Whether you’re a novice cyclist or a pro, a bike repair kit is essential for any cyclist. Peruse this checklist to make sure your kit has everything it needs!
The Essential Bike Repair Kit Checklist
- Flat Kit (spare tubes, tire levers, and a pump or CO2 cartridge)
- Rubber Gloves or Hand Wipes
- Hex Wrench Set (ranging from 1.5 mm to 8 mm)
- Screwdrivers (Phillips and flathead)
- Cleaning Supplies (cleaning solution, rags and component cleaning brushes)
- Chain Lube and Grease
- Pedal Wrench
Read on for a deeper look at each necessary item for your bike repair kit, including specific purposed for each item and tips on which model or brand to purchase.
If you’re going to learn to fix just one thing on your bike, learn to fix a flat tire. After all, flats can happen on the road during the most inconvenient situations. Your mobile bike repair kit should include a flat kit that contains a spare tube, tire levers and a pump (or CO2 cartridge). Patches with a glue tube (not the self-adhesive kind) are helpful if you run out of fresh tubes while riding.
Backroads Pro Tip
Don’t go cheap. Purchase a quality sturdy pump with both Presta and Schrader compatibility.
Purchase a hex wrench set for your bike repair kit. This should have many sizes of hex wrenches, ranging from 1.5 mm to 8 mm. A loose hex wrench set can be helpful when working in tight spaces, such as when mounting water bottle cages. For those prone to losing things, a single tool with hex wrenches attached is preferable. Park Tool's Fold-Up Hex Wrench Set is one great option. Remember, loose bolts are easier to tighten using a three-way hex wrench.
Referred to as a “multitool,” each tool set is designed to be compact and light enough to bring on a ride. A multitool that features more than 18 tools, including hex wrenches, often comes with a chain breaker and sometimes spoke wrenches, the m19 from Crank Brothers is a Backroads favorite. On multi-day bike rides, a pair of pliers is nice to have—just in case of mechanical issues.
Backroads Pro Tip
Save your fingers from mechanical messes by putting on a pair of rubber gloves before working on your bike. You can also simply tuck an individually packaged hand wipe into your patch kit. Either way, this helps your cycling gloves and bar tape stay nice and clean!
You'll need a Phillips screwdriver for derailleur adjustments, brake adjustments and adjustments to bike accessories like cargo racks, panniers, etc. Complete your bike repair kit by adding a flathead screwdriver for adjustments.
Maintaining your bike means cleaning it regularly—especially after rides in wet conditions. Add the following to your bike repair kit: cleaning solution, rags and component cleaning brushes. Simple Green all-purpose cleaner does a fabulous job cleaning bike frames, components and chains. A heavier degreasing cleaner is only needed for extremely dirty chains. Special cleaning tools, such as brushes or chain cleaners, make it easier to clean your bike. However, most bike mechanics simply use a shop rag or old T-shirt fabric.
Lube and Grease
There are many kinds of chain lube. Some people swear by Tri-Flow for everything—chains, pivot points and lubricating cables. Others use a wax-based (rather than oil-based) dry lube when mountain biking on dry, dusty trails. In wet conditions, an oily lube is preferable but requires more attention and cleaning. Thicker grease should only be used for pedal installation, bearings, headsets and bolts. Never allow metal to rub against metal without lubricating first!
Backroads Pro Tip
Learn how to properly apply chain lube. This includes always wiping it down with a rag afterward to remove excess lube and to limit dust collection.
If you ride bikes often, chances are you’ll want a pedal wrench in your bike repair kit in order to swap out pedals. Pedal wrenches are thinner than regular wrenches (to prevent scraping up crank arms), and they have long handles with grips to make it easier to remove pedals. Grease your pedals with a thick grease to prevent them from seizing.
These are the basics you’ll need in any solid bike repair kit. Over time, tools can be added to your kit that meet your specific needs. Happy fixing!