Quick Question: Which MTB-Related Tools Do I Need at Home to Learn Bike Maintenance Skills?

With this Quick Question series we will present fast fixes and collect comments from seasoned riders around specific D.I.Y. mountain bike repairs. While much of this trailside triage is covered in our repair articles and videos, this is a space for longtime riders and readers in the Singletracks community to share their knowledge. Please type your related experiences and advice in the comments below. Do you have a quick question? 🤔 Email [email protected]

Paying a local bike shop to complete routine bike service and maintenance remains one of the best ways we can support them. Repairs like rebuilding a suspension damper or replacing a rim can be tricky, and handing that work over to a seasoned professional often saves hours and cash alike. However, many of the bits on our bikes are simple, and every new rider eventually wonders which repairs can be sorted out at home, and which tools they need for those rudimentary tasks.

Tool collecting typically happens in three stages, starting with the necessities and instruments we already own from other home repair attempts. It would benefit every excited newer rider to own a sharp set of hex keys or Allen wrenches, with measurements from 2 to 10mm. These tools, like favorite novels, will be around for a long while, and it’s worth picking up the highest-quality set possible. There are loads of bike-specific hex sets that have one ball end to allow for bolt tightening in tight spaces, but a universal set will almost always accomplish the same jobs. The best hex keys have very tight tolerances when paired with the bolt heads, reducing the chances that they will round-out or strip the bolt head under twisting forces. Magnetized tool heads can help stabilize the lightweight bolts used on bikes, though we won’t call this a necessary feature.

Alongside these five-sided keys, a Torx T25 and T10 will round out the lion’s share of wrench needs for a modern mountain bike.

A handful of DIY bike repairs are easy to learn and perform. Here are the basic tools every new mountain bike rider will need to get started.

ToolsUses
Hex keys from 2 -10mmTightening, loosening, and adjusting bolts
Torx T10 and T25Same
Chain breakerCutting a new chain to the proper length
Chain whip and lockring socketRemoving and cleaning or replacing the cassette
Dedicated cable and housing cutterReplacing shift or dropper cables and housing
Needle nose pliersCountless tasks
Flat and Philips screwdrivers in a few sizesTightening, loosening, and adjusting bolts
Adjustable crescent wrenchHolding lockring socket and other tasks
Tire levers x Mounting and removing tubeless tire beads
Dentist style picksGuiding cable housing and other delicate repairs
Utility knifeCountless tasks
Grease and electrical tapeCountless tasks

From here, the list of bike-specific tools can grow until you have a full-on service center in your basement. Some are massive devices that do very small jobs, like a crown race puller, while others are more universal like a hammer and hack saw. There are also more race-focused utensils, like tire lug cutting pliers. Some tools are only useful for certain frames, like bottom-bracket and headset presses.

You’ll know when you have enough tools for the repairs you’re comfortable conducting. Maybe call it complete before you’re fixing friends’ bikes more than riding your own?


Your turn! What are some of essential tools every new mechanic needs to own?

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