Not everyone can have access to a full bike shop specced workshop in their own home. And if you were to try and buy every tool you might ever need to work on a bike, you’re going to need a pretty big space and an even bigger wallet.
But there are some tools (or types of tools) that we think every rider should have in their collection. With these basics you can pretty much strip a bike or cope with most types of home maintenance job.
Most are general purpose tools but some, like a chain whip, are a little more specific and you really can't change a a cassette without one. Start with these ten though and you won't go too far wrong.
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A good set of hex keys (or allen keys) are The Number One essential tool for undertaking most maintenance jobs on your bike. You can make do with a good multitool but a decent set of separate hex keys will give more leverage and will be a little more dextrous when trying to get to hard-to-reach bolts.
Try to get a set that includes sizes 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm to ensure you're covered for most of the common bolt sizes. Round ended hex keys will help with awkward jobs if you can get a set.
Unior's hex key set includes almost every size to do any job on any bike, from 1.5mm to 10mm.
If you prefer a multitool then Park Tool's AWS-11 has 3mm-10mm hex keys in its neat little package.
Torx head bolts are becoming more prevalent with higher end components and disc brakes as they resist rounding better than hex bolts. As such you'll be needing some Torx keys to help with adjustments.
Fortunately there are only a few sizes that are common so you'll mainly need a T10, T25 and T30. Just like hex keys you can get away with a multitool or plump for separates.
The Lifeline X-Tools Torx set is a great starter kit that includes all of the common sizes you'll need to deal with any maintenance jobs.
There really is no other way to cut gear or brake housing and inner cables neatly enough to prevent poor performance than with a proper cable cutter. The best examples are sprung loaded and sharp enough to make cutting cable a breeze.
These Birzman cable and housing cutters will provide years of faithful service. There's even a little awl at the end to clear out housing making it perform even better.
Every rider who has tried pumping a tyre up to 90psi with a small hand pump can testify that this is a nigh on impossible task. Enter the trackpump. A trackpump is designed to make the job of inflating tyres simple and above all accurate.
Birzman's Maha Push and Twist trackpump won a coveted 10/10 in a recent review and is our choice of trackpump currently.
Regularly replacing the chain on your bike is one of the most essential maintenance jobs to get into the habit of doing. Swapping out your chain can be a simple job and will save plenty of money in preventing wear on expensive chainrings and cassettes.
New chains are often too long to fit straight from the box so will need to be shortened before fitting. This is a job for a chain tool. A device that pushes the central pin out of the chain and allows you to split and rejoin the chain with minimum fuss.
Topeak's All Speeds chain tool is my personal chain tool of choice and I've been using one for years with no fuss and perfect results every time.
And how do you know when to change your chain? By using a chain checker of course. A simple tool that measures how worn your chain is based upon how much it has 'stretched'. A chain checker is cheap and simple to use but will save you plenty of cash when used regularly.
Park Tool's CC-3.2 chain checker is a simple way of measuring chain wear.
Sometimes there is no other way to fit or remove particularly stubborn tyres without resorting to using a set of tyre levers. A good set of tyre levers will make short work of even the tightest tyre/rim combination without damaging any of the parts.
Crank Brothers Speedier Lever is designed to be used on its own and has a knuckle friendly design that prevents skinned digits when levering off the tightest tyres. A notch at the other end helps to push tyre beads onto rims without damaging delicate rim tape. Making the Speedier Lever doubly useful.
You'll need some screwdrivers if your undergoing some fine adjustments on your derailleurs or for several other general tasks. If you really want to be specific then get a Shimano JIS screwdriver, this is designed to fit the high/low limit screws perfectly.
This set of quality screwdrivers from Halfords includes all the useful sizes of both flat head and cross head screwdrivers. Perfect for adjusting gears and fixing accessories.
From cutting inner cables, crimping end caps or just gripping things then a set of different pliers are essential workshop items.
The Unior Tools Long Flat Nose Pliers are perfect for precise work on your bike, used for bike wiring to bike adjustments. Made from drop forged, entirely hardened and tempered steel, these pliers will give you a strong hold on your components and with heavy duty, double component handles you have a great, secure serrated gripping surface.
Cassette tool/chain whip
Okay, so technically two different tools but you won't be able to remove a cassette without having both.
The PRO Cassette Removal set hasergonomically shaped handles, making disassembling your cassette child's play. It is compatible with all Shimano / SRAM cassettes and SRAM XD cassettes. You also have the option to attach or release the locking ring of Centerlock brake discs. The steel construction is very stable and durable.
Obviously this list is just a start and you'll soon find you'll be adding to this collection when you attempt to tackle other, more complex maintenance jobs. But collect these ten tools and you'll have the basis of a great home workshop.
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James Bracey's career has seen him move from geography teacher, to MBR writer, to Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and video presenter. He possesses an in-depth knowledge of bicycle mechanics, as well as bike fit and coaching qualifications. Bracey enjoys all manner of cycling, from road to gravel and mountain biking.
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