Chain tools, keys and cutters

Fettling with your bikes is sometimes half the fun. Here’s the ultimate workshop toolkit to ensure you can fix, upgrade and modify your pride and joy.

>>> What to take with you on a mountain bike ride

If you scrimp where you can but spend where you have to you can quickly build the ultimate workshop toolkit without too much expense.

1. Allen keys

Allen keys adjust most things on your bike, you’ll need sizes 3, 4, 5 and 6mm. It’s also worth having a 2mm and a 2.5mm for things like brake lever reach adjustment and a 8mm for crank bolts. Bondhus keys keep their edges sharp and come with a lifetime guarantee.

2. Torx keys

A star-shaped Allen key, the most common is the T25 used on your disc rotors — buy an individual tool and replace it as it wears out. Choose an L-Shaped or T-Bar design from Park Tools. For all others a cluster block will suffice, such as Lezyne’s.

3. Cable cutters

Cutters need to be sharp to get through outer gear cable cleanly. Shimano’s SIS jobbies come with a section for pinching ferrules tight without cutting through them.

4. Needle nose pliers (and sidecutters)

For gripping thing, tightening things, holding things… a good set of pliers is essential. And needle nose ones really are better suited to bike stuff. Sidecutters are great for trimming down zip ties accurately and without leaving too much dangerously sharp protrusions post-snip.

5. Chain tool

You literally won’t be able to replace or install a chain properly without a chain tool. Even with Powerlinks these days you still need to adjust new chains for length to fit your bike properly. Essential.

6. Flat and cross screwdrivers

You won’t use a screwdriver much, except to adjust the high and low limit screws on derailleurs, and possibly the shifter cable access covers. You need a Phillips head — Wiha makes the best quality.

7. Track pump

The fact is, if you only have a mini-pump you’ll never stay on top of your tyre pressure status. With a track pump it’s quick and easy to check and top-up your tyres before a ride. And the pressure gauge means you can be consistent and accurate with your tyre status.

8. Tyre levers

Topeak makes the best tyre lever, the Shuttle 1.2, made from stainless steel and plastic. It won’t break easily and is provides plenty of leverage, too.

9. Shock Pump

Set up and tinker with your suspension pressure with a gauge, preferably digital. The Truflo Digital has an LCD display accurate to 1psi.

10. Chain whip  and cassette lock-ring tool

Essential to remove your cassette. Go for a socket wrench type. This tool also fits Shimano Centre-Lock rotors. SRAM and Shimano both use the same pattern and size. Try Park Tools or Shimano.

Without a chain whip, the cassette lock-ring tool will just spin as you try to loosen it. Look for a whip with the chain bolted on, not just moulded in, as it’ll last longer and shouldn’t split. Park Tools makes the best.

Six more suggestions…

1. Grease

Keeps the water out of your bike’s innards and helps things slide together easily. Any grease will do. We recommend buying a Weldtite grease gun for precise application.

2. BB tool

The newer external bottom bracket design uses a big socket tool or spanner type BB tool to adjust it. Superstar’s Hollowtech 2 fits all HT2 BBs except Shimano.

3. Spoke key

Wheel spokes need tightening; use a little spoke key wrench. Keys are available in different sizes (or gauges) and different shapes (Mavic wheels use a star drive). We like the M-Part Buddy Spokey — it fits standard Euro spokes.

 

4. Torque wrench

An adjustable socket wrench allows you to tighten a fastener to a preset amount — essential for bar and stem clamps, as they need to be tight but not overly so. Topeak’s Torque 5 is preset to 5Nm so there’s no faff and it’s cheaper than a proper wrench.

5. Workstand

Getting the bike off the ground is vital to work on things like gears, and it’ll save your back from pain. Buy the best you can as it’ll last longer — Feedback Sports’ (formerly Ultimate) Pro Elite is stable and easy to use.

6. Pedal spanner

If you ride flat pedals you’ll need a proper pedal spanner to remove them. It’s thinner than a regular spanner to get into the tight space. Go for a long-handle one to save you effort and grazed knuckles; Park Tools’ is a handy 11.5 inches long.