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Tools and equipment – part 2

Tools and equipment

  • Allen keys. The best starter packs are fold-up sets of metric wrenches (keys) that include 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, and 6mm sizes. You can use the body of the tool as a handle and bear down hard on it without bruising your hand. We’d rather choose a set with a wider range of keys than you get with screwdrivers, which are intended for trail use. Later, you will want separate Allen keys as they are actually easier to use. Those with a ball at one end allow you to get into awkward spaces.
  • Torx keys. The star-shaped version of Allen keys. The most common sizes are TX25, for disc rotor bolts, and TX30, for chainring bolts.
  • A long-handled 8mm Allen key is essential for all square taper, ISIS and Octalink crank bolts. You will need the dedicated tool for external bottom brackets. A long-handled 10mm Allen key is necessary if you’re going to be removing and re-fitting your freehub.
  • Screwdrivers. One flathead and one crosshead No.2 Phillips.
  • Metric spanners. The 6, 8, 9, 10, 15 and 17mm sizes are most useful but a metric spanner set that’s got all the sizes from 6mm upwards is ideal.
  • A big adjustable spanner, also called a crescent wrench, with a 200mm long handle is a good size for starters. The jaws must open to at least 32mm (11⁄4 inches). Always tighten the jaws firmly on to the flats of the nut before applying pressure to the handle to avoid damaging the nut and the jaws.
  • Good quality, bike-specific wire cutters – not just pliers – can be purchased from your local bike shop. This tool can seem expensive, but both inner cable and outer casing must be cut neatly and cleanly.
  • Chain tool. Again, quality really makes the difference. It’s easy to damage an expensive chain with a cheap chain tool.
  • Chain-wear measuring tool. An essential, this tool shows when your chain has stretched enough to damage other parts of the drivetrain.
  • A sharp knife with a retractable blade, so you don’t cut yourself scrabbling in your toolbox for a spanner, is useful for cutting open packaging, releasing zipties (cable or electrical ties), etc.
  • A pair of pliers.
  • A rubber or plastic mallet. You can get these from hardware shops. A metal hammer is not a suitable alternative!
  • Puncture kit, for standard and/or UST tubeless tyres.
  • Track pump. Mini pumps are designed to be carried either on a frame-mounted bracket or in your backpack whilst out riding. A track pump is a much quicker and easier way of inflating your tyres at home, particularly if you’re running tubeless tyres. Buy one with its own pressure gauge, or get a separate digital gauge.
  • Pen and notebook. Useful for drawing pictures and making notes as you take things apart to help you reassemble them later. This is also a good place to record your shock and tyre pressures if you care about such things.