10 Tools Every Cyclist Should Own

Marc Lindsay
by Marc Lindsay
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10 Tools Every Cyclist Should Own

Outside of basic tools like screwdrivers, pliers and adjustable wrenches, a cyclist’s toolbox should include a few extra items to make most bicycle repairs easy to complete on your own.

Start by building your home workshop with these 10 tools every cyclist needs to have.

1. TIRE LEVERS

Removing and installing an innertube and tire is one of the first maintenance tasks you’ll need to learn. In fact, you should practice repairing a flat tire before you head out on the road for your first ride to avoid getting stranded.

While more experienced mechanics might be able to do this job without the use of tire levers, depending on the fit of your tire on your rim, tire levers will probably be needed. The good news is they’re cheap — though we would recommended a sturdy pair or carrying multiple levers just in case one happens to snap.

2. FLOOR PUMP

You won’t get very far without air in your tires. A dedicated cycling pump with a psi gauge is a must to make sure your tires are aired up properly. Running a psi that’s too low slows you down considerably, and overinflating a tire can make steering more difficult and increase the likelihood of a puncture.

A mini-pump is also a good idea for roadside repairs, though some cyclists prefer to air up with a CO2 cartridge. While this can help to speed things up, CO2 can be riskier, and it’s always nice to have a pump as a backup in case things go wrong.

3. MULTI-TOOL

Without a doubt, a multi-tool is an essential cycling tool. Basic hex keys, Torx keys, a chain tool, screwdrivers and spoke wrench are a few of the tools a good multi-tool has.

Though you can use a multi-tool for at-home bike repairs, it is primarily a roadside repair tool for tightening or adjusting your handlebars, seatpost, saddle, brakes or derailleurs mid-ride. Larger, more robust versions of these tools make at-home repairs much easier than this compact version.

4. HEX KEYS

From derailleurs to your headset, hex or Allen keys are needed for almost any bicycle repair. The basic 4-, 5-and 6-millimeter hex keys are included on most multi-tools, though we’d recommend a set with handles and wider variety of sizes for less common repairs.

The hex keys you’ll need, regardless of your bike manufacturer, which should cover almost all repairs, include a 1 1/2-, 2-, 2 1/2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 8- and 10-millimeter.

5. TORX KEYS

If you have a newer bike with disc brakes, chances are you’re going to need Torx keys instead of hex keys to make a repair. Campagnolo, SRAM and FSA are also using more and more Torx bolts instead of standard bolts for parts like stem clamps and chainrings.

The three basic sizes you’ll use most often are T-10, T-15 and T-25.

6. TORQUE WRENCH

With most bikes being made of carbon fiber these days, a torque wrench is needed to tighten your bolts and keep from ruining your parts. If you roll the dice and happen to overtighten carbon handlebars or a seatpost with a regular hex wrench, you could crack your parts — making a routine job an expensive repair.

Most torque wrenches have bits so you can switch to the needed hex or Torx size. The essential sizes you’ll need include 4-, 5-, and 6-millimeter hex bits and T-25 and T-30 Torx bits.

7. CASSETTE LOCKRING TOOL AND CHAIN WHIP

Whether you’re changing wheels or want to use a cassette with more teeth for a day of climbing in the mountains, a cassette lockring tool and chain whip are needed. The chain whip is used to hold the cassette in place while you use the cassette lockring tool to loosen it.

Keep in mind that you may need a specific lockring tool depending on your components. Campagnolo and Shimano, for instance, have a different pattern key for unlocking rear cassettes.

8. CHAIN TOOL

When your chain breaks or just needs replacing, putting a new chain on your bike is an easy task as long as you have a chain tool. Some good multi-tools include these in case your chain breaks during a ride.

More robust versions for your at-home toolkit are available as well and make the job a little easier than smaller versions.


READ MORE > 1-MINUTE DIY BIKE MAINTENANCE MUSTS


9. PEDAL WRENCH

While you might not need a pedal wrench that often unless you have pedals with power-meter technology that you switch between bikes, a pedal wrench makes your life a lot easier when you do need to remove them.

The key to removing pedals is leverage, which is why the pedal wrench is a better option than trying to do the job with a 6- or 8-millimeter hex key. For some pedal systems, like Speedplay, a pedal wrench is required for installation and removal.

10. BIKE STAND

Yes, you can get away without having a dedicated bike stand. A bike stand makes cleaning your drivetrain easier, and since it’ll decrease your headaches you’ll be more likely to experiment with more complex bike repairs you might normally steer away from.

About the Author

Marc Lindsay
Marc Lindsay

Marc is a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and is a certified physical therapy assistant. An avid cyclist and runner of over 20 years, Marc contributes to LAVA, Competitor and Phoenix Outdoor magazines. He is the former cycling editor for Active.com.  

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