Megan sent in the following question:
“My husband has started riding his bike to work. I am wondering if there is a set of tools that he should have at the ready for any necessary roadside repairs. Any suggestions?”
Great question! While there are plenty of seasoned bike commuters who carry extensive toolkits, it is really only necessary to have a small selection of tools to conquer the most common breakdowns.
My “bare minimum” essential kit consists of the following: one spare tube, one minipump (or CO2 inflator), one packet of glueless “speed patches”, one 1$ bill, two tire levers and a multitool, plus a seatbag or similar to carry this kit in.
If your bike has nutted axles rather than quick release skewers, it is necessary to include a wrench of some type to loosen and tighten those nuts. Surly makes a great tool for 15mm axle nuts, as does Paragon Machine Works.
I have an old Sugino 15mm crankbolt socket wrench that I keep on my singlespeed/fixed gear bike in case I have to replace a tube:
For multitools, there are a variety of types on the market, from elaborate fold-out systems with every conceivable tool to very minimalist types that only include the essentials. I lean toward the minimalist variety…especially my very favorite, the Park MT-1 multitool:
I like this tool so much that I have three of them…one in my backpack, one in my seatbag and one that I occasionally wear around my neck as jewelry! I know, I know…I’m a bike geek; what can I say?
What makes the Park tool so special is that it has all the basics rolled into one tool — no moving parts, no “fluff” — 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm hex keys (all the common sizes used on bikes), 8, 9 and 10mm sockets (for brake and derailleur cable pinch bolts and a lot of other applications) and a flat-bladed screwdriver for derailleur and brake screw adjusting. Pure genius!
Here’s an example of another common type of multitool — one of the fold-out varieties:
This tool was provided by our team sponsor PricePoint. I haven’t used it yet, though, as it lacks the most important hex key size…a 5mm. Perhaps this was an assembly oversight?
In any case, these are the only tools a commuter really needs to tackle the most common roadside repairs — flat tires, loose assemblies, shifter and brake adjustments and the like. You could carry more, but you don’t have to!
Have a cycling-related question? Just Ask Jack! Click on the link in the right-hand column to send me your questions.