Working on your bike can be intimidating, especially if you’ve hardly touched a tool before. But doing your own repairs doesn’t need to be scary. The majority of adjustments you will ever need to do are simple and can be accomplished with just a few tools, and by remembering “righty tighty, lefty loosey.” Working on your bike can be a very rewarding experience, and once you have a few basic repairs under your belt you’ll be an even more confident cyclist with a better connection to your bike. Plus, knowing how to do basic repairs will save you from trips to the bike shop every time a little thing goes wrong, and will help you notice issues with your bike before they become problems on the road.
If you’re starting from scratch with home bicycle repair, just a few simple tools will see you through the most common and easy to fix repairs. You might even already have some of these tools in the garage or in a flat kit on your bike. Just a pump, multi-tool and tire levers will get you started.
If you have nothing else, at least get a good floor pump. Keeping tires properly inflated and topped up regularly will not only make your bike faster and more enjoyable, but will also make it safer and easier to control. Not to mention it will extend the life of your tires, saving you money. Here are some of our favorites that are built to last and get the job done without breaking the bank.
Specialized Air Tool Comp
We’ve long loved Specialized’s Air Tool pump. The first half of the gauge on this pump shows pressure from 0 to 30 PSI to make inflating mountain bike and high volume tires easier, while the second half, 30 to 120 PSI, is for high pressure road bike tires. And the pump head automatically switches between Presta and Schrader valves, so there’s no need to fiddle with the pump.
Lezyne Steel Floor Drive
Lezyne has made a name for itself making high quality pumps, lights, tools and other bike accessories. The Steel Floor Drive is a beautiful pump with a varnished wood handle and an easy to read gauge. It also comes with an ABS1 Pro pump head which can handle super high pressures way beyond what you’ll ever need.
The yellow and black Topeak JoeBlow can be found in countless garages for good reason. Its versatility and longevity at an agreeable price make it a fantastic deal. The pump head can take on Presta or Schrader valves, and the pump even includes a place to hold a needle to inflate balls, making it a one stop solution for most things you need to inflate at home.
If you don’t plan on picking up many tools for your home shop, we would recommend splurging on a well made multi-tool, with at least a hex wrench (aka allen wrench) set including 3mm, 4mm, 5mm and 6mm sizes, a screwdriver and a T25 Torx wrench. Multi-tools often come with more tools than this—which are great to have—but the ones we just mentioned will let you take care of most basic repairs that come up, like adjusting seat height and handlebars.
Topeak Mini PT30
Topeak’s Mini PT30 tool has just about everything you would ever need and more, 30 tools total, for a road or trailside repair, all in a super durable package. Of course, it works well for home repairs as well!
If you want to keep things minimal, and under $20 but with quality that will last, this tool from Lezyne provides the most common hex wrench sizes—3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm—as well as a Phillips head screwdriver.
A set of tire levers is essential for completing one of the most common repairs you will do: changing a flat. Luckily these aren’t expensive. You can pick up a set at a local bike shop for about $5.
Pedro’s yellow levers are the iconic design that probably comes to mind when you think of tire levers.
$5 per pair; pedros.com
Park Tool Steel Core Levers
If you want a more substantial tool that will last forever, opt for Park Tool’s steel core levers, which can remove the toughest tires without snapping. Though these one are much pricier, they are made for the long haul.
This last one isn’t so much a tool, but it is still an essential part of maintenance. Keeping your chain properly clean will increase the lifespan of your drivetrain (saving you money in the long run!), keep your bike shifting smoothly and will keep chain grime from getting onto your clothes.
Rock N Roll Gold
We’re longtime fans of Rock N Roll lube because it cleans your chain and lubricates it in one go, removing the need to degrease your chain periodically. The Gold version is all-conditions formula that we reach for most often.
$9 / 4oz. bottle; rocklube.com
Finish Line Dry Lube
Finish Line is another great option and is commonly available at bike shops. It’s best for dry conditions but performs well if you encounter some wet roads. It also doubles up as lubricant for derailleurs, shifters and more.
$9/ 4oz. bottle; finishlineusa.com
Full Hex Wrench Set
If you ever look into the repair area at a bike shop, you’re going to notice multiple sets of hex wrenches on the tool wall. There’s good reason for that. Simply put, this one type of bolt makes up the vast majority of bolts used on a bike and therefore is the most frequently adjusted type of bolt you will encounter on a bike. We prefer an ‘L’ shaped set of wrenches with ball ends. This lets you get into tight areas, recessed bolts or hard to reach angles. Plus the long handle provides tons of leverage for removing things like pedals. T-handle hex wrenches are also common, but we think they’re less versatile if you’re going to pick up just one set.
Park Tool Professional L-Shaped Hex Wrench Set
Park Tool is one of the most dependable names in bike tools. This no-nonsense nine-wrench set—including sizes 1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm and 10mm—has every size you need, in a bike-shop-quality set. A convenient case keeps them all together.
Torx Wrench Set
Increasingly, bike brands are replacing hex bolts with a different type of bolt called Torx. Take a look at the bike or bikes you will be repairing at home. If they uses torx bolts (most commonly at the stem and disc brakes) we would recommend picking up a set of these as well.
Silca HX-Two Travel Kit
Silca is known for making some of the most premium bike tools available. This kit takes care of all your hex wrench and Torx wrench needs. It includes T7, T8, T9, T10, T15, T20, T25, T27 and T30 Torx wrenches, as well as 1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm and 10mm hex wrenches. This set is expensive, but these wrenches will long outlast other tools, won’t strip bolts and look great on your tool bench.
Phillips Head #2 Screwdriver
You most likely already have a Phillips head screwdriver somewhere in your house. But if not, go pick one up at a bike shop or hardware store. It’s useful for derailleur adjustments, but also for infinite uses beyond the bike around the house. Size #2 is the most common bolt you’ll encounter and should be all you need.
Bike Cleaning Kit
Cleaning your bike regularly will help you identify problems before they become bigger (and more expensive) ones, and will keep all your components, especially your drivetrain, running smoothly for longer. Bike cleaning is easier than you think, especially if you have the right tools. This 5x Premium Brush Kit from Muc-Off is a great all-in-one solution for your bike cleaning needs.
The Next Steps
There are several beginner or home mechanic bike tool kits out there which include more tools than we have listed here. But we think for the average commuter, these are all the tools you need. If any repairs come up beyond the scope of these tools, then your local bike shop will be your go to. And as you work on your bike more and find that you want to take on more advanced repairs, then by all means pick up more tools, including those to change a chain, replace a cassette, overhaul hubs or true a wheel.