My minimalist home bike workshop.
My minimalist home bike workshop.

My Minimalist Home Bike Workshop

Learning how to do bike maintenance is a great way to save time and money. I have been maintaining and building my bikes for about 35 years and have always done so with very little equipment. If you are relatively new to cycling and would like to work on your bike, a Google image search for "home bike workshop" will likely scare you away from getting started. Many of the garage or basement shop setups that people share online are sometimes more spacious and better equipped than your local bike store. You don’t need that.

I never had the luxury of owning a large enough house in which I could set up a permanent workshop. In the small townhouse, I rented in the US, I wrenched on my bikes outside on the porch. We have a spacious basement in the house that we are renting now. The room houses a laundry machine, a dryer, as well as a hot water boiler. I store my bikes on racks to the left and right side of that boiler. The center area is our laundry space. We filled the front third with metal shelves and wine racks along the walls. It offers plenty of space for me to work on bikes whenever necessary. I covered that area with carpet to avoid staining the basement floor. I do much of the bike maintenance either sitting on an old step stool or sitting on the floor.

If I had enough space, would I set up a bike workshop with a sturdy workbench and pegboards? A well-organized workspace makes servicing bikes easier and more efficient. Efficiency is important to a bike shop mechanic. Nevertheless, for a weekend warrior like myself, does it matter if it takes 15 minutes to bleed the brakes or half an hour? I own way too much stuff already, so I would not want to accumulate yet more stuff to create a workspace that I would only use once a week, if not less frequently. During my singlehood, I did not own a TV. I had very few possessions. Once you are married, stuff quickly accumulates. Stuff can also easily start to pile up with a hobby like cycling. I have made it a habit not to hold onto old components. I sell them through classified ads on Anibis or place them on eBay. Currently, I have too many bikes, and I plan to reduce the number in the coming years by avoiding replacements. There are certain tasks that I am unable to do using the tools in my small bike toolbox because they require specialized and often prohibitively expensive tools that are just silly for a weekend hobbyist to own. They are:

  • facing and reaming head tubes
  • pressing in headsets
  • chasing and facing bottom bracket shells
  • lacing and truing wheels

For this, I rely on my local bike shop. They have the proper professional tools and can do this far better and far more efficiently than I ever could.