How to: Bicycle repair tools demystified!
In a number of my other articles I promote the idea of owning your own bicycle-specific tool kit so that you are empowered to undertake basic bicycle repairs, maintenance and upgrades yourself without having to be reliant on your bike store and also to save money (to spend on new bike gear of course!). I bought a generic bike toolkit a few years ago and have been recommending such a kit to friends, family and fellow readers ever since. For the $60 I invested in this kit, it has over the past few years literally saved me hundreds in return when combined with a free afternoon and an instructional video on YouTube.
The main reason I started this blog was to provide a centralised bike-related information website. In particular, I wanted to address certain questions, requests or queries that were consistently fired my way. One question I am always asked by people new to cycling is “what bicycle repair tools should I have in my toolkit?” and the other question I often get (often following the answer to the first question) is “what are these tools called and what do they do?”. Let’s get to the bottom of this mystery then…
So, what’s that bicycle repair tool?
The following tools are found in a generic bike repair tool kit which can be found online for around $60-120. These tools alone will cover 90% of common bike repair and service jobs and suit most components found on bikes made in the past 30 years. The numbers on this list correlate to the above graphic of the toolkit.
1 – Philips/flat screwdriver
2 – 8mm/10mm spanner *
3 – Hex key wrench 2/2.5/3/4/5/6mm sizes *
4 – Tyre levers (x3) *
5 – Adjustable wrench
6 – Lockring /bottom bracket tool
7 – Pedal wrench (remember the left pedal is a left-hand thread; left to tighten and right to loosen. The right pedal is a normal right-hand thread; right to tighten and left to loosen)
8 – Chain whip / freewheel turner (for removal of freewheel/cassette, use with no. 9).
9 – Cassette removal tool (use with a large spanner for best leverage)
10 – Flat screwdriver (small)
11 – Puncture repair kit (includes patches and glue) *
12 – Cartridge bottom bracket tool
13 – Bottom bracket cup tool
14 – Attachment for crank puller (no. 16)
15 – Multi-size spoke wrench (to true bike wheels and adjust spoke tension) *
16 – Crank puller / crank arm removal tool (to remove the crank arm)
17 – Hub cone spanner 13/14/15/16mm set of 2 pieces (to adjust wheel hubs)
18 – Headset wrench (to adjust/remove headset)
19 – 8mm hex key wrench / crank bolt wrench
20 – Chain rivet extractor / chain breaker (for removal / cleaning of chain)
Note: Items marked with an asterisk symbol (*) indicate you should carry this item with you on the bike (e.g. in a saddlebag at all times for field repairs.
Other items you should have in your toolbox at home:
- Duct tape and electrical tape
- Heavy-duty scissors
- Old inner tube (for padding/mounting lights)
- Zip-ties / cable-ties (various sizes)
- Plier set (long nose, diagonal cutting, flat nose etc.)
- Vice grip pliers
- Boating/marine grade grease (long lasting and corrosion resistant)
- Chain oil lubricant
- Degreaser (for cleaning chain, look for citrus, biodegradable, non-toxic version)
- WD-40 / CRC or equivalent (to loosen rusted/frozen bolts etc)
- Various rags (always have a few clean ones on hand)
- Claw hammer with a rubber mallet attachment
- Container of odd bits and pieces (bolts, nuts, screws etc of various sizes)
- Various grit sandpaper (120, 300, 600, 1200, 2000)
- 4-sided spoke wrench in specific sizes to suit your bike’s spoke nuts
- Y-hex wrench / 3-way hex wrench (3-sided) in various sizes
- Socket wrench set (for removing bolt heads)
- Spanner set (with open and closed head on each end)
- Spare tube incompatible size and valve type (check the tyre for specs) *
- Floor pump (get the best quality you can find!)
If you are unsure what any of these tools look like, just do a Google search. One trip to your local hardware and/or auto store should get your everything you need for less than $100.
These toolkits can be found at the standard online bike stores including Wiggle Cycle Store, Evans Cycles, ProBikeKit and Chain Reaction Cycles. Prices range from $60-120 for a standard kit with decent quality tools.
Hopefully, this article will shed some light on bicycle repair tools, what they look like, what they are called and what they are used for. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions or requests. Also remember to share this article on your favourite social media network if you liked it.
Happy cycling and good luck with your DIY bicycle work!