Who owns a bicycle knows that after the first period dedicated to fun and riding learning there comes a time when understanding more about the mechanics and components of your reliable adventure partner is a must. Nevertheless, especially those approaching this sport for the first time are frightened of the idea that they might damage the bike.
Others think that maintaining or repairing the bike is a complex operation that requires the knowledge of a mechanical engineer.
The truth? Maintaining or performing bicycle reparation works by yourself has positive and negative aspects. As such, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to give it a try and invest in a bike repair kit or not.
The positive aspects are linked to the satisfaction you might feel when solving your bike’s problems on your own. The downside is that there is nothing standardized in the cycling world, including the make of the bicycles.
In fact, manufacturers set new standards each year, that’s why the tools needed to create a bike repair kit might change from bike to bike and from one year to the other.
Nevertheless, there are a few essential tools that will always have a place in a professional repair kit. Read on to find out what are the 24 essential tools to include in a bike repair kit but first let’s see why you should invest in a bike repair kit in the first place.
DIY Bike Repair: Why Should You Do It?
As I already said, the question many newbies ask is why they should even think about bike repairing and bike repair kits. After all, isn’t that why there are true mechanics out there?
Well, for some maintenance or repair works, getting your bike to a mechanic is the best thing to do. For example, you should really have your bike repaired professionally if you need to adjust the suspensions, the breaks or other sensitive components.
Yet, when it comes to small periodic revisions and maintenance, such as adjusting a rear derailleur, the change of the pedals or putting on new tires, doing it yourself might prove to be quicker and cheaper. All these operations are simple to make and, with a bit of practice, they can literally be done by anyone.
Moreover, knowing how to adjust your bike might prove to be useful in certain circumstances, for example, if you’ll need to change or inflate a tire while riding in a remote area.
For these reasons, before deciding whether you should invest in a bike repair kit or not, you should consider your cycling habits and the possibility of reaching help in case of incidents. If you have even the slightest doubt about it, my advice is to learn some basic mechanic and have at least a few essential tools with you at all times.
Essential Tools For A Bike Repair Kit
The tools every cyclist should have with him in almost all situations are easy to find in almost any tool store. Although the quality should be good, it is not essential to invest in high-end products, a good average-quality tool will do its job as well.
If your budget is rather low, you should invest wisely and choose a few specific tools that can be handy in almost all circumstances.
The most important thing to check before buying is materials the tools are made of. The best to choose are those made of Chromium Vanadium steel, a type of steel characterized by a better resistance to effort and oxidation and by a great rigidity.
These tools are often sold exclusively in specialized stores and might be a little more expensive than the supermarket tools, but the quality will pay off in the long run. After all, you wouldn’t want your key to fold while you’re screwing your wheel.
In the worst-case scenario, if your budget is really low, you can even put up a bike repair kit by asking your friends or relatives to give you the tools they don’t need anymore.
The tools you need are:
1. Allen Key
The screws and bolts present on a bike are essentially of two types, with hexagon head or with round head, called hexagonal and cylinder in technical terms. Some of the newest models might even have Torx screws, although these screws require the use of specific, ad-hoc keys, that usually come with the bike.
For all round screws, a set of Allen keys is all that you need. Although you can buy the keys separately, my advice is to choose a set. In this way, you will always have the right size of Allen key with you, as the different bolts might require keys of different sizes.
Also called English key, a wrench, or more precisely a set of wrenches, are exactly what it takes to loosen or fasten some of your bike’s hexagon head screws. These types of screws are usually used to fix the luggage rack, the mudguards and other accessories, including the pedals.
Wrenches vary a lot in size and my advice is to invest in a set that covers all the dimensions between 6 and 17 millimeters.
Screwdrivers are essential tools to have in a bike repair kit. You will use them to adjust the gearbox. You can also need them to tighten your seat and for many other operations.
When it comes to screwdrivers, you should buy at least three different measures for each screwdriver type, including cross head and Torx. Ideally, you should choose those with the magnetized tip as it will make your life way easier.
4. Soft Hammer
Sometimes, especially if your bike is rather old, you might have to use a bit of force to remove some of the components of your bike.
Since a bike is a delicate vehicle, some force means nothing more than the use of a soft rubber hammer. It is also recommended to protect the other parts of the bike by laying a soft cloth between the hammer and the chassis or frame, before using it.
5. Adjustable Wrench
After you’ll own a bike for some time you’ll realize that the vast majority of the manufacturers never heard about the concept of standard dimensions. As such, you might also realize that the set of wrenches you just included in your bike repair kit is useless.
For this reason, investing in an adjustable wrench might be the best thing you could do. If your budget is really low, then you might even skip the regular wrench for the beginning and use a good adjustable wrench instead.
Your bike repair kit should have at least two pliers. Ideally, you should choose a large plier to use for almost all purposes and a smaller one to use on the most delicate components.
If you have an unusual type of bike, such as a British tour bike or a Swiss model, besides the pliers include in your kit a pin clamp as well. The mentioned types of bicycles come with out-of-standard components that have strange measures, so you might want to be prepared for the worst.
7. Cable Cutter
You need at least one. Make sure it is perfectly sharp as you will need it to cut the gear and brake cables without loosening them.
The cut must be straight, firm, and easy to make. Your cable cutter must be able to cut cables of various thicknesses and ideally, it shouldn’t have any problems in cutting cables of 3 millimeters in diameter.
8. Socket Wrench
A socket wrench of at least 15 millimeters is essential to disassemble some of your bike’s components, such as the crankset. Because of the peculiar position of this component, the only way to disassemble it is with a socket wrench.
In this case, it’s probably useless to invest in more than one tool, although not all bicycles require the same wrench dimension. To make sure yours will fit, check the characteristics of the bike then choose a socket wrench of a suitable dimension.
9. Tire Levers
Have you ever wondered how to change a bicycle tire? Well, you should know that you’ll need one of these to complete the operation.
The only thing to consider is the quality of this tool. There are various models on the market and the best ones are those made of steel or metal and covered in plastic.
Avoid choosing all plastic or all metal levers. The first ones can bend and break, the latter can damage the air chamber or scratch the rim.
10. Cone Wrenches
Cone wrenches usually come in a set of two keys and each of them has four dimensions. Usually, the dimensions vary between 13 and 16 millimeters, although it is a good practice to have a 17mm cone wrench as well.
These wrenches are usually used to disassemble the wheel hubs and a few other components.
11. Chain Tool
A chain tool is indispensable in a bike repair kit. You will need it to repair a broken chain, to adjust its length or to disassemble an old chain to install a new one.
When it comes to chain tools, you will basically have to choose between compact travel-friendly models and professional-grade ones. Since it is very unlikely to change or adjust the chain on a regular basis, my advice is to choose a compact model that fits well in a travel bike repair kit.
12. Crank Extractor
If by now all the essential tools are general, the crank extractor is a special tool needed to disassemble the crankset after the removal of the screws with the tools presented above.
The extractor is made of a threaded head that snaps into the crankshaft and of a plug that allows you to extract the component. There are two types of crank extractors, simple and integrated. The simple one is less expensive but you will need a 10 mm Allen key to use it. On the other hand, the integrated ones cost more but are easier to use.
13. Cassette Lock Ring
This is another special tool essential to have in a bike repair kit. The tool is used to remove and mount back the cassette pinion packs and acts on the locking rings of this component.
The cassette lock ring tools also come in two versions, simple and integrated. As above, the integrated ones are easier to use yet they are more expensive. Nevertheless, in my opinion, it is worth investing a little more but makes work easier.
14. Chain Whip
To disassemble the cassette you will need much more than a cassette lockring tool. In fact, you will also need a chain whip, a tool designed to keep the free wheel locked at the disassembly point. This tool looks like a wrench and it has two chains fixed on it.
The smallest chain is used to fix the mid-chain pinion while the long chain must be fixed on the teeth of the same pinion. The force exerted on against the direction of rotation on the free wheel will allow you to disassemble the ring.
15. Cone Spanner
If your bike is brand new, you might want to ignore this tool. However, if you have a bike made a few years ago, you might need a cone spanner to replace your steering gear.
A cone spanner will allow you to act on the locks and regulate their sliding, an operation that is necessary if you want to replace the steering.
16. Freewheel Extractor
If your bike mounts a threaded free wheel instead of a cassette, then this is another essential tool to include in your bike repair kit. Unlike the cassette that is clamped on the wheel but that still is a separate component, the threaded free wheel uses a sprocket that is an integrated mechanism screwed on the hub.
Because the various manufacturers use different types of free wheels on their bikes, it is always the best idea to check your bike before choosing the right freewheel extractor tool.
17. Adjustable Cup Wrench
If the central gear of your bike is a classic, with free caps and pin, then you will need an adjustable cup wrench to lock the safety ring or the roll ring on the left side.
Adjustable cup wrenches are easy to find in most tool stores but you should pay attention to choose the size carefully.
18. Cone Pin Spanner
As a general rule, if your bike repair kit needs an adjustable cup wrench, then you will most likely need a cone pin spanner too.
This special type of key is also easy to find in most stores but only a few models are specifically designed for bikes. Although not essential, my advice is to choose one specifically made for bikes as they are less likely to damage other components.
19. Spoke Wrench
With time, the spokes of your bike’s wheels may loosen. To fasten them back with ease, there is a special tool called spoke wrench that shouldn’t miss from your bike repair kit.
Although many may suggest that the spokes can be fastened with other types of tools, I wouldn’t recommend it. In fact, the best thing to do is to invest in a specifically designed spoke wrench or you might damage the balance and movement of your wheel.
20. Tape Measure And Caliper
If you need to replace any of your bike’s components, you will first have to determine the right measures. To do this, your bike repair kit will need a tape measure and a caliper.
You can choose either a traditional caliber or a digital one; regardless of your choice, remember that this is one of the tools on which you shouldn’t try to save money. In this case, quality comes first.
21. Hollowtech II Bottom Bracket Spanners
This tool is essential if your bike has outer caps and pin integrated into the crankcase. If you will ever need to disassemble that component.
There are two types of bottom bracket spanners, open and closed. The open one is cheaper while the closed one offers the safety of gripping all the teeth of the outer bottom bracket. For this reason, depending on your mechanical skills, you should choose between budget and ease of use.
22. Pitch Gauge
A tool used to control the pitch and the size of the center movement box threads, the forklifts, the security of the derailleur and the classic steering gear.
The tool is indispensable above all if your bike is rather old, while you might avoid investing in it if your bike is new.
23. Cleaning Brush
An essential tool if you want to maintain your bike in the best conditions. The brush is needed for both cleaning and after a ride or to keep your bike in good shape after regular maintenance work.
24. Air Pump
Lastly, one of the most essential tools in a bike repair kit is an air pump. Regardless of what type of repair your bike needs, having perfectly inflated tires at all times is a must.
There are many models to choose from and the only advice, in this case, is that of choosing a pump of the highest quality as it will become one of your most faithful companions during rides.
Depending on your mechanical skills and type of bike, you now know which essential tools you should have in a bike repair kit. All you have to do is get the right measures and create the ultimate kit your bike deserves.