Bike parts have to work hard and will sometimes work loose or break. Basic bike tools are essential just to keep everything in place and every serious cyclist should own them. Park tools are the best known brand for quality tools that last but alternative brands are available for cyclists on a budget.
Certain jobs require expensive bicycle tools. These tasks are generally one-off jobs that are often cheaper, and always better dealt with by a bike shop. Whilst it is often possible to “bodge” the job without the right bike tool, this can result in more damage than repair.
Basic Bike Tools
- Tire levers. To get tire off and back onto the wheel rim after a puncture or for tire replacement.
- Bicycle pump. To pump up the tire (floor pumps save time and energy).
- Metric Allen wrenches. Buy a set; it’s often cheaper than buying individually. Recommended sizes 1mm, 1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm 3mm 4mm 5mm 6mm and 8mm. Almost everything on modern quality bikes is now connected using Allen headed bolts. If something works loose these are the tools to fix it.
- Metric open-ended wrenches. Some bike parts, normally on cheaper bikes, still have nut and/or bolt fixings. Buying a set is usually cheaper than buying individually. Recommended sizes 6mm through to 17mm.
- Range of screwdrivers. Phillips and Flathead.
- Small adjustable wrench.
- Bull-nose pliers.
- Needle-nose pliers.
- 15mm pedal wrench. For keeping the pedals firmly attached to the bike.
- Spoke Wrench. To tighten up a wheel spoke if it works loose. Different wheels have different spoke nipples and getting the right one is important. Luckily it is possible to buy spoke multi-tools with a range of sizes.
- Shock Pump. Only necessary with air-sprung suspension forks or rear shocks.
- Threaded Headset Wrenches. For maintaining or replacing a threaded headset.
Advanced Bike Toolkit
For the more mechanically minded cyclists wishing to replace broken or worn parts, consider adding:
- Bicycle Repair Stand. To hold the bike in place and off the ground while it is worked on.
- Cone spanners. Recommended sizes; 13mm, 14mm, 15mm, 16mm, 17mm and 18mm. Essential for keeping cone and ball bearing wheel hubs in good working order.
- Chain Tool. For breaking and reconnecting a bicycle chain that has become damaged or worn and needs to be replaced.
- Chainwhip and rear cassette lockring tool. These tools work hand-in-hand and are essential if the cyclist wishes to replace a worn or damaged rear gear cassette. The longer length lockring tool can also be used for removing spline fitted brake discs.
- Crank Puller. There are various makes and model of cranks and the correct tool is required for separating a crank arm from the bottom bracket bearing.
- Bottom bracket tool. For removing the drivetrain crank bearings from the frame. Different bottom brackets require different tools.
- Cable cutters. For cutting replacement gear or brake cables to the correct length.
- Hose cutting tool. For shortening or replacing worn or damaged hydraulic brake hoses. A sharp knife will do but a cleaner cut is achieved with the correct tool.
- TORX T25 Wrench. For replacing a brake disc using the six bolt fixing system. Spline fitted discs require a separate tool although a cassette lockring tool may also work depending on the make of brake.
Home Bicycle Maintenance
Any cyclist having all of the above tools will be able to upgrade all drivetrain components and gear shifting mechanisms, replace or upgrade saddles, stems, handlebars and brakes or brake parts and to keep control components well adjusted.
Experienced Bike Mechanic
A really keen home mechanic may also want a set of headset removal and installation tools including – a headset press, star nut setter, cup removal tool, and headset race setter. Full suspension bike owners may also require special tools for removing and replacing suspension bearings and bushings.