Handy Hardware / Essential Tools

Multi-toolUnlike ‘essential oils’ found in your shampoo, essential tools may really be essential. When cycling there are certain items that are invaluable when things go wrong, even if you’re just commuting but especially if your touring.

You can never prepare for every eventuality but this list of tools, ranging from the ‘bare necessities’ option for commuting or a weekend of cycling to the full range of equipment and spare parts that a transcontinental cyclist might stash at the bottom of their panniers, should keep those wheels turning most of the time.

The bare necessities – the light and compact essential tools that should manage to keep your wheels turning for anything up to a week and a few hundred miles, it’s a small selection and can easily slide into a pencil-case or small tool bag. I never ride without these items.

Multi-Tools are great for saving space, but the quality of the tools doesn’t often match those of discrete components and can be more awkward to use because they’re smaller and attached to the rest of the tool. Nevertheless, they’re indispensable for a small and light toolkit. A good bike multi-tool should have these items:

  • Philips screwdriver
  • Slotted screwdriver
  • Set of Allen (Hex) Keys
  • Chain link remover
  • Spoke tensioning tool

Some may also have a set of spanners, but spanners on multi-tools are hard to use, it’s far better to have a small set of discrete spanners. Other equipment you’ll need:

  • Discreet Spanner set (only the sizes you need, remeber the spanner for your pedals)
  • Pump
  • Puncture repair kit
  • Spare inner-tube
  • Oil/Lubricant
  • Bungee Straps

The fuller package – what most people would need on a tour lasting a few weeks and, in addition to the bare necessities, includes:

  • Discrete Allen Key set (only the sizes you need)
  • Discrete Philips screwdriver
  • Spare brake blocks
  • Second spare inner-tube
  • Grease
  • Discrete spoke tensioning tool
  • Toothbrush and/or rag (for cleaning grit from gears etc.)
  • Batteries for light
  • Spare chain
  • Spare selection of assorted screws/bolts/chain-links
  • Regular multi-tool with a knife and pliers

The nomads insurance – for when the only bike shop you can see glimmering on the horizon is almost certainly a mirage:

  • Spare pokes
  • Spare tyres (folding)
  • Spare bearings/grease
  • Spare brake and gear cables
  • Spare chain-rings and cassette (heavy)

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