BMX maintenance isn’t fun for everyone but it is nearly always done by everyone. Luckily BMX bikes are some of the simplest and most reliable bike designs of all bike disciplines.
Luckily there just aren’t many things on a BMX that can go wrong like a mountain bike. Granted there are some areas that are more prone to extra stress and breakages but I believe you can very easily take everything you need to maintain and repair a BMX.
In this post, we will go through all of the tools that I recommend you buy and take with you to the skatepark. I will then go through the best multi-tools you can use for a BMX. For quick repairs while on the road, multi-tools can be a lifesaver. We will then finish by going through some repair hacks and tips that can save you a lot of time when you’re caught out without any tools.
History of BMX Tools and Multitools
As long as we’ve had bikes, we’ve had the necessary tools to accompany them. Granted these tools have come a long way from the first tooling and machines that were used to creating the first bikes, but the ideas and needs have remained fairly similar.
After the swift emergence of BMX parks and large mountain bike resorts like Whistler, there was suddenly a need for tools that people could easily take with them on their ride. As many of you will know, nobody enjoys having to fill their riding bag full of tools before going on a bike ride. I mean, where are all the snacks going to go.
DK bikes were one of the first companies to branch out into tools specific for BMX riding. Obviously, there was already spanners and allen keys made for car maintenance but DK had the brilliant idea of merging the most important of these tools together into a handy tool called the DK Random Wrench.
The random wrench isn’t like all other multi-tools. The majority of BMX bike multi-tools are designed a lot like swiss army knives where the tools are attached at either end and spin out so they can be used. The DK Random Wrench is a cylindrical shape that acts as the base for all the tools. They are all stored within this centrepiece that has the various tool attachments over the body.
Since the DK Random Wrench V1, there have been two further variations that updated the tooling and materials used. As well as DK, there have been many other brands that have since developed similar tools that we will discuss further below.
Most Common BMX Parts to Break
Different parts of your bike will be more susceptible to breaking depending on the location and type of riding you do but there will always be a few bike parts that just love to break and cause you hassle.
As we will discuss further below; punctures and bike inner tubes are just a huge pain. Unless you have a way of repairing you can’t even ride your bike home. It’s horrible torture to have to either carry or push your bike all the way home after it has just ruined your day.
You may have a different opinion on this next part but I think bike brakes are a huge pain for maintenance and repair. Remember BMX bikes only have U or V brakes fitted to their wheels. In my opinion BMX brakes haven’t been perfected yet. There are various companies making wonderful individual parts for the BMX brake but there’s nobody making a brilliant version of the full set up.
When I talk about brakes being susceptible to malfunction I don’t always mean physical breakages. Most problems stem from the wrong set up or getting oil/water on the braking surface.
Essential Tools and The Best Ones to Buy
Granted the random wrench and other multi-tools will enable you to fix a lot of issues you may have with your bike but they won’t fix prevent every problem common in the BMX park or mountain bike track.
If you think about your most common riding discipline and route then you can cleverly purchase and pack everything you may need for your outings. In this section, we will go through the various types of tools I use and I recommend using that will take up the smallest amount of space while still providing a great amount of support for any issues you may have.
Pumps & Puncture Repair Kits
Bike tires. The most annoying part to have break when out riding. Getting a puncture is a very common cause of a bleak ending to an otherwise great day of riding. You’re finally getting close to that trick you’ve been trying to perfect all day and then you go and get a snake bite when you’re back wheel slams down on the coping too hard.
Unless you’ve miraculously found one of the new age self-healing/ puncture resistant bike tires that actually do their job right, you’re definitely going to need a puncture repair kit and pump in your back.
It took me a long time before I actually got the hang of repairing a puncture with the tiny cheap kits you can get all over the place. But once you have this skill it will go a long way when you or your friends next get a puncture.
Puncture repair kits that include the very basics are super easy to come by. Your local bike shop will have more than enough for you to use. If you can afford a slightly better puncture kit, like the one linked below, then I would definitely recommend the upgrade. Basic kits will often only be good for one or two punctures then you will have either ran out of glue, lost the box or all the glue has dried up.
The kit you can buy below contains high-quality repair patches along with various other tools that will prove very helpful in more complicated situations. Unlike the untrustworthy glue of the simple puncture repair kit, this one features glueless patches that can be just stuck on and used. Another problem a lot of people don’t think about is the pump and tire levers when packing puncture repair kits. Older or tighter tires can be a massive pain to get off without the proper tire levers, this kit here will provide the puncture repair kit, pump and tire levers in a handy set that won’t take up too much room at all.
Allen / Hex Key Sets
Commonly known as Allen keys. These tools are hexagonally driven recessed safety screws were first patented back in 1909 by W.G Allen for his company, the Allen Manufacturing Company.
The tool is usually an L-shaped piece of steel that is shaped from a cylindrical shape into a hexagon. The ends are blunt and will fit snug into its accompanying socket. The uncommon L-shape is done for a couple of reasons. Each side of the right angle is a different length. The longer side for harder to reach places and the shorter side for tighter bolts.
The Hex/Allen keys are designed to fit snug into a specifically sized bolt. This is the reason why most allen keys are sold in a set. It’s easy to think that the better idea would have been to design bicycles that used regular Philips or flat head screws. What many people don't think about is that screwdrivers are also all different sizes and thicknesses. Many screwdrivers will be useless for certain screws and may even ruin the metal. The simplistic design of the allen wrench means it can be incorporated into a set very easily with every size being available instantly.
There are a few different types of hex key sets. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses but in my experience, I’ve had the most luck with the swiss army knife styled sets. I have several reasons for this. The advantage of having so many tools in a small space is a great advantage. Being able to fold all these tools into its casing will allow the tools to be much better protected. Smaller allen keys are very susceptible to bending and rounding off. This happens much more often when your allen keys are singulars.
Easy access is another great aspect of these types of tools. Having your hex key set in ascending size order can be tremendously helpful when you have to alter something on your bike quickly.
The only reason I would suggest going the other way and not buying a hex key set is if the majority of your bike has the same size hex bolts. Only needing one size of key makes the whole set obsolete. Save some money and even more space in your bag by only having the one key you need.
Best Allen Key Multi-Tool
Multi-tools often come with a few different tooling sets. One of the most common is the allen key multi-tool. It’s hard to say what the best hex key multi-tool is as there’s not a tremendous amount of aspects to look for. The main things to look for when buying this tool is the metal quality, the craftsmanship quality and the tool shape. The last of which is definitely more of a personal preference.
The AWE CR-V 8 tool is one of my personal favourites due to the outer faces. Designed into a sort of figure-8 design, with each end being tightly bent. The ends are bent just tightly enough to allow the allen bolts keeping the tool together to not fall through.
This tool features 6 allen keys of varying sizes, a flat headed screwdriver and a Phillips head screwdriver. You can never go wrong with a couple of screwdrivers along with the allen keys.
Park Tools Chain Breaker Tool
The third tool that is essential to have in your toolbox is a chain breaker tool. I wouldn’t go so far as keeping a chain tool in your backpack every time you go riding, but it’s definitely a good product to have at home.
For those of you new to bike maintenance, a chain tool is basically comprised of a needle, a vice and a screw. The vice section is placed around one of the ends of a link on your chan, this section is designed in such a way that will keep the chain stiff and steady inside the tool.
The needle is then placed above the chain and is attached to the handle, a lot like a screwdriver or hex key. The handle is threaded through a hole in the tool so a lot of force can be pressed down on to the chain pin.
After a little twisting of the handle, the needle will start to bear down on the chain and will start to push the pin out of the chain. After pushing this pin out just enough, the chain becomes unlinked, allowing you to remove, replace or shorten your chain. To reattach the chain the same thing is done but on the other side, pushing the pin back into its hole.
As bike parts such as chains have advanced, the need for a chain tool has become less and less. Unless you are shortening your chain, you can often remove your chain by just unlinking the master link.
What is a Master Link?
Photo by @k4bmx
A master link is a quick-release link added to most newer roller chains. The link allows for easy assembly and disassembly of chains. This added feature of BMX chains is great for removing your chain or changing the side of the bike it's on, but to shorten or extend your chain you’ll have to use a chain tool.
Master links are always nearly exactly the same as all the other chain links. Commonly the only difference is that the pins are slightly longer. One of the link side plates will have slightly looser holes. Once the clamping plate has been removed the link plate will slide over the pins much easier.
Best BMX Chain Breaker
Chain tools are available as both regular handheld tools and as part of a multi-tool. For BMX riding, chain breakers aren’t commonly used unless you are doing intentional maintenance on your bike. Because of this I, personally don’t take my chain tool out when I go to the skatepark.
I mention this because it’s the reason I think the best chain breakers are those that aren’t part of a multi-tool. BMX chains, especially well used or older ones, are a horrible pain to unlink. The pain is exacerbated when you have to try and keep a hold of a small tool while lining up two small pins that need to press together with a great amount of pressure.
The linking tool that I would recommend buying is the chain breaker tool by park tools. This tool is exactly what I described I liked in a chain tool above. It has a solid, large handle, an effective but easy to use rivet driver and the ability to work on any sized chain.
Park Tools are normally designed for mountain and road bikes but I think you’ll be perfectly fine using this tool on your BMX.
One thing I found when using chain tools over the years is that you can easily overdo it and bent your driving pin. Park Tools have eliminated this problem by allowing you to replace the pin.
Park tools make several different types of tool for chains. The biggest one is classified as the CT-4.3 which has a much thicker handle, a peening anvil and a much higher price tag. The next one down is the one I am recommending here, the CT-3.2. If you want to go smaller again then there are two tools that are about the same size, one is a singular tool and the other is part of a multi-tool.
Spokey Wheel Spoke Spanner
A spoke spanner is another tool I like to keep in my back pocket just in case I need a quick fix.
Spoke tools have various uses, all pertaining to the bike's spokes. Spokes can be tightened, loosened, added or removed. For amateur and intermediate riders, I do not recommend riders using spoke spanners to build their own wheels. Getting the right parts and then straightening the wheel properly is very difficult without a truing stand and a good amount of experience.
The main way I recommend you use a BMX spoke spanner is for replacing broken spokes and trueing a slight bend. As you can see from the images in this section, spoke spanners are commonly circular and feature several different sized cutouts for the various spoke nipple thicknesses.
How to True a BMX Wheel
To adjust your spokes, simply place the correct section of your spanner around your spoke nipple, and begin turning like a regular spanner. Tightening a spoke will pull the rim to that side of the wheel. Loosening a spoke will do the opposite, allowing the rim to bend to the opposite side.
If you’re trying to straighten your wheel then there are a few various methods you can use. This all depends on how bent your wheel is and also what equipment/experience you have.
A slightly bent wheel can be straightened well with just a spoke spanner and truing wheel. A truing stand holds your wheel a lot like a set of forks. Callipers hug the rim and stay a certain distance from either side of the rim face. When the wheel is spun the rim will graze the callipers at its bent spot. When you find this spot you need to tighten the spokes either side of your bent spot. This will pull the rim against the bend, thus straightening it.
For those that have a bit more knowledge of how to lace and unlace a wheel, a better method to straighten your wheel would be to totally unlace the wheel and hub, place the rim on a flat surface and finally use even weight to straighten any bends evenly. In my opinion, this method is much better than the one mentioned above. The initial method would result in you having certain spokes tighter than others, putting more stress on them. These spokes will be much more susceptible to snapping.
M Part Spokey Pro Spokes Key
The Spokey spanner is very simple but all you could need for tuning your wheels. If you have a look around the online shops you’ll see some much fancier or bigger spoke tools but by popular opinion, the M Part version is the recommended product for this article.
BMX Bike Multi-Tool
While there are Masses of other tools I could mention in this list, the final tool I always need have in my bag is a multi-tool. Technically many tools in one, multi-tools eliminate the need to carry a lot of bulky tools that can easily get lost. I will often only take a multi-tool with me when I go and ride. I can just slip it into my pocket and carry it to the park just like my phone and car keys.
Over the years multi-tools have evolved to house all the most popular and most useful tools for your bike. BMX bikes have been refined so much that nearly all models have the exact same tool requirements. This fact means that you can service nearly all of your bike with this small set of tools.
Most multi-tools are based on the original allen key clusters but with added tools for other parts of the bike. Most tools have approximately 15-20 different tools, including, screwdrivers, chain splitters and allen keys. If you’re looking into mountain bike multi-tools then you may find more swiss army style tools like a knife or saw.
Best BMX Multi-Tool
There are now so many different multi-tools on the market we’re going to do a whole list of the best ones. For now, though I’m just going to go through one of the tools I find to be most useful and popular.
That tool happens to be the DK Random Wrench V3. As I’ve mentioned before, the Random Wrench was the initial multitool to make it big in the BMX world. Since then there’s been a lot of great tooling flooding the market but DK has done very well in keeping up and making their newer versions high quality and just as useful.
The V3 was designed to be slimmer with the same tools as previous versions. It’s not as common for these multipurpose tools to be manufactured in the same way as the Random Wrench. Most companies follow the swiss army knife style much cautiously. For ease of use, in both the storage and usage sense, I think this style is very good for BMX riders.
This design style means that bigger tools can be added that simply can't fit next to screwdriver sized tools.
- 6mm, 8mm and 10mm wrenches
- 5mm and 6mm allen sockets
- 15mm pedal wrench
- 3/8″ socket driver
- 3/8″ extension
- 15mm and 17mm deep well sockets
- Tire lever
- Universal spoke wrench
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