Having your own space to work on your bike has many benefits. First and foremost, this is the place that you’re going to keep your bike in top shape. A bike that works well cuts down on future maintenance costs and saves time so you can be out on the trails longer. Your personal bike shop is where your ride starts and ends and is a fun spot to hang out and talk all things bike. Working on your own bike is also just plain fun and a good skill set that your riding buddies are sure to appreciate.
First of all, a home bike shop requires space. Whether you are tucked into the back of your garage or a room in the basement, you’ll need some open space to store tools and work on your bike. A work bench is mandatory as is a solid tool box. A good size for a workbench is 36-inches tall, 24- to 36-inches deep, and 48-inches wide. These dimensions provide plenty of space for taking apart, cleaning, and fixing various components of your bike. Your workbench should be up against a wall where you can use peg board and hooks to hang additional tools. The surface can be wood but should be treated with polyurethane. Or you can use metal or a plastic surface on top of your work bench to keep it protected. And this space should be well lit. Inevitably some sort of very important tiny screw will fall on the ground and you’re going to need lots of light to find it.
Often times you will have people hanging out while you’re working on your bike (or theirs.) Having a few extra chairs (they don’t have to be nice) around is great for keeping your buddies comfortable.
For wrenching you are going to need the basics: a floor pump, shock pump, Allen keys, adjustable wrench, zip ties, and a couple of tire levers. These tools will let you solve many issues and are easy to store in a simple tool box. As your repairs become more technical, you can add spanners, cone wrenches, brake bleed kits and more.
A bottle of Simple Green and some rags are a-must as well for keeping your quiver clean. If you don’t have access to industrial shop rags, an old T-shirt or towel, cut into 6 x 6-inch squares, should do the trick. A shop apron isn’t as necessary, but it does help keep various fluids from ruining your clothing. Washing your shop rags and apron can be difficult but here is a pro trick: wash them with your jeans in a normal cycle. The friction pulls grime out pretty well, although not perfectly. Another trick is that Simple Green and other cleaning solutions can be watered down to save money.
I personally am a fan of a bike stand. It makes everything easier if you have your bike off the ground at eye level with the wheels and cranks spinning freely. Working on bikes requires seeing, touching, and listening to diagnose and fix issues. Having a stand lets you get close enough to the mechanics of the bike to find most issues.
While not totally necessary depending on who you are talking to… the quintessential dorm room hallmark of a mini frig makes for the perfect haven for frosty beverages and snacks while taking up minimal space.
Now Fix It
Now that your own bike shop is set up, you can get to it. Keeping your bikes clean, lubed, and shifting well means so much more pleasant riding. The internet has thousands of different articles and videos detailing how to fix just about any malady your bike may incur. But if you are not feeling up to the task of doing something major or unfamiliar, take it to an expert mechanic for a proper tune.
Paul Boyle, Marketing