Fellow bike mechanics, home mechanics, and bike nerds! In this Park Tool mobile toolbox check, we will be going into the tools we think are essential for weekend trips or working events. Everything from the basic tools you shouldn't leave home without, to some you may have never even heard of, we cover everything you will need for your days off the beaten path.
I was able to work with Park Tool to hand select all the tools in the box to suit my needs as a mechanic and the work I do outside the shop. Also, I had a chance to talk with Calvin from Park Tool about his top tool picks for a weekend trip or event, and I even go a bit deeper and show you some non Park Tool items that are also a great idea to bring along.
Needle nose pliers are great for so many things, from pulling crap out of your tires, to tweaking a bent part. While they might not be used on everyday bike adjustments, but when the time comes you will be glad you have them.
For the most part, the Park Tool needle nose pliers are your average set of pliers, however, they have been slightly tweaked for mountain bike maintenance. They feature additional crimping areas, some that are great for cable crimps, as well as a cutting area and can be used for cutting shift or dropper cables. They are 6” in length and have some nice ergonomic handles that allow for maximum grip when you need it.
I can't stress using torque wrenches enough! With just about all bolts that connect to your cockpit, you need to accurately torque for safety. From stem bolts to handlebars, brake clamps, grips, or even some Garmin mounts, over torquing these bolts could lead to failed handlebars or stems and some serious crashes. Other bolts I often use this torque wrench for are seat post clamps since dropper posts from many manufacturers can have issues going up or down if the seat clamp is even the slightest bit too tight. Rotor bolts also need to be set to a specific torque for safety.
Parks Tool’s small adjustable torque wrench is amazing for the small common parts on your bike that need to be torqued when installing and also often with tune-ups and bolt checks. The Park Tool ATD-1.2 has an adjustable range of 4/4.5/5/5.5/6nm, and also uses interchangeable bits for different sized bolts. Not only can you put in different bits, but the handle contains a small threaded compartment that holds three additional bits and it comes with 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, and T25 bits. The great thing is it uses a standard bit size so if you need a different size, it’s easy to find.
Screwdrivers are always a good thing to have on you, especially a nice flat head. Since I am a tool dork, you may or may not be able to find some keychain screwdrivers on me at all times. The Park Tool screwdriver set has both Phillips head and Flathead screwdrivers in two sizes. Specifically, a Phillips #0 and #2, with the #0 being smaller overall size than the #2. The same applies to the Flatheads, 3mm, 6mm, and the 6mm width come in a larger overall size.
While screwdriver parts are not always seen on a bike, many small parts use them and having a Flat Head around for any type of prying or fitment is always nice. Some rear derailleurs still use Phillips head bolts for limit screws and rebuilding some smaller parts I've often seen Phillips head bolts as well.
I would say that this tool is by far the most used in my toolbox. The 3-way tool is any type of mechanic’s dream. The hard part is finding the correct 3 bits that you use the most. In my opinion, the AWS-7 is the best for today's mountain bikes. With 4mm, 5mm, and T25 for your 3 bits, it covers most small part installations and many small adjustments. When I first started working on bikes, most 3 way Park Tools in shops were the 4/5/6mm combo or 2/2.5/3mm combo, and while they were nice, I always had to keep a T25 nearby. This 4/5/T25 combo fixes those issues. Having one tool with multiple adjustments allows me to be much more efficient and effective.
While the Park Tool AWS-7 fits in your hand great and can provide more than enough torque for almost any job, I suggest pairing this tool with the ATD-1.2 torque wrench since the two will be used on many of the same parts. Having both these tools cover the same bits will make your life much easier.
Have you ever crashed mid-ride and had poor shifting for the rest of the day? Well, there is a good chance that it was due to a bent derailleur. A quick tweak with a crescent wrench or with an actual hanger alignment tool and you’re back to shifting great. That is exactly why I carry a hanger alignment tool in my box for any weekend trip or event.
The Park Tool hanger alignment gauge, DAG-2.2, is an easy to use tool to either help straighten, or just double check that your hanger is straight after a crash. I will also use the tool if I plan on traveling with my bike in a bag. There is no telling what happens to that bag when it's out of sight, so checking your hanger alignment could help shifting or prevent a catastrophic failure. A catastrophic failure could be from your hanger getting bent so much so that the bottom of your Eagle derailleur can find its way into your rear wheel, breaking spokes, destroying a wheel and a trip at the same time. With the new 11- and 12-speed drivetrains, there is much less room for error, and the Park Tool DAG provides the accuracy needed to properly realign your derailleur hanger.
Having a chain tool on you all the time isn't a bad idea, but having it in your toolbox is 100% necessary. I choose to carry the CT-5; it's compact and always gets the job done. It is small enough to throw in your pack or find a home in your mobile box. From installing a chain or fixing a broken chain while you're out on a trip, it’s handy anytime you’re working on your chain.
The Park Tool CT-5 has been updated to work with all the newest 12-speed chains on the market including Sram’s new AXS road chains. It also includes replaceable pins if the pin press ever gets tweaked. The CT-5 always gets you out of trouble when you need it most.
This cassette tool is one of my favorite tools to use in general. If you have ever fumbled around with a cassette tool that needs a larger wrench to turn, you realize that life would be much easier if you had one less moving part. Introducing the FR-5.2 cassette tool. It features a 12 spline tool interface that works with the traditional Shimano/SRAM cassette lockrings as well as new parts with the splined interface. Parts like OneUp EDC top cap use this 12 spline tool interface, as well as Rockshox’s new suspension fork top caps. There are even some more unique parts that also use it, like Cannondale’s Lefty hub, some pivot hardware bolts, and even some pedal lockrings.
Having a cassette tool with a handle makes your job tightening any of these bolts so much easier. So easy, in fact, that it almost becomes nice to install a new cassette with a tool this thoughtful. When there is a possibility of stripping an interface, having the one piece unit allows you to use your other hand to add pressure on top of the tool to ensure nothing slips or strips out. Make your installations easier with the Park tool FR-5.2H cassette lockring tool.
If you have ever tried to cut shift housing or dropper post housing using some random type of cutters you had lying around, you probably realized that they made a crude cut and are just not the right tool for the job. The Park Tool Cable Cutters are purpose made for cutting shift/dropper housing and every cut you make is smooth and clean like a hot knife through butter. Not only is making a clean cut nice with the cable cutters, but it's necessary if you want to have the best shifting possible. Besides having great sharp jaws to cut the housing, they have two crimps in the handle area that help open up the housing post cut, and also can also properly crimp cable ends.
With ergonomic hand grips and a metal latch to keep the spring loaded cutters closed when not being used, the Park Tool CN-10 cable cutters are a must-have for any bike nerd’s toolbox.
I can't even start to count the times where these picks have saved me or a friend’s bike. It's one of those tools that isn't really for anything specific, but you find using more and more. With the Park Tool pick set, you get 3 pick options: a straight, a 90 degree, and a curved hook style. All of these have their own amazing skills built in. I often use the straight or 90-degree pick to help open up shift housing for the smoothest cable sliding possible. Also, these are great for servicing shocks, especially the hook pick that can get the most stubborn O-rings out with ease. All three picks also feature a strong magnet on the top side which makes jobs like getting out ball bearings or a cable stuck in a frame a total breeze. Plus, it makes for quick storage on your bike stand.
From opening up Shimano brake clamps to getting twigs out of your cassette, the Park Tool Pick Set will find its own ways to be used and easily stored thanks for the magnet on the handle.
This set of master link chain pliers from Park Tool might have the most secret amount of uses of any tool in my box. Yes, they are great at opening up and closing your chain’s master link, as they are designed to do that. But my favorite part about these isn't the use on the chain, but using them as pliers with curved tips. The curved tips are great for opening or turning different bike parts from the front to the rear of your bike. I’ll name a few: SRAM RSC/Ultimate contact adjust knob, Fox 36 rebound caps, all suspension air top caps, opening up SRAM’s Bleeding Edge tool red knob...and those are just the uses I grab these chain pliers for almost every day.
As you can see, these chain pliers have over six common uses in everyday bike work, many of which would leave you scratching your head on how to complete your task if this tool didn’t exist. The curved tips of these pliers make them so useful I have more than one set. I have sets of the Park Tool chain pliers all over the place, from my toolbox at the shop, my mobile toolbox in my car, and in my multi-hour ride backpack.
This tool is pretty straight forward. It's the best tool for the job when it comes to tightening and loosening brake hose nuts into levers or master cylinders. The metric flare wrench has an 8mm and 10mm that offer a small opening, or a ¾ open wrench that helps it not strip or round out any nuts. Sometimes this is used for tightening fittings on calipers as well. It's not a fancy tool or a tool with many uses, but it does its job well. Tighten a bolt, with little to no chance of rounding it, job done.
Cuts and presses hydraulic brake hose and barbs all on one tool. This new tool from Park Tool not only does its job well, but the quality of this tool makes me happy. In the handle, there is a blade that is used to cut the brake hose cleanly. At the tip of the tool, there is a clamping mechanism to hold the brake hose, while the lever and barb tip press the barb into the hose.
Not only does this tool replace two other tools in my box, but those two tools are plastic cheap tools doing jobs involving very expensive parts. This Park Tool HBT-1 fills the role of cutting and installing high-end brakes. With a CNC aluminum body and a forged steel handle, the quality from this tool is felt the very first time it hits your hand.
Torx bolts and fitting are becoming much more common on today's bikes and for good reason, they have less chance of stripping or rounding out ,and could make it harder for a thief to steal something off your bike. The TWS-1 will have all the Torx sizes you need to work on your bike, T9, T10, T15, T20, T25, T27, T30, T40 which covers all sizes on your bike. With this small L shaped set, you will be able to get all the power you need to tighten or loosen what you need, then come in with your torque wrench to finish the job.
Having a rotor truing tool in your box is an amazing idea, you should do it. There is no telling when you might hit your rotor, warp it out, leaving it ticking and driving you nuts anytime the trail points up. Also when traveling, taking your bike in and out of boxes or bags, rotors can easily get tweaked. With two different depth slots for your rotor, you can true the top of the entire rotor, getting your bike dialed for the next ride.
Shock pumps are widely used tools, yet I think they are the most asked for tools at any trailhead or event, meaning not enough people carry these on them as they should. Going to different trails might need some different suspension settings and having a shock pump nearby in your toolbox can really help improve your ride. Or if you are swapping bikes with a buddy, there is most likely some adjustments needed to make the bike just right for you.
Bleed kits… Bleeding brakes is often looked at as a pain or something you don't do at home. And while that might be true, sometimes there is no other choice if you are out camping on a trip and your brakes are pulling to the handlebar. I will admit that a Shimano “top bleed” can be much easier to do than SRAM’s process, and most of the time that top bleed will fix your problems. SRAM brakes require a bit more work, but it’s also easier to replace the old used fluid with new fluid, ensuring that your brakes will no longer have any air trapped in them.
I use the SRAM Pro bleed kit which has two syringes, two normal tips, a bleeding edge tip, all the bleed blocks I need, a crows foot for your torque wrench, and DOT 5.1 fluid. This has everything I need to bleed SRAM brakes wherever I am. Along with the SRAM Pro bleed kit, I use some bleeding tips from a Jagwire kit that will convert my SRAM bleed tips to TRP, Tektro, and Magura brakes. This little adapter kit has come in handy so often, allowing me to bleed a wide variety of brakes with only two syringes. Just make sure you clean those syringes out with alcohol between brands.
Lastly, I have the Shimano bleed cup and a blank syringe to bleed Shimano brakes. There are a few different methods you can use to bleed a Shimano brake, from the top bleed I mentioned before to a full on bleed. The top bleed requires just a cup up top to cycle out some of the air trapped in the lever and upper hose. Another method is the gravity bleed, which means having fluid in the cup and opening up the 7mm nut on the caliper, allowing gravity to pull the fluid down through the brake hose and out the caliper. The last would be attaching a syringe to the Shimano caliper and pushing mineral fluid up the hose out to the cup. These last two do the same thing, but depending on the situation might not have the same result.
Either way, you will need a Shimano bleed cup to get your Shimano brakes bled, and therefore you should have a bleed kit for at least your own bike, and if you’re kind enough, to cover all your friends' bikes as well.
The last tool I’m going to cover is a set of pipe cutters. Pipe cutters are the easiest and smallest tool to cut a set of alloy handlebars or fork steerer tubes. Sometimes out on the road, you realize you need to take off a few mm from your handlebars. While a hacksaw with an aluminum blade would be my first pick at the shop, you don't always have a vice, cutting guide and hacksaw with you. Enter the pipe cutter. You can pick one of these up at your local hardware store for $10 - $20 and might get minimal use, or you will be replacing cutting wheels twice a year like myself.
If you made it down this far, I not only thank you, but nod my head as you are either a passionate bike mechanic or just a bike nerd like myself. Being prepared and carrying these tools with you can help save more than just your weekend vacation, but maybe your friend’s as well. From the most basic allens and pliers, to advanced brake and shifting tools, this list of 16 bike maintenance tools should keep you more than covered in the event of a bike emergency. Make sure to check out Worldwide Cyclery’s other “How To” videos, as well as Park Tool’s “Fix It” features on their site to help with all bike focused repairs.