My Favorite Bicycle Tools
I am not a great fan of all-in-one bicycle tools.
Too often one or more of the tools is barely functional, and too
the other tools block easy use of the one you really need. At the other
extreme, for the price of a nice bike, you can get a full set of
professional shop tools. Somewhere in between, here are
of my own favorite tools. Some are for shop use only, others only for
1/4 inch Socket/Insert Driver. A short wrench handle that
both 1/4-inch sockets and screwdriver-type insert bits. The one tool
good leverage on any size of hex head, socket cap, phillips or
screwdriver bits, etc. 1/4-inch drive is a bit small for shop tools,
great on the road, and it takes a lot less space to add just a socket
the tool bag than to add an entire wrench.
No. 940 Crank and Chainring Straightener. A long handle on a
with two slots, one for bending chainrings, the other for bending crank
spiders. Very handy for mountain bike maintenance if you're in an area
with lots of logs.
N-shaped Allen Wrench. Puts 5mm and 6mm hex keys on
of one long body, giving plenty of leverage and taking up less space
two wrenches. I carry two in my tool bag in case I need 5 and 6mm
at the same time, or two 5mm, or two 6mm, all in the same space and
as just two wrenches, not four.
- Cyclo Rivoli Chain Rivet Tool. Not a lightweight aluminum thing,
forged steel tool. I have had the same Rivoli with the original pin for
close to fifteen years, and the one before that didn't break, it got
The screw on the Rivoli has a finer pitch than some chain tools, so it
may take a few more turns to push the pin out, but it has enough
for even the toughest chains. Not for use on those obnoxious Shimano
but otherwise a great chain tool.
- Eldi Compact Crank Extractor. 22mm only, with a built-in 14mm
for crank bolts, works with bolted or nutted cranks. Cyclo also makes a
very nice one at a reasonable price.
- Park Universal Crank Extractor. This is the one I use at
it's a bit bulky for on the road. Why do I like it? It is inexpensive
does an excellent job, plus it still has the almost obsolete 23mm T.A.
puller threads. That lets me use it on cranks whose 22mm threads have
stripped, after I re-tap the hole with a piloted reaming/bottoming
tap. Stein makes a very expensive system for re-tapping cranks to
but it only works with their special extractors. (Note this model
has been downgraded to 22mm-only in current production.)
- Piloted 23x1mm Tap. Very few shops know these exist, and fewer
own one. At least 90% of aluminum cranks with stripped 22x1mm puller
can be re-tapped in a few minutes, allowing the use of any T.A.-type
The pilot shaft for the tap screws into any bolt-type bottom bracket
meaning you can re-tap the crank while it is on the bike. Not only do
get usable threads, it hardly takes any longer than using a destructive
- Cyclo Bottom Bracket Chasing Tap. An economical un-piloted tap
up damaged or painted bottom bracket shell threads. Very few people,
frame builders, really need one of those big fancy piloted tap sets,
most bottom bracket shells come with good threads that just need fixing
up after the frame is built. For the average mechanic the tap is
for fixing damage from cross-threaded cups (if you catch them before
threaded in very far) and for removing paint, rust, or thread locking
from otherwise good threads.
- Thumbroll-Adjustable Pin Spanner. Heavy steel construction and a
turnbuckle-style adjuster let this one tool replace the whole range of
Park pin spanners, and it's tough enough you can hammer on the handles
to loosen freewheel body lockrings. I hate to say it, but I like this
Taiwanese tool better than VAR's adjustable spanner.
- Park Fourth Hand Tool. Like Hozan and Lifu fourth hands this tool
tension just about any cable, but it adds a locking device to free both
hands, not just one.
Cable/Casing Cutter. A beefy steel tool, not stamped sheet
that gives clean cuts on braided and twisted cables, standard and SIS
housing, and is even rated for cutting 14g stainless spokes.
No crimping slot, but I use an electrical contact crimping tool.
- Rohloff Caliber Chain Wear Indicator. A small chain wear
no moving parts, made of hardened stainless steel. Sure, a simple 12"
will do a perfect job of measuring chain wear, but this is faster and I
don't mind getting it dirty by measuring chains before I clean them.
it's small enough to fit in a seat wedge bag.
- Pamir Hyper Cracker. A simple little tool for removing freehub
using the frame and drivetrain for leverage. Small enough to fit in any
tool bag, and great to have when fixing broen drive-side spokes.
- Spoke Ball Spoke Wrench. The jaws of this wrench are small steel
that fully engage two faces of the nipple and wrap around to half of
other two faces -- it slips over the spoke then slides onto the nipple.
This makes it less likely to round a nipple than a traditional Park
wrench. The body of the wrench is lightweight plastic with a good grip.
The one wrench holds both 0.127" and 0.136" jaws. Paint one end orange
so you can tell which is which faster.
This page written by Josh Putnam.
Please feel free to email questions, comments, corrections,
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