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My commute is about 25km/day. I have a cheapish hybrid bike with Shimano gears, v-brakes and SPD pedals. I carry a small hand pump and spare tube.

What do I need in a bike tool/ multitool or other spares?

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A multitool basically only needs to include the Allen wrenches that fit your bike, plus screwdrivers to fit screws on the bike. It doesn't hurt if the tool purports to include a tire lever, but I wouldn't rely on one in a multitool to be any good -- you should carry regular levers or a Quick Stick if you intend to be prepared to repair a tire.

  • This type of set-up by Daniel has very rarely failed me for on-the-road repairs. – user313 Jan 12 '12 at 20:03
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  1. Tire levers
  2. Appropriate wrenches to tighten loose bolts, adjust brakes, etc. Probably means a few sizes of Allen (hex) wrench. Metric. Smallest bolts are probably on brakes and biggest under saddle, but varies.

The rest, like a chain tool, are a lot less likely to be needed.

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    This type of set-up by freiheit has very rarely failed me for on-the-road repairs. Only thing missing is a small phillips-screwdriver, which I have needed on occasion. – user313 Jan 12 '12 at 20:01
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The jobs will dictate the need of tools. Look at the hardware you have, and what needs to be turned to perform common repairs and adjustments:

  • Flat tires (remove and reattach wheels and brakes), adjust pressure
  • Seat height
  • Brake adjustment
  • Gear adjustment

Allen Wrenches for the size bolts you have. Tire Levers. Potentially a small screwdriver bit, depending on the hard ware on your bike. Lugs for wheels if you don't have quick releases.

The question is similar to asking what is necessary to cook without knowing what the dish is. Sometimes you need an oven, sometimes a grill, sometimes just a mixing bowl.

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