Essential Tools For The Home Mechanic
Here is a list of tools that every single bike rider should own. These are necessary for very basic repairs and general maintenance.
- Floor pump
- Tire levers
- Patch kit
- Allen wrenches
- Chain lube
Continue reading for more details on each item…
One thing you’ll find is that most bikes that come from real bike shops use Presta valves, which require a different type of pump than Schraeder valves (like the ones on car tires.) But whatever valve type you have, it’s great to have a floor pump made for bicycles. They are easier and faster to use and work much better than those $12 pumps from the hardware store. For example, take a look at the Performance Hurricane Team and the Blackburn AirTower pumps.
Tire levers are used to mount and remove tires from rims, and are essential for flat tire repairs. They are cheap and you’ll use them a lot. (Don’t use screw drivers for this purpose, as you’ll damage the rim, tire, and/or tube.) For example, check out the tire levers from Park Tool, Pedro’s, and Zefal.
Yet another requirement for fixing flat tires, the patch kit. A patch kit consists of patches, sandpaper, and glue. With one of these kits, you can repair tubes and reuse them, saving you quite a bit of money. For example, take a look at Slime Skabs and Rema patches.
Allen wrenches (Hex keys)
With Allen wrenches, you can adjust almost every part on a bicycle. The stem and handlebar, seat height, crank bolts, brakes, etc. Get a quality set of these wrenches (in metric sizes,) making sure to get 4, 5, and 6mm sizes, which are the most common. You’ll be using them a lot, so get a quality set from Park Tool or Bondhus.
Screwdrivers (Flat blade and Phillips head)
You probably have screwdrivers already, but if not, get a set. At the very least, have one medium size of each Flat blade and Phillips head styles. These have a few uses on bicycles, mainly front and rear derailleur adjustment. Most brands will be fine, but I’d suggest a good brand such as Craftsman.
Your bike is going to get dirty. To keep it running smoothly, you need to at least keep the drivetrain clean (although washing the entire bike is a good idea.) There will be dirt, grease, grime, dust, and other gunk that builds up, and plain water doesn’t cut it. Try Simple Green, Finish Line Ecotech, or other bicycle-specific degreasers.
Once your drivetrain is clean, it needs lube to function properly. Depending on riding conditions, you’ll need to lube your chain quite often, so make sure you have some of this stuff. My favorite lubes are Dumonde Tech Lite and ProLink.
You can’t just apply degreaser and lube with your bare hands! Make sure your workbench is piled high with good rags! I usually cut up some old t-shirts to keep my rag pile full.
That will get you off to a good start with basic adjustments and maintenance. If you will be doing more repairs, move on to the Beginner Tools List.