There are many simple repairs you can make to your bike with just a set of hex keys (also known as Allen keys or Allen wrenches). However, once you get past replacing or repairing your brakes and derailleurs you are going to need a few more “cycling specific” tools. You could buy the tools you need one at a time, but you will save a lot of money if you just buy a good bicycle tool kit to begin with. Bike repair tool kits come in all price ranges, but I think the best buy on the market is the Nashbar Deluxe Tool Kit.
The Nashbar Deluxe Tool Kit is a nice collection of bike tools and they all easily fit in the included tool box. The collection includes the following tools: Cassette lockring remover, Cartridge Bottom Bracket tool, Chain rivet extractor for UG/HG/IG, Cable cutter, Three spoke wrenches, Two sturdy tire levers, Crank remover, Chainring nut wrench, T-handle Hex set (2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10mm), Torx 25 wrench, one Phillips and one slotted screwdriver, 15mm pedal wrench, Cone wrench set (13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19mm), Hollowtech 2 Bottom Bracket wrench, and a measuring tape. To help you keep your bike clean this set also includes a very good chain cleaner, along with a cog brush and larger cleaning brush.
Now that you’ve read the tool list you are probably wondering about the quality of the tools. I am very happy to report that these tools exceeded my expectations. I am not a bicycle mechanic, but I do own and use a lot of bike tools and the Nashbar tools hold their own against their more expensive competitors. If you are a home mechanic these tools should give you many years of use.
It would take a long time to describe all the tools in this collection, but the following observations will give you a pretty good idea about the rest of the set—I’ll start with the hex wrenches. Nashbar’s Website refers to these wrenches as “T-handle” wrenches, but they are actually more like “P-handle” wrenches, and they are well made and fit comfortably in my hand. These wrenches are a lot better than I was expecting when I bought the set.
You should never use a regular pair of wire cutters when working on brake or derailleur cables—you have to use a curved cutting edge or the blade will ruin the cables. The Nashbar cable cutter does a good job, but it lacks the built-in crimper for cable end caps that is found on the Park Tool CN-10C Cable Cutter. The Nashbar cable cutter is not as heavy as the one from Park Tool, but it still works well.
One of the first tools I used from this set was the crank puller—it worked flawlessly and I was able to remove the crankset for an old bike in just a couple of minutes without any trouble. I’ve used the chain rivet extractor a couple of times and it works as advertised. The spoke tools work and if you don’t own a truing stand you can turn your bike upside down and use your brakes as a guide to at least get the wheel back into a useable state.
The Nashbar Deluxe Tool Kit retails for $260 and is available from the Bike Nashbar Website. It might be hard to justify the purchase of this set at $260. However, Nashbar often has this set on sale for $150 and at that price I think it is a steal. If you can’t find it on sale at Nashbar then you should check Amazon.com where I think their normal price is $150 (plus shipping). Don’t get upset when you see that Nashbar charges $11 for shipping—these are not lightweight tools!