With mountain biking there is a very strong culture of “do it yourself” when it comes to repairs and maintenance, which is great as it saves you money (theoretically) and helps you understand how bikes work (again, theoretically).
However, problems arise – and costs shoot up – if you start messing about with your bike and you haven’t got the right tools for the job. So to save you some heart ache and cash, here are the essential mountain bike tools that every aspiring home mechanic should have on hand:
Essential Mountain Bike Tools
If you’ve been trying to carry out repairs without a stand then you’re a fool! Not only that, but you will have been struggling like mad to get anything done properly. Buy yourself a decent repair stand and everything will be so much simpler! Park Tools do a really great repair stand that will last you for years and years and years.
Cable & Hosing Cutters
Want to replace your gear cables or change your brake hoses? You’ll need to ensure that you have a nice clean cut that won’t fray or deteriorate over time. Specialist cable cutters give you this much better than pliers or scissors ever could. Get a pair, you won’t regret it! X-tools do a pretty decent pair for just £15.
Cassette Lockring Tool & Chain Whip
Cassettes wear out relatively quickly and unless you want to be buying a cassette and then paying more on top to get it fitted then a cassette lockring tool is essential! Saying that, a lockring tool is pretty useless unless you’ve got a chain whip to keep the cassette still while you try to take it off. This LifeLine bundle from Wiggle is great for more or less the price of two cassette changes at a local bike shop.
Not only is this essential for when you break your chain when out on a ride, but its great for any time you need to take your chain off to carry out essential repairs. Sure, you could use the one on your multi-tool but they don’t tend to be as a heavy-duty workshop quality one. I use the Park Tool compact chain brute and it has been working brilliantly for the last couple of years.
This is pretty standard to be honest, if you haven’t got tyre levers how do you expect to get those stubborn tyres off the rim? In an age where tubeless is becoming more and more common, tyre beads are just getting tighter so invest in a decent quality ones. I used Pedro’s tyre levers for a year or two and they were great, but eventually broke. Now my tyre levering needs are met by Superstar’s steel core levers.
A mini-pump is great for when you’re out on the trails, but in the workshop a decent track pump will make short work of the job in hand. You really can’t go wrong with this Bell Track Pump, cheap, cheerful and works wonders.I actually picked this up from Wilko for around £15 and it’s been faultless so far.
Need to adjust the firmness of your suspension? Get yourself a shock pump. Quick, simple and effective! Halfords (yes I know, they’re rubbish but some of the tools are ok) do a pretty great one for under £20. I’ve had this for about three years now and it’s been brilliant, nice little pressure let off system and very easy to use.
Allan/ Hex Keys
You could go out and buy a bike specific set, but I find that these are actually more expensive than hex key sets that you can pick up from a DIY store. I got a really handy three way, foldaway set of keys that’s great for taking with me but it isn’t exactly workshop quality. For the workshop I have a set of 30 hex keys that I got from Screw Fix for under £15, sure there are loads of sizes I don’t need for the bike but they’re great quality and came in a handy case!
Torx/ Star Keys
Star keys are something that are becoming more and more common to see on bikes, so its a good idea to get yourself a set just in case you come across one when tinkering. Again you can get bike specific ones, but I had a set that includes everything I need and more from B&Q.
A good set of screwdrivers are worth their weight in gold, I’ve had this set now for donkey’s years and they’ve served me well. Ideally you want a couple of different sizes but a medium sized cross-head and flathead will do the trick nicely.
Another necessity if you’re looking to do a bit of bike maintenance is an adjustable spanner. You don’t need anything too hefty here, a small to medium sized spanner that expands to around 25mm will do brilliantly. Again, I’ve got a little one here from Screw Fix that cost me hardly anything and has been flawless.
Scissors/ Utility Knife
There are always things to cut, slice and snip so get yourself a decent utility knife or pair of hard wearing scissors and you’ll be sorted.
Getting pedals off can be very tricky if you haven’t got the right tools for the job, but with a pedal spanner (or pedal hex key if needed) this task is made light work of. The Park Tools Home Mechanic Pedal Wrench is under a £10 and, like all thinks Park Tools, the quality is pretty bloody good.
Bike things need grabbing, gripping and fiddling so make sure that you have a couple pairs of pliers in your tool kit. Some of my favourites are these small grippy needle-nose pilers that I, again, got these from ScrewFix for a song. If you really, really want bike specific pliers – no idea why – then you can get some X-tools long nose pliers which do the same thing.
Need to fit a new spoke, got a slight buckle in your wheel or fancy building a wheel up from scratch? You’ll need a spoke key! There’s loads of different ones out there and if you have a Mavic wheel you’ll need specialist kit, but I found the Park Tools key is great – I can’t find it for sale any more but I’m sure this one is just as good if not better.
Grease and Lube
Grease doesn’t just get everywhere, it’s needed everywhere. Annoyingly it can be quite expensive when you start looking branded and I’m sure you could pick up mechanical grease for peanuts, but I’m currently using the Bike Hut stuff from Halfords and it actually isn’t bad! Same goes for the lube, although I probably wouldn’t go for the dry stuff again as it doesn’t perform any differently to the wet, still picks up gunk and needs to be replaced more frequently.
When all else fails, hit it with a hammer.. or a rock. Ok, that doesn’t really work with everything, but there are times when you do just need to give something that extra bit of Ooomph! Normal hammers can be damaging here so it is important to use a wooden or rubber mallet. Park Tools have their own special hammer available, just in case you want your hammer to match all your other tools.
Bottom Bracket Tool
BBs tend to go whenever they feel like it, so you could take it to the shop every time or do it yourself. However, things get a bit difficult here are there are loads of different types of BB so finding the right tool becomes a bit tricky. I currently have two BB tools, one to deal with the Octalink style system and the other for HollowTech BBs (my favourite). Rule of thumb, figure out what you have and what tools you need and you’ll be set until you change bike.
These make life a lot easier and can be used for a wide variety of purposes… Get yourself a couple of packs from a DIY store and you’ll be set for years!
Cleaning Rags – Preferably Microfibre
For your bike and your hands! You can pick up a pack of microfibre rags from Wilko for about £3 and they’re great quality for the price. This is probably one of the most important things on the list, as greasy hands, wet parts and other mishaps need to be quickly dealt with and microfibre rags are the best way to do this.