If you're just getting into cycling or need a back-up tool kit for the car or garage here are six basic tool boxes that are worth considering.
Birzman Essential Tool Box
- £150 / $178
So good… Birzman’s kit looks the most professional here, with each of the tools stowed in a labelled foam pocket within the hard plastic case. Thirteen ‘pieces’ are provided (20+ tools), covering most of what’s required to build a bike.
The chain and pedal wrenches are long enough to unstick seized parts. Notches on the Allen keys are useful for checking that they’re inserted far enough. Adaptors are provided so you can use the cassette and bottom bracket tools with the 8mm Allen key, avoiding the need to add an adjustable spanner.
No good… We’d downsize the chain rivet extractor and add a pair of cable cutters. It’s expensive too.
Park Tool Home Mechanic Starter Kit SK-3
- £100 / $111
So good… Park Tool has taken a considered approach to the contents of this starter toolkit. Housed in a spacious plastic tool chest are 17 bike-specific tools (12 ‘pieces’), which cover most basic maintenance tasks.
Highlights include the powerful cable/housing cutters, the chain link pliers and the chain wear indicator. The Allen key multi-tool, T25 Torx wrench, chain tool, tyre levers and patch kit are all small enough to slip into a pack.
No good… An external bottom bracket tool, such as Park’s BBT-19.2, would be a welcome addition. You’ll need to add an adjustable spanner to make full use of the kit.
Halfords Essentials Tool Kit
So good… This 18-piece kit combines a large number of tools (Allen key sets, etc, are counted as single ‘pieces’) in a sensibly-priced package. The chain whip, 8mm Allen key and external bottom bracket tool have very long handles, which helps when trying to loosen seized bolts. Angled jaws on the equally large pedal spanner reduce the risk of skinned knuckles.
No good… There’s no T25 Torx wrench, which is widely used on modern mountain bikes. Removing and replacing tools in the plastic box is fiddly. Lower manufacturing tolerances mean the tools don’t have the same high-quality, durable feel as some of the others on test.
- £110 / $120
So good… The Port-A-Shop is more of a (well-presented) multi-tool expansion kit than the portable workshop its name suggests. It provides a range of tools that should cover most car park bike-tinkering needs. The bulk of them are contained within three high-quality multi-tools.
There’s a wide range of Allen and Torx wrenches, and the inclusion of traditional and glueless patch kits is a nice touch.
No good… The range of tools falls short of other kits on test if you’re looking to fully assemble a bike. A separate spoke key would be easier to use than the one integrated into the chain tool.
X-Tools Bike Tool Kit 18 Piece
- £50 / $68 / AU$96
So good… X-Tools has produced a comprehensive kit at an affordable price. It’s actually got more than 18 tools, because sets, such as the six Allen keys, are counted as single ‘pieces’.
All the usual suspects are provided in the plastic case, including a chain whip and chain link remover. It’s the best kit on test for repairing older or cheaper bikes, with a splined bottom bracket tool, crank extractor and 15mm hub axle-nut spanner.
No good… Tool quality isn’t as high as in more expensive kits. For example, the manufacturing tolerance of the Allen keys means they don’t fit snugly in bolt heads.
Pedro’s Starter Tool Kit
- £170 / $150 / AU$200
So good… Presented in a durable-feeling tool wrap, this selection of 19 high-quality tools is a good starting point for the home mechanic to expand upon. Pedro’s ‘cog wrench’ is a hassle-free alternative to a chain whip, with a great handlebar-grip-style handle. The cable cutters are another highlight, slicing through both inners and outers easily.
No good… You’ll need an adjustable spanner (not included, though there is room for one) to make use of some of the tools. At this price, we’d expect common bike tools such as a T25 Torx wrench and bottom bracket tool to be included.