When I first started trying to do my own bike maintenance I had the basic, usual things - allen keys, screwdrivers, pliers, some squirty cream and a hammer. I could therefore do smaller tasks, and with a significant amount of bodging and swearing, slightly more complex ones too. Over the years I've built up a good collection of odd shaped pieces of metal half dipped in blue plastic that all do one thing, and one thing only, very well.
- A chainring bolt spanner is ideal for saving you from having to try and grip the back of the bolt with a pair of pliers.
- A chainwhip is ideal for saving you from having to try and grip a cassette with a pair of pliers.
- A decent chaintool is ideal for saving you from having to snap a chain with a pair of pliers.
- A star-flangled nut tool is ideal for saving you from having to try and seat a star-fangled nut with a screwdriver. Only joking! You'd try and do it with needle nose pliers.
A couple of days ago I replaced my drive train (cassette, chainrings and chain), bottom bracket and shifters. Out came the chainwhip and lockring tools. Out came the Shimano HTII tool. The workshop chain tool. The cable cutter. The copper slip. The baby wipes. The latex frickin' gloves.
All went swimmingly apart from undoing one plastic cap that goes on the end of the crank axle. I just couldn't get it to undo using the HTII tool - my fingers couldn't grip it hard enough. What solved the problem?
Pliers. Never forget the pliers.