No matter what your level of technical knowledge of mechanics, everyone who rides a bike needs a basic set of tools at home to be able to fine tune your bicycle set-up. Below, there is a list of the 10 most essential tools for a home mechanic. Some simple advice? Buy the best quality you can afford so you don´t have to buy the same tool twice.
1. Bike stand:
This is your most important piece of kit. Trying to repair, wash or adjust your bike without a bike stand is a time consuming task. There are loads of options available, starting from a pretty low price point of around €40-€50. It is important to know which type of seatpost your bike has, especially if it is an aero type and what your bike weighs (E-bikes weight considerably more), so the bike stand can support the weight, or have the correct head to clasp your seatpost or other parts of the frame.
2. Allen key set:
Another fundamental part of your home tool kit. It is important that the set has most of the common sizes, from 2 mm up to 8 mm or even 10 mm and 12 mm. Note that the 6 mm and 8 mm will also be useful for removing the pedals. The long handled Allen key versions will help with removing stubborn parts. i.e pedals and seats, and also getting to hard to reach places. Buy the best quality you can afford. A Multi tool is also an option if your budget is tight.
3. Tire levers:
These are cheap and important for any repair that involves your rims and/or tires. They will not only allow you to remove the tires, but also help replace the inner tubes or convert to tubeless. Without these you will not be able to remove the tires to change a broken spoke (depending on the rim type). Buy the best you can, because they are not excessively expensive, (around €15) and will last you a long time. Cheap tire levers will bend or break quickly. Always buy plastic, as metal ones could damage the rim and spokes easily, especially if they are high-end carbon wheels.
4. Torque wrench:
The perfect addition to a home tool kit, and necessary in today’s world. Think of all the carbon components that are fitted to your bike, especially the ones that are as important as the stem, handlebar and seatpost. You will also need it for changing the chainrings, a part that especially in mountain biking is replaced frequently. The correct torque rating will give you peace of mind that nothing should come loose. The best options are the compact types, which have various removable heads, including Torx and are priced around the €35 mark. There are many brands available on the market.
5. Chain tool:
This will help with repairing, replacing and cleaning your chain. Before buying, check if it is compatible with your chain/transmission (number of gears) as well as the brand. The ones that come with a multi-tool are ok for an emergency, but not to install a new chain with precision. Most after market chains available are of high quality and need to be installed with care so as not to damage the link and make sure the pin is correctly positioned.
6. Pliers and cable cutters:
A pair of needle nosed pliers will be very useful for a variety of small repairs. Depending on the quality, they will work for cutting your gear and brake cables, but to be on the safe side, it would be a good idea to invest in a high quality set of cable cutters, as these will allow a perfect cut without splaying the cable, as well as being able to cut the outers, and perform other small repairs.
7. Floor pump:
Like the importance of a good set of tire levers the same goes for a floor pump. The correct tire pressure is one of the most important factors of having a bike that handles correctly. If you run tubeless, the new versions available have a separate air reservoir which allows the tire to be inflated without the need of an air compressor. If you use tubular tires you can reach the higher pressures needed with a good quality floor pump. These levels are not possible to achieve with a hand pump.
8. Torx key set:
If the Allen keys were a basic part of your tool set, a set of torx keys are vital. Every day more brands are using this system, especially in disc brake systems and chainring bolts. If your bike does not use many torx bolts, then you can always buy a multi-tool that has the most common sizes including the frequently used T20 and T25.
A flat head and a Phillips head screwdriver. The most basic and useful tools on the planet which are still used for many gear and brake systems. They will be useful for getting to small parts (even better if you buy a magnetic tipped version) cleaning surfaces or for reaching difficult to access areas, when fitting components on your bike.
10. Cassette removal tool:
From time to time you will have to remove your cassette, not just for cleaning but also to replace the hub bearings, cassette body bearings, or the actual cassette body itself. To do this you will need the cassette removal tool and also a chain whip, which is used to stop the cassette from moving when undoing the lock ring. It is also a good habit to regularly check the cassette as this part can work loose over time, which can affect the gear selection and chain line.