A decent set of tools are essential for keeping you riding and minimizing running costs. Here at Merlin we are big believers in learning how bikes work and what needs to be done to keep them running sweetly. Check out the following essential tools, do you have them all?
Watch & Learn
As well as having the right tools for your bike, you need to know how to use them. As with most things these days, the chances are, that someone has produced a Youtube video of themselves doing the exact bike-job which you are contemplating. However, it pays to be a little picky youtube mechanics, try tool manufacturers first for their tips (such as Park Tools or Icetoolz) or channels such as GCN Tech or Berm Peak.
Quality allen keys are a must as they fit most of the bits you may need to fit or adjust on your bike. 3,4,5,6mm keys are most used but you may also require an 8mm for cranks and a 2 / 2.5mm one for fidley little jobs such as adjusting brake levers. Hard-wearing allen keys should stand up to years of usage without ’rounding’ and wearing out.
While it is possible to use pliers and a really big hammer, it’s NOT the right thing to do. Proper cable cutters are vital for doing an accurate and swift job cutting cables, a hard-wearing quality pair of cutters will also last a long time.
Even with those brilliant little ‘quick links’ which make joining and breaking a chain really easy, you will still need a chain tool. Fitting a new chain will involve taking off a few links for your chain to get the correct length – this is when a chain tool is vital.
Flat & Cross head screw driver
Now and again you will need a screwdriver, cross head (Philips) screwdrivers are usually called upon of adjusting derailleur screws.
Floor or track pumps are the easiest way of manually getting air into tires quickly, without a co2 canister or garage airline. Well made big brand pumps will last for ages and the gauge is a great guide for tire pressures.
On the face of it tire levers do a simple job, removing and fitting tires. However they need to pull off a neat trick of being soft and kind to rims and tyres, whilst being strong enough not to flex when those really tight tires need fitting.
These two tools work together to remove the cassette. The chain whip holds the cassette still, while the lock ring tool untightens the lock-ring which secures the cassette to the freehub. Being able to remove and refit new chain and cassette is essential to reduce workshop bills for any long-term bike rider.
One of the most annoying noises your bike can produce is the knocking or clicking from a worn bottom bracket. Having the correct tool to replace the bottom bracket is very useful for the home mechanic. Bottom brackets don’t cost much and replacing them is easy with the right tools. However! There are several types of bottom bracket which require specific tools to remove / fit.
These smart tools give even the most cack-handed home mechanic a decent chance of getting the job done right. Torque wrenches are perfect for bars / stems / seat bolts which need to be tight but not over tightened, which can strip the thread of the bolts.
Under regular usage bike wheel spokes can loosen over time and wheel can go out of true. While wheel building needs a fair bit of skill, truing a wheel can be a relatively straight forward task. In simple terms, if a spoke is loose, other spokes will pull the wheel in their direction – carefully adding tension to the loose spoke will gradually pull the wheel back.
Getting a decent amount of torque to remove pedals requires the longer lever of a pedal wrench. While many pedals feature an allen key on the inside of the crank / pedal interface, some don’t, and it is easier to use the longer lever of the pedal wrench, particularly if the pedals have been in a long time.
The only Torx key most of us will use is the Torx 25 for removing and re-fitting disc rotors, calipers and some stem bolts. A good quality Torx key will last a long time, largely because the components they fit can last quite a while too!
If you ride with air suspension forks or rear shock, you will need a shock pump. Having the correct amount of air in the suspension for your weight and riding style will allow you to use the suspension to its fullest and get the most benefit. While some fork manufacturers supply a pump, there are many available separately from various manufacturers. As a rough guide / starting point, aim for 20% sag (suspension drop while seated on the bike).
Grease ’em up!
A little dab of grease on threads as you replace parts or after cleaning components will ensure they don’t seize up in the future. Check out our range of grease here.
Icetoolz Allen Key set £6.95
BBB BTL – 16 Cable Cutters £23.95
Topeak Universal Chain Tool £10.99
Cyclus Flat Screwdriver £6.30
Zefal Profil Max FP30 Floor Pump £19.99
Schwalbe Tire Levers X 3 £2.50
BBB BTL 11 – Chain Whip £13.00
Shimano TLFC32 Bottom Bracket Tool £13.00
Topeak Combo Torq Wrench Set £13.99
Icetoolz Multi Spoke Key £4.49
Icetoolz Pedal Wrench £9.50
Merlin Torx Key Wrench Set £19.96
Beto SP-005AG Tire & Shock Pump £22.00