There’s a million bike tools out there, some obscure and are only used in the rarest of circumstances, but some are daily or weekly necessities for anyone who wants to do their own bike maintenance.
Here’s our list of the 11 Must-Have Tools for every home mechanic. With the tools on this list and a little know how, 90% of repairs on any bike can be accomplished.
1. Work Stand: A work stand is simply a stand that gets the bike off the floor and holds it in position, making it much easier to work on the bike—especially when servicing the drivetrain or giving your bike a thorough cleaning. Most stands will fold up for easy storage.
2. Hex Wrench Set: Almost every bolt on a bike uses a hex wrench. Having a full set of hex wrenches—including a long handled 10mm wrench—will mean that there’s almost nothing you can’t adjust on your bike (*note to Campagnolo and SRAM riders: for home maintenance you’ll also need a Torx T25 wrench). And make repairs easier on yourself by using a set of full-sized wrenches. Leave the mutlitool in the saddlebag.
3. Torque Wrench: If you have a carbon fiber frame, fork, or seatpost, you’ll need a torque wrench. All carbon parts have a maximum torque allowance (how tight the bolts can be tightened). Exceeding the torque recommendation on a seatbolt clamp, stem or derailleur clamp risks damaging the parts or crushing the carbon, while under-tightening can cause the stem, handlebars or seatpost to slip or move while riding. Using a torque wrench will help you safely install the parts. Click here to learn more about installing a seatpost, or here to learn how to install a stem.
4. 10/11-Speed Chain Tool: A chain tool is essential for installing or removing a chain. With the industry move to 11-speed drivetrains, we recommend buying an 11-speed chain tool. 11-speed tools can be used on 8/9/10-speed chains, but not the other way around. This will save you from having to buy a new tool if you upgrade or get a new bike in the future. Click here to learn more about replacing a bike chain.
5. Cable Cutters: Because of how they are made, bike cables and housing shouldn’t be cut with just any old wire cutters. Bike-specific cable cutters can cut cable without fraying the ends, and cut housing without crushing it. Frayed cables and crushed housing are a recipe for poor performance and will mean you need to replace your cables more often. Click here to learn more about replacing and installing cables.
6. Pedal Wrench: Some pedal types require a 15mm pedal wrench to install, while others only need an 8mm hex wrench. If your pedals do not have a hex-socket on the end of the spindle, you’ll need a pedal wrench to install and remove pedals.
7. Cassette Tool: Cassette tools let you loosen and tighten the lock ring on your cassette. You’ll need one of these to install, remove, or clean your cassette. Shimano and SRAM share the same lock ring spline pattern, while Campagnolo uses a different pattern—so make sure you buy the right one for your drivetrain. Click here to learn more about installing a cassette.
8. Chain Whip: To remove a cassette you’ll need a chain whip. It simply wraps around the cassette, and stops the freehub from spinning while you loosen the lockring.
9. Tire Levers: Tire levers are an essential tool for installing or removing a clincher tire. We recommend having two sets: one that goes with you on a ride and stays with your gear, and one that you keep at home. That way you’ll never forget to bring them along. Click here to learn how to change a bike tube.
10. Pump: A floor pump is a must have for every cyclist. Tires should be re-inflated roughly once every 3-4 days to avoid damaging the tires and wheels. Investing in a quality pump will help you get more enjoyment out of your ride and prolong the life of your equipment. Click on one of the links learn more about finding the right tire pressure for your road bike or mountain bike.
11. Grease and Chain Lube: Grease is your bicycle’s best friend. No matter what kind of bolt, no matter where it’s going, it will be greased before being installed. That goes for stem bolts, derailleur fixing bolts, pedal spindles, cleat screws, etc… Failing to grease a bolt before installation will result in stuck bolts with rounded out bolt heads– and then you’re really in a bind. After every week of regular riding or after pulling your bike out of storage, lubricate your chain to keep your bike running smoothly and happily. And don’t cross the streams. Grease is for bolts and alloy seatposts, lube is for chains. Don’t try to mix and match, the results will be messy and poor. Click here to learn more about cleaning your bike chain.
What else do you think our list is missing? What are the tools you find yourself using on a regular basis?