Regular bike maintenance is essential to the long-term life of your bike and, ultimately, spending a little bit on inexpensive bike tools now, means spending less on bigger repairs later. But which tools should cyclists buy?
What bike tools do you need?
Do I need tyre levers?
If you don’t have tyre levers, you might be tempted to raid the kitchen for teaspoons but it’s better to have the right tool for the right job. Teaspoons bend and, worse, might damage the wheel rim. Whatever you do, don’t use a flathead screwdriver instead as you risk puncturing the tyre or inner tube as well as damaging the rim.
With a tyre lever, you can pop a tyre off to change it in seconds, without struggling or damaging anything, especially for a stubborn tyre. You’ll wonder why you ever made your life so difficult the first time you use it so it’s well worth the money.
Is a multitool enough?
A multitool is the cycling equivalent of a Swiss Army knife. Small and portable, this one tool can fix a lot of problems you’ll have on a ride. Multitools include M3, M4, M5 and M8 Allen keys (also called hex wrenches), a torx head and a chain tool.
A multitool is for trail repairs though, so if you want to do any work on your bike at home, you’ll need a few more, and bigger, things in your toolbox.
Your home bike workshop tools
A bike pump
The #1 pump for your workshop is a track pump (sometimes called a stand or stirrup pump) whereas a hand or mini pump is for inflating your tyres on a ride. Use the track pump to check your tyre pressure before every ride, along with an M-check – a visual check of the bike that you should carry out as part of daily bike maintenance.
A chaintool “breaks” the chain links, by pushing out chainpins to remove them, and helps you replace links if the chain is broken. For trail repairs, your multitool has a chaintool that will get you home (carry some spare chainrings in case you need to replace any if the chain breaks while you’re out). But your home workshop needs a bigger chaintool, for example, to adjust a new chain to the correct length.
A set of loose Allen keys
The multitool has the Allen keys you’ll need for quick fixes on a ride but it’s like the nail scissors you get on a Swiss Army knife – OK for emergencies but not really enough for a proper manicure. A set of loose Allen keys for your home workshop will include right-angled head keys which are easier to use for repairs.
Torx head wrenches and bolts
Torx (or torque) wrenches tighten all the bolts on your bike to just the right tightness – not too loose or too tight. A torx head wrench clicks to alert you to the correct tightness so you don’t ruin easily damaged areas like a carbon-fibre frame seat post, or handlebar clamps.
Don’t forget to perform an M check every time you take your bike out and a more comprehensive weekly check if you ride a lot.
You won’t necessarily need these tools for the checks, unless you find anything loose or out of alignment. But if you do, investing in your own tools will mean you save money in the long run by making these little adjustments yourself.