Everyone should have these five tools when doing any kind of bike maintenance.
When doing any maintenance or repairs on your bike, it goes without saying that having the proper tools for the job is pretty critical. If you have the right tools, a repair that should take 20 minutes will actually take 20 minutes. When you don’t have the proper tools, however, things may not go as smoothly. You might spend an hour fiddling around, fighting with your bike, and wishing you had given in and just bought the tool when you saw it.
By no means is this going to be an exhaustive list of everything you need to build a dream workshop. Instead, we’re going to be highlighting the tools that you’ll pretty much always need for bike maintenance and repairs. Whether you’re just starting to get your hands dirty with bike repairs or you’re a seasoned pro, you’re going to want these tools.
1) Bike Repair Stand
Are bike stands absolutely crucial for the average at-home bike mechanic? No. Do they make things a LOT easier and save you a ton of frustration? Absolutely. If you’ve ever had a bike that keeps tipping over while trying to fix something, you know just how annoying it is. Don’t add insult to injury, and don’t risk damaging other expensive, not-yet-broken parts (I’ll admit it – I’m speaking from experience).
Topeak Flashstand RX
Flashstand RX from Topeak is an incredibly handy, conveniently sized stand made for work on road bikes with tires up to 700 x 38C with a max weight of 11 kg (24.25 lbs). Slips easily under the bottom bracket while the hook securely holds the downtube, making this the ultimate stand for tune-ups, maintenance, storage, or even display. When not in use, this small-but-mighty stand folds in on itself, making it a mere 7.2″x3.4″x2.1″.
Super B Premium 2-in-1 Wall & Bench Stand
If space is your concern when it comes to bike stands, then consider something like the Premium 2-in-1 wall and bench mount work stand from Super B. This conveniently compact stand has been designed to be easily mounted to posts, walls, work benches, or pretty much any other flat surface you can think of. The adjustable clamp allows for your bike to be positioned at any angle and a max load of 30 kg (66 lbs) means that this stand can even withstand the weight of most e-bikes. Coming in at only $139.99, the price is hard to beat for the quality you get with Super B.
Super B Pro Tripod Work Stand
If you want a traditional, (relatively) portable bike stand, look no further than Super B’s Pro Tripod Work Stand. A tripod base means that the legs can be adjusted to suit all kinds of terrains while remaining stable. Also included in this stand is a tool tray, which is a super convenient place to keep tools, easily lost parts, and whatever else you might need while working on your bike. Some other stands you see are technically portable but are incredibly difficult to move due to their sheer weight. Thanks to its alloy construction, this stand is lightweight and easy to move without sacrificing strength, stability, or durability.
2) Tire Levers
Whether you’re an enduro, mountain, road, or recreational rider, a flat tire is an inevitable part of life. Having one of these tools in your arsenal will make tube swaps a much easier and enjoyable process. Tire levers complete the job quickly and easily without damaging anything in the process. If you’re going to take one piece of advice from this whole article, please let it be this: do not use a flathead screwdriver (or any other sharp metal objects for that matter) to replace a tube. Seriously. You’re more likely to puncture the tube, damage your tire, or worst of all, end up needing a new rim.
Crank Brothers Speedier MTB Tire Lever
Have you ever scraped your knuckles while changing out a tube? It’s awful. Thanks to Crank Brothers, getting the bead on and off the rim is an absolute breeze. Don’t believe me? Watch this video. A quick scan of the comments will also explain why everyone loves it so much. For less than 10 bucks, this is a great lever to opt for beyond the basics. With its lifetime warranty, you’re bound to have it for a long time.
Cushcore Bead Dropper Tire Lever
If you have CushCore tire inserts on your bike, then you know that dropping the bead into the rim channel is incredibly important – although it is certainly not the easiest task in the world. To make things a lot easier, CushCore has created the Bead Dropper tire tool. Featuring a rubberized handle and “thumb flange”, the lever is very comfortable and makes it super easy to apply pressure to the bead. Designed to be strong and sturdy to withstand the toughest of tires while still not scratching your rims. CushCore is so confident in this product that like the lever from Crank Brothers, it too has a lifetime warranty.
3) Torque Wrench
I don’t think I can stress how important it is to have the right tools for a job. Apart from saving time and frustration, having the right tools for a job also helps to prevent you from accidentally damaging other expensive parts on your bike. Torque wrenches are essential for ensuring that you’ve adequately tightened a bolt to its exact specification.
A lot of old schoolers might roll their eyes at a torque wrench and I get it. When you’ve tightened thousands of bolts, you’re going to get a pretty good idea of what 4-6Nm feels like. That being said, it also doesn’t take much to overtighten a bolt. You make a tiny eighth of a turn, hear a crack, and now you’ve got an expensive problem on your hands. As bikes are becoming more precise and are being made with delicate materials like carbon-fibre, risking it is absolutely not worth it.
Topeak Nano TorqBox DX
The Nano TorqBox DX from Topeak is a super compact tool set consisting of 4, 5, and 6Nm TorqSockets that conveniently works with any mini tool with a 5mm Allen wrench. Topeak loves to pack as many intelligent features into their products as possible, so it makes sense that the sockets have an advanced torque limit release design that applies consistently precise torque values on component bolts for safety while preventing damage to expensive carbon parts. A carrying case neatly stores the TorqSockets along with 5 of the most popular tool bits, including 3, 4, and 5 mm hex bits along with T20 and T25 Torx bits.
4) Allen Wrench Set
Whether it’s routine maintenance or overhauling your drivetrain, if you’re working on a bike, you’ll need an Allen wrench. There are tons of different kinds of sets out there but I recommend purchasing the variety with a ball-end. To avoid stripping a bolt head, regular Allen wrenches need to be fully seated and as straight as possible. On the other hand, ball-end wrenches will let you turn bolts even while on an angle. Incredibly versatile, it makes working in tight or hard-to-reach areas easy while reducing the likelihood of stripping the head off a bolt.
Super B TB-TH30 Hex Key Wrench Set
If you’re willing to splurge a bit, then you should definitely opt for the Super B TB-TH30 Hex Key Wrench Set. This set includes a 2mm key all the way up to a 10mm key, offering 8 in total. All of the wrenches in this set feature a ball-end to ensure smooth entry and less slippage even on those small (and easily stripped) bolts. Designed for superior strength and durability, this set is made from heat-treated S2 steel with a nice mirror finish. Although it’s slightly more expensive than the first suggestion, at $38, this set is still a fantastic price considering that the quality is very comparable to the other big, much more expensive brands out there.
5) Bike Pump
Despite probably being the most overlooked, a bike pump is arguably the most important piece in your toolkit. It doesn’t matter how sweet your ride is if there’s no air in your tires! Suboptimal tire pressure has a detrimental effect on performance, efficiency, handling, comfort, and can damage your rims.
A good quality floor pump is fast, accurate, reliable, and takes the chore out of tire inflation. With so many choices available on the market, choosing the “right” pump can be pretty difficult. Pumps with long hose lengths and sturdy, well-built bases are universally useful no matter what kind of riding you’re doing. Mini pumps are compact, lightweight, portable, and mostly intended for emergencies or the occasional on-the-go top-up. CO2 inflators are an alternative choice for on-the-go tire inflation. Cartridges can be good as an emergency backup, however, they’re only good for a single use and can be pricey. Relying solely on cartridges can be tricky because you only have as many attempts as you do cartridges. Investing in a good floor and portable pump will pay off massively in the long run.
Crank Brothers Klic Gauge Mini Pump
The Klic Gauge Pump offers a refreshingly different take on the classic hand pump with an all-new design and some clever features that’ll have you wondering, “why did I think of that?”. The flexible hose is securely attached to the pump via magnet which means no more hose tangles. When not in use, the hose is stored inside the pump. The magnetic end has a rotating protective collar that keeps dirt and debris out of the connector whilst not in use.
Topeak JoeBlow Sport 2-Stage Floor Pump
The JoeBlow Sport 2-Stage floor pump from Topeak has been created with versatility at the forefront. The 2-stage design delivers both high pressure and high volume in record times. Road bike tires tend to be high pressure, low volume while mountain bike tires are typically low pressure, high volume. The 2-stage feature offers varied outputs that deliver high pressure or high volume that requires 30% less effort than a regular pump. The hammer type TwinHead DX5 pump head means that it will work with Presta, Schrader, and Dunlop valves without having to purchase separate adapters.
Honorable Mention: Tool Kit
By no means is purchasing a ready-made toolkit essential. They’re a convenient option if you’re taking a one-and-done approach or really want all of your tools to match. But it’s important to be aware that a kit may cause you to end up with tools you’ll never use. Admittedly, it’s pretty nice for everything to have its’ own respective ‘spot’ for easy organization.
Super B Classic 21-Piece Tool Case
This kit from Super B includes pretty much everything that you need to perform most basic maintenance and common repairs on your ride. The hard case is compact and slim, making it easy to travel with all of your most essential tools. For $120, this is a great starter kit for any budding bike mechanic.
Parktool PK-5 Professional Tool Kit
If you’ve ever worked in a bike shop, this is probably what your setup looks like, and if you’re looking to set up a pro workbench or outfit your dream at-home workshop, then this is absolutely the kit for you. The PK-5 from Parktool includes more than 90 of their best shop tools, each one chosen with versatility in mind and allowing you to perform hundreds of maintenance and repair jobs. This kit is definitely an investment at $1416.99, but with a brand like Parktool, you know you’re going to get great quality stuff that’ll last pretty much forever.