When shopping for bike tools, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the options. Sure, there might be a few tools that you don’t need, but how are you supposed to know that?
This problem is most troublesome when picking out a multi-tool. Multi-Tools have become so expansive; they act as a small shop in your saddle bag.
That can be handy, but, nine times out of 10, it is overkill.
When it comes to picking a toolkit, I feel that you can divide these sets into two categories: those with chain breaks and those without.
For the DIY rider, having a chain break tool can be very handy. You can purchase one as a stand-alone unit, and that would be the best plan. However, many of these small multi-tools include one, and it is a very minimal cost to step up to this level.
Of course, you either need to be riding a mountain bike where it is common to destroy chains and derailleurs. Or, you need to be doing high enough mileage that the chain needs frequent changing.
If you don’t fit either category, you can probably get by with a simpler kit.
When it comes to choosing one for riding, I like to carry a multi-tool with a Phillips head and flat head screwdriver and a 3mm, 4mm, 5mm and 6mm hex head wrench.
These are all the tools you need to keep your bike tight and adjusted. If something comes loose on your ride, you will be able to fix that with this simple setup.
I also like to keep tire levers and a Co2 kit on the bike with a spare tube. I carry these separate from the multi-tool and not part of the same kit. However, if you carry your supplies in your jersey and not in your saddlebag, it might be worth investing in one of those new kits that bundles all four of these items into one, easy-to-carry case.
Here is where you can go overboard in a hurry. Many companies like Park Tools sell complete kits of tools that could outfit a commercial shop.
You probably don’t need all of those.
The top tool you will need is a niche bike stand. It makes working on your bicycle so much more enjoyable when you have a solid surface to work.
From there, a quality metric Allen wrench and box end wrench sets are critical. The handy thing about bicycles is that they use metric across the board, so one of each will suffice for most repairs.
Then we get to the specialized tools. A Chain breaker is nice to have as well as a cassette remover so you can get the rear gears off your wheels and clean them thoroughly.
Most cyclists will want to invest in the appropriate bottom bracket removal tool for clean and re-greasing their bottom bracket during the rainy season to fix that ubiquitous “popping” sound. Roadies and Mountain bike riders alike will appreciate being able to quickly eradicate this noise after wet rides.
Finally, a spoke wrench is excellent for truing up your wheels. Truing wheels on a truing stand are best, but you can quiet down significant problems by using your brake pads as a guide.