One of the major things I love about bicycles is that they are so mechanically simple and easy to repair and maintain.
Really, all you need is a handful of basic tools and an internet connection to watch a few tutorial videos online if you need a bit of extra guidance.
I’m a big fan of complete bike tool kits available online or in any good store for around $60-80 AUD.
The tool kits usually come with an assortment of tools and allow you to tackle the vast majority of bike-related jobs including removing tyres, repairing tubes, straightening a bent wheel, adjusting and fine-tuning your gears and brakes, and so on.
Having your own tools will mean that you will save money and be more self-sufficient by doing the work yourself.
There are some absolute must-haves that all cyclists should have in your tool kit regardless of if you’re a weekend warrior, daily commuter or casual cruiser.
They are as follows:
1. 3-way hex ‘Y’ wrench
The ‘Y’ style hex wrench is superior to the standard ‘L’ style wrenches as they provide more even torque, comfort and control when adjusting hex bolts. They’re available in a variety of sizes to suit your needs. I recommend the 4-5-6mm option to start with, as this covers most tasks that you’ll encounter.
2. 4-sided spoke wrench
When it comes to straightening (aka ‘truing’) a bicycle wheel you do not want to be using poor quality tools, as rounding off the spoke nut will cause headaches. The 4-sided spoke wrench (aka ‘spoke key’) is my preferred choice to provide good grip and control. These tools are available in different sizes to suit your wheels. Use a ruler to measure the width of the spoke nut, or consult the bike’s manufacturer or your local store to confirm what size you will need.
3. Floor pump
Floor pumps (aka ‘track pumps’) are extremely useful as they allow you to quickly and easily inflate your tubes after performing maintenance or repairs. Additionally, I always recommend topping up your tyre pressure once a fortnight to ensure even wear and easy riding. Look for a pump that is stable and comfortable to use, has a replaceable rubber seal on the pump head, and a visible pressure gauge. I’ve been using the Serfas FP-200 for the past few years and highly recommend it.
4. Tyre removal and tube repair kit
These basic kits will come with two or three tyre levers, rubber patches and glue. As they are so small, lightweight and inexpensive, I ensure that I have one kit at home and another in my tool bag that I always have attached to my bike.
5. Spanner set
You don’t need a gigantic set of spanners, but ensure you have the most common sizes available on hand. Sizes 6mm through to 18mm should have you covered.
6. Socket wrench set
Similar to the spanner set, you won’t need a huge variety of sockets, just the most common sizes and a few different extensions/adapters.
7. Philips and flat head screwdriver
I recommend including a Philips and flat head screwdriver in both small and larger tip.
Pliers can really help out when you need more leverage and grip. A good tool kit should include a square nose, long nose, diagonal and, most importantly, a pair of locking pliers.
9. Chain cleaning tool
I recommend cleaning and lubricating your bike chain at least once a month, or more frequently if you’ve been riding through rough weather recently. A chain tool makes routine maintenance even faster and easier to finish – giving you more to time get out and ride!
10. Miscellaneous extras: Electrical tape, cable-ties, chain oil and clean rags
These aren’t technically tools, but they are absolutely essential in any bicyclist’s tool kit. If it’s moving and it shouldn’t, tape/tie it. If it’s not moving and it should, apply oil. Simple!
Have I missed anything? Add you favourite bicycle tool or maintenance tip in the comments below.