The cold, dark days of winter are the high season for your workshop. It’s a time to hunker down and take care of all of the lingering bike maintenance to-dos you’ve been neglecting. And what luck! This time coincides with the holidays.
Are you new to the game? Consider asking Cyclo-claus for a basic tool starter kit like the Park Tool SK-4 or Pedro’s Starter Tool Kit 1.1. Both options have all the essential tools for less than $170.
A lot of experienced riders already have the basics though. If your favorite home mechanic is too busy polishing his bike’s bottle cages to pen a proper wish list, or if you yourself want to improve your workshop’s arsenal, here are eight great tools that every mechanic should have.
Feedback Sports Dual-Sided Pick - $7.70
Small but mighty, this little tool always seems to come in handy. It can help you coax an o-ring or seal out of a bearing assembly. It’s happy to clean out your gunked-up Allen bolt heads. Dropped a bolt or washer in an inconvenient place? Fish it out with your Feedback pick.
Sure you have Allen wrenches, but do you have an Allen wrench set? If you rely on a motley assortment of short, unfinished, square-end hex wrenches that came free with your Ikea furniture, it’s time to upgrade. Made in Germany, Bondhus wrenches are designed for high-torque jobs, and our favorite set has the flashy, corrosion-resistant GoldGuard finish. The long handles make it easy to crack stubborn bolts loose, and the ball-end hex on the long end of each wrench lets you squeeze into awkward spaces and turn bolts with up to 25 degrees of angle.
Pedro’s Pro Torque Wrench 2.0 - $99.99
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Don’t use those beautiful Bondhus wrenches to crank down on your bolts! Get the torque setting correct with Pedro’s Pro Torque Wrench 2.0. This wrench features a versatile ¼” driver and torque settings ranging from 6-30nm. Think your bike’s bolts might need to be a little less, um, torquey? The Park Tool TW-5.2 is a good option for smaller, more delicate fasteners, adjustable all the way down to 2nm.
Lezyne Classic Chain Drive - $49.99
This Lezyne chain tool is so classy, you might need to bring it in the house to decorate your coffee table after winter ends. But don’t let the rich (not mahogany) wooden handle and polished steel fool you. This tool will crack the toughest chains. You’ll never abide by a miniature, seatbag-sized chain breaker again after using the Lezyne with its powerful, ergonomic driver handle and hardened steel breaker pin.
Feedback Sports Cassette Pliers - $44.99
Allow me to slip into the first-person for a moment to tell you about my horrible, awful, definitely-no-good chain whip tool that I’ve had since the world was fretting over the “New Millenium’s” potential impact on computers. It’s flimsy. It doesn’t fit nicely on 12-speed cassettes. But even brand-new chain whips are annoying. Feedback came up with this genius solution to help mechanics securely hold a cassette for removal. Once it’s off, ta-da! You easily set it on your bench with the secure grasp of these pliers. This tool is at the top of my personal list, despite my nostalgia for the pre-social-media days.
Silca Pista Floor Pump - $115.00
Every bike shop has an old Silca pump that’s seen the rise, fall, and rise again of Greg LeMond, not to mention that Lance guy. Cheap plastic pumps come and go with the weekly dumpster pickup. Silca pumps have been the most reliable way to pump up bike tires since 1917. The Pista model is big enough to make short work of mountain bike tires but is compact for travel to races, rides, or events. And this one is red.
With hundreds of Certified Pre-Owned bikes cleaned, serviced, and listed for sale every week, we can practically guarantee that The Pro’s Closet cleans more filthy chains than anywhere else. And you best believe we aren’t messing around with rags and spray bottles. Heck no, we do it the right (and easy) way. Fill up the Park Tool chain scrubber with degreaser; clip it around your chain; run the drivetrain, and you’ve got yourself the cleanest chain this side of the factory.
Feedback Sports Ultralight Repair Stand - $220.00
This is the most expensive tool on the list, but it might be the most essential. Of course, with a little care and ingenuity, you can perform most basic bike maintenance without a stand. But once you’ve used one, you won’t go back. So if you’re ready to spend the money on a stand, get the right one. Feedback Sports has always employed a proven tripod design for ultimate stability. The clamp is easy to cinch down with one hand. It folds up small and the tubular aluminum construction is super lightweight, so you can easily chuck it in the trunk before a big weekend of riding.
Didn’t find the tool you want or need? We’ve got plenty of other options in our full collection of bike tools. But there is one thing we don’t sell: Knowledge. Remember to read (and follow!) the installation instructions for your bike’s components. Watch some how-to videos on YouTube before you dive in. Go slow, and enjoy the process.
Hello, dear readers in warm places like Phoenix and Los Angeles! If the “winter” is a better time for riding than wrenching, check out some of our other Holiday Gift Guides.