At the heart of it the bicycle is a simple, efficient machine. So looking after your bike doesn’t need to be a minefield of highly specialised skills and professional tools. For some people, the building and maintenance of their bikes is as much fun as riding them.

While a professional mechanic can make your bike run like a dream, there is no reason that basic maintenance and adjustments - and a little bit more - can’t be done at home with the right tools, practice and patience. Here’s a look at set ups to get you started, and tips from some of the best mechanics we know. - words and photos Mike Blewitt

THE BASICS

One of the best things you can do to look after your bike is keep it clean and lubricated. So a bucket, degreaser, bike cleaner, brushes, and a chain cleaner are essential. You’ll also need some rags, and chain lubricant. Ask your local shop what works best on your trails if you don’t already have a favourite. A small syringe is excellent for getting a bit of lube on derailleur pivots.

As for the basic tools you’ll need, it depends on your bike. A range of hex keys from 2-10mm, a flat and Phillips head screwdriver, plus T20, T25 and T30 torx tools will cover basic adjustments. Park Tool have a hex set that can be mounted on a wall or laid on a workbench. The long end is ball-headed and the short end is flat, so it sits flush into bolts.

Italian company Silca not only make amazing pumps but also tools. If you’re after a high-end set of hex and torx keys, their HX ONE kit is $199.95 but has all the hex key sizes you need, plus screwdriver and torx head fittings. Made from high-grade tool steel and with a thin-dense chrome finish, this set is not just for the aesthete but for someone who only wants to buy the tools they need once.


GET TORQUEING
You should think about investing in a torque wrench early on. Most come with hex and torx attachments, and will likely save you money in the long run if you have lightweight parts. This Super-B model is $199 and has just about every hex and torx fitting you’ll need.


The Silca Tool Folio T-Handle pack is a popular option amongst mechanics. The combination of length, and the sliding T-handle makes tough jobs easy. And the high quality tool steel, finish, and storage pack should make the $329.95 price easier to swallow. This one is for the purist.

Companies like Park Tool and Super B have 3-way tools that fall at hand easily. I’ve had my Park Tool AWS-1 since I was a teen. The Super B torx headed tool is especially useful when working on SRAM equipped bikes.

Most cycling tool brands will also have screwdrivers, but a reasonable selection from your local hardware store will do nicely. This is also a good place to pick up some basics like scissors, a tape measure, cutting knife and some electrical tape.

At your local bike shop consider purchasing items like a chain whip and cassette lock ring tool, and some cable cutters. I’ve had my Park Tool items for almost 20 years. Don’t neglect pressure gauges – for your tyres and suspension. I find digital options to be the most precise.