Maintenance – Home Workshop Essential Bike Mechanic's Tool Kit

Home Workshop Essential Bike Tool Kit
You have started cycling and have your first proper bike. As with many a new toy though, there are a few niggling problems—such as skipping gears, misaligned handlebars, or annoying punctures. You will need some home bicycle workshop tools—to avoid making a trip to the local bike shop every five minutes. These are your workbench essentials.

Before getting on to the tools themselves, it is worth mentioning a good maintenance book—so that you have a reference point before getting to work. I have the Park Tool Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair—an in-depth tutorial of all the jobs you are likely to attempt, as well as lots of colour photos. Another excellent choice is Leonard Zinn's Art of Road Bike Maintenance and Leonard Zinn's Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance books. Make sure you know what are taking on, before you start work.

In this post, I outline my recommendations for a starter bicycle maintenance tool kit. These are the kind of tools that every cyclist should have as their workbench essentials. In a later post, I will look at Intermediate and then Advanced tools for your home bicycle workshop.



Workshop Gloves

Black Mamba Workshop Gloves
Before getting onto the tools themselves, a little note on protecting your fingers. Bike mechanics can be harsh on your hands; due to the chemicals, grease, and risk of cutting them on sharp objects. To protect yourself, invest in a selection of workshop gloves. I highly recommend the Black Mamba range of gloves: I use their waterproof gloves for bike washing; the material handling gloves for general work such as replacing pedals and handling sharp disc brake rotors; then the disposable gloves for mucky mechanical jobs. 

Best Cycling Workshop Gloves:



Loose Hex Key Set

Loose Hex Key Set Bicycle
It is well worth getting a high-quality set of hex (Allen) keys, as it will significantly reduce the risk of damaging bolts and components with poor fitting tool heads. Hardened stainless steel ones are best, and those with ball ends help you to reach bolts that are at obscure angles (just do not use too much torque when you use the ball end).

Best Hex Allen Key Sets:



Torx Key Set

Torx Key Set
Torx bolts are less common than hex keys on bikes, but they are used on components such as stems and disc brake rotors. It is worth having a quality set of Torx keys in your toolkit—so that you can adjust and tighten all the bolts of your bike.

Best Torx Key Sets:



Screwdriver Set

Screwdriver Set
Much like hex and torx keys, a good set of screwdrivers is a very worthwhile investment. Whether it is adjusting derailleur limit screws or changing brake pad inserts; having a good screwdriver to use will save a lot of bother and significantly reduce the risk of rounding off screw heads.

Best Screwdriver Sets:



Scissors

Workshop Scissors
Trimming bar tape and snipping cable ties are a lot easier with a good set of scissors. They do not need to be cycling specific, but it is worth spending a bit to get a good pair from your local hardware store—they will last longer and be able to cut with greater accuracy.

Best Workshop Scissors:



Pedal Wrench Spanner

Pedros Pedal Wrench Spanner
Changing or fitting pedals is one of the first things that you will do to a new bike. A good pedal wrench—with a long handle and a comfortable grip will allow you to free up stuck threads and ensure that your pedals are tight before you ride. (Just make sure you are tightening and loosening them the right way).

Best Pedal Wrench Spanners:



Chain Wear Checker

A chain checker is the simplest of tools, but also one of the most important. Replacing your chain before it too worn will reduce the chance of needing to also replace expensive chainrings and cassettes as well. When it is at 0.75% stretch it is time to replace. If you get to 1% stretch it really needs to go, and you just hope that your cassette and chainrings are still okay and your new chain will not jump on the worn cassette.

Best Chain Checker Tools:



Chain Tool

Pedros Chain Tool
Bicycle chains break, and a new one needs fitting—so having a chain tool is a vital piece of kit. It will allow you to remove broken links and fit a quick link to join the chain. A good chain tool, made of high-quality strong materials, will help to drive out the chain pin in a straight line; avoiding damage to the tool or chain in the process. Do not skimp on this purchase, get a good one.

Best Chain Tools



Needle Nose Pliers

Whether it is pulling a cable tight or pulling a thorn out of your tyre—a set of needle nose pliers is a worthwhile addition to your tool kit. They do not need to be fancy, and a set from your local hardware store will do the job just fine; that said, there are some nice ones from bike specific brands.

Best Needle-Nose Pliers:



Tyre Levers

Pedros Tyre Levers
Having a set of tyre levers on your workbench will mean you do not have to go rooting around in saddlebags every time you need to change a tyre at home. The Pedros tyre levers are still my favourite by quite a significant margin; they are chunky, wide and robust, and will allow you to lever off even tough tubeless tyres without an issue.

Best Tyre Levers:



Track Pump

Lezyne Floor Drive Pump
Finally, a good track (floor) pump. Once you have had a floor pump you will never go back to using a hand pump, unless a puncture forces you to do so at the side of the road or trail. My favourite pumps by a long way are the Lezyne range—they are beautifully engineered, they last for years, and they have big exact pressure dials on them. Well worth the investment.

Best Cycling Floor Track Pumps



Read more of the Home Workshop series with these two posts:

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