The enthusiasm and stoke of riding or racing our bikes, can sometimes cause us to forget to take care of our bikes with just as much stoke. Sure, working on and maintaining bikes is not for everyone, but perhaps you have a thrilling stage race coming up or hardcore XCO race, and you’d like to make a quick adjustment or two. Well, you’ve come to the right place, as I’ve compiled an extensive list of tools that really make the maintenance life easy – based on my 6-year experience hanging around and building bikes of my own.
Often overlooked, but quality cable cutters can really be the difference between a neatly threaded cable or a frayed one. After threading a new cable through its housing on your bike, the first thing to make sure of, is that you won’t bend or crimp the end of the cable when cutting it. As this can result in the cable fraying and unravelling, which in turn affects your shifting efficiency. Hold the cutters with both hands if possible and pinch it together (just like a pair of scissors) with one swift movement, to get a nice clean cut. Then be sure to add a cable cap at the very end of it to make sure the cable doesn’t come undone.
My Favourite: Shimano TL CT 12
Shimano have been around for years and have earned a name for themselves for creating tools that are durable. And their own branded cable cutters are no exception from that durability.
Its particularly handy to not only keep your screws on the bike tight enough, but to know exactly when to stop tightening them. A torque wrench might be for more advanced mechanics – the ones who pay close attention to detail – but its no lie that they could extend the life of your bolts and screws. They will prevent you from over tightening or under tightening, which could result in screw fatigue or components coming loose during a ride.
This torque wrench from PRO focuses on the 3 to 15Nm range, and will be extremely accurate in telling you how tight, your stem, handlebar, or seatpost screws are.
My Favourite: PRO Torque wrench – PRTL0066
Spoke Tension Metre
Once again this might be a tool for more advanced riders and mechanics, but it can help a lot to sort an un-trued wheel, without taking your bike into the shop. If the correct tension in a spoke is not met, it could pull on the rim incorrectly, and result in bending. Overall creating a wheel feel that might not be confident in handling. Having a tension meter for the spokes of your wheels will allow you to check that your wheels are setup right – with equal tension from the spokes. Then you can act truing the wheels accordingly.
My Favourite: Park Tool Spoke Tension Meter TM-1
T-Bar Allen Keys
Investing in quality T-bar Allen keys is a must. We recommend finding a set that ranges from a 2mm to a 10mm. As this is normally the range that your mountain bike will make use of. The T-bar part of the tool really helps you get good leverage when it comes to turning the Allen key and will avoid stripping a screw if its super tight.
My Favourite: Park Tool PH-1.2 P-Handle Hex Wrench Set
Park Tool offer a great set of Allen keys that includes a 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10mm size tool. Which will cover 99% of the bolt sizes on your bike. Once again leverage is everything, and each tool comes with a comfortable handle
The humble shock pump is a tool for attending to those finer tune ups. If you ride a dual suspension, then a shock pump is highly recommended. But even for those riders on hardtails, it can improve your bike feel completely. Most front shock setups should match your weight in psi. While the rear shock normally comes with specific instructions on how to pump it with the correct psi. Nevertheless, a shock pump is great to have around to adjust your shock air volume on a ride-to-ride bases, based on the conditions you are tackling.
My Favourite: Cannondale Dual Mini Shock Pump Airspeed
This shock pump is not just for Lefty set-ups! It can handle pretty much any shock with a low pressure and high-pressure switch and also comes with a presta valve adapter, so you can pump your tyres up to. With its compact design it’s easy to carry around and is therefore my go-to on-the-go shock pump.
A good quality track pump is a common garage tool, and 90% of riders tend to have it lying around somewhere. The big question is do you use it, with the intention of getting the most benefit out of it. Maintaining a tyre pressure that corresponds with your terrain is important – you might to pump the harder in looser conditions or deflate them for more rocky terrain.
My Favourite: Ryder Rival floor pump
I have long trusted the Ryder brand for quality and efficiency on their pumps. The pump fits both schrader and presta valves, and has strong, reinforced foot base.
Chain Breaker Tool
Chain breakers are good to keep on hand for when your chain snaps, and you just can’t get the broken link’s pin out. Its quite a common tool, and you can even find some that fold into a multitool, for ease of carriage. In its normal size a chain breaker is quite small to carry out on long rides, and we highly recommend that you do.
My Favourite: PRO Tools Chain Breaker
PRO Tools offer a fantastic chain breaker with a comfortable grip for good leverage. Its also constructed from quality steel, and alloy, so that it won’t be heavily exposed to wearing out over time.