tools to keep 1: basics

I started tinkering with bike stuff years ago much like I imagine most everyone does — when stuff starts to break. For the longest time I limped along with just a multi-tool and whatever standard wrenches I had around the house.
Eventually I broke down and brought the BK-2 starter kit which Park Tool offered at the time. Sadly, it does not appear to still be available, and that’s a shame since it is a nice case that has a great deal of the stuff I use on a daily basis to keep my bikes in working order. For some reason I thought it’d be a good idea all of the sudden to do a series of posts and run down the stuff that I actually use day-to-day. Park, Pedros, and others make a bunch of great tools but there’s also a lot of superfluous unitaskers and bloated kits out there to unnecessarily yank at your wallet.

bike_tools05BK-2 rollup kit hanging on the wall where it’s been for 7 years

Scanning through the detail pics goes a long way to explain why this kit doesn’t exist for sale anymore — and also why I’m a card-carrying luddite when it comes to bike equipment. Whenever I think about buying a bike with an internal headset or an external bb, the thought crosses my mind that I’ll have to spring for a whole bunch of new tools just to change out parts or do regular maintenance.

Figure 1 – left to right, more or less…

  1. park hex key set – replaced for most day-to-day stuff by a tool from a future post.
  2. park chain tool – works with 9 speed and lower chains great
  3. park multi-size spoke wrench – I taped off all but ‘0’ since I kept accidentally spinning the wrench in my hand while I was using it. Doesn’t see action much now since I picked up the pro model for wheel builds, but occasionally gets pulled because it has a squarer profile that helps grip rounded spoke nipples better.
  4. bmx freewheel removal tool – not part of the bk-2, from my freewheeling single-speed days.
  5. fr-5 cassette lockring tool – for tightening/loosening rear-wheel cassettes.
  6. bbt-2 bottom-bracket removal tool – I added a metric bolt with the same threads as the crank bolt and some washers. It helps keep it in place on the bike when you’re wrestling a seized bottom bracket off.
  7. cwp-7 square-taper crank puller.


Figure 2 – top to bottom

  1. Headset Wrench – pretty useless in today’s modern threadless headset world, but still sees action with me.
  2. Combination Pedal Wrench and Chain Whip – essential with the fr-5 if you want to get a cassette off, replace the freewheel, or repack the rear wheel.
  3. Cable Cutter/End Crimper – Real nice if you want to replace your brake/shifter cables. They are a pain to cut with house tools. I have an old ice pick that I use to ream the edges of cable housing after trimming (not shown).


Figure 3 – Full set of cone wrenches – essential for adjustments to all those little skinny nuts on brakes, hubs, and the like.


Final tool for the essentials is a work stand to hang the bike on. I got the Feedback Ultimate years ago and never looked back.


There are other things like brushes, grease, and tire levers that were included with the kit, but this is the key stuff that I couldn’t live without. Next up: Sundries.


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