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♥'s Bicycles
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Since I know very few of us have an entire bike shop's worth of professional quality bike specific tools I'm sure I'm not the only one who occasionally supplements with homemade tools.

Share with us what [bike] tools you've improvised and how well they work for you.

I'll start:

One of the handiest 'tools' I use is an old racquetball. I use it almost every time I put the rear wheel back on my fixed gear by shoving it between the seat tube and the rear wheel. It pushes bak on the wheel and allows me to keep even, firm tension on the chain and use just finger pressure to keep the tire centered in the stays while tightening the axle nuts. I know chain tensioners or the "walking" method would also work but I have nothing invested in the ball (since I used to play) and it works really well.

Another homemade tool I use occasionally although it is a bit cruder is a homemade headset remover. I took a ≈12" piece of 3/4" steel conduit and made 4 evenly spaced cuts about 3" long parallel to the tube on one end. I flared out the 4 "tabs" created by the cuts. It works pretty much the same as a factory made headset remover in that you squeeze the flared end together and inert it into the head tube then allow them to expand and whack it with a hammer to knock out the headset cups. Works pretty well on the cheap (steel) frames I've used it on. Probably not as good or as safe as the real thing but again it was free since I used scraps to make it and I've yet to actually break anything with it.

For setting headsets I've historically used the "all thread rod with nuts and washers" setup that a quick google search can bring up hundreds of pictures and stories about. This is okay for stuff that you don't care that much about but I'll be honest and say that the last nice/new headset I put into a nice/new frame I wussed out and took it to a friends shop and used a real headset press. I also own a giant cast C clamp that I have put pads on the end of and used for this purpose but it is really hard to keep them going in straight and to buy a similar clamp would likely cost more than having a shop install a headset so I can't recommend that method to others.

I once welded up a "chain whip breaker bar" using a piece of steel pipe and some old chain for a local bike shop after they had trouble helping me remove a stuck cog from a fixed hub. It was really more for show than anything though because I doubt the quality of my booger welds on a greasy chain would hold.
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