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.

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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).

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

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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.

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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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