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Do you love to ride your bike but feel overwhelmed by the thought of maintaining it? It can be tough to know which cycling tools are necessary to keep your bike running smoothly. And yet, when it comes to bicycle maintenance, having the right kind of equipment can make all the difference. Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or someone just getting started, knowing which items are necessary for DIY repair and maintenance can help you prevent expensive repairs down the road.
It’s the classic “stitch in time”.
From wrenches to multi-tools, there are many options when it comes to equipping your bike with the necessary tools. Depending on the type of bike you have and the kinds of repairs you anticipate needing to make, selecting the right equipment can be a challenge. It’s important to understand which items are essential and which ones are optional so that you have everything you need on hand when something goes wrong…but don’t buy tools that you’ll never actually make use of.
Having a basic understanding of bike components and common maintenance practices is also key to staying ahead of potential repair issues. Knowing which parts require regular inspection (think: tire pressures) and how to identify potential wear and tear (think: rusty chains) can help you take proactive steps to keep your bike in tip-top shape. Additionally, understanding how to use a few basic tools can go a long way in ensuring a successful repair job and save you large sums of cash.
It can be confusing trying to figure out which tools are best suited for your bicycle. To make it easier, we’re here to explain the basics of bike maintenance so you can make an informed decision on what equipment you need. By arming yourself with the proper tools, you can make sure your bicycle remains in the best condition for many miles to come.
What Cycling Tools Do I Need?
Cycling tools are essential for any cyclist, both beginner and experienced alike. The right toolkit will depend on the type of bike you own (ebikes to mountain bikes to road bikes), how much regular maintenance work you plan to do, and what kind of repairs you anticipate doing yourself (as opposed to getting the local bike shop to do for you).
At a minimum, all cyclists should have a basic set of tools that can help with minor repairs, such as changing a flat tire or adjusting the brakes.
This should include:
- Tire levers (for prising the tire edge over the rim when doing puncture repairs)
- Patch repair kit (for patching holes in inner tubes)
- Spare inner tubes (sometimes it’s easier to swap out the whole tube rather than repair an existing one)
- Bike pump (floor-standing one for home use and a portable one for on-the-road repairs)
- Set of hex keys (many bolts on a bike require a hex key / Allen wrench to operate)
- Bike multitool (useful for quick adjustments and repairs, especially during a ride)
- Lubricating oil (keeps moving parts moving smoothly)
- Adjustable wrench (for loosening and tightening bolts)
Additional tools may be needed for thorough cleaning and more complex repairs (spoke wrenches, pedal wrenches, etc) but the tools above should be the basis of your regular repair ‘kit’.
Choosing the Right Tools for Your Bicycle
It’s obviously important to choose the right cycling tools for your bicycle. But, how do you do that?
A useful starting point is to consider your bike, its components and the type of riding you do. For road bikes, you’ll want to invest in basic cycling tools such as wrenches and hex keys that adjust the brakes, derailleurs, and pedals. For mountain biking, you’ll need these, but you’ll also need more specialized tools such as a shock pump and a bottle of tubeless tire sealant, particularly if you plan on taking on more advanced repairs.
The Best Bike Multitools on the Market
Multitools are great for cyclists who are looking for convenience and portability in their toolkit. Essentially they’re a Swiss Army knife… but without all those pesky sharp bits.
There are many brands on the market that offer quality multitools at various price points. Look for multitools that have functional features like pliers, screwdrivers, blades, spoke wrenches, and bottle openers. Especially the bottle openers.
Some higher-end models also include chain splitters and disc brake pad spreaders. Make sure to purchase one with good material quality; cheap multitools can break easily when used improperly and can leave you without a suitable tool to open your beer at the end of a long day’s cycling. Not a fun situation to be in.
Maintenance Tools You Can Buy For Doing Advanced Repairs
In addition to basic cycling tools we’ve talked about, there are plenty of more specialized repair tools that are available for purchase as your skills and experience develop. These include chain cleaners, chain lube applicators, hub cleaners, degreasers, crank pullers, bottom bracket removers, headset presses, cable cutters, etc. All these tools can save you significant sums if you’re using them regularly but, be warned. They can be expensive to buy and, without the necessary skills under your belt, may lie in your garage gathering dust instead of being used. Get the basic set of tools to begin with and add to this over time as your skills and experience build.
Other Bike Accessories to Consider
In addition to cycling tools, there are other bike accessories that can enhance your riding experience. Saddle bags are great for carrying extra bike parts (such as inner tubes) and tools (such as a multitool / CO2 tire inflator / tire levers for easy puncture repairs), they also come in handy when it comes to storing snacks. A bike bell is useful when riding in crowded areas (such as for city-center commuting) or passing other cyclists on multi-use trails. Lights (both front and rear) can help with visibility during dark rides (for seeing obstacles and letting other road/trail users know you’re there); some models also come with built-in battery packs which can be used as backup power sources during long rides or bikepacking trips.
Tips for Finding Quality Cycling Tools
It’s important to choose quality cycling tools to ensure your bike is properly serviced and maintained over time. Look for tools made from durable materials such as stainless steel or chrome-vanadium steel; these materials won’t corrode or break easily under heavy use. Also consider the type of handle grip on the tool; if possible look for tools with soft-grip handles as they are more comfortable and easier to use over long periods of time. Finally, make sure the tools have lifetime warranties as this ensures that if any part breaks due to normal wear and tear it will be replaced at no extra cost to you.
When it comes to buying cycling tools there are some common mistakes that cyclists should avoid in order to ensure they get the right tool for their needs at the best price available. Don’t buy the cheapest tool simply because it’s the cheapest – this usually means it is not made from quality material and won’t last very long before breaking or becoming unusable due to rusting or wearing down quickly with use. Another mistake is buying too many unnecessary tools – try to stick with only buying the ones you need based on your bicycle’s components and type of riding you do.
Taking Care of Your Bike Tools for Long-Term Use
To maximize their lifespan it’s important to clean and store your cycling tools properly. After each use wipe them down with a cloth soaked in solvent or rubbing alcohol; this will help remove dirt and grime that has built up on the surface of the tool during use. Store them in an airtight container away from moisture so they don’t rust or corrode over time; for added protection put them inside a plastic bag before putting them inside the container. Regularly oil metal parts with a thin layer of lubricating oil – this will help keep them from corroding or rusting due to exposure to water or moisture in the air while they are stored away.
Taking care of your cycling tools will ensure they last longer over time and remain functional when needed most. Avoid leaving them out in direct sunlight; prolonged exposure can damage some of their plastic parts or cause oxidation on metal parts which could weaken them or make them unusable. Also avoid leaving them exposed to water – even if they are made from stainless steel or chrome-vanadium steel moisture can still cause damage over time if left exposed too often without being wiped down after each use or stored properly in a dry location when not in use.