Home Workshop Series!

30 COMMENTS

  1. Hey guys, the reason the new saw guide has a wider ‘track’ than the old one are carbon-specific hacksaw blades.

    They’re wider than the metal cutting blades, so the ‘track’ in the guide needs to be wider too.

    HTT

    M

  2. This is a great series. I use many of these tools every day, but some of the most often overlooked and most useful tools are the ones I make.
    Making pokes, prods and hooks from old stainless steel spokes is free and easy. It gives you the ability to round out cut housing, hook a cable and route it internally with ease, clean paint out of threads and a lot more general-use stuff.

    That and a nice lower output LED flashlight.

  3. SG7.2 is a good saw guide with a slot for carbon blade and narrower for metal blade and also works on aero tubing (tt seat post is my live example) as well as round…

  4. A solution to needing a second set of cone wrenches is a modified open ended adjustable (crescent) wrench. I ground the jaws down on one of mine to the rough thickness of a cone wrench. It was a desperate fix to get a bike running at the time but it has become my go to tool for adjusting hub bearings. You’ll always have the right size.

  5. @Gummee, I was referring to the SG-6 not the SG-7.2 that is pictured. The SG-6 is the round guide meant for steel blades, and the SG-8 is the round guide meant for carbon blades.

  6. Be careful putting cheater bars on ratchets. You can over stress the ratchet mechanism and break it. Depending on the brand, that’s considered abuse and isn’t covered by a warranty. A job that requires a cheater bar requires a breaker bar, not a ratchet.

  7. That headset press can be a really good purchase if you have a BB30 or any other press in BB, just make sure you buy the kit that comes with the right blocks and the punch out tool.

    Also, I use it often on stubborn GXP style cups as well. (Especially the old style that had the beveled edges) You can use the big flat sections of the press just barely tightened against the cups with a BBT-9 style tool to prevent it from camming out and damaging the slots on the cups.

  8. Personally, any headset installation or removal tools and steerer tube cutting guides I find to be the least important tools for a cyclist to own. They’re expensive and get used approximately once per bike. Everytime I’ve bought a frameset, my LBS cut and installed my fork and headset for free, and having always chosen a Chris King, even my oldest bike (dating back to 1993) to my newest (2013) have never had any work done on their headsets other than wiping the exposed bearing surfaces and applying fresh grease.
    But hey, it’s only money and you can’t take it with you.

  9. What also works well that has grit blades to cut carbon tubes cleanly is blades to cut tiles. Works just as well and cleanly as Carbocut but cheaper and works on existing hacksaws.

  10. @Tom Hell. Yes. God I miss compressors in my shop workshop.

    One thing that’s worth it’s weight in gold to me is a decent parts cleaner. We use Rozone ones and I feel they’re pretty good.

  11. A semi-obscure but potentially very useful tool is an external bottom bracket bearing press so you can swap out crunchy bearings without buying new cups. I have a Raceface tool that I use for servicing FSA MegaExo bottom brackets because the stock FSA bearings aren’t well sealed and Enduro bearings are half the price of a new FSA bottom bracket. I’m also going to try it on Shimano, however unlike the nicer but more expensive Enduro tool, the Raceface doesn’t have fittings to remove Shimano bearings or work on GXP. On the other hand the Raceface tool is less than half the price of the Enduro or Phill Wood tool set.

  12. I also haven’t seen bench grinder listed here, super good for making pokeys and also finishing cable ends for that factory finish.

    Second a parts washer.

    Also a wierd one I used to have was a camping stove, good for bacon and other shop based tasks. Finally I wouldn’t wrench without my trusty dremel (with flexi head and quick chuck) good for all sorts of jobs. A personal favourite for seized brake pad retention screws (the tiny ones that seize in at the slightest provocation) just slot the head and unscrew with a flat screwdriver, works every time!!!

  13. Would love to see some comparisons of parts washers. Torn between another crappy small consumer one vs something bigger but more robust and longer lasting.

  14. I have been using the Smart Bike Washer at the shop I work at and it has been pretty impressive. It uses a heated eco friendly fluid that eats grease and oil. It is a process called Bioremediation and it cleaned all but the most stubborn 10 year old grease stains off of bikes without hurting the finish or my skin. Its been a big help because we do not have the space to wash bikes outside, and now we are not polluting with all of the runoff from harsh degreasing chemicals!

  15. After working on many poor quality bikes in our shop, a drill and tap and die set are also a must. The bolts on £100 bikes rust if they get within 6 feet of wate rand living on the coast we also have salt water in the air. I hadn’t shered a bolt in 20 years of home maintanace but proberly have 1 a month now.

  16. I’ve seen many people screw up using the Headset Press. I really think a properly designed version should be very difficult to screw up with. Luckily their tool to get a headset out works every time

  17. Really like this series.
    I inhereted 2 Swiss screw machines . A Bridgeport milling machine . And a horizontal grinder. A German metal lathe on way.

  18. All the tools in these series are present at my home workshop. Many are from the German brand Cyclus tools, they make fine tools and they last long. At the shop where I worked we had a mix of park/pedro’s/hozan (yeo, the good old stuff) and cyclus.

    had an extra set of compression plates made to press like anything.

    I really am fond off my compressor, it’s just a small one (5 liter). It comes handy on almost any job.

  19. So how do you all feel cutting carbon considering its Carcinogenic (asbestos)?
    Shouldn’t the cycle industry take some responsibility here?
    Would love to here from a corporate spokesman telling us it’s not carcinogenic.

  20. A fine tooth (32tpi) metal hacksaw blade does a fine job on carbon steerer tubes if you just let the weight of the saw control the cut and don’t press down on it. Two things also help:

    1.Put a wrap of masking tape around the steerer where the cut will be. It gives a good surface to mark the cut line and keeps the carbon fibers from splintering as you cut.

    2. Rotate the steerer as you cut so the saw doesn’t break out at the bottom of the cut.

    I have Performance’s house brand “Spin Doctor” saw guide and it has been a great tool for cutting both metal and carbon steerers. The slot is correct for metal hacksaw blades but they are all I use.

  21. agreed on the parts washer. been using a Crest ultrasonic parts washer, and throwing a cassette in for 5 minutes and having it come out sparkling is such a treat

    • @Bazz, have you used the TS-2EXT.2 on a 197mm thru axle hub? I’m actually curious if it works since their PDF lists them being compatible “up to 170mm with TS-2 or up to 190mm with TS-2.2” It seems to exclude 197mm hubs.

  22. I found a pipe cutter works better, makes a straighter and cleaner cut than any hacksaw, even with a new blade and a guide for fork steerers.

  23. A pipe cutter is cheap and also good for sizing handlebars, but if you don’t go slowly you can bulge a steerer on either side of the cut if you’re using it to size a fork. The precision of the cut on a steerer isn’t really relevant as it doesn’t touch any part of the stem or headset, and it’s hidden from view when assembled, so even a sloppy hacksaw cut is fine. It’s still nice to have a perfectly clean and straight cut though.

  24. @c

    The jury is out on carbon fibre cutting / dust – some call it the ‘new’ absteotos.

    In our professional bike workshop we don’t take risks cutting carbon fibre.

    Dusk mask with safety glasses and gloves, air extraction turned on, wet cloth around the bench vice with bin underneath, everything damped with water during cutting. Masking tape around the cut zone, new 32 tpi hacksaw blade, park cutting guide in vice, gentle sawing action.

    Cut off and rag put into bin along with blade, fine grit paper dosed with water used to finish the cut held over the bin, put into bin, more water to dampen things down including cleaning the cutting guide, bin bag then sealed with gloves/mask and taken to disposal site.

  25. @rob c

    Your worries about carbon are perfectly sensible, but according to my understanding unfounded.(its been a while since medical school). Alveolar macrophages have been the specific task of ingesting little particles of dust and debris that enters the lung and is too small to fall out into the mucous layer. In fact the most widely documented ingestion of these cell is fine particulate carbon (such as cigarette smoke), but to the ease at which this is seen in the microscope (carbon is black, easy to see). So, as long as the carbon is fine enough to be a dust, or large enough to be a fiber that doesn’t travel deep into the lungs, you will be fine. If memory serves, particle size between 2.5-10 microns is the worse, and most asbestos fibers are in this range (4-18). Carbon dust fibers are not: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/318519
    Still is smart to be safe though, you never know 🙂

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