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What are the most used bike tools?

A woman adjusting a bicycle with an Allen wrench

Anyone who owns a bicycle knows that a basic bike tool kit is essential for occasional adjustments and minor repairs. Even less experienced mechanics can easily manage some of the more frequent bike maintenance tasks with a small collection of the most used bike tools. So, what would a kit of the most used bike tools look like?

Our list of the most commonly used bicycle tools includes the following, which we’ll discuss one by one:

  • Allen (hex head) wrenches, sized from 2mm to 8mm
  • Tire levers
  • Chain installation/removal tool
  • Tire lever
  • Torque wrench
  • Torx head wrenches
  • Screwdriver set
The “Y” or 3-Way Allen wrench is handy for most repairs, thanks to including multiple hex head sizes in an easy to use tool format.

Allen wrenches

By far, one of the most used bike tools are metric Allen wrenches. Nearly every bolt on a bicycle, including the handlebar, controls, stem, seatpost, saddle, and drivetrain fixing bolts, is a version of a metric sized Allen hex head bolt. So, begin your kit of essential bike tools with an Allen wrench set that includes the following sizes: 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, and 8mm.

Hex head wrenches, also known as Allen wrenches, are available in many formats. We like the “Y” or 3-way Allen wrenches, because the one tool includes 3 commonly used sizes and the tool fits well in the hand for quick repairs. Another popular format are individual sizes of the T-handle Allen wrench. These are usually available both individually and sold in sets. Lastly, the L-handle allen wrench is common for larger sizes when more force needs to be applied to tighten or loosen the part.

T-Handle wrenches are great for working in tight spaces when a longer tool extension is needed.

Tire levers

Easily one of the most used bike tools, tire levers make quick work of removal and installation of bike tires. Whether you’re repairing a tire, replacing an innertube, or installing a brand new tire, a good set of tire levers make the job quick and easy.

Tire levers should be comfortable to grip, strong enough to manage tight fitting tires, yet made from material that won’t damage the bicycle rim when force is applied. Most tire levers are made from plastic, which is lightweight and soft enough that it won’t scratch the wheels. However, plastic can be flexible and not strong. It can also become brittle in the cold. Try a hybrid, such as our Steel Core Tire Levers.

A good set of tire levers makes a world of difference installing or removing bike tires.

Chain installation tool

Removing worn a worn-out bike chain and installing a new one should be high on your list of DIY bike repairs. When should you replace a bicycle chain? Most mechanics will say that 2000 miles is a good rule of thumb. Chains wear out by elongating over time so that they don’t engage properly on the teeth of the cogs. As this happens, the cogs can also wear out as they essentially “erode” to match the stretched-out chain. Replacing your bike chain prevents much more expensive repairs.

Many modern bicycle chains have master links or “quick links” that allow the chain to be removed via one link that is designed to be easily removed with special pliers. These Master Link Pliers make for slick and easy removal of a bike chain.

If your bike chain does not have a master link, you’ll need to partially push out one of the pins to remove the chain. A high quality chain pin press will make this job much easier

No matter which style of bike chain you have, learning how to properly remove and install a chain can save you a lot of money in the long run. Next to tires, handlebar grips, and brake pads, the chain is the most common wear item that needs to be monitored and replaced.

Chain pin removal can only be accomplished with a chain pin press such as this one.

Torque Wrench

A torque wrench is important for safely securing bolts on high end bikes and components. As bikes have become increasingly specialized, paying attention to proper torque of bolts is important. Not enough torque and your bike parts will not stay in place. Too much torque can strip out the threads, damage delicate parts or even break bolts.

Until you learn a balance of “tight enough” without being “too tight,” use a torque wrench and tighten bike parts to the specified torque setting. There are many types of torque wrenches, but we like the compact, lightweight, and portable Range Torque Wrench.

Use a torque wrench to achieve specified bolt tightness on delicate bicycle parts.

Torx Head Wrenches

Not to be confused with “torque,” a Torx head wrench fits a very specific bolt style. Quoting the website, “A Torx screw is a type of screw characterized by a six-lobed, star-patterned screw drive. Torx drive is a trademark commonly referred to as star drive or, simply, a six-lobe.” There are different sizes of Torx head bolts and wrenches to fit them, usually referred to as “T-25”  or “T30,” and such. The “T” means Torx and the number indicates the size. Larger numbers indicate larger sizes.

Just like Allen or hex head wrenches, Torx wrenches come in a variety of formats. Feedback Sports produces a Y- or 3-way style Torx wrench that includes the commonly used sizes T25, T27, and T30.

Screwdriver set

Even an old fashioned Phillips or flat-head screwdriver comes in handy from time to time. Certain bolts, such a derailleur limit screws, brake lever reach adjustment screws, and brake pad retaining screws, depend on flat or Phillips style heads to be secured.

Low quality tools use softer metal that deforms over time. Look for high quality tool steel in your screwdriver set to ensure long life and no damage to your delicate bike parts.

The humble screwdriver should always be included in any list of essential bike tools.

There are many more specialized bike tools for specific tasks such as removing or installing bottom brackets, brake rotors, cassette cogs and chainrings, truing wheels, or installing/removing other specialty parts. As you expand your experience with DIY bicycle maintenance, incorporating these tools into your kit will be a natural progression.

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The Best Bike Tools for Traveling

Best Bicycle Tool kit

While most bicycle repairs are performed by professional mechanics at a bike shop or performed in the comfort of a home garage workshop space, there are plenty of occasions when you need to make repairs on the go. Assembling a kit of the best bike tools for traveling will ensure that you’re always prepared for last minute bicycle repairs at a trailhead, on the road, or while traveling.

The best bicycle tools for traveling are not the same as emergency tools for road- or trail-side repairs. Ultralight, portable, and compact bicycle repair tools are great for minor adjustments or emergency fixes. But they’re often very small and awkward to use for true mechanical work. Plus they don’t always include the shop-grade materials and tolerances that define true portable tools for bike repair.

The best bike tools for traveling are not the same as the best multi-tools for emergency use.

The best bicycle tools to use while traveling feature an ideal blend of sturdy, shop grade construction and materials, comfortable ergonomics, and compact form factor. For real mechanical work, the tools have to be up to the basic task and function as well (or better than) shop grade bicycle tools, but they must be lightweight and portable enough to make traveling a cinch.

Professional mechanics know that certain standards for tool quality simply can’t be ignored. High grade tool steel ensures tight tolerances, long service life, and less chance of unintentionally ruining an expensive bicycle part.
What’s less appreciated is that this level of quality can be found in portable tools that can be assembled into a bicycle tool kit for traveling.

Professional grade tools can be assembled into portable kits for repairs at the trailhead, while road tripping, or for traveling to events.

Assembling just the right assortment of tools helps ensure that the most common bicycle maintenance and adjustment can be done anywhere, any time. Carrying too many tools, such as those rarely used on a road trip or at the trailhead, simply makes a portable tool kit too heavy and too bulky.

Here’s a list of the essential tools for traveling that our team at Feedback Sports curated for just this scenario.

  • Allen Wrenches – 2 / 2.5 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6mm
  • Torx® Wrenches – T25/T27/T30
  • 6 & 8mm L-handle Allen Wrenches
  • Magnetic-Tipped Screwdrivers – Flat blade 3 & 4.5mm; JIS Phillips #2
  • Shimano Crank Cap Tool
  • 15mm Pedal Wrench
  • 15mm Bolt-on Axle Nut Tool
  • Steel Core Tire Levers (2)
  • Spoke Multi-Wrench
  • Valve Extender Wrench
  • Valve Core Tools – Schrader and Presta
  • Rotor Truing Tools
  • Precision Chain Pin Press
  • Cassette and Disc Brake Rotor Lockring Wrench
  • Cassette Pliers
  • Cable Cutter and Cable Crimper
  • Master Link Pliers
  • Chain Tool

This list of tools was developed with input from professional racing team mechanics. Their livelihood depends on efficiently traveling to events around the world and having the right tools directly at hand.  

Whether you’re camping out for a week, traveling the world with your bike, or going to an event, having a repair kit on hand will ensure that your riding experience won’t be derailed by a mechanical issue.

Feedback Sports specializes in lightweight, portable, functional tools and repair stands for traveling professionals and DIY bike mechanics alike. The Team Edition tool kit is a turnkey solution for any mechanic on the go. It readily doubles as a in-shop kit for home mechanics and packs up in minutes for a road trip or special event.

Paired with the Feedback Sports T-handle Allen wrench set, this combination of packable, portable tools covers all the needs for the most common repairs.