Riding smarter means having a few essential basic tools to maintain your bike. What’s worse than snapping a chain, puncturing a tyre, or having your crank arm fall off when it’s a Saturday night and you’re supposed to head out with your mates early Sunday morning? You can do a lot of your own bike maintenance quickly and cheaply if you have these basic tools for maintaining your bike.
A bike workstand allows you to work on your bike at a height that’s comfortable for you. It also takes the headache out of having to think in reverse, which you would have to do if you stood your bike upside down on its handlebars and saddle. To make repairing your bike more of a relaxing experience, get a bike workstand with a telescoping pole for height adjustment, make sure it pivots in case you have to reposition your bike to get at the tricky bits, and choose one with a tray where you can place your tools for easy access.
Even if you don’t dive deep into doing your own bike maintenance, a floor pump is indispensable to any cyclist. Because tyres lose air over time, a floor pump will help you maintain optimal tyre pressure (see “What’s the best tyre pressure”). The best floor pump is one with a pressure gauge and fittings for both Presta and Schrader valves.
These are essential as both workshop tools and ride-along tools because most small screws on your bike can be adjusted with a 4, 5, or 6 mm hex wrench. If you’ve got the budget for both, get a set of ballpoint hex wrenches from 2-10 mm for your home shop (ballpoint heads are easier to insert into screw heads); and a multitool for taking along on rides.
Torx fittings are turning up on bikes more frequently as they’re able to endure more force (torque) than hex fittings. To keep up with this evolving trend, you’ll want to have T10, T25, and T30 Torx keys in your toolbox or on your multitool.
Ideally, you shouldn’t have to need these but they’re definitely nice to have when you come across a stubborn tyre that’s refusing to budge. Then you’ll be happy that you stocked a set of durable tyre levers, preferably with a notch to hook onto the spoke and hold the lever in place.
To get a grip on small parts, needle-nose pliers seem to have infinite uses when it comes to essential tools for maintaining your bike. Needle-nose pliers are so multipurpose, you may already have a pair in your kitchen drawer.
Another basic household item that doubles as an essential bike maintenance tool is the screwdriver. Your toolbox should have both flathead and Phillips-head screwdrivers.
Eventually, when it starts to show signs of wear,you’ll need to replace your chain . There are a variety of chain tools available and they are all designed to essentially do the same job, which is to retract the pins holding your chain together so that you can remove it. This handy little tool turns up frequently on ride-along multitools in case you suddenly snap your chain, you can easily put it back together.
As the name suggests, this nice device has all the tools you need for basic bike maintenance either at home or out on a ride. Most multitools feature at least essential hex and Torx keys, and flathead and Phillips-head screwdrivers. From there the features only get better, like a spoke wrench, a disc brake pad spacer, a chain tool, and even a bottle opener.
You can at least get yourself rolling again if you have these basic essential tools for maintaining your bike. Some of them you may already have, some of them should be a priority on your shopping list so that the next time something happens to your bike, you’ve all the tools you need to get riding again.