A buying guide to the best bicycle tool kits you can find in the market in 2020 + How to customize a personal set of bike tools for repair and maintenance
Bicycle is beautiful because it’s simple: it doesn’t require fanatic attention, great competence, or loads of money, but only some basic care.
In fact, a bicycle can roll along the street with a rusty chain, loose headset, wobbling wheels, and even a bent frame.
Bearing the wildest level of negligence, your loyal boneshaker can keep chauffeuring you around for an undefined time, until one day an inadequate wrench will strip out a rusty bolt breaking the teetering balance of the squeaking jalopy.
Definitely, to keep your low-maintenance machine happily rolling you need to use the proper tool.
To be sure, it’s all about the right tool: there are no YouTube videos and tutorials that can do better than a solid 5mm Allen key, a needle nose plier, and a spray of WD40. Even paired with the most unskilled hands, the right tool can work like a magic wand.
So, roll up your sleeves and dust off your DIY attitude: a work-stand and a tool kit is all that you need to get started.
In the following, we will firstly define the perfect tool kit every keen cyclist may need and how to build your own, choosing the right tools for a do-it-yourself bicycle maintenance.
We are going to present what are the most important tools and why it is better to go to a professional mechanic if you don’t have any of them. In the end, we will review the best bicycle tool kits you can find in the market.
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List of the Best Bicycle Tool Kits Reviewed
If you are a newcomer in the DIY universe, you may want to have a look to these ready-to-use good quality bicycle tool kits reviewed in the end of the article.
Park Tool AK-4
Topeak Prepbox 18
Unior Pro Tool Kit
Park Tool EK-3
How to judge the quality of a bike tool?
Nowadays department stores display huge sections of tool kits of all sizes and colors meant to tickle home-improvement addicts’ curiosity.
Better not to trust supermarket bike tools though, because even if they are aimed exclusively to occasional cyclists, they are a waste of money by all accounts.
There is nothing wrong with embarking on home-based bicycle maintenance. Repairing something for ourselves can be very satisfying.
Actually, in most cases what’s needed to solve any problems is not a professional, but a professional tool kit.
If you are a DIY fan, you will have already something available at home; otherwise, and in any case, consider investing a bit more in a professional single tool rather than cry out on a pile of cheap crappy knick-knacks that are likely to bend at the first use.
Some tools are like irreplaceable friends, always reliable and universally useful.
Using a solid, trustworthy pair of needle nose pliers or a great set of Allen keys, for example, can literally change the day, from a sequence of curses to a relaxing time with family or friends.
Judging the overall quality of a tool isn’t always immediate. Sometimes only long-term use assesses the tool’s durability, but the first impression can usually give a fair evaluation.
Examine material and shape, checking whether the metal seems sturdy or flimsy and the finishing appears neat or uneven.
Bad quality tools look andfeel shoddy, like a light, thin and bendable blade made of low-grade steel in comparison with a solid knife made of tempered stainless steel.
The 7 Essentials Tools to Have in Your Homemade Bicycle Tool Kit
1. Cleaning Material
Car sponge, bucket and clothes (the last are never enough) are basic essentials of your home repairing lab. A clean bicycle looks better, feels better and works better.
Just remember how many times martial arts students have to run up and down the stairs with buckets cram-full of water to polish up all the temple and you won’t feel as much compelled.
Shaolin masters teach the most important tip: if all the bicycle’s components are regularly cleaned, the ride is going to feel always tip-top.
2. Bike Stand
Keeping the bicycle on the floor or simply turning it upside down to make primary repairs is ok if something happens on the road.
At home, however, having all the bike components at eye level and working on the maintenance in a comfortable position is a blessing.
A bike stand (or something that can keep the bike hanging from the ceiling) is the best way to access all the corners of the bicycle comfortably.
It offers the best point of view and gives all the ease to the amateur mechanic, who needs even more concentration than an expert one, especially when working on modern carbon frames.
Adding a feeling of professionalism to the job, it can relax and boost the self-confidence of nervous beginners.
When the bike stands firmly, spinning the wheel to set gears, tightening bolts, or just cleaning the components becomes a real pleasure.
Just play some music, pour yourself a drink, and hang your bicycle: it will be much harder now to do any damage.
Since not every house has enough space to keep a bicycle stand open all the time, we are looking for portability.
A bike stand that can easily be moved outside is perfect for cleaning chain, cassette, and crankset with no hassle.
Tire levers are the most ordinary tools ever, a must for every cyclist. Repairing a flat can be as smooth as cycling itself, but without the right tool removing a very tight tire from its rim can be frustrating.
It is definitely possible to remove a tire using a spoon, or – even worst – a knife if you are a sushi master-chef or you can cope with a damaged rim.
The best tire levers in our opinion are made of plastic: if they are used correctly, they are solid enough to remove all kinds of tires, and most importantly, they do not by any means damage the rim.
They are usually also pocketable so that it’s easy to keep them always on the bike in order to repair the random flat on the road.
The idea of hex keys dates back to 1909, when W.G. Allenfiled the first related patent for its hex-driven safety screws. Since then, the terms “Allen wrench” and “Allen key” are commonly used.
Allen keys are universally convenient general tools with hundreds of different applications. They are crucial on every bicycle, from the old rusty steel rig to the lightest carbon beauty.
Allen keys are widely used to tighten bolts of the seat post, bottle cages, racks, fenders, and crankset. Recently, also the cone wrench used for pedals and headset has been replaced by Allen keys.
Allen keys can be SAE or metric; for bicycle repairing, the ones to buy are the metric. There are different configurations of Allen wrenches. Normal L-shaped Allen keys are definitely the most versatile.
In the Wera HF Multicolor Allen keys set, the Hex-plus profile allows hexagonal socket screws to live longer, the ball end consents to approach the bolt from different angles and its holding function is a great plus.
Bikehand is a Taiwanese company specialized in bike tools. Unlike her fancy bigger sister Topeak, all Bikehand efforts are concentrated on quality and maintaining price low.
The material grade doesn’t match Topeak brand high standards, but it still offers excellent value for money. It is a well-balanced tool kit for entry-level bike repairing.
The box includes pedal wrenches, a set of cone spanners to open hubs apart, a crank puller, and a spoke wrench. At a great price tag, it’s the best buy for occasional cyclists or outdated bicycles’ owners.
Park Tool AK-4 – Best Semiprofessional Bike Toolkit
Weight: 6.1 kg • 40 tools • Size:43.5 x 26 x 24 cm
Few bike shops out there don’t own a Park Tool set. The AK-4 Advanced Mechanic tool kit is a set of over 30 professional level tools for a wide variety of common bike repairs and maintenance procedures.
It’s a great set for the home mechanic who wants to go a step further. The super-tough case features extra room to be filled with all tools you can dream of. Of course, included in the box it’s a Park Tool bottle opener.
Weight: 4.6 kg • 36 tools • Size:40.5 x 32 x 11.5 cm
Topeak is an awarded company famous for its multi-tools kits and mini-pumps. Topeak Prepbox comes in a very tough case that contains all the most used tools inside.
Every tool is firmly secured and maniacally displayed; it is like a super-power briefcase arranged with the harmonious aesthetic of a Taiwanese Bento box.
It includes a full set of L shaped Allen keys and torx wrenches, bottom bracket tools to fit the most common models, an unusual torque wrench with a selection of bits, a full-size workshop chain tool with an extra driver pin and other handy stuff.
It is possible to build your own tool set, tailored to any mechanical need, for far less the money than a ready-to-use bike tool kit would normally cost. It will only take a bit of time, research and passion.
The equipment you can buy since the very beginning includes the most used tools.
Getting a great Allen keys set with hex-plus profile and ball end, paired with a decent bike stand to work comfortably on your bicycle, is a great investment to start building a tool kit customized to yourself.
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