Build the Perfect Toolbox: Essential Tools for Every Home Mechanic
There’s a certain joy and satisfaction that comes from working on your own bike. But whether it’s a simple task such as adjusting your handlebar or saddle height, or a bigger project like routing internal housing and cables, you’ll need the right tools for the job. The good news is that you don’t need every tool in the book to build the perfect toolbox, but there are certain essentials that every home mechanic should have.
Hex and Torx Keys
The first tools you should add to your toolbox are a full array of hex and torx keys, recommends Chris Jacobson, Product Line Manager for Pro Bike Gear, which offers an extensive line-up of professional workshop quality tools.
“Whether it’s putting pedals on or off, tweaking your bar position, or adjusting your rear derailleur, you’re going to need hex and torx keys,” explains Jacobson. “If you have those bases covered, you’ll be able to address 90 percent of the issues you’ll likely face when working on your bike.”
The PRO Hex Key Set (also known as Allen wrenches) includes 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10mm hex keys, and comes with a handy wrench holder. Complement that with the PRO Torx Key Set, which includes T10, T15, T20, T25, T30, T40, T45, and T50 torx keys, and you are all but guaranteed to have the right tool and size to loosen or tighten just about any bolt on your bike. And like the PRO Hex Key Set, the PRO Torx Key Set wrenches are chrome plated for durability and come with a labeled key holder to help keep you organized.
A good pair of cable cutters should also be part of your home workshop, says Jacobson. “People that are new to this may not understand that when working with cables and cable housing, it is hard to cut through them with a standard pair of cutters,” he explains. “You really need a purpose-built cable cutter to make precise and clean cuts. By doing that, you'll see improvements in shifting because you’re reducing friction and giving the end cap the proper interface to the housing itself.”
The PRO Cable Cutter is just the tool for the job. It's constructed from high-quality steel, works seamlessly and precisely on inner or outer cables for shifters and brakes, and even has a handy pin so you can round up cable housing.
Internal Routing Tool
On the topic of cables and housing, no home shop is complete without an internal routing tool, which dramatically streamlines and simplifies the once loathsome task of routing internal housing, cables, or wires. Simply unfurl the PRO Internal Routing Tool’s nylon coated shifter cable. Then, using the tool’s powerful magnetic on the outside of the frame, thread the guide cable through the inside of your bike’s frame. Finally, pick the appropriate fitting from the PRO Internal Routing Tool’s suite of options, and attach that fitting to both the guide cable and the cable, wire, or housing that you will route through your frame. Now you are ready to internally route.
"This is a slightly more advanced job," admits Jacobson. "But with this tool, you can save many hours of frustration.”
Quick Link Tool
Another handy tool for saving time and headaches is the PRO Quick Link Tool, which makes taking your chain off or reinstalling it a breeze.
“It basically turns what used to be a 20-minute process into instant happiness,” says Jacobson. “It makes it so easy to remove modern chains that there’s no excuse not to give your chain a good cleaning from time to time or swap on a new one when the time is right.”
The PRO Quick Link Tool is fashioned from extra durable heat-treated steel, has an ergonomic grip, and works for both taking chains off and on. All you need to do is locate your chain’s quick link and either pop it apart for removal or click it back together during reinstallation.
Of course not all chains have a quick link, so it’s also a good idea to have a standard chain tool at your disposal. The PRO Chain Tool works with 8-, 9-, 10-, and 11-speed chains, has a dual compound handle for extra comfort and grip, and features an extra center pin inside the handle in case you break one.
"Some people may think that the chain tool you carry in the trail is all you need at home, too," says Jacobson. "But if you want to lower the error factor, it's really important to have a proper workshop-quality chain tool. It has a longer handle for more leverage, which means less effort and more precision when it comes time to remove the right number of links on a new chain that you’re installing on your bike.”
Finally, a chainwhip such as the PRO Team Chainwhip, is always good to have around. It holds your cassette in place, allowing you to easily remove it, whether the job at hand is to replace it, inspect looseness in the drivetrain, remove debris, set up new wheels, or change spokes.
The PRO Team Chainwhip is made from extra-durable heat-treated steel and has laser-cut links for precision and accuracy. It features an ergonomic dual compound grip, alloy sleeve for increased stiffness, and has a longer design to provide more leverage when it’s needed.
“With these tools and some occasional guidance from YouTube, you’ll be able to better take care of your bike,” says Jacobson. “And a bike that’s taken care of is one that will take care of you on the road or trail.