With winter in the rearview mirror and summer just around the corner, right now is the perfect time to get your bike prepped and ready for the riding season ahead. With the right tools in your toolbox, you can tackle most bike maintenance and tune-up tasks at home. We caught up with Shimano’s Multi-Service Lead Tech, Sam Elenes, to discuss the essential tools you need to get your bike into fighting shape this spring.
“This list may seem overly simplified,” explains Sam, “but these are the basic tools you need to maintain, assemble, disassemble, and keep your bike running well. I could easily get through most race weekends with just these tools in my toolbox.”
Essential Tune-Up Tools for the Home Mechanic
PRO Hex Key Set: PRTL0037
PRO Medium Y-Wrench Hex: PR100349
PRO Small Y-Wrench Hex: PR100352
PRO Y-Wrench Torx: PR100350
PRO Team Chainwhip: PRTL0084
PRO Team Lockring Tool: PRTL0085
PRO Team Chain Tool: PRTL0086
PRO Torque Wrench: PR100340
PRO Cable Cutter: PRTLB050
Shimano Disc Brake Bleed Kit: TL-BTO3-S
Hex (Allen) Keys and Torx Keys
Whether you’re mounting a new bottle cage, adjusting a brake caliper, or swapping on new handlebars, chances are you’ll need either hex (Allen) keys or torx keys to get the job done. Sam’s list of essential tools starts with the PRO Hex Key Set, which includes 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10mm hex keys.
Besides a full set of individual hex keys, Sam also likes to have several Y-Wrenches of different sizes on hand. He uses the medium PRO Y-Wrench with 4, 5, and 6mm hex tools as well as the small Y-Wrench with 2, 2.5, and 3mm hex tools for various fixes.
Rounding out his supply of wrenches, Sam includes the PRO Y-Wrench Torx tool with the three most important sizes: T20, T25, and T40. Between a full set of hex keys and various Y-Wrenches, you'll have the right tool to tighten or loosen just about any bolt on your bike.
The next tools on Sam's home-toolbox list are a trio used for changing cassettes and replacing chains. Both the chain and cassette are wear-out parts that need to be replaced routinely to keep your drivetrain running smoothly. The start of riding season is an ideal time to freshen up or replace these parts so you can hit the road or trail with perfectly crisp shifting.
Sam uses the PRO Team Chainwhip and PRO Team Cassette Lockring Tool for swapping or replacing cassettes. These tools work together to easily loosen cassettes while the lockring tool tightens things back up. Pulling double-duty, the PRO Lockring Tool also works with Shimano CENTER LOCK rotors, loosening and tightening the rotors for a hassle-free replacement in just seconds.
When it comes time to replace your chain, Sam looks to the PRO Team Chain Tool to get the job done. The tool is compatible with 9, 10, 11, and 12-speed drivetrains, so you'll only need one tool to service all the bikes in your garage, from your top-tier new mountain bike down to your commuter bike.
Other Essential Tools
Another essential tool for the home mechanic is the PRO Torque Wrench. When working on your bike, it's important to tighten each component to the given torque setting for that specific part. Most parts have a torque measurement displayed in Nm (Newton-meters) printed somewhere on the component. This measurement designates how much it needs to be tightened to prevent slipping. It also helps prevent you from over-torquing, which can cause materials like carbon to crack.
Replacing old cables and housing is a surefire way to keep your bike shifting and braking smoothly. Sam suggests using the PRO Cable Cutters when it comes time to replace these cables because they help make clean, accurate cuts. You won’t get stuck with jagged edges or frayed cables with the PRO Cable Cutters, which means no more wasted materials and no more wasted time.
Last on Sam’s list of important tools is the Shimano Disc Brake Bleed Kit. Bleeding your bike’s hydraulic disc brakes is an essential pre-season task, but it doesn’t have to feel daunting or scary. “Bleeding hydraulic brakes is a task that’s for more advanced mechanics,” admits Sam. “But the Shimano system is the easiest system to bleed, and these are all the tools you need to do it right.” The Disc Brake Bleed Tool Set, which includes a cup, cup holder, and syringe, makes flushing Shimano brakes quick and easy.
Tuning up your bike at home can be a rewarding process. With the right tools, minor maintenance tasks and fixes are easy to handle, and you'll learn more about your bike with each repair. However, Sam reminds us that "part of the job of a mechanic is knowing how to hit the occasional curveball because you're bound to see them.” In these cases, or when you’re unsure how to fix something, it’s best to visit your local bike shop for professional help.