Garage Files – How To Dial In Your Home Shop

A rider’s garage is his or her home base. It’s a bit like how the aircraft carrier ship is to the fighter pilot—it’s the place where nearly every ride starts and finishes. It’s the place where every- thing from fine-tuning to major overhauls happen and where the stories of the best and worst rides are exchanged. We spend a lot of time in the Mountain Bike Action garage—whether it’s tinkering on new test bikes, shooting our “Garage Files” articles or just taking a load off to write the stories you read every month. This is a tour of one of our MBA crew’s headquarters.

The MBA wardrobe: There’s no need for this many helmets in one place. However, we coordinate outfits for our test riders monthly, so having a bit of choice when it comes to colors and styles is very helpful.


All the tools in a row: There’s little better than having all your most used tools right at arm’s length. For this shop we mounted a 4- by 8-foot piece of plywood to the studs of the wall, and then used 3-inch framing nails to strategically position the tools. We also used simple primer paint on the board to make the tools more visible and also to give the board a more finished look.


The most used tools in the shop: We keep the most frequently used tools, including Allen wrenches, a digital shock pump, and some critical measuring tools like a scale and ruler on hand. This makes setting up test bikes a quick and easy process.


Every shop needs one: The vise may not be the most frequently used tool in the shop, but when you need it, you really need it. We have a small jeweler’s vise mounted to the workbench and a big machinist’s vise mounted to another workbench on the other side of the shop for the bigger jobs. We use these for everything from pressing in shock hardware to cutting steerer tubes.


The nerve center: Every home workshop needs a bike stand. For this job, we’ve picked the Park Tools PRS-25 Team Issue stand. It has a wide and stable base that’s not only sturdy for holding any kind of bike, but also fairly portable. We also added the gray foam floor mats (available at any hardware store) to make the main working area a little more comfortable.


The shock array: Don’t get too close to our shock display unless you want a pellet in the back of the head.


Garage history: This converted garage used to be the home of a typewriter repair shop. The glass case that used to hold typewriter parts makes a nice place to stash our goggles for easy access.


Squeaky clean: Our cleaning station includes a wide selection of brushes and chemicals. This is how we keep the bikes running smooth and clean.


Simple but elegant: This row of jars mounted to a 2-by-4 piece of wood is used to house everything from small hardware to zip-ties. If you’re going to do this in your own shop, be sure to put two nails through the lids of the jars so they don’t spin while tightening.


Quick inflation: A compressor is invaluable for setting up tubeless tires. We prefer to have our 5-gallon tank attached to a PrestaFlator regulator with a gauge. This gives a big burst of air to make tubeless tires seat easily, and then gives an accurate reading for dialing in the pressure.


They don’t make ’em like they used to: These pliers and cutters were all purchased at a swap meet. They were also all less than $2 and have lasted many, many years. Pittsburgh steel is the only way to go when it comes to hand tools.


May as well stock up: Keeping a few extra tubes in the shop is always a good idea. Save yourself from having to run to the bike shop on Saturday morning at the last minute to fix the flat you didn’t realize you had. When buying tubes, always buy at least two. You will use them.


In-shop entertainment: Other acceptable options include a foosball table or, if you have room, a pool table. Every respectable home shop should have at least some reason other than bikes to spend time there. They don’t make ’em like they used to: These pliers and cutters were all purchased at a swap meet. They were also all less than $2 and have lasted many, many years. Pittsburgh steel is the only way to go when it comes to hand tools.


Someone in Texas loves me: This was a gift from one of our readers in Dallas, Texas. His name is Trevor. He loves root beer.


Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun. Start a subscription by clicking here or calling (800) 767-0345. Available from the Apple Newsstand for reading on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.

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