Mini Tools: What You Need for Mid-Ride Repairs

Credit: Pascal Rondeau /Allsport
When it comes to quick fixes on the road or at home, nothing beats the convenience of a cycling mini tool. These innovative gadgets are compact, lightweight and easy to use.

Companies such as Topeak, Park Tools, Ritchey and Blackburn offer a wide selection of cycling mini tools. Below we provide some basics to consider when choosing the tool that's right for you.

Compatibility: Different bikes require different tools. Make sure the mini tool you choose is compatible with your bike's components. If you have questions about the tools you need, talk to a cycling specialist at your local shop.

Riding style: Pick a mini tool that matches the way you ride. For short trips on easy terrain, stick to a lightweight tool with basic features. For longer tours and demanding conditions, choose one with a more complete set of tools, so you're ready for a variety of situations.

Weight/size: If you plan to use your mini tool only on the road, stick to a lightweight, compact model that won't slow you down. If you want a tool that can handle more complex repairs both at home and in the field, sacrifice a little extra weight and space to get the tools and durability you need.

Design: All-in-one design makes storing your mini tool easy, and helps you keep track of all your tools. A separate tool kit is another option-it allows easier use of individual tools, which is nice when reaching into tight spaces.

Ergonomics: The mini tool you choose should fit comfortably in your hand and provide good leverage. Also check to see that the individual tools are easy to access and use. If some assembly is required before using a specific tool, test the process to see how difficult it is.


Types of tools:


Allen keys: Allen keys are a necessity on most bicycles today. They can be used to adjust everything from brake pads to saddles. The most commonly used sizes are 3, 4, 5 and 6mm.

Box/open-end wrenches: These are typically used to adjust components such as brakes (8, 10mm).

Chain tool: Without one of these, chain trouble can mean the end of your ride. You'll also need one when it's time to remove your chain for cleaning and lubrication.

Spoke wrenches: For truing wheels at home or straightening them out after hard bumps or crashes, spoke wrenches are essential. The most commonly used sizes are 14g and 15g.

Tire levers and tube patches: These cycling basics should be carried on every trip. They can be purchased separately or as part of a tool kit.

Standard/Phillips head screwdrivers: Screwdrivers can be used to perform a wide variety of basic maintenance tasks, from brake-pad alignments to derailleur adjustments. Just make sure they fit the screws on your bike.

Additional tools: While not absolutely necessary for most bike repairs, extras like a knife or bottle opener can be handy to have around.


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