10 Essential Bike Tools Every Cyclist Should Own

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A big part of cycling is learning about how to do small jobs on your bike to keep it in tip-top condition – and it’s good practice for cyclists to keep some essential bike tools at home.

The difference in ride quality between a poorly maintained bike and a well-maintained bike is huge, and for you to get the best out of the cycling experience, it’s important that your bike works the best it can.

Some cyclists head straight to the bike shop when something goes wrong, but you don’t always have to. Many jobs that might need to be done on a bike are actually pretty simple and can be done at home – providing you have the correct tools! 

In this article, we’ll be covering:

  • 4 Key Reasons To Learn Basic Bike Mechanic Skills
  • 10 Essential Bike Tools Every Cyclist Should Own
  • Which Tools Should I Take On Every Ride?

Let’s dive in!

10 Essential Bike Tools: Title Image

4 Key Reasons To learn basic bike mechanic Skills

When I first started cycling, I wished I had learned to fix my bikes sooner than I did, as there are many benefits to learning some basic skills.

Here’s what you can expect to gain!

#1. It’s much cheaper

The first thing to mention is that when you learn your basic mechanics, you can save yourself a fortune!

Not only do you not have to pay labor on work being done, but you also don’t waste money on gas getting your battered bike to the mechanic. 

#2. It’s satisfying 

It’s a great feeling taking your pride and joy from a creaky mess to a silky smooth ride using your own essential bike tools!

Fixing your bike is a very satisfying process, and when you’re out riding, you can really enjoy the fruits of your labor.

A mechanic uses a bike tool on the rear wheel of a blue mountain bike.

#3. It’s quicker

Your bike waits in a queue for the mechanic to diagnose it, then they call you with the cost, order the parts, wait for them to get in, fit them, then return to you to tell you it’s ready to pick up.

This process can last weeks.

When you have your own skills and tools, you can diagnose it yourself, which is typically much easier as nobody knows your bike better than you.

Then you can order the parts and get straight on with fixing it. It’s much faster, which means you can return to the road sooner!

#4. It can help you fix your bike on the road

One thing I found was the more bike mechanics I learned with my own tools at home, the better I was at fixing my bike out on the road.

Having a better understanding of my bike from home repairs meant while on roadside repairs, I had the experience and knowledge to deal with problems quickly and efficiently. 

Although you typically wouldn’t have all your tools with you while out on the road, a multi-tool and the right knowledge can go a very long way to ensure you don’t need a lift home in a taxi and a trip to a bike shop.

A bike mechanic uses a spanner on the rear wheel of a brown hybrid bike.

10 Essential Bike Tools Every Cyclist Should Own

Note that these are the tools we’d recommend every cyclist have at home to work on their bike, so we haven’t included tools and spares you would normally take out riding with you, such as a mini pump or a cyclist’s multi-tool.

You can find those in the section after this one if you’d like to know the essentials that should come with you on every ride too!

#1. Allen and Torx key set

A blue Allen key being used on the derailleur hanger of a red road bike.
Credit: Robbie Ferri

The majority of bikes use a huge amount of Allen and Torx key bolts, and a good set of ballpoint Allen keys goes a really long way when it comes to repairs.

Although many cyclists avoid this purchase because they have Allen and Torx keys on their cyclist’s multi-tool, having a proper, dedicated set will get you into those hard-to-reach places easier.

Good quality Allen and Torx key sets will also help protect you from rounding your bolts through having a poor connection.

#2. Bike Maintenance Stand

A hybrid bike is held up in a bike maintenance stand against a brick wall.
Credit: Robbie Ferri

Having a work stand can make your life so much easier when it comes to working on your bikes.

You can set these up and then use the grip at the top to stand your bike in, meaning it’s held in the air securely.

Having your bike in a stand means it’s very easy to work on compared to on the floor. It stops the bike from falling over, you can use the drivetrain freely, it is easier to get parts off, and you can save yourself a lot of back pain.

#3. Torque Wrenches

A torque wrench being held up against a white bike frame.
Credit: Robbie Ferri

You can cause yourself quite a bit of bother if you don’t keep torque wrenches in your cycling tool kit.

A torque wrench is a tool you use to tighten up a bolt to a certain torque. This means you don’t end up leaving the house with bolts that are loose, or over-tightening bolts and breaking components – a common issue for beginner bike mechanics!

We recommend having two sizes of torque wrench: a small wrench for bolts such as stem bolts, and a large torque wrench for parts such as cassettes and bottom brackets

#4. Pedal Spanner

A pedal spanner removing the pedal from a red hybrid bike.
Credit: Robbie Ferri

One of the most common jobs you will find yourself doing if you own multiple bikes is changing your pedals.

Whether you’re packing the bike up for travel or swapping pedals over to other trusty steeds, you’ll find yourself reaching for the pedal spanner often.

#5. Decent Tire Levers

A yellow plastic tire lever unhooks the tire from a bike wheel's rim.
Credit: Robbie Ferri

Tire levers are what we use to pull the tire off the rim.

As you cycle more often, you’ll be using your tire levers all the time. Getting tight tires off a rim can be quite challenging, and having some good levers makes it much easier. 

We recommend investing in some large levers and trying to avoid metal-based ones, as these can damage wheels easily. The last thing you want is to damage a nice set of rims when swapping out an inner tube!

#6. Track Pump

A track pump in front of a deep-section aero bike wheel, resting against a brick wall.
Credit: Robbie Ferri

Although you might have an excellent hand pump that you take out with you on the road, having a track pump at home is very beneficial.

A track pump is used to put air in your tires quickly and easily. It can also be used to set up tubeless tires.

Track pumps are much more efficient than a hand pump, take less than half the time, and typically come with PSI gauges to ensure you’re getting the perfect pressure into your tires.

#7. Chain Breaker and Master Link Pliers

Master link pliers and a chain tool in front of a brick wall.
Credit: Robbie Ferri

Master link pliers are used to install and remove bike chains that use a master link.

They are a great tool to have handy, and it’s something you will use all the time. It has the ability to remove and install a chain without having to break it.

Then we have the chain tool, which is used to break chains by pushing the pin out of a link. For chains without a master link, the chain tool is also used to push the spare pin into the connecting link.

#8. Cassette Removal Tool and Chain Whip

A cassette tool and chain whip being used to remove a bike cassette.
Credit: Robbie Ferri

Having a cassette removal tool and chain whip makes a variety of different jobs possible.

Although you might not think you will need these often, I found myself using them regularly for setting up turbo trainers, swapping over wheels, and even attaching brake disc locking nuts.

Although cassette removal tools as stand-alone equipment complete with a handle, you’re better off getting the small end piece that you can attach to a torque wrench. If you can afford it, it’s worth spending a little more on top brand names, as these work much better and last longer.

#9. General DIY Tool Set

A green DIY toolbox used for basic bike repairs.
Credit: Robbie Ferri

Having a general DIY tool set will really help when it comes to bike mechanics.

It will give you multiple spanners, screwdrivers, pliers, sockets, mole grips, saws, and even tools to help cut cables

Although not made for bikes, these tools are incredibly useful, especially when working on classic bikes. Having a range of tools for a bike that might need creative solutions goes a very long way.

It doesn’t have to be anything incredible; something entry-level such as this Walmart tool set would be a great addition to your essential bike tools collection.

#10. Bike Cleaning products

Bike cleaning products sat in a blue bucket.
Credit: Robbie Ferri

A clean bike is a happy bike.

Having the right tools to clean a bike makes the process very easy, and the finish on your bike will look excellent. A regular bike cleaning session can prolong the life of your components and help you avoid breakdowns. 

Some good cleaning cloths, a chain cleaner, some scrubbing brushes, a bottle of degreaser, and some brake disc cleaning fluid make the job easy and much faster.

We also recommend having some oil and grease handy to replace any you might take off in the process.

Which Tools Should I Take On Every Ride?

A collection of bike tools a cyclist should take on every ride.
Credit: Robbie Ferri

Although the above are great essential bike tools for you to work on your bike at home, you might be asking what I should have if I’m out on a ride.

Well, here’s what we recommend taking on every ride;

  • Hand Pump
  • Spare Inner Tubes
  • Cyclist’s Multi-Tool
  • Tubeless Plug (if using a tubeless setup)
  • Electrical Tape
  • Lubricant
A bike mechanic reaches for some pliers from his bike tool rack.

Beyond Essentials 

What about having a fully-stocked bike mechanic set up?

Well, then you might want to consider having a few of these tools as well;

  • Ultrasonic Cleaner
  • Crown Race Puller
  • Bracket Tapping Tools
  • Threading Set
  • Truing Stand
  • Rear Derailleur Alignment Tool
  • Bearing Cup Press
  • Cable Guide Set
A cyclist on a burgundy gravel bike drifts on a dirt road.

Now You Know All About The Essential Bike Tools…

We highly recommend learning some basic bike maintenance and having tools ready at home so you can work on your bike.

It will save you time and money and is incredibly satisfying. Thanks for taking the time to read our list – and if there’s anything you think we should add, let us know in the comments below!

Found this Bike Tools Guide Helpful? Check out more from the BikeTips Experts below!

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Robbie has traveled the globe as an endurance athlete and bikepacker, breaking world records and competing in international ultra-cycling events such as the BikingMan series and the Transcontinental Race. He's also worked as an ambassador for some of the industry's leading names, including Shimano and Ritchey. If Robbie's not on a bike, he's either fixing them or out walking with his dog!

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