DIY Bike Maintenance – List of Essential Tools
The Tools & The Knowledge
Maintaining your bike can be a great experience but it can also be confusing and frustrating at times. Especially if you don’t know what you’re doing or if you don’t have the right tools to do the job. We’ve come up with a list of some of the most essential bike tools that you should have in your shop or your garage. The tools listed below should help you make about 97% of all the basic repairs and maintenance that you should encounter for a home mechanic.
Most novice mechanics (aka Shadetree Mechanics) should be prepared to perform basic services like changing or fixing a flat tire, replacing a worn/broken chain, lubricating your bike components, cleaning your bike and replacing or tightening parts at regular intervals. Believe it or not a bike consumes some parts – your chain, cassette, tires, tubes, cables and brake pads all wear out and need routine cleaning and maintenance to keep you on the road.
The underlying subtext of this site is that we cater to those cyclist who are the Do-It-Yourself types. It makes sense that a site that is dedicated to bike tools, bike repair and cycling reviews probably has a large contingent of followers that are willing to get their hands dirty. If that’s you, then you’re in excellent company. This section of the site is dedicated to those who might be just beginning to do most of their bike maintenance and repair themselves. They are past the point of making minor adjustments with their basic bike tools and are now ready to start to build their bike tool collection. So, where do we start.
If you already own a pretty big selection of specialty bike tools, and you know how to use them, then this introduction probably isn’t for you. But we could certainly use your help commenting on posts, helping us rate & rank products, help us answer questions and come up with content or you can just share this info with your not-so-skilled friends.
This section of the site is dedicated to those of you who have decided to tackle your bike repairs and routine maintenance yourself. You might have just dropped a chunk of coin on a new bike and now you want to make sure that it stays in tip-top shape. Or you may have just found a great deal on a used bike on Craigslist, eBay or Amazon and now you want to fix it up or upgrade some of the components. As we mentioned in our Basic Bike Tools section, you can do most of the work on your bike with the tools you have around your house already. But there will be some parts of the bike that you can’t maintain or repair unless you have the right tools. The last thing we want to hear is that you went at your bike’s bottom bracket with a set of channel locks! So let’s dig into this list of the most essential bike repair tools you should have to start working on your bike.
Should you be doing this?
While some will caution you that you should let the experts handle most of the technical repairs on your bike, we disagree. With a little bit of practice, the right tools and a smattering of knowledge you should be able to tackle just about any bike repair that you’ll ever encounter. Bikes aren’t really complicated machines, they’re just precise which requires some patience and skill.
This list has been compiled from our own experience, user reviews & votes, other trusted sources on the internet, bike mechanic forums and a dash of common sense.
Without further ado, here’s a list of the most essential bike repair tools:
- BASIC BIKE TOOLS – Okay, we’re cheating a bit here since the number one spot goes to a group of tools rather than just one essential tool. But, they’re important. Basic tool summary: Hex Keys, metric wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench and tire levers.
- Bike Pump or Mini Pump – This might be an obvious, but sometimes overlooked, tool. You NEED a good pump if you own a bike.
- Bike Work Stand – I think it goes without saying that it gets pretty old trying to contort your body in various ways to work on your bike so give yourself a break – a stand holds your bike in place while you work on it.
- Bike Chain Checker or Chain Gauge – the more you ride the more wear you’ll put on some of your parts. This is a quick way to see if your chain has been stretched to the point that it might break and leave you stranded somewhere. Cheap insurance.
- Chain Tool or Chain Breaker – if you do break a chain (or if your chain checker indicates that you should replace your chain) then you’ll probably need a chain tool to either remove your old chain or cut your new chain to the correct length.
- Chain Whip
- Cassette Lockring Tool
- Cable & Housing Cutters
- Bike Multi Tool
- Pedal Wrench
- Spoke Wrenches
- Torx Wrenches
- Scissors/Razor/Sharp Knife
- Bike Cleaning Kits –
- Essential Consumables:
- Hand Cleaner
- Bike Polish
- Rags & Paper Towels
- Zip Ties
- Electrical Tape
- Shop Apron
- Patch Kit
More Helpful Tools & Tips:
- Fabric Measuring Tape
- Pipe Cutter
- Paper & Writing Utensil