"A tool is an object used to extend the ability of an individual to modify features of the surrounding."
Tools have been used for thousands of years by both humans and animals. One could say the development of tools have matched the developmental progress of the human race. Every level of sophistication in product development has called for new tools to measure, view, and build. These tools become as important as the product itself because without these tools the product could not be replicated or repaired. Individuals who master these tools are called mechanics or technicians. Without tools, and our ability to use them, all of our technology would be lost.
To my knowledge, there is no known account of how many different types of tools there are. The list seems endless. How many different types of tools does the average bike shop have? Speaking on behalf of Island City Bikes, we use around 100 different tools in our work of converting bicycles to electric. While that may seem like a lot of tools it what we use on a daily basis. For an example, we have 15 different cone wrenches, 3 types of chain splitters, 6 pin wrenches, 12 freewheel sockets, and on and on. Each tool serves a very specific purpose and without that particular tool our work comes to a complete halt. I will never forget the day a mechanic was working on a conversion and he look at me and ask where a specific tool was that he needed. I said I did not have that tool. He stared at me for a moment, took the bike off the stand and placed it to the side and said, "What do you want me to do next?" I received the message...my job as the owner was to see my mechanics had every tool needed to complete the job.
The following is a review of tools required and how to use them. I hope this is helpful for all who would like to work on their own bike.
Al Carpenter, CEO Island City Bikes
This is a typical home repair stand.They can be found for around $150-$300 and intended for standard bikes.
Bikes are heavy and if you are going to work on your bike you have to figure out a way to get it off the ground. This problem is amplified if you are thinking of converting your bike to electric. Once you begin converting your bike you will be wanting to work at eye level and that means either having a means of elevating the bike, or (ugh) sitting on the floor. Even if you choose the sitting on the floor method you will still need to get the bike off the ground to work with chainline, shifting and braking calibration.
"EVT" stands for Efficient Velo Tools. More information can be found out about this lift from their website, EVT
Our first heavy bike lift was a EVT repair stand and it is a work of art. One of the nice things about this lift is it works on a system of counter balance. Inside the pipe is a heavy weight that counters the weight of the bike. This makes lifting the bike almost effortless.
Electric bikes can be heavy and they get heavier as the day grows long. It is amazing how well this well thought out system works.
The cost of this lift is almost $3,000 with shipping so it is mostly found in bike shops.
In addition to the EVT heavy lift repair stand we have three Park Tool electric powered heavy lift repair stands. These also cost around $3,000 each but are indispensable if one is working with electric bikes. Which is our favorite? We have one mechanic that favors the EVT repair stand while others favor the Park Tool electric bike repair stand. The only downside to the Park Tool electric repair stand is they become non functional during a power outage.
That aside, my personal favorite is the Park Tool electric bike repair stand. They are simple to install (sort of) and easy to use.
This is the next step up in a bike repair stand. This retails for around $469 and is found in the majority of bike shops. This stand has a telescoping arm so it can be lowered. Why is this important? It is very difficult to lift an electric bike in order to place it on the stand. The lower the stand can go, the easier it is to to place the bike on the stand. The best bike stands are able to reach all the way down to the bike.
There are many suggestions on the web of how you can save by making your own bicycle repair stand. However, herein lie the problem. These stands are for typical bikes and are wholly inadequate for supporting the weight of an electric bike. Once you have the motor installed your bike is 8 pounds heavier. Add the battery and now it is heavier still. This has to be taken into account if you choose to build your own workstand. Make sure it is robust enough to hold the bike in a safe manner.
In order to work on your bike in any capacity, much less install a motor and battery, you have to get the bike off the ground in a manner that is safe. On the internet you can find all sorts of ideas of how to get a bike off the ground in order to work on it. Some of these ideas are clever and others are dangerous. Unless you are 100% certain you can distinguish between clever and dangerous you would be better served to purchase a standard bike repair stand.
In order to install the Bafang mid drive motor the entire bottom bracket, chainring and crank arms must be removed. If you wish to keep your pedals thy need to be removed before removing the crank arms. Over time pedals can become "frozen" to the crank arms and require a lot of force to break the pedals free.
There are two things to remember when removing pedals. First, when removing the pedal on the drive side, turn counter clockwise, towards the rear of the bike. On the non drive side turn the pedal clockwise, towards the rear of the bike. This is assuming the pedals were installed correctly! If not sure look for any indication marks on the pedals that say "L" or "R" then insure they are on the correct side.
The second thing to remember is to always use a pedal wrench and not a crescent wrench, channel locks, pliers or any other tool not designed for removing pedals. Pedal wrenches are designed to remove pedals...nothing else.
This is a home mechanic pedal wrench. It is only around $13 but it has its limitations. It will be fine for removing pedals that are not frozen to the crank arm but pretty much useless if they are. The handle is just to short to apply enough pressure required to remove recalcitrant pedals.
When pedals are installed into the crank arm there should always be a thin layer of grease applied. Some bike assemblers ignore that fact and install the pedals without grease. When this happens the pedals are very difficult to remove. If, the pedals cannot be removed then it might be best to remove the crank arm and have your local bike shop remove the pedal.
We have one of these heavy duty pedal wrenches at every work station at our shop. As you can see it is large and heavy. It also has two different openings; one at 45 degrees and the other 30 degrees. These opens allow us mechanical advantage as we apply force to the spindle.
When removing pedals always remember to take a close look at where your hand is going to land when the pedal breaks free. Make sure your hands will not come into contact with anything once the pedal breaks free.
Sometimes it feels like getting a bigger hammer will solve the problem of removing a frozen pedal but trust me...its not. The space between the pedal and crank arm is very small and the only thing that will fit in that space is a flat "pedal" wrench. A monkey wrench (above) is great for just about everything except removing pedals.
Some crank arms will have a cap that pushes the crank arm on the spindle. Sometimes that cap can be removed with your fingers and other times it will require a cap remover. There are different types of these caps for different types of crank arms. You would think there would be one standard for all crank arms but....no.
This is another crank arm cap remover. These are not very expensive and you can tell by looking what type you will need. Buy this part in advance as it is not fun to have to stop your work because you lack a $3 part.
Crank arms have bolt holding them on. Some will have a 8mm hex nut and others will have a recessed bolt. The only way you can remove a crank arm with a recessed bolt is to use this tool. Most sockets are too thick walled to fit the crank arm bolt. The other end of this tool is a 8mm hex that will remove hex style crank arm bolts.
Best tool for removing crank arm bolts. These bolts can be very, very difficult to remove so you need all the leverage you can muster. Some of these bolts come off easily but others will be difficult to extract. Some are on so tight you will think the tool will snap before the bolt comes free.
This is one style of tool used to remove a crank arm but it is not the only one. There are two of these and they are not interchangeable. If you use the wrong extractor the crank arm will not come off regardless of the amount of force used.
Here is the second style of crank arm puller (extractor). Look close and you will see the black one has a larger head than the blue one. If you try to use the black one on a crank that uses the blue extractor it will not work. The same can be the same for the blue extractor. You have to be sure you have the right tool.
This is the best crank removal tool for a few reasons. It has removable caps, one small and one large so it will fit either style of crank arm. Also, you turn this tool with a wrench. This allows you to apply much more force for the removal of the crank arm bolt. The handles on the other tools are far to0 small for any excessive force that may be required.
You thread this tool as far as it will go into the crank arm. Then, you use a wrench to turn the tool clockwise and off will come the crank arm. Please Note: Make sure there is not a spacer in the crank arm! If there is a spacer in there the crank arm will not come off.
This is a self extracting crank arm. The purpose of this system is to make it easier to remove the crank arm. By design, it is supposed to be a simple method of removal but in practice this type of crank arm can be very difficult to remove and easy to strip the retaining nut. If you look closely you can see a bolt within a bolt. You want to tighten the outside bolt clockwise before you attempt to turn the inside bolt. Once you turn the inside hex nut it will push against the outside cap which, in turn, will push the crank arm off the spindle.
Some self extracting cranks will have small holes and will require a special tool called a "Pin Spanner." There are three different sizes of these pin spanners. Again, always remember to tighten the outside nut before turning the inside hex nut. The pin spanner is used to turn the outside bolt clockwise as tight as possible. Failure to do this will cause the outside bolt to strip its threads and when that happens the crank arm will have be cut off. Not a good situation to be in.
This is what a pin spanner looks like and they are not very expensive. This tool is essential for the removal of the crank arm. If the bolt is not tight you will strip the threads of the outer cap and that could have been avoided if you had this $10 tool.
If you are going to install a Bafang mid drive then you need to check your chain for wear. The Bafang comes with a new chainwheel (chainring) and if your current chain is worn then it will skip on the cogset and cause premature wear on the new chainring.
A chain is made up of inner and outer plates, rollers and pins. It is the the rollers and pins that wear out and when they do it gives the impression the chained has stretched. The rollers grow thinner with use and this small tool measures the amount of wear on the rollers. It is very accurate and an indispensable tool. It retails for around $30.00.
This chain checker tool is also from Park Tool and is less expensive and is just as accurate. The price is around $11.00 at the the time of this writing.
As you can see from the picture above, the tool drops down between the rollers. It has two measuring tips. At one end it is .50mm and the other .75mm. If the .75mm end falls through the chain then the chain needs replacing.
If your chain is rusty...replace it. Chains are not that expensive and a chain that is worn or rusty will not work well with an any type of electric bike. The chain will skip on the cassette and make a popping sound.
While riding a bike under human power you can get away with a lot of mechanical discrepancies. For example, your bike chain can be way past the point it needs to be replaced and it can still be used. It will be noisy and shift poorly but you can still ride the bike. On the other hand, once a bike has a power source, in this case a Bafang 750 watt electric mid drive motor, you can not get away with any kind of mechanical discrepancy. These powerful motors will seek out and exploit any weakness in the drivetrain. A worn chain will result in very poor shifting, be very noisy, and will be subject to fail sooner rather than later.
Now that you have decided to replace the old worn chain the question is: How are you going to remove your old chain? The only way to remove a chain from a bicycle is to use a chain splitter. Chain splitters can be like the one above ($38) or can be of smaller versions that cost less than $10. Just about any chain splitter will do the job.
Modern chains come with a "Quick link" and a chain splitter is not necessary for its removal. However, when you install your new chain it will have to be cut to length and that will require a chain splitter.
A Quick link is a master link that uses a special tool to install and remove. These links are very easy to use and requires no special skills. They do, however, require a special tool to both put on and remove from a chain. They just snap on and snap off.
Early on, few bicycle manufacturers would use quick links on their bikes as it was less expensive to pin the chain. Quick links make it easier for bike owners to remove their chain for cleaning. Today, almost all bikes will come with a chain with some sort of a quick link on the chain. Here are some of the names for these links: KMC Missing Link, Connex Link, YBN Safety Link, Shimano Quick Link, and Sram Power Lock. Some of these links are for one time use only while others can be used over and over.
Again, you will not be able to remove the old chain that has any type of quick link unless you have a master link plier. These pliers cost around $15.00 and are made to both remove and install quick links.
Note: Be careful when you buy master link pliers as some of them can install quick links but not remove them. For the price and the fact I know this park tool both installs and removes quick links I would recommend this product. Every work station at Island City Bikes has it set of Park Tool master link pliers. This is one tool that we use all day everyday. They are inexpensive and there is no substitute. They pay for themself even if you use one time.
This is a picture of a square tapered spindle bottom bracket. In order to install the Bafang mid drive motor this bottom bracket must be removed. There are many different types of bottom brackets and bottom bracket standards. Each bottom bracket standard will have its own special removal tool. Some bottom bracket standards are: BSA, BB90, BB95, BB86, BB92, BB30, BBRite. OSBB Alloy, BB30A Asymmetrical, PF30, BBrite Pressfit, OSBB Carbon, PF30A, T-47, 386 EVO, 392 EVO, and a few others. In addition to the bottom bracket standards there are varying bottom bracket widths including: 68, 73, 100, 110, and 120mm. Some bottom bracket are eccentric. A eccentric bottom bracket is larger on one side and can be rotated to tighten or loosen a chain. Then, there are bottom bracket diameters. A typical square tapered spindle bottom bracket will have a diameter that will accommodate a Bafang mid drive motor. Other bottom bracket shells will require machining adaptors in order to use a mid drive motor. That is why we have at our shop a machine shop.
This is what a threaded bottom bracket looks likes once it has been removed. The spindle is square tapered (not always) and the length is 68mm (not always). It is often covered in grease when removed. Some bottom brackets do not have threads and are pressed in place. These are slowly falling out of favor among cyclists as they have a tendency to creak. Bottom brackets that are pressed in place require a different set of tools altogether for their removal.
Almost all bottom brackets can be removed if one has the right tools and is patient. However, there are times when a bottom bracket is literally welded to the frame of the bike by galvanic (bi-metal)corrosion. In these circumstances, unless you are a skill bike mechanic, take your bike to your local bike shop and have them remove the bottom bracket.
In extreme cases we place the bottom bracket removal tool into the bottom bracket splines, lock the socket in place with a bolt that attaches to the spindle, then we take the frame of the bike and invert the frame to get the bottom bracket socket in a vice and the turn the bike frame! This will usually free any frozen bottom bracket...or snap the shell right off the bike.
This tool will interface the splines on the bottom bracket. Always start on the non drive side of the bike. Sometimes a bottom bracket will come off easily and if that is the case then use the socket, give it a turn towards the front of the bike (counter clockwise) and it will come free. Once free, move to the drive side and turn it also to the front of the bike (clockwise) to loosen and remove.
Now, here is the problem. The splines on a bottom bracket are very shallow. When the socket is placed on these shallow splines it easily falls off when any pressure is applied. If you continue to try to remove the bottom bracket, and the socket keeps slipping, eventually you will strip the threads. Therefore you have to lock the splined sockets to the splined bottom bracket in order to to remove the bottom bracket from its shell.
This is how it is done; You take a bolt, run it through the socket and into the axle. This will hold the socket firmly in place and you can supply all the force needed to break the bottom bracket free. We usually lock the socket in place, use a box end wrench, stand on the wrench for leverage and that usually does the trick 99% of the time.
If that fails we use heat, penetrating oil, and the vice when necessary. Sometimes you have to face the fact the bottom bracket is permanently bonded to the frame and is not coming off without destroying the frame. So far, we have been successful at removing 100% of all bottom brackets. But, there is always tomorrow.
Now that the bottom bracket has been removed this is what the bike looks like. Ready for the Bafang motor? Maybe not.
Sometimes, there will be obstructions in the shell that prevent the installation of the motor. In this shell you can see the bolt of the cable guide protruding into the shell. That, of course has to be removed. What you cannot see is the bottom bracket shell has been slightly distorted through the welding process that joins the seat tube, down tube and chain stays. In order to remove any distortion you have to either hand file or use a Dremel to restore the shell to its symmetrical shape. This is painstaking work that can take hours.
This is our tool of choice for removing any obstacles in the bottom bracket shell. It comes in pneumatic and corded versions. We use the pneumatic version as we use long air hoses throughout the shop.
This tool allows us to reach in the bottom bracket shell and round out any distortions without disturbing the threads. We always try to maintain the integrity of the threads in the event the owner of the bike wishes to revert the bike to its original form.
When installing a Bafang mid drive motor it is important that the bottom bracket shell be perfectly square. If not, the motor will pull to one side causing it to bind. This tool is made by Wheels Manufacturing and is relatively inexpensive at around $75.00. The tool is for pressing Press Fit bottom brackets into the shell but it can also be used to determine if the bottom bracket shell is square.
When the the press is is mounted on both sides and tightened, look for any gap between the red drift and the bottom bracket shell. If you see a opening of any size then it needs to be leveled.
This is a facing tool and they are quite expensive at around $400.00. What this tool does is slowly cut away the material from the shell until it is perfectly square. Once it is square on one side, reverse the tool and square the other side.
Now, the motor will set flush in the bottom bracket shell and you can tighten the fixing bolt as much as you want without fear of binding the motor.
Yes, the tool is expensive but if you do not square the bottom bracket shell the motor will sit crooked which will damage the driveline and shorten the life of the motor.
As you can see this bottom bracket has no threads. If there are no threads how does one remove it? Yep, special tool again. This type of bottom, bracket is pressed into the shell and therefore it has to be removed without the use of a wrench...also requiring a special tool.
Be aware the press fit bottom bracket is very common and is found on most bikes that have a carbon frame.
This is the Park Tool BB3-90.3 that is used for the removal of press fit bottom brackets. This tool slides through the bottom bracket and then the spayed end opens up. The other end you hit with a hammer which forces out the bottom bracket.
Note: You can perform this with a hammer and a screwdriver with the understanding in doing so will ruin the bottom bracket.
This is the Park Tool BBT-29 tool for removing threaded bottom brackets. Be aware there are at least five different wrenches for different style threaded bottom brackets. Older bikes use a different wrench entirely. Yes, I supposed you could use a pipe wrench but in doing do you will ruin the bottom bracket.
If your bottom bracket looks like this you will need a special tool called a "hook spanner." It is also called a lock ring spanner. Note: After the lock ring is removed you will need a pin spanner to remove the threaded portion of the bottom bracket.
The hook spanner is Park Tool HCW-5 and retails for around $15.
This was a widely used standard at one time and is called a "cup and cone." This can be very difficult to remove without a special wrench. The wrench required is Park Tool HC4-4. As you can see, the space between the bottom bracket shelf (where the wrench will fit) and the frame is very small making it nearly impossible to fit a standard wrench.
We usually take this tool and a hard rubber mallet and know the bottom bracket loose. We have seen these older style bottom brackets corroded to the frame to the degree they cannot be removed.
P.B. Blaster is a penetrating oil that works wonders at penetrating old bottom brackets that have become one with the frame due to corrosion. I am not sure how this product works but I know that it is about the best product available for breaking up rust and other corrosion found in a seized bottom bracket and bottom bracket shell. We lay the bike frame on its side and spray a generous amount on both sides and let it sit overnight.
A heat gun is useful for heating up parts that are seized. Please do not use a heat gun AND PB Blaster at the same time as PB Blaster in an inflammatory product and can cause a fire. The heat gun will also come into use later as you use heat shrink on your battery connections.
Removal of the bottom bracket might be the most difficult task of doing your own conversion of your bike to electric. The most important thing to remember is to be extra diligent that you are using the correct tool, and that it is being used correctly. To use the correct tool incorrectly is the same as using an incorrect tool...both of which can damage the bike and/or cause injury.
We use this tool more than any other tool in our shop and so will you. We use it to disassemble and reassemble a bike. We use it when we do our safety checks and we use it to install parts. If you walk into our shop chances are at least one of the mechanics will have this tool in his/her hand. Cost? $12. Buy two; One to lose and one to keep.
We use Knipex for cutting shift and brake cable. Cutting the cable on a bicycle sounds simple. Just grab those old rusty wire cutters and have a go. When you use dull cutters what happens is the end of the cable splays a parts making it unusable (if you have to remove), and unsightly. Always use high quality cable cutters.
This is our favorite tool for cutting cable housing. Do not try to cut your cable housing with a cable cutter as all it will do is deform the housing. There is reason why they make cutters designed for cutting housing. When cutting housing it is important the cut be a clean horizontal cut. If the cut is not horizontal it will not fit in the end cap as well as it should and can effect downshifting of the bike.
A primary reason bike parts become frozen to the frame (pedals, cranks, stems, seat posts, and bottom brackets) is because a thin layer of grease was not applied when the bike was assembled. It is essential these part be greased prior to assembly. A good bike mechanic always thinks ahead of the next person who will be disabling the bike. A $2,000 bike can be ruined for lack of two cents worth of grease. Always grease pedals, bearings, headsets, cassette retaining nut, rear derailleur (where it goes into the hanger), and crank arm bolt. Please note...some do not grease the crank arm bolt and instead use Loctite Blue. I always use Loctite Blue and do not grease the crank arm bolt.
This tool is absolutely essential if you choose to use Zip Ties. And I do not know how it would be possible to convert your bike to electric without the use of Zip Ties. What this tool does is it cuts the Zip Tie flush! Is this important? A Zip Tie that is not cut flush is as sharp as a razor (almost) and can cut a hand easily. Not to be rude but, anyone who uses Zip Ties for anything and does not cut them flush is irresponsible and is the author of sloppy work. A child can very easily touch a bike that has jagged zip tie ends and come away with a needless injury.
When you buy Zip ties it is best to get three lengths: 11, 7, and 4 inch length. Most importantly, insure the Zip Ties you use are UV rated. If you forget that little detail the sun will degrade your Zip Ties and they will all fall from your nike within a year. Embarasing.
If you use Zip Ties then you will need a Zip Tie puller. This puller will pull the Zip tie tight so it will not move on the bike frame. This tool is essential for the securing of a part to the bike frame. Otherwise, the part will be too loose.
Converting a bike to electric means you will be working with cables...a lot of them. You have to have a plan that allows for good cable management. Cable guides are one method of making cables look orderly.
PLEASE NOTE: We do not use an open flame on heat shrink. This is n example of what it looks like and what it does. Always use your heat gun when using heat shrink.
Building an electric bike means you will be working with wires and cables. A good wire stripper is a worthwhile investment.
Remember, every nut and bolt on a bicycle uses the metric system. Therefor make sure all your sockets and hex wrenches are are metric, not SAE.
Time for a ride