Specialist Single Speed Tool Range

There are a range of specialist tools which are needed for working on single speed bikes - often just generic tools for the kinds of bikes people often do single speed conversions on. Here's a run down of a few of the most common:

1. Single Speed Freewheel tool

This is needed to remove a single speed freewheel. So you only need this if you want to change your existing single speed freewheel on a threaded hub wheel.

You do not need a tool to fit a single speed freewheel.

To fit you just hand screw on the freewheel and when you cycle on it your pedal motion will tighten it via the chain. However if you need to replace your freewheel – for example to change gear – you will need one of these to do that job. You need a large adjustable spanner to turn our freewheel tools

2. Freehub lock ring tool

This is a small component which fits into the freehub and is the complement to the shape of the lock ring. This is needed in order to fit, remove or reposition freehub cogs and spacers on a freehub wheel.

3. Chain Whip

If you are removing a freehub lock ring you will need a chain whip as well as the lock ring tool described above.

This is also the tool most commonly used to fit or remove a fixed gear sprocket.

For a fixed gear sprocket a chain whip is used to rotate the sprocket to tighten and untighten – you need to make sure you get the sprocket on as tightly as you can. An alternative for tightening is to ride up a steep hill and focus on driving the pedals hard to fix the sprocket on tightly. This of course should be done in a very careful manner.

For a freehub wheel you use the chain whip to hold the sprocket in place while you untighten the freehub lock ring

4. Lock Ring Tool

This is used for two things – to fit and remove bottom bracket lock rings and to do the same for fixed gear lock rings

5. Chain Tool (for removing, installing and shortening chains)

A chain is made up of a series of plates held together by short rivets. A chain tool allows you to slide these rivets away from plates in order to break the links of a chain, remove sections of the chain and reconnect the ends of the chain. You need this tool in order to fit a chain to a single speed bike

6. Bottom Bracket Tools

There are various different standards of bottom bracket which require different tools to remove them. For example the lock ring tool – number 4 described above – is needed to remove lock rings on older cup and cone bottom brackets. A few other tools often needed for bottom bracket removal:

A. Bottom bracket spanner

this an oval-ish shaped spanner for removing the right hand cup of a 'cup-and-cone' bottom bracket; the left hand cup can usually be removed with a 17mm or 24mm spanner

B. Pin wrench

for some older bottom brackets the left hand cup is hard to access with a spanner. Instead it has a few holes in it which can be accessed using a pin wrench, which is a tweezer-like tool with metal pins sticking out of it to fit into those holes ready to grasp and rotate

C. ISIS bottom bracket tool

This is a ratchet head which fits onto a ¼” ratchet. It is used for fitting and removing newer, ISIS bottom brackets with a splined inside. We sell this item. Thread direction: when fitting or removing British or ISO bottom brackets (there are some odder standards of Italian and other kinds...) the left crank side of the bottom bracket is rotated in a standard direction; the drive/right crank side is rotated the reverse direction from a normal screw – so that’s anti-clockwise for tightening and clockwise for loosening.

7. Chainset Removal Tool

In line with the differences between design of bottom brackets there are differences in the ways chainsets are attached to and removed from bottom brackets. The chainsets and bottom brackets we sell and mainly deal with are of a standard known as ISIS square taper.

In order to remove a chainset from a tapered square bottom bracket a special tool is needed. This tool has two parts - one a bit like a nut, the other a bit like its corresponding bolt. There are three stages to the process of removal.

First the 'bolt' section, which has a ratchet head, is used to remove bolts holding the chainset onto the bottom bracket (note: that many new chainset bolts actually tighten on using an 8mm allen key... so ignore this if that is what you have). Second the 'nut' section of the tool is tightened into the chainset itself. Finally the 'bolt' section is tightened into the 'nut' section until it pushes into the bottom bracket spindle, releasing the chainset.

Fitting a chainset on only requires the ratchet head from the tool; or a standard 14mm ratchet will do (or an 8mm allen key as above). The bolt is simply tightened on, very tightly, using the ratchet.

Older British (and other nationality) bikes often have cottered cranks – these are fitted to an accordingly designed bottom bracket using cotter pins – wedges of metal which are tightened onto the crank after passing through the bottom bracket spindle. These can be a pain to get off and re-fit. It is mainly technique rather than special bicycle tools which will get you the right result with these.

For more information start here: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/cotters.html; then move onto here if you need: http://sheldonbrown.com/tooltips/cotters.html.

Tool Table

The table below shows various activities and the specialist tools you might need to do them:


Job To Do Tool 1 Tool 2 Tool 3 Tool 4
Remove or install a splined cartridge bottom bracket Bottom Bracket Tool 25mm Spanner/ratchet    
Remove or install a splined non-cartridge bottom bracket 17mm Spanner; 25mm Spanner or Wrench Bottom Bracket Spanner Lock Ring Tool Pin Wrench
Remove A Chainset Chainset Removal Tool 14mm and 16mm Spanner  8mm Allen Key  
Fit a Chainset 14mm Ratchet or Chainset Removal tool and appropriate Spanner  Or 8mm Allen Key    
Remove a Multispeed Freewheel One of: Sunrace, SunTour, Shimano, Other Specialist Freewheel Removal Tools appropriately sized Spanner to drive the tool    
Remove a single speed freewheel Single Speed Freewheel Removal Tool appropriately sized Spanner    
Remove a freehub cassette / single speed kit Chain Whip Freehub Lock Ring Removal Tool 22mm Spanner  
Fit or remove a Fixed gear sprocket Chain Whip or Pedals (by applying a large amount of pedal pressure)      
Fit or remove a Fixed gear lock ring Lock Ring Tool Pin Wrench    
Shorten a chain for single speed use Chain Tool      
Remove or install a chain Chain Tool Can be done by hand if it has a magic link included    
Fit a Single Speed Freewheel Can be done without tools