I have just purchased a Cannondale Trail 3 2019 online and the bike will arrive pre-assembled in a box. I am new to bikes and mtb, I have no tools or anything.

I saw online I require a multitool and a pump, but other online tutorials say you should buy the multitool that suits your specific bike.

Which multitool for my Cannondale Trail 3 should I get? Which other tools will I need? Please just the minimal to assemble and give basic service.

  • 3
    Do you consider yourself "handy" ? There's little point carrying a tool if you're unable to use it.
    – Criggie
    Feb 26, 2020 at 10:37
  • 2
    The helmet part is unrelated and can't be answered here anyway - go to your LBS and try them on. Comfort and Fit is everything, and is unrelated to your height.
    – Criggie
    Feb 26, 2020 at 10:38
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    @Criggie carrying tools and spares to suit your bike is always a good idea - a willing stranger can't help you if you don't have the tool, tube or pump for the job.
    – Swifty
    Feb 26, 2020 at 17:51
  • 1
    Actually, we don't know how much assembly work has been done on the bike already. The good internet sellers like Canyon ship their bikes nearly ready to ride. It doesn't seem likely here, but the bike may have had the rotors and tires installed, maybe derailers adjusted, maybe chain already cut to length. The OP may not need all the tools listed below to get out the door. Unfortunately, he might - we just don't know.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Feb 26, 2020 at 20:04
  • 2
    If it is an online order, it is highly recommandable to use a torque wrench to set-up your stem, handlebars and to a smaller degree also the seat tube clamp. Those are easy to snap. The rexommended torques are usually printed on the parts and are not guge. It is not hard to accidentally overtorque them. Feb 27, 2020 at 7:15

5 Answers 5


I wouldn’t get a multi tool.

All the tools you need for a modern bicycle (if you are not replacing bearings, crankset or cassette) are:

  • 4mm hex key for:
    • seat post clamp
    • stem+handlebars
    • bottle holders
    • racks
  • 5mm hex key for:
    • rim brakes brake lever clamps
    • derailleurs
    • saddle rail clamps
  • T25 torx for:
    • disc brake rotors
  • 8mm hex key for:
    • pedals
  • screwdriver for:
    • derailleur limit screws
  • spoke key for wheel spokes
  • tire levers
  • pump
  • chain tool

Get a set of proper hex keys and the T25 torx if you have disc brakes. Get tire levers, a small pump for the ride and a large pump for the workshop.

But on single day rides it doesn’t make sense to bring any of keys. You really only need the small pump, tire levers and a spare tube.

When I’m making saddle adjustments I take a 4mm hex key (and maybe a 5mm key if I’m also adjusting the fore-aft position) for the ride.

On multi-day travel I bring the 4mm and 5mm keys plus spare shifter cables and spare bottle holder screws. I also bring the spoke key and spare spokes (only makes sense if you know how to use it). A multi tool would have too many tools on it (which makes it heavier than the two dedicated keys) and they are usually short and fiddly.

If you have disc brakes and need/want a T25 Torx key I’d get this T25 Torx bit from Topeak which turns a 4mm allen key into a fully functional T25 Torx key.

  • 2
    Individual hex keys are also much stronger than those that are fixed to a set/multitool, especially more than those with a plastic handle. They also give more leverage and some feature a ball point, so I'd recommend against multitool-hex-keys.
    – Erlkoenig
    Feb 26, 2020 at 10:30
  • 4
    It is quite important to note that what your bike is 4 mm vs, 5 mm is really only valid for your bike. It differs between bikes. Sometimes the vendor chooses 4 mm, sometimes 5 mm, I even have 3 mm hex bottle holding bolts on one. Rear wheel thru axles may require a 6 or 8 mm hex key. That is why the OP read that he should get the multitool according to his bike. The bolts used on bikes do differ. Feb 26, 2020 at 14:59
  • 7
    I'm a former bike mechanic, so I'm used to having a full set of high quality tools in front of me. It's very nice. But since I'm a former bike mechanic, I also own a multi-tool because it's super convenient, much cheaper than a full set of tools and 95% of the time, it gets the job done. Also, many small parts on bikes (such as grip clamps) require smaller hex keys than 4mm.
    – Cliff AB
    Feb 26, 2020 at 18:45
  • 1
    Forget about the individual hex keys and just get one of the sets from park or pedros or similar. If you think you'll do a lot of wrenching splurge on the plastic overmolded ones. Feb 26, 2020 at 22:37
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    @whatsisname But these are individual keys too - they just come in a plastic holder, of which they can be taken out of. In a multitool they are connected such that you can exert much less force, can't take a subset of them with you, and don't have a ball point.
    – Erlkoenig
    Feb 27, 2020 at 5:59

It's not a great idea to assemble the bike with a multitool. Multitools are short, which means you can't exert as much leverage as with a regular tool; and have a joint between the handle and tool heads, which means they are not as stiff. Multitools are a compromise to allow you to carry them while riding and be able to make adjustments if you need to. If you plan to do adjustments and servicing yourself, buy the proper tools. They will be far easier and effective to use. The list that Michael provided is a great start.

Do you need a multitool to carry with you on a ride? That's personal preference. A spare tube and a mini pump or CO2 inflater are probably more important.

  • 1
    -1: If you are using so much force that the multitool cannot easily exert the required leverage, you are over torquing every fastener on a modern bicycle.
    – mattnz
    Feb 27, 2020 at 19:26
  • @mattnz I'm talking about loosening them as well as doing them up Feb 27, 2020 at 22:05
  • 1
    @mattnz I definitely bent a multi-tool putting my pedals on. I dispute the "every fastener" claim. Mar 31, 2021 at 13:52
  • 1
    @mattnz Crank bolts, pedals, suspension bolts, some single-bolt saddle clamps...
    – MaplePanda
    Mar 31, 2021 at 20:54

Check what type of fasteners you have on your bike. Usually its bolts with allen key heads or torx heads. Most multitools have both but you could choose only allen/torx after you've checked that your bike only has 1 of the 2.

From some brief googling it looks to me like you have (mostly) allen head bolts (six sided).

here's a comparison of what they look like :

enter image description here

A flathead and philips heads screwdriver will also be very useful (for derailleur adjustment for example).

Some multitools come with a built in chain tool, which I find is a must. If you don't get a multitool with this built in you could always take a seperate chain tool but there will be more bulk and weight.

For 20-30 euro you should definitely be able to get a multitool that meets all these requirements, probably you can find it cheaper if you look around a bit.

Here is the multitool I'm currently using. https://www.belgafietsen.nl/specialized-emt-12-minitool.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIt8O-4N7u5wIVUud3Ch2pgAZqEAQYBiABEgLIZfD_BwE enter image description here

a similar alternative: https://www.internet-bikes.com/195523-sigma-multitool-pocket-tool-medium-16-functies-zwart/?tt=10107_12_290797&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIt8O-4N7u5wIVUud3Ch2pgAZqEAQYBSABEgIxO_D_BwE

One more thing to check is the length of the multitool itself since when you're using it and you've got one of the tools extended you're using the body of the multitool as leverage so the longer it is the better (in terms of leverage).

  • 2
    Also check the leverage on the chain tool. I have two similar multitools and on one of them the wing on the chain tool is smaller and it s very hard to breakk the chain. Impossible without good gloves. Feb 26, 2020 at 9:05
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    Personally, I like the Lezyne stainless steel multitools. They don't get all rusty if you ride in wet weather. Feb 26, 2020 at 15:02

In my experience it's difficult at best to find individual hex and torx wrenches. They all seem to come in sets, and when I can find an individual wrench it's usually really expensive compared to just buying a set.

For outfitting a new workbench/shop I'd definitely advise a set of individual wrenches. But for on a bike I prefer a multitool. Note that no multitool will fit everything as bicycles require a number of unique tools for things like bottom brackets.

My preference is for the Lezyne stainless steel multitools. The Stainless 20 will have everything you'll need for basic fixes. (Hex, Torx, screw drivers, chain tool)

The Crank Brothers M19 is similar in the collection of tools, but it is carbon steel that is harder and less likely to deform (round). But it'll rust and is a bit heavier than the Lezyne. The M19 has Torx T10 & T25 while the Lezyne only has the T25. The chain tool on the M19 is rated for 8 thru 12 speed while the Lezyne is only rated for 8-11 speed.

Your Cannondale dealer should be able to guide you through the complete list of bolt sizes on your new bike. Wheels for example may require a unique spoke wrench. You may be able to get a smaller tool and save a bit of $$$ and weight.

I own both the Lezyne and M19 and they've worked well when needed. Get a good quality tool and it'll never disappoint. Cheap tools generally fail at the worst possible time.

  • 1
    "Cheap tools generally fail at the worst possible time." such truth!
    – Swifty
    Feb 26, 2020 at 20:15
  • @Swifty Sometimes true, sometimes not. 🤷 I've gone over a decade with the same $9 Nashbar multi-tool. I don't think they even make them anymore. I bought an M19 to replace it, but I gave the Crank to a friend who didn't have a tool. Feb 27, 2020 at 0:54
  • You want individual hex keys, mcmaster-carr can set you up Feb 28, 2020 at 2:03

If the bike has been pre-assembled before shipping, there should be minimal work for you to do in the first instance. This should include turning the handlebars, attaching the pedals, adjusting the saddle and checking the tyres are inflated. You might also adjust the position of the controls (i.e. brake lever angle). These tasks require Allen keys in 4, 5, 6 mm, and either a 8 mm Allen key or 15 mm pedal spanner for the pedals, depending on your design - normally a 15 mm pedal spanner for included (basic) pedals.

So that's it, Allen keys, pedal spanner and pump. All of these Allen key sizes will be included on any multitool so you can choose freely, considering other advice and what maintenance you plan or expect to do. Other answers suggesting Torx keys and chain tools etc - these features will be useful at some point in the future and you should buy a quality, long-lasting tool when you do purchase one.

Remember that the left pedal is left hand threaded. Many new bike owners have had to head to the LBS for a repair or replacement of the left crank, reducing that mail order bargain effect. Do ensure the pedals are fixed tightly to the cranks.

You may find that the bike ships with a small Allen key multitool and pedal spanner, as some mail order bikes will come with these and instructions, you could contact the seller to ask or wait and see if it is included.

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