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Old 04-02-12, 08:17 AM   #1
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What is a good tool kit?

I'm just starting out wit hthe whole biking thing--just bought a 2009 Specialized Tricross Sport ($630!). I'm looking to fix up a couple crankenstein mtn bikes I've had for a couple years and either use them or sell them. I need some tools, and I'm looking to get a good starter tool kit. Is there a good one out there? I've read some reviews, but I'm not sure what I can trust. Here's what I'm looking at:

XLC 33 piece
Bike Hand YC-735A
Nashbar Essential

BTW, there's no way I can afford Park tools at this time. I appreciate any help.
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Old 04-02-12, 08:49 AM   #2
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Pass on these and all kits, and go over your bike and decide which tools you need and will actually use. Yes you save on tool kits vs. loose tools, but unused tools cut into any savings. Also by buying separately, you'll be able to mix brands and but the best value - quality/price - for each item.

Bikes change every few years, so many tools can rapidly become obsolete. Even something as fundamental as a hex key can be useless if your bike uses torx.
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Old 04-02-12, 09:03 AM   #3
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I agree with FB. I buy my tools a la carte. A few items that I have found to be either essential, or that I frequently reach for:

4 way screwdriver. I'm partial this 4-way model from Stanley
Full metric Allen wrench set. I like the ones that fold up into a housing, rather than loose ones that get lost
3-way Allen wrench
3-way socket
cable/housing cutter
4th hand cable stretcher tool
Good tire levers (I like the ones from Pedro's)
Chain breaker tool
Pedal wrench

Park tools are usually very good, but also tend to be the most expensive. I have some Park and some other stuff from Performance, Summit and some brand X items. The house brand tools from Performance/Nashbar can vary in quality, so read the user reviews on their web sites.
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Old 04-02-12, 09:30 AM   #4
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I found the Park Tool AK-37 kit to be worth my money. I've used nearly every tool in the kit and considered it very worth my money. My only issues with it were that it didn't come with enough. The biggest omission is the 4th hand cable puller.
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Old 04-02-12, 09:37 AM   #5
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You should also get a lockring tool for your particular cassette, and a chain whip. If money is tight skip the chain whip. I can afford one and still never bought one. I use an old chain. Put the wheel straight in front of you, wrap the end of the old chain up over the cassette from the bottom, stand on the free end, and loosen. I have never had one that couldn't be removed that way. Park's lock ring tools can be had for $6 or less brand new on eBay.

Other than bottom bracket and hub/cassette stuff, there aren't a lot of specialty tools for bicycles that are necessary. People might like you to think so, but if you have a general assortment of normal stuff you'll get very far.

A Phillips screwdriver, 15 mm wrench, small set of metric hex wrenches, and an inexpensive torque wrench (in NM, can be a beam-type to save cost) will do 90% of what you need. Whatever you do, don't get caught in the trap that you always have to have bike-specific tools. For instance, Park will sell you a pedal wrench for $15.00 when you probably already have a 15mm wrench at home. If you need the thin profile buy a cheap 15 mm and grind it down.
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Old 04-02-12, 10:07 AM   #6
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Thanks guys. Looks like I'm going one tool at a time... (...sweet Jesus, that's all I'm asking of you--sorry to get that stuck in your head!).

You've all been a huge help!
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Old 04-02-12, 10:08 AM   #7
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Numerous years ago I bought a cheap bike tool kit and then bought a bunch of grab bag parts from ebay auctions --and had some fun taking everything apart. Most of those original tools are still around but I find myself replacing and adding based on new projects. The best investment I initially made was a couple sets of allen wrench kits like the picture. I hate searching for individual allen wrenches. These things are great.

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Old 04-02-12, 10:25 AM   #8
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I agree with the above posters regarding buying tools as needed. One tool you might consider is a 1/4" drive torque wrench like this one: It will be essential should you move on to bikes with carbon fiber components; it will also be useful to help you learn the "feel" of a properly-torqued fastener.
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