I just got a new Trek 7.2 for commuting and getting around town. It's a great bike but I want to add some stuff to it like a rack. I am fairly handy and have more or less a full toolkit in my apartment - do I need any special tools to do bike maintenance and also for adding things like a rack? Or will normal screwdrivers & wrenches do the trick?

(added from a comment) At the moment, I hope to mainly fix flats (but hopefully won't get too many of them) and set my bike up for commuting (adding a rack, lights, potentially bike computer).

  • For things like installing a rack a bicycle multitool is not a bad investment. Otherwise a couple of screwdrivers and some small wrenches. Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 22:27
  • Allen keys. Most bolts on bikes take allen keys.
    – Móż
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 22:56
  • You really only need specialty tools when you start replacing components on the drive train. Things like crank pullers, cassette tools and chain whips are pretty cheap, and you should buy them as the need arises.
    – Kibbee
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 23:00
  • Watch out with those allen keys! A friend of mine had a set of 'imperial' hex keys and managed to ruin more than one screw head before I showed him the 'metric' equivalents. (At least in Europe all(?) bike screws are metric.) (Or at least in my limited experience. No doubt someone is going to point out that Sturmey-Archer used 13/64" heads on some assemblies...)
    – Popup
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 14:39
  • very few tools are needed. having a mentor is often helpful, though. Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 22:33

3 Answers 3


The mainstay tools are really wrenches and allen keys, certainly these will be all you need for something trivial like fitting a rack.

But the more you get into things, there are a myriad of different tools around, often which can be used for one and only one task. For example if you want to get the cranks off you need a crank puller, of which there are a couple of different types. To change a cassette, you need the right lockring (possibly a half-a-dozen or more of these). A special tool to break a chain (you replace chains relatively regularly, compared to other maintenance). Another too to swap out a bottom bracket, a rig to check how true your wheel is.....

The good news is that you're not (certainly as an individual wanting to maintain your bike) going to want all of these tools at once - they can be collected over time. And if looked after they pretty much last forever.

I don't know whether you'd count these as tools (I would) but I'd say it is definitely worth buying, up front, tyre levers and a pump, so you're able to change a tyre and repair a puncture. These, unfortunately, are the most common tasks you'll need to perform.

  • Don't buy tire levers, buy a "Quick Stick". Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 23:21
  • @DanielRHicks no arguments here, but they don't seem to exist in the UK. I think I use Topeak ones - rigid plastic, come as a pair which clip together, really good. The things to avoid are those soft plastic levers, if it's soft enough you can bend in your hand, its probably not going to be strong enough to budge a tyre.
    – PeteH
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 7:40

If you plan to do regular bike maintenace, then I would not put off buying a bike specific tool kit. I have a garage with tools capabale of pulling down a car engine (unfortunately the user of my tools is less capable of building one up again :( ), yet I still have a bike specfic toolkit. Although I have a double up in some tools, the bike tool kit is small, portable and has 90% of what I need for any bike job.

Cheap tool kits that work well enough, Such as this for a careful DIY user are readily available. Although some of the tools are a bit nasty, I belive they are much better than not having the right tool as long as you work to there limitations- if you can afford it get better quality. If your bike is older or has overtightened parts there comes a time when the LBS with workshop quality tools and years of experiance needs to be used, but most jobs can be done yourself paying for the kit in no time.

For example - changing a rear cluster - needs two specfic tools and a 5 minute job with them, trip to the LBS without those tools. Chain repair - 5 miutes with a chain breaker, trip to the LBS without one. Spoke replacement on the cluster side of rear wheel - Spoke tool, and cluster tools.. or (you guessed it)

  • Right, it depends on what one means by 'regular bike maintenance.' At the moment, I hope to mainly fix flats (but hopefully won't get too many of them) and set my bike up for commuting (adding a rack, lights, potentially bike computer).
    – Jason
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 23:49
  • 2
    @Jason in that case you really only need a pump, tyre levers, puncture repair kit and some allen keys for the rack etc. The bike computer may not need tools at all.
    – Móż
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 0:00

Bike in general I suspect is covered in other questions.

Regarding the rack: Look at the rack. About the only thing it would have special is hex screws. Hex screws are also common on your bike. Typically the instructions will list tools needed. Tool needed vary by rack.

This is tools from one rack installation manual

4mm hex wrench
8mm open end wrench
File or bench grinder
Electrical tape or friction tape
Tape measure, ruler, or caliper
Marker or grease pencil (optional)
Level (optional)
Linseed oil, Framesaver, Boeshield, 
 or engine fogging oil (optional)

Admittedly, this is a strange and complex rack. That is the point - the tools needed vary according to the rack that you're installing and the frame that you're installing it to. Consult the installation instructions. If you want to install the rack yourself and it calls for tools you don't have then consider another rack. From the picture the Trek 7.2 does have two mount points for a front rack. In that configuration it is as pretty easy install.

  • 1
    Bench grinder? To install a rack?? Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 22:28
  • @DanielRHicks Not "a" rack "one" specific rack. It is not clear to you that that is an example?
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 23:33
  • 1
    Seems like a weird rack, then. Electrical tape? Level? Grease AND oil? Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 0:04
  • @DanielRHicks surlybikes.com//uploads/downloads/…
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 0:20
  • 3
    The surly rack is a bad example because that is not only a front rack, but it has mountings to try to accommodate virtually any fork in existence. Most rear racks aren't anywhere as complicated, and serve as better examples. Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 2:33

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