What should be in the basic toolkit for someone that wants to maintain their own bicycle? I'm looking for something for your average day to day maintenance and tools that I will get the most use out of. Ex: I don't think I need a chain oil/lube/clean contraption...(do I?)

I have some hex wrenches, a few tire levers for changing tires, random screwdrivers, and pliers. Do I need a chain tool? Do I need a bike stand? (I sometimes invert the bike and do tuning that way)

4 Answers 4


I would classify tools into two groups. The ones you ride with, and the ones you keep at home. There may be a bunch of overlap, but it is harder to work with a multi-purpose tool, so if you end up using one tool all the time, a purpose-specific tool may be worth the purchase.

Tools to carry with you:

  • Tire levers.
  • Patch Kit.
  • Multi Tool.
    • There are a plethora of these. I'd suggest visiting your LBS to find one you like.
    • Should have all of the hex wrenches you need for on the route fixes.
  • Leatherman (optional).
    • When you need it, you need it. Until then, it's just dead weight.

Tools for at home:

  • Hex wrenches (optional if your Multi Tool has them already).
    • Bikes tend to use hex bolts all over the place, so a nice set of these can make your life easier.
  • Regular wrenches (optional based on the bike).
    • Axel nuts, pedals, and a few other odd bits might use these.
    • I believe everything on my bike is a 15mm wrench. So maybe just need one?
    • Also may be included in your Multi Tool.
  • Chain lube.
    • I prefer T9 lube, but I know a lot of people who run straight 30w engine oil.
    • Yes, you need lube. Otherwise your bike will end up sounding like a hamster wheel.
  • Chain Cleaner.
    • If you ride enough that you are posing this question, you will probably need one eventually. Road grime sticks to chain lube and can grind away at the soft internal workings of your drive train.
    • They're also pretty cheap and really easy to use.

Other Tools:

  • Chain breaker.
    • This is useful if you need to replace or shorten your chain. Until then, it isn't really needed.
    • May be included in your Multi Tool.
  • Bike stand.
    • Almost never necessary. Nice, but not necessary.
    • Most of my bike work is done with the bike upside down on the carpet at home.
  • Cone wrenches.
    • Really nice if you know how to adjust your bearings. I don't, so I take it to someone who does when they are out of adjustment.
  • Bottom bracket tool.
    • Most of the time your bottom bracket will not need maintenance, so it is easy to take it to your LBS.

That is everything I can think of right now.

  • I was told to always carry a chain breaker with you - even if you don't know how to use it, someone who comes along and stops to help you might. It makes for a long walk when you can't do anything to repair a broken chain. Aug 26, 2010 at 4:30
  • Great list, should add a spoke wrench in there too. And a kevlar emergency spoke is handy and easy to bring along for long rides.
    – darkcanuck
    Aug 29, 2010 at 6:35
  • I was told to never wash your bike upside down, because the water can run into the bearings. A stand would be very useful here.
    – tenpn
    Sep 13, 2010 at 10:30
  • When washing your bike, you're usually outside, and thus wouldn't have it upside down. However, the water should have little to no effect on the bearings, or you wouldn't be able to ride in the rain. There may be bikes that have this problem, but I imagine them being fairly cheap bikes.
    – Jack M.
    Sep 13, 2010 at 14:24
  • Depends on your skill with tools and your bike. Most things on the bicycle are "tighten to snug", with a few "tighten". Thus, if you can estimate these, you're in good shape. If you can't, buy a torque wrench. Things like mounting brake disks to your hubs, however, should always be done with a torque wrench.
    – Jack M.
    Sep 22, 2010 at 16:33

A cheap box of latex gloves.

There's nothing worse than having to do one small job, and then having to spend longer cleaning your hands than you did doing the job in the first place.

  • 1
    A lot of mechanics seem to use nitrile, but I don't know why.
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Oct 15, 2010 at 6:23
  • I'm one of them :) I used the term Latex loosely... some people are allergic to Latex, and others (myself included), find Latex to get a bit itchy after a while. Nitrile doesn't have these problems - and also is more resistant to tears (though I've not noticed this difference myself). Nitrile is latex, but it's made synthetically, and doesn't have the Latex proteins that cause allergies.
    – Will
    Oct 15, 2010 at 9:02
  • Man up and get some of that gritty liquid soap :)
    – GordonM
    Sep 23, 2012 at 20:57

My kit includes:

  • portable shop stand
  • allen keys
  • screw drivers
  • chain breaker
  • cassette tool
  • BB puller
  • wire cutters
  • lube
  • tire levers
  • chain whip

I have the following in my bag (bike related): - pump - tire repair set - spare batteries - spare inner tire - screwdriver and wrenches

At home I have a complete set for almost anything (I'm a tool addict, and we now have a workshed with space for anything).

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