Basic Bike Tools...

Event if you're only vaguely interested in maintaining your bike, there are some absolutely essential tools every bike owner should have. The image below shows the absolute bare essentials you'll need to maintain a bike. We'll work left to right.

Essential bike tools


You don't need hundreds of screwdrivers, just one. A small Philips head screw driver, preferably a fairly small one as pictured. Bikes don't use a lot of screws, but when they do, it's usually to adjust something important. It's usually a Phillips head one.

  Hex Keys (or Allen Keys)
This is the MOST important set of tools you can own for a bike. With a good set of Hex keys, you can do a massive range of jobs from installing derailleurs, cranks, handle bars. Pretty much everything that attaches to a bike will be attached by a hex bolt.

Ideally you want a ball end version as pictured. This lets you get into tighter places than a traditional flat end hex key, not essential, but they don't cost much more and they're far more versatile.

Don't be tempted to skimp on these. Buy a good set, treat them well, and they'll last you a lifetime. You should be looking to spend around 15, and that should also include a little holder. ALWAYS put them back in the holder. ALWAYS :)

Mine are the Halfords Professional range which come with a lifetime guarantee. Currently retailing for 14 and you could have them in your hands today using Collect & Reserve.

Pliers (preferably Needle Nosed)
Not strictly essential, but they'll make your life easier when you need them. Chances are you have a set of these kicking round the house anyway. They don't need to be super expensive or fancy. A simple set will do just nicely.

The ones I have are a little fancier as they flip around to combine both needle nose and combination pliers.
They weren't expensive, but they were from a discount tool shop, and I've haven't seen them in there again.


Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about bike tools.

Q. How much should I spend on tools?
A. There's a very apt saying when it comes to buying tools (and everything else). Buy cheap, buy twice. You don't need to spend ridiciulous amounts to get good quality tools, but buy the right tool for the job first time.

Q. What brands do you recommend?
A. Halfords Professional range are excellent and very reasonably priced (plus they have a lifetime guarantee). Park Tools are also excellent, but you're definitely paying for the name with them.

Q. I've just seen an all in one tool kit for 40. Is that a good bet?
A. Yes and no. They're usually excellent to get started with, but you probably won't need/use half the tools in there. I bought one of those when I was starting out and it did me proud. However, most of the tools wear out very quickly, or are just not suitable. The tyre levers and chain tools in particularl will be rubbish. Save your money for now and just stick with the tools listed above.

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