If you ride your bicycle a lot, go on regular trails, or use one for your daily commute like we do, then there are certain must-have tools that you need to store in your tool shed. You don’t want to have to bring your bicycle to a bicycle shop for every creak, after all. Indeed, some fixes and maintenance work only takes a few minutes to do and can be done by even the most mechanically un-inclined. The only constant requirement, of course, is that one has the proper tools.
A lot of these tools are inexpensive, easy to acquire, and they’ll certainly cost less in the long-run than having to take your bicycle to a shop to fix every squeak that appears. Trust us, having your own tools, and knowing how to use them will save you time and money. Don’t get us wrong though; if a bike needs major repair, then it’s always best to leave the professionals to do it. But minor repairs and maintenance issues are what you’ll mostly encounter, and they are something that you can do by yourself as long as you have the proper tools.
So, in this article, we’ll give you a roundup of tools that you need and give you a brief overview of what each is for and how to use them. We’ll also recommend the best tools that are available online based on our experience.
First and foremost, any kind of bicycle repair will be best done on a bicycle repair stand. I’ve done repairs on bicycles without the use of a repair stand, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone try it. Can it be done without a repair stand? Of course—but repair stands make things so much easier, so save yourself the stress and just get one.
The one we’d most recommend is the Feedback Sports Pro-Elite Repair Stand. It’s the one we have, and we have repaired more bikes on it than we can remember. Trust us, we’ve owned a lot of stands, and one thing we love about the Feedback Sports Pro-Elite Repair Stand is its clamp mechanism. The ratchet-and-dial closure works like a charm, and it’s more than simple to cinch the clamp shut. Not only that, but a single press of a button also releases the clamp by popping it wide open, so detaching a bike will be a breeze.
The repair stand itself is made from good quality aluminum, and it is thus very light—indeed, it is only 12.6 pounds, but can manage bicycles over 85 pounds in weight, which is heavier than most electric bikes.
Once set up on the ground, this thing is stable, even on uneven surfaces. It also can be folded, stowed at the corner, under a table, or put into a carrying case for easy transport.
Another tool that is essential—for pretty obvious reasons—is a bicycle pump. Indeed, it’s the most basic and mandatory tool to have in your tool shed for your bicycle. The problem is that there are so many available on the market, with each claiming to be better than other brands at doing certain things. From floor pumps to hand pumps, it’s not clear for the casual cyclist, what tool, in particular, deserves a spot in their tool shed.
But, don’t fret, because we’ll straight out tell you that you need to forget about hand pumps and go for a good floor pump. Hand pumps are a chore to operate, break easily because they’re designed to stress out the valve stem, and are often unable to reach the desired amount of pressure. While a hand pump is small enough to carry and might be a great tool to have to fix punctures mid-ride, we’d recommend that you keep a good floor pump nonetheless to keep stowed away in your tool shed. A good floor pump with a versatile valve head to handle different kinds of valves will inflate your bicycle faster and with less effort.
And if you want to know the floor pump we’d recommend, well, it’s the Topeak Joe Blow Dualie. Indeed, Toppeak’s Jow Blow series has set the standard for many years now as far as bicycle floor pumps are concerned.
It has a gauge that can measure pressures up to 35 psi, and our tests have confirmed that the gauge is highly—highly!—accurate. It’s also got a pressure release valve that we noticed releases pressure very consistently, which is great for moments when you overshoot the mark.
It’s really just designed in a way that makes it very easy to use, and it makes pumping air into even fat-tire bikes very effortless. In fact, if you own a fat tire bike, this is definitely the floor pump we’d recommend.
Hex wrenches are often overlooked, but bicycle owners can tell you that they are an essential item to put in any tool shed, especially if you intend to do any work on your bicycle. You will definitely be using these a lot—in fact, you probably won’t be able to get any work done on your bicycle without them.
So, look, it’s not complicated, we know; most Allen keys will get the job done, but a good hex wrench will get the job done faster and more efficiently. Also, it doesn’t cost much to get a good set of hex wrenches, so save yourself the stress and just get a Park Tool PH-1 P-Handled Wrench Set which will already have everything you will likely need for your bicycle.
Forget about those cheap Allen wrenches, because the Park Tool PH-1 P-Handled Wrench Set will do almost everything more quickly and efficiently. They’ve been thoughtfully made and fit the hand perfectly in no small part because of its ergonomic design, making them orders-of-magnitude more comfortable to use. The whole set includes 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10mm sizes, and the short end has been chamfered for high torque applications.
This is what I have in my tool shed, and while I hesitate to say that it will suffice for any and every kind of wrenching need (after all, there might be someone out there with an especially weird need for which this set won’t suffice), I can confirm that when it comes to bolts, screws, and hexagonal sockets, I’ve never needed to use anything else.
Another essential item, and one that anyone will be using often when doing small maintenance repairs on a bicycle, is a chain tool. It is sometimes called a chain breaker, a chain splitter, or simply a chain tool. But it has one purpose, which is to break, split, or shorten bicycle chains.
A great chain tool should be able to work well for years, and will have a driving pin that can be easily replaced for when it gets bent up. We’ve tried hundreds of chain tools in our time, and for our garage, we have the Birzman Damselfly Universal Chain Tool. The build quality of this is simply great. It’s easy to use and it has good leverage thanks to its long handle. We’ve also never encountered a chain that this tool won’t break—it seems to accept all kinds of chains.
It’s driving pin is replaceable, too, and we appreciate the fact that the package even came with an extra driving pin, which we so far haven’t needed to use since the original still works fine.
Ok, so we do have one reservation about this chain breaking tool, and it is that it’s… kinda huge. It’s definitely the largest chain tool we’ve used, and it’s noticeably larger than most chain tools in the market. Personally, this isn’t a deal-breaker for us, and we don’t mind that it’s larger than most chain tools, but it’s still something someone who’s lacking in tool-shed real estate might want to consider.
Because the chain is one of the most hard-working parts of a bicycle, it will naturally be the one part that will need the most maintenance. We’ve already mentioned the necessity of having a chain tool above, but another thing that will be essential for chain maintenance is, of course, chain lube. The most effective way of maintaining your chain and each of the parts of your bike that generate friction is by keeping it well-lubed, after all.
There are many chain lube products available, and we’ve written a whole article on what we think are the best lubes available on the market, but we’ll quickly mention here that for wet conditions, we’d recommend Phil Wood Tenacious Oil. Conversely, we’d recommend Maxima Chain Pro Dry Formula for dry conditions. Which between these two will be better for your bicycle will depend on the conditions you frequently find yourself in.
A simple yet well-built tire lever will be another handy item to keep in your tool shed. It will likely be one that you will use often, too, especially if you use your bike a lot and decide to do any tire fixing and replacement all by yourself.
What do we have in our tool shed? Well, it’s often not in our tool shed, to be honest, because it’s often tucked in our bag, ready for use should we need to fix a damaged tire mid-trail. Anyway, it is a Pedro’s Tyre Lever, and it works exactly as advertised.
Pedro’s is a trusted brand in the bicycle industry, and they make all kinds of bicycle products, from lubes and tools to cleaners and other accessories. Their tire levers, however, are the best tire levers in the market in our opinion. It’s just so simple and so properly designed that removing a bicycle tire from the rim is noticeably much easier with it than with something else.
It’s made from a hard and stiff resin that can survive any kind of abuse. This thing won’t break easily. Its wide tip, ergonomic design, and somewhat chiseled shape also makes tire removal so much easier. Really, this is the only tire removal tool you’ll need. I’m sure others will work, too, but not as easily and efficiently as this one. At least based on our experience.
You don’t even need to know what a bicycle is to find this next item essential for any tool shed. It is the adjustable wrench. You’ll probably even be using this for more than just your bicycle because a lot of mechanical jobs—or even not so mechanical ones—require the use of a good wrench. And, boy, do we know the perfect adjustable wrench that money can buy. It is the Channellock 8WCB WideAzz 8-Inch Adjustable Wrench.
This wrench is just so versatile and is indeed the most versatile wrench available on the market in our opinion. It’s just 8 inches long but has a jaw capacity of a huge wrench. Indeed, the jaws are narrow and are designed in such a way that allows it to work in-and-around the tight spots that most wrenches won’t manage.
It is more expensive than the most wrenches in the market, but if you want one wrench that can handle the widest possible range of jobs, then the price will be totally worth it.
Last on this list is the bicycle multi-tool. It’s not so much something to keep stored in your tool shed or garage, though, because it’s more like a tool that you need to keep tucked in your bag, for when the unexpected happens. After all, it can be an indispensable item for those who’ve managed to break something in their bike and need to do emergency repair mid-trail.
And of all the multi-tools on the market that claim to proffer MacGyver-like abilities, we find that the Topeak Alien II Multi-Tool is the best. Trust us, most of the repairs that you’ll need to do can be easily handled by this little beast. You can even hold this thing in the palm of your hand and immediately notice that it’s well-made from quality materials. It also comes with a nice and, we have to say, posh-feeling carry pouch, for easier transport.
All-in-all, there’s not much we can say about it other than the fact that it’s got almost everything we need!