Bike tool

You can buy bike tools by whatever looks useful or get a massive tool kit with everything you could ever possibly use.

But the best approach may be to simply get the right tool for the job when you need it. This way your costs are spread out over time and you don't get tools you won't ever use.

This article gives you some shopping tips.

Are You Experienced?

With standardization in the cycling industry, routine maintenance and many basic repairs can be handled with a common multi-tool. But knowing how to maintain your bike or effect those repairs is largely a matter of experience.

Most people get experience in bike repair by facing a broken component on the trail or road. This is not the most desirable way to learn how to fix your bike. (Remember that stomping on your frame won't help it.)

Instead, go riding with experienced riders whenever possible and ask about repairs or watch the experts when repairs are needed. This will give you an idea of which tools are best for the job. You can also take classes in bike repair from REI or your local bike shop. And if you're truly a studious person, a book can expand your knowledge of repair and maintenance.

The Right Tool for the Job

A multi-tool can handle a surprisingly wide variety of repairs. Its versatility makes it a good value. Make sure your multi-tool has the following:

  • Variety of Allen wrenches
  • Adjustable wrench, or open or hex wrenches (8, 10, 15mm are the most common, but size requirements vary depending on the bike)
  • Chain tool
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Flathead screwdriver

Also make sure you travel with the following:

  • Spare tube and patch kit
  • Tire levers
  • Mini-pump
  • Duct tape
  • Oil (bicycle-specific only)
  • Small first-aid kit

For component changes, rebuilds, or larger maintenance issues, it's best to wait until you're ready to tackle the task and then get the right tool for the specific job. A well-equipped home shop can handle almost every repair your bike will need. You may already have some of the following tools in your home, but keep in mind that bicycles use the metric system and your tools may be based on the English system of inches and feet. Some of the tools and accessories you'll accumulate as you gain more repair experience include:

  • Two hub cone wrenches (14g or 15g, depending on bike)
  • Adjustable bottom bracket spanner
  • Brake/cable adjustment tool (sometimes called a third hand)
  • Cartridge bottom bracket tool
  • Cassette sprocket lockring tool
  • Chain cleaning kit
  • Chain tool (full size for ease of use)
  • Chain whip
  • Cotterless crank arm extractor
  • Extra tube or 2
  • Floor pump
  • Freewheel remover
  • Headset wrenches (for threaded headsets; threadless headsets use Allen wrenches)
  • Lube, oil, grease (get bicycle-quality only—car or home grease is not fine enough for bike use and attracts dirt)
  • Pedal wrench
  • Rags
  • Soft wire brush
  • Tire levers (full size—makes things easier)
  • Tire pressure gauge (more accurate, generally, than the gauge that comes with a floor pump)
  • Toothbrush
  • Universal spoke wrench

Note: For suspension systems refer to your owner's manual; sometimes these systems use specific customized tools. See our article on Understanding Suspension for more information. If you're a truly self-sufficient home bike mechanic you may also want to include in your shop some professional-level parts and tools:

  • Repair stand
  • Wheel truing stand
  • Spokes
  • Cable
  • Cable housing
  • Cable housing ferrules
  • Cable/housing cutters
  • Rim tape