Whatever your level of dedication to cycling, these five tools make fixing more fun.
There are two types of cyclists: One prepares for mechanical calamity with a random assortment of odds and ends gathered over the years. The other doesn’t just own tools: Cycling is part of their lifestyle.
Whichever type you happen to be, the five instruments below will add some entertainment value to repair and maintenance. And they’ll ready you for technical emergencies, allowing for top-notch precision and care.
5 Bike Repair Tools
Wolf Tooth Components Pack Pliers, $30
The Pack Pliers 6-in-1 tool is not much larger than a stick of gum. But it solves a vexing trailside conundrum — the removal of a stubborn master link — which usually requires a heavy tool like a Leatherman. Pack Pliers are compact and weigh only 38 grams.
Additional functions include a thin tire lever lip to reach under tight beads and a three-way valve core wrench. The jaws fit 10-, 11-, and 12-speed chains with a recess to tighten or remove the valve nuts. Machined slots within the 7075-T6 aluminum levers store two spare master links. And dual magnets embedded in the handles close the tool with a satisfying snap.
Once in your hand, you can’t put it down. It’s the mountain biker’s equivalent to the fidget spinner –– click, click, click.
Topeak JoeBlow TwinTurbo, $199
Riders must often choose between high-pressure and large-volume pumps. The JoeBlow TwinTurbo, a new double-barreled inflator from Topeak, delivers big blasts of air to a maximum of 200 psi.
Inside the teardrop-shaped body, two chambers gulp air in the downward and upward strokes, cutting inflation time by 40 percent over a standard pump. With the TwinTurbo, a 29er tire requires only 15 strokes to achieve 28 psi. The effort to get there is virtually imperceptible.
The turbo-charged price might dissuade some buyers, but the JoeBlow is worthy of the spend. The top-mounted gauge is accurate and easy to read. Ergonomic handles and stable foot pads offer a secure grip. And the all-metal SmartHead DX1 pump head automatically accepts Presta and Schrader valves.
Whether filling a full-width fatbike tire or a high-psi road slick, Topeak’s inflator saves your energy for the bike. My only nitpick is that the pressure gauge doesn’t allow for precise readings below 25 psi, where every pound counts.
Fix It Sticks Mountain Kit, $56
Fix It Sticks compose an innovative modular tool system. The two heavy steel rods slot together to form a sturdy T-handle to help deliver a precise amount of torque. Unlike many folding tools, Fix It Sticks reach into tight spaces and provide an unfettered range of turning motion. Better yet, they actually fit in a human hand.
The Mountain Kit’s two primary tools have magnetic sockets to accept replaceable bits. The kit includes six common hex keys, a Philips screwdriver, T-25 Torx bit, and a chain tool.
My favorite additions are the two robust tire lever attachments, which I wasn’t sure would stay put on the metal tool shaft. But the magnetic receiver held them firmly in place. A nylon case houses all of the pieces, with extra room for patches, chain links, and other bike-fixing accouterments. If you want shop tool performance in a compact package for the trail, this is your huckleberry.
Bontrager Tread Depth Gauge, $25
I wouldn’t say measuring your tire wear in millimeters is pedantic, but it certainly qualifies as particular. Rather than eyeball tread wear, Bontrager’s Tread Depth Gauge provides accurate measurements to help riders determine when their wheel skins have moved past the sweet spot and need replacement.
For now, the system is best suited for use with Bontrager tires. An online chart lists recommended rubber levels for each tread pattern in its lineup. If you’re the type of individual to carefully evaluate tire pressure and scrutinize every second lost on your Strava account, you need to monitor your tire health.
Silca T-Ratchet + Ti-Torque Kit, $99
Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings. And every crack you hear is a mechanic overtightening a delicate carbon fiber part to the point of total ruin. Once only used by fussy technicians, the torque wrench is now an essential everyday tool.
Although there are quite a few options on the market for portable kits, none is as refined and accurate as the T-Ratchet + Ti-Torque Kit from Silca. The 13-piece kit includes 10 individual tool bits, an extender, a 72-tooth dual-handled ratchet, and a triple-scale torque beam with a measurement range of 2-8 newton meters. And it all fits in a duck-waxed canvas pouch for easy transport.
Like everything in the Silca catalog, its toolkits are beautifully made instruments of precision. Bolt interfaces are easily damaged by poorly fitted tools, and Silca’s bits ensure your fasteners don’t wear prematurely. If the price gives you pause, put it in context with your new $3,000 carbon fiber frame.
Frost River Tool Roll, $55
If you’re still inclined to source your tools from the hardware store, at least retire the plastic bag. Wrap them in a Frost River Tool Roll. Handcrafted in Duluth, Minnesota, it combines time-tested materials with modern utility. Made of waxed canvas from Fairfield Textiles and leather from the SB Foot Tannery, the Tool Roll is bound to last forever.
Six internal slots and a snap-secured pouch keep tools organized and at the ready. A single cotton strap binds the roll tight for transport, or you can add two brass-buckled leather straps to ensure your trusty tools don’t go astray.
Christophe Noel is a freelance journalist, photographer, and general vagabond. A seeker of stories untold, he can often be found with a map in hand, lost, in the most remote corners of the globe. The founder of Clean Drink Adventures, he believes in the power of the traveler and doing good as you go.