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How to keep your bike running at its best

Sam Walker advises the tools you will need to maintain your bike and fix some wear and tear your bike may experience.

Cycling is a fantastic sport. It requires nothing but you and your bicycle. Many people keep themselves in a healthy condition through cycling, but keeping your bike in good working order is also essential. Over time, your bike will suffer wear and tear, and for it to serve you correctly, you will need to maintain and even fix it occasionally.

Home bicycle maintenance and repairs have become more prevalent in recent years, as people do not need to take their bikes to the local bike shop anymore with the growth of online information that is readily available. It also requires a few tools. If you want to start with home bicycle mechanics, get yourself the following tools to create your bicycle toolset.

For Cleaning Your Bike

Keeping your bike clean is the base of your bicycle maintenance and half of the battle. You do not need to get fancy with how you do this; some even use a hose and an old toothbrush to get to the hard-to-reach places. However, there are a few tools that can help you to do the job even better:

  • Bike cleaning brush
  • Chain scrubber
  • Degreasing Solvent
  • Chain lubricant
  • Rags and Sponges

Use all of the above with soap and a water hose, and you will have a cared-for bike that will last much longer.

For Fixing a Flat Tire

A tire replacement kit is essential for anyone who often rides long distances. It is only a matter of time before you get a flat and are left stranded on some country road. It would help if you gathered the following tools in a small carry-along-sack, which are all cheap and lightweight.

  • Hand pump
  • Two tire levers
  • A brand new tire tube

If you are fixing a tire at home, you can also use a tire patch kit to patch your punctured tire tube, but out on the road, you should replace your damaged tube with a new one. The tire levers help you take the tire off the bike, and the hand pump allows you to fill it up with air.

In a pinch, if all you have is a hand pump when you encounter a flat on the road, it may be enough to fill some air into your tire to try to get yourself home. It is not ideal, however, if you need to travel back a long distance.

Adjusting your Handlebars, Seat and Accessories

To tighten or loosen your handlebars and seat, you will need a good set of Allen keys (also called hex key set). Allen keys can adjust many parts of the bike and are extremely useful. Your gearing and breaking stem also require Allen keys to adjust, as do your pump mounts and a bottle holder. Allen keys are an essential tool for anyone fiddling with their bike's components, whether you are serious about home bike repair or not.

For Replacing the Chain

Your chain will need replacing sooner or later. Use a chain tool to push the pin out of one of the chain links to remove the chain and make a new chain of the right length. When your chain gets worn down, it also begins to wear down the drivetrain. Changing your chain before this happens will save you from replacing parts of your drivetrain, especially the cassette. Learning how to check your chain and replace it when worn out will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Removing or Replacing the Cassette

It does not sound straightforward, and it is not. You will need a lock ring inserted into the top of the cassette, and a chain whip, which holds the cassette in place. An adjustable wrench is also necessary to grasp the lock ring and work it against the chain whip to remove the cassette. Get a good bicycle repair book with diagrams to help you understand the process.

For all Bicycle Repairs and Maintenance

Use a bike repair stand to hold your bike stable and elevated while you work on it or clean it. It makes things easier and is vital for your bike's health. Make sure you get a good repair stand, or you could end up with something flimsy, which loses the point of having a frame in the first place. Turning your bike upside down with a makeshift stand at home will put unnecessary pressure on your bike's components and not provide much stability.

Other necessary tools for most repairs that you may already own are your flat and Phillips screwdrivers, pliers and long nose pliers.

It is your beginning set of tools for essential repairs. Many others can help when you get into it, but it is good to start slow and make sure you enjoy the work before you go too far. Investing in your bike's health is like investing in the health of your body. It takes a bit of knowledge and work, but it pays off in the long run by providing you with many years of quality cycling.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • WALKER, S. (2011) How to keep your bike running at its best [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Sam Walker has written numerous articles on the benefits of biking and home bike repairs.  He is a freelance writer and reviewer at Gear Reviews Online and is researching and reviewing the best bike repair stands on the market.