Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Most Practical Bike Tools (and Where You Can Get Them)

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Moving parts complicate maintenance, and bikes have a lot of them. If you expect to get mileage out of your ride, you’re going to want to make sure you have a basic knowledge of how the controls and piece of the unicycle work – and also that you keep these utterly fundamental bike tools at your bench (if not in your pack) so you’re ready when the call of maintenance comes.

Allen Wrenches
The lowly Allen wrench takes the cake when it comes to bike maintenance. Pretty much every bolt on a bike has a head that accepts an Allen key of some size or other, including but not limited to the handlebars, controls, seatpost, saddle, and even the drivetrain bolts.

If you carry one bike tool, make it a set of, or a combo Allen tool. Actually, Unicycle.com carries a useful multitool (with Torx drivers, tire levers, spoke keys, ring spanners, and chain tools) in their collection of unicycle and bike tools. It saves space and has much of what you’ll need whether you ride a bike or a one-wheeler.

Standard Metric Wrenches
Anywhere you encounter a fastener on your bike that doesn’t accept an Allen key, it will likely accept a standard metric wrench between 6 and 17mm.

But, just to be safe, and since you can’t carry a whole set of metric wrenches in your pack, get a lightweight adjustable wrench with jaws that can open at least to 20mm.

Pliers
Pliers, with wire cutters, are used for gripping, pulling, drawing, and cutting wires – among other sundry tasks. Fortunately, this is not a specialized bike tool and you can get a pair for a few bucks basically anywhere – just make sure you have one.

Tire Levers
Installing tires is a tricky process and one that can be, frankly, quite trying if you don’t have the right tools. A set of tire levers will help ensure you can install the tire over the rim (or remove it) without damaging anything in the process. They are specialized, but they are not expensive. Make sure you have a set because there are only two types of riders – those that have had flats and fixed tires, and those that haven’t yet.

Air Pumps
Underfilled tires are a quick way to get a pinch flat, and who has time for that? Just get a pocket pump and be done with it. You can get one for a few dollars and they’re easy to stash in your riding pack, or even to lash to the frame of the bike.

Pedal Wrenches
Pedal wrenches are used for exactly what the name suggests – removing and replacing pedals. Pretty much all pedals require a thin plate style 15mm wrench – this is one standard that is unlikely to fail you, so if you do carry one fixed wrench, make it a bicycle type plate style 15mm model.

Spoke Wrenches
Versatile as pliers are, you do not want to use them to tighten spokes or you are likely to damage them. Instead, use a dedicated spoke wrench to bring the wheel back to true alignment. They are affordable and worth every penny if you ever need to adjust a wheel’s spokes.

Where Can You Get These and Other Bike Tools?
You can get most of these bike tools from a (somewhat) unlikely source – Unicycle.com.

For what is a unicycle but a simpler bike, a type that has one wheel? Truthfully, many of the tools unicyclists and bicyclists use are the same.

Plus, on top of that, Unicycle.com sells parts for odd bikes and unicycles, so that’s a bonus, too. Visit their website for more details.

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