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Best Budget Tool Kit?

Old 04-18-21, 03:33 PM
  #1  
Dallin
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Best Budget Tool Kit?

I have a few miscellaneous bike tools laying around my garage (multitools, pedal wrench, hex set) but I would like to get a kit and start to get more organized and learning to do more on my bike.

A lot of the tool kits I've seen online go for over $100 (even over $500), are there any decent kits that would be good for someone starting out and on a budget?
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Old 04-18-21, 04:37 PM
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I recommend buying the tools as you need them. Many of the kits I've seen either have tools you'll never use or don't have a couple that you will and quality can vary of tools from the same kit. I like buying quality tools for most things even though they're more expensive but worth it in the long run. Some things you can cheap out on such as chain whips for removing cassette cogs and some lower cost specialty Threaded Bottom Bracket removal sockets I've seen are OK if they're made fairly beefy and some other tools that I can't think of offhand
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Old 04-18-21, 04:54 PM
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+1 buy tools as you need them. I also agree to buy the absolute best tools in their class as you go. That way, after a few years you'll look in your tool chest and marvel at your quality collection. Buy once, cry once.

Maybe the best first tool, even if you already have a set, is a really high quality Allen (hex) wrench set. Good ones are Bundhus, better are Wiha or Wera, but the best, in my opinion are PB Swiss. I have all three brands and can say matter-of-factly that the made-in- Switzerland PB Swiss fit very tight and very precisely. This makes a big difference over time on your fasteners...they don't round-out.
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Old 04-18-21, 07:45 PM
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Buy the best tools you can as you need them. Don't waste money on kits and don't waste money on cheap tools. Good tools can be quite expensive but there is nothing like using a quality tool. I have bought all my tools individually (aside from hex and Torx wrench sets and I guess my Snap On ratcheting wrenches as well)

drlogik is right get a good set of hex wrenches Wera, Silca and PB Swiss are well worth the money and are a heavily used tools. There was a thread not that long ago about hex wrench quality comparing a lot of them.

In terms of general bike specific tools, Park and Pedros for some stuff is certainly more of hobbyist tools but they also do some decent bike specific tools but if I was looking at cheaper but decent enough tools those aren't terrible. However any non-bike specific tools are best bought elsewhere like Snap-On, Wera, PB Swiss, Beta, Knipex, Felco...
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Old 04-19-21, 09:27 AM
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Dallin
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I appreciate the responses! Sounds like avoiding the kits and just purchasing what I need when I need it is the way to go.

I'll definitely check out the brands mentioned above to start my collection.
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Old 04-19-21, 03:41 PM
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It's a hit or miss with the cheaper tools. One big hit for me is a crank puller tool I purchased on EBay for only $4 about 4 years ago. After around 70 or so disassembling since then, this puller is a trooper. I bought a second one a year later just as a back-up but haven't needed it. No problems, no stripped threads. Wish I could link it but it's been awhile and it's a no-name brand.
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Old 04-19-21, 04:06 PM
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I posted this a while back in another tool thread. How many tools needed depends on the variety of bikes that need service, and the depth of service needed. I could probably run a small shop with the tools in my collection. I maintain all of my family’s bikes (more than ten), neighbor’s bikes, and I refurbish kid’s bikes for a local non-profit.

The arrow ( → ) In the list below is my opinion of increasing quality. It also generally denotes increasing price. The list is somewhat USA centric on the lower end, as I don’t have a ton of experience with XLC, Cyclus, etc. The list is intended to be a resource for buying tools one-at-a-time and making decisions on cost vs quality across the spectrum. Whether fixing bikes is intended to be an enjoyable hobby or a source of income, having good tools will make the work more enjoyable and more efficient. While I agree that you can make do without a work stand, bench vise, and other various shop tools, having these greatly increases efficiency and decreases frustration.

I agree with others that you should buy the best hex keys that you can afford because these will be by far the most used tools.


Hex keys:
Pedro’s → Park → Bondhus → Wera, PB Swiss, Wiha, Beta

Cable Cutters:
Pedro’s → Park → Knipex, Felco

Tire Irons:
Park → My own hands → Pedro’s → Schwalbe

General Bike Specific tools:
Birzman, Ice toolz → Feedback → Pedro’s → Park → Hozan, Var → EVT, Abbey

Ratchets, Wrenches, Sockets: Too many to list, but in general:
China → Taiwan → USA, Germany

Pliers:
Harbor Freight, Walmart → Crescent, Irwin, Channel Lock → Klein → Knipex
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Old 04-19-21, 05:14 PM
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You don't need the absolute "best" tool, but get GOOD tools.
I agree with the above about kits. Cheap "kits" should be banned.

When I started out, I bought tools to fix the things that "rotated" first.
Hub servicing- cone wrenches of the sizes (you rarely need a 17mm CW, but a 17mm box end is almost always useful) I needed, bags of grade 25 3/16" & 1/4" bearing balls and a tub of grease. A little WD-40 helps clean off the old waxy type grease remnants.
Get a least a PARK "blue" wrench, quality wise. I started with their "double ended" wrenches, but a really tight lock nut will spread the jaws. I've "strained" a blue, but it's still intact.
I have a pretty good assortment of cassette/FW removal tools, since I used to flip bikes. All Park. I have broken 1 Suntour tool once. Never a problem with the spline type.

BB- crank removal tool & BB removal wrenches. Get what your bikes require. My BB "wrenches" are PARK. Good enough. I don't have any "newer" style BB's to deal with. Just SQ. taper.

Last edited by Bill Kapaun; 04-19-21 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 04-20-21, 05:29 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by aggiegrads View Post

Hex keys:
Pedro’s → Park → Bondhus → Wera, PB Swiss, Wiha, Beta

Cable Cutters:
Pedro’s → Park → Knipex, Felco

Tire Irons:
Park → My own hands → Pedro’s → Schwalbe

General Bike Specific tools:
Birzman, Ice toolz → Feedback → Pedro’s → Park → Hozan, Var → EVT, Abbey

Ratchets, Wrenches, Sockets: Too many to list, but in general:
China → Taiwan → USA, Germany

Pliers:
Harbor Freight, Walmart → Crescent, Irwin, Channel Lock → Klein → Knipex
Thanks for this information. I had a similar question specific to hex keys as mine seem to have worn away at the edges and no longer engage tightly, mainly because they’re cheap junk and I didn’t know any better.

I just ordered a Wera L-key set in SS.

Last edited by Noonievut; 04-20-21 at 05:35 AM.
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Old 04-20-21, 06:16 AM
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Look at you age, then how many years you have left, then how many times you use those tools before you die = get the best tools available. Otherwise you will curse every time you use them.

i bought some cheaper tools tha tare OK. but sometimes I think i should buy the better version since the cheaper tools are more a workaround and painful to use than better versions. Sometimes that is only 1-3 times a year i sue them, but every time I regret to have bought the cheaper tool. but then, I'm too cheap to buy a new tool for that little use.
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Old 04-20-21, 07:49 AM
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I buy great screwdrivers, pliers, and wrenches. Very good specific bike tools, e. g. cassette removal, bottom bracket removal, and cone wrenches. I also buy allen wrenches by the handful, if I round one, it gets cut off and ground square.
I have a big multi drawer tool box and keep a set of tools for each bike.









My allen wrenches are in a peanut butter jar on the top of the tool box. must be 10 5mm allen wrenches in there along with the same for 3,4,6, and a handful of 8mm and one 10mm.
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Old 04-21-21, 09:04 AM
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I think individuals should do a cost/benefit analysis before buying the “best of the best” tools (or just about anything for that matter ). For someone that frequently wrenches on bikes and maybe even gets paid for it, sure, I can see the need for TBOTB tool! For Joe/Josie casual cyclist with maybe only one or two bikes that get a once a year tune up, a much less expensive but good enough tool will be “good enough” . I have more than a fair number of bike tools, most of them being Park brand. Perhaps not TBOTB but certainly good enough for more than an average amount of bike wrenching. I used to think that Park was stuff was way up on the bike tool ladder (and still do) but it seems like some feel otherwise .
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Old 04-21-21, 09:56 AM
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You didn't say whether you are doing this as a DIYer or for pay.

So if for pay, I'd get good tools.

For DIY, buy as you need. If you already use tools for other stuff, you have most of what you need already. When you do need a special tool, think about how often you will need it. You don't typically replace a BB often. And if you buy a 20 dollar tool to remove one, it may not be the same 20 dollar tool to install a new BB if you change your type of cranks.

I've got drawers of tools I've only used once. They gave me experience, but so far experience I'll never need again.

And for times when you are going to buy a tool you'll only use once, even the cheapest and worst quality usually last for one use.

Last edited by Iride01; 04-21-21 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 04-21-21, 12:07 PM
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Good set of digital calipers is also worth it. I struggled for awhile with 1. no calipers then 2. cheap calipers now 3. good digital calipers (found a good deal on some Mitutoyo on e Bay for ~$40) and am very happy. Time saved measuring, straining my eyes, and being certain about things makes it worth it.
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Old 04-23-21, 08:10 PM
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Yes indeed, buy them only as you need them. But you don't need to get the highest quality, tools used to wrench on bikes won't see anything close to the abuse that tools used to wrench on cars will see, HOWEVER, having said that IF you also plan on wrenching your own car then better tools may be important. Not sure where you live but Kobalt tools are not bad tools for the price, Lowes sells them in the US and they come with a lifetime free replacement warranty no questions asked no receipt needed, just take the broken tool to Lowes and walk out with a new tool easy peasy. Some brands of tools you have to send back to the company and wait, and wait, and wait for it to be returned, so find a tool brand you can walk into a store and get it replaced hassle free.

Another good option is Harbor Freight if you have one where you live, their ICON brand is quite good, and a lifetime no hassle guarantee too.
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Old 04-29-21, 08:00 PM
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Tool kit

So, I'm here to vote the opposite way: I bought a Nashbar "big tool kit" many years ago and it has been great.

I'm not maintaining a fleet nor flipping lots of bikes.

But 3 times out of four, I had the freewheel tool I needed. I've pulled only 5 cranks off the bottom brackets in 10+years, but the crank puller worked fine. The headset wrench worked, and my (decent) general toolset didn't have one that big. The cone wrenches are stamped, but I've only done three cup-n-cone wheel rebuilds. I have the pin tool to pull the threaded BB when I needed it.

If I ever got more serious, I may want better tools. But I found it tremendously helpful to go into my bicycle repair book, YouTube video, or BF thread for how to tackle a problem, and then have already the tool I needed.

Not always, but often.

YMMV
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Old 05-01-21, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by tgot View Post
So, I'm here to vote the opposite way: I bought a Nashbar "big tool kit" many years ago and it has been great.

I'm not maintaining a fleet nor flipping lots of bikes.

But 3 times out of four, I had the freewheel tool I needed. I've pulled only 5 cranks off the bottom brackets in 10+years, but the crank puller worked fine. The headset wrench worked, and my (decent) general toolset didn't have one that big. The cone wrenches are stamped, but I've only done three cup-n-cone wheel rebuilds. I have the pin tool to pull the threaded BB when I needed it.

If I ever got more serious, I may want better tools. But I found it tremendously helpful to go into my bicycle repair book, YouTube video, or BF thread for how to tackle a problem, and then have already the tool I needed.

Not always, but often.

YMMV
Thanks for the counter-perspective.
Many mechanics (myself included) get too caught up in the quality of their tools so it is good to see that people get along just fine with inexpensive tools for occasional use. I’m curious if you are still using the hex keys from the big tool kit or if you have upgraded those. I usually recommend hex keys as the first tool upgrade; I wonder if you had the same experience.
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Old 05-01-21, 07:31 AM
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The first tool I ever bought specifically for working on bikes was a VAR cable cutter. That was sometime in the late 60's. I still have it and use it today. There is nothing more annoying than a cable cutter that leaves one strand uncut.
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