Your local bike shop will be happy to service and fix your bike for you, for a fee. And it's possible to get roadside recovery through services such as Cycleguard. Nevertheless, it's worth investing in some tools and picking up the skills to use them. It'll save you time on your way to work if you break down, and it'll save you money when you're working on your own bike at home.
Tools can be divided into two groups: those you'll carry with you on the bike, and the bigger and more rarely used tools that you'll keep at home. Buy the on-the-bike tools first. Get the best tools you can afford. Good ones will last for years, and you can save money on them by including them as part of your Cyclescheme package.
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On The Bike
Apart from the pump, which can be usually be mounted on the frame, these tools will all fit in a small seatpack or a bottle cage 'tool bottle'.
Get the right size and valve type; a Schrader valve (car type) won't fit a Presta-sized rim hole. Bin the cardboard box to save space and wrap the rolled-up tube in a plastic bag, rag or spare Buff to prevent accidental damage. Long-distance commuters might want two tubes.
Carry two. Pedro's are excellent. If your bike has axle nuts instead of quick releases, substitute a PDW 3Wrencho for one of the levers – it's a combined 15mm spanner and tyre lever.
Make sure it fits your bike's innertube valves. Mini floor pumps like Topeak's Morph range and Lezyne's Micro Floor Drive range are much easier to use and can do double-duty as a home-use pump.
Get one with at least the following: all the Allen keys your bike needs, a crosshead screwdriver for derailleur adjustment, a chain splitter, and a Torx T25 if your bike has disc brakes. Your bike might need additional tools. The Lezyne V10, Crank Brothers m17, and Topeak Hexus each cover most bases.
Puncture repair kit
In case you get more punctures than you have innertubes. The Rema Tip Top TT02 is the best but most patches with vulcanising solution work fine if you follow the right procedure. Bin the box if you need to save space and put contents in a small, clear plastic bag.
Spare quick link
To fix a broken chain quickly, carry a quick link that's the right speed and, if necessary, brand for your chain. It's easily lost, so stash it with the puncture repair kit. If your bike has hub gear or is a singlespeed, carry an actual chain link or two instead.
As well as the tools listed here, you'll also need lubricants and cleaners. Ensure you have at least: spray lube (GT85 or similar); chain oil; grease; and some kind of cleaner – car shampoo is fine for whole-bike cleaning.
Also known as a track pump, this is a tall freestanding pump with a long hose and usually a pressure gauge. It makes tyre inflation almost effortless, so is perfect for keeping your tyres topped up to the right pressure.
Dedicated bicycle brushes are available from the likes of Weldtite and Muc-off. However, household brushes are almost as effective: a couple of nail brushes and an old toothbrush can be used for drivetrain cleaning, while a washing-up brush can do tyres, frame, etc.
This might seem like a luxury, but any stand makes it much easy to adjust gears and brakes. If the stand holds the bike high up, it will also save you from an aching back and knees. 'Proper' stands cost from about £80 upwards, but you can back-wheel-lifting 'tune up' stands like the Minoura DS520 pictured about £20.
When your bike's chain becomes worn, it needs replacing. A chain gauge will show you when it needs to be changed.
Make sure it fits the spoke nipples on your bike's wheels. Using a spoke key, you can true a warped wheel. A wheel-truing jig is useful but not essential; until you get one, just leave the wheel on the bike and use the brake blocks as guides - or Blutak a couple of matchsticks to the frame.
Used to cut brake and gear cables, as well as the outer housing. You need cable cutters to be able to replace cables yourself, as they'll need trimming to size.
Very useful for cable replacement or adjustment, and required to crimp cable end-caps, they can also be handy for gripping various nuts and bolts.
While some pedals have Allen fittings too, most pedals are easiest to fit or remove with a long 15mm spanner. A 15mm spanner can also be used on axle nuts on bikes that have them.
Required to use other tools with flats, such as a crack extractor and a freewheel remover, this can also be used for various nuts. A 10in (250mm) or 12in (300mm) spanner will give you plenty of leverage and jaws that open wide enough. Do not buy a cheap one, which will round-off edges. Invest in quality, such as Bahco, Britool or Stanley.
These tools, along with your on-the-bike tools, will enable you to tackle lots of commons jobs. As your mechanical knowhow improves, you will find yourself adding others – a chain whip and freewheel remover to be able to refit a cassette, for example, and cone spanners to adjust wheel bearings.
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