Ask a Mechanic: 11 Must-Have Tools for the Home Mechanic

Bill wants to know, “I’d like to start working on my bikes at home and I’m wondering what basic tools I need to be a good home mechanic.”

Great question Bill and one that will certainly benefit us all. Whether you’re a racer and need a basic travelling setup, or an aspiring home mechanic, these tools will, at the very least, keep you rolling.

The most necessary part of any home kit is a good set of Allen wrenches. Getting a full 8 or 10 piece set of individual wrenches is ideal, but depending on your budget, a 10 piece folding Allen set will do.

Because grease is used in numerous applications on your bike, getting a good tub of grease is worth its weight in gold. Our favorites include Dumonde Tech’s MR Grease and Buzzy’s Slick Honey for do-it-all grease.

Sooner or later you’ll have to remove your pedals, and trying to do it without a pedal wrench will surely end in frustration and bloody knuckles. Just don’t do it. Grab a pedal wrench. Some pedals can be removed with a six or eight millimeter Allen wrench instead.

Drivetrain maintenance won’t be possible without both a chain whip and the appropriate cassette lockring tool. These enable you to remove the cassette for cleaning or replacement, and to access the freehub for maintenance.

To install a new chain, or fix a broken one, a good chain breaker like Park Tool’s CT-3.2 will make it easy. If you’re on a budget, Park Tool’s CT-5C is a good option too because it’s also light and packable.

Although not as frequently used on bikes as standard Allens, the Torx, or star, bolt will come up sooner or later and you’ll need to be prepared for it. Make sure you have a T25 tool at least, and add a T30 to be well stocked.

Tires don’t change themselves, so tire levers are a must. Carbon wheel owners beware: Only plastic tire levers are safe for carbon rims.

Derailleur limit adjustment screws are usually Phillips head. Other limit screws are often Phillips head as well, so add a Phillips head screwdriver to your kit.

Being able to replace your cables and cable housing regularly keeps shifting crisp and accurate, and having cable/housing cutter tool will allow you to do so.

Whether you run tubed or tubeless, your tires always need to be properly inflated, A floor pump that fits your budget is crucial to have.

Last and most certainly not least, get a repair stand. You don’t need to go top-of-the-line, but having something that keeps your bike at a comfortable height and is user-friendly will make working on your bike enjoyable. If you’re really on a budget, getting something like Feedback Sport’s RAKK will work too.

For those wanting a more comprehensive toolset, buying the following items will round out your setup:

Figure out which bottom bracket your bike or bikes have and get the appropriate bottom bracket cup tools to be used with either a crescent, socket wrench, or bottom bracket tool.

A wheel truing stand will make maintaining your wheels a lot easier. However, you don’t absolutely need to have one to keep your wheels straight and round, but you will need a spoke wrench. Get one that’s the correct size for your spoke nipples.

Finally, get a small torque wrench—something like CDI’s Adjustable Torque Wrench —to make sure you’re getting all your bolts to spec. This is very important when tightening bolts on carbon frames or components.