Kids grow. And fast. That means when you pull their bikes out (and yours, for that matter), seats need to be raised, brake levers tweaked and the shifting smoothed out. But there’s some good news: You don’t need an engineering degree or a funny little mustache to do these DIY fixes yourself. Quite the contrary. Bike tools, which are often part of handy bike tool kits, plus a few YouTube videos will take you from never-turned-a-bolt noob to neighborhood-shade-tree-bike-mechanic hero — but only if you’re willing to put in the effort and learn as you go. Not looking to go deep? We’ve also included a few bike multi tools for down-and-dirty fast jobs. But a word of caution: Get too skilled, and before you know it, you’ll be fixing bikes for friends of friends of your kids. Our advice? Make space in the garage.
Handy (and small) enough to take with you on the ride, this tool is surprisingly comprehensive. A chain tool, multiple screwdrivers (two each of flat and Phillips heads), and multiple spoke sizes are are tucked into its compact casing. Crafted of steel and protected by a steel sheath, it's not the lightest, but who wouldn't trade the heft of carbon fiber for reliability far from home?
When you're ready to move on to replacing cables, diagnosing drivetrain wear and swapping out worn drivetrain parts, this home mechanic starter kit provides what you need. Park Tool has been around since 1963 and is regarded by many as the top name in quality, affordable specialty bike tools. At $169 it's a bit of an investment but considering the fact that these tools – in the hands of a qualified mechanic – fetch an hourly labor rate of $60 or more, this kit has the potential to pay for itself in short order. It even includes the excellent Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair, a nice touch to help ensure that the tool kit is put to proper use.
Higher-end bikes usually come with carbon fiber handlebars, stems and seat posts, which is terrific, but has one minor downside. Carbon tubes don’t stand up well to excessive clamping force, and the margin of error for correctly tightening things like handlebars and seat posts isn’t very forgiving. The manufacturer’s torque spec will be just tight enough to make them stay put without crushing and destroying these top-shelf, featherlight (and expensive) components. To be sure you’re hitting the mark, you need a torque wrench. Bontrager’s Pro Ratchet Multitool is adjustable from 2-8 Nm and includes 6 hex tools, 3 torx bits and a #2 Phillips head. The waxed canvas carrying case is a nice touch for this premium multitool.
It happens constantly: A bike will be shifting great, and then suddenly it's not. Very often, this is due to a bent rear derailleur hanger, maybe caused by a seemingly innocuous fall to the righthand side, or being shoved sideways into the back of car, drive side down. Kids, especially, tend to crash a lot, to the point where fixing bent derailleur hangers is an almost essential skill for being a good bike dad. When facing the sudden crummy shifting issues that accompany a bent hanger, inexperienced home mechanics often waste lots of time fussing with cable tension and limit screws, to no avail, when a quick visual check could identify the culprit: A misaligned, bent, twisted or otherwise tweaked rear derailleur hanger. It’s a super common issue and easy to spot if you know what to look for. It’s easy to fix, too, if you have this handy tool.
Every product on Fatherly is independently selected by our editors, writers, and experts. If you click a link on our site and buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.
This article was originally published on