Bicycle Mini Tool Kit




I'm not a big fan of bicycle multi-tools. I must have a shoe box about half full of various models that I have tried over the last twenty years. The problem, for me at least, is their bulk seems to get into the way. I know not everyone will agree with me on this, but I don't buy the "it's only for emergencies" argument. It's during those times that I want proper tools.

I took a cue from the backpacking community. They take everyday items (like spoons) and cut them down to make them lighter and more compact. So after a few attempts, and errors, I came up with a tool kit that is compact enough to fit into an altoids tin.

I've been using this kit now for 8 years and it has saved my butt, or a friend's at least five times. The tools are everyday tools that can be bought at any hardware store and the bike specific tools are readily available at any bike shop. The modifications are easy requiring only a bench grinder, a vise, and a hammer. If you have one, a dremal tool makes the job a bit easier.

Items needed ...

Altoids Tin
8 and 10mm wrenches, Open or Boxed
Hex wrenches 2 through 6mm
Two, 2-way screwdrivers
6 to 8mm adapter (if needed)
Park SW-7 spoke wrench
Park CT-5 chain tool

Other items if desired...

Presta-Schrader adapter
Glueless patches
Glueless Tire Boots

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: The Wrenches

8 and 10mm wrenches are needed. You may use either an open end, or a boxed end wrench in your tool kit. In the example shown, the boxed ends are used.

Take the 10mm and measure 3-1/2 inches and for the 8mm measure off 3-1/4 inches. Mark with a felt tipped pen. Cutting the wrenches may be done in two ways. The easiest way is a Dremal tool with a cutoff wheel. The second requires the use of a bench grinder. "Score" an area about 1/4 of an inch above your marked measurement. Mount the wrench into a bench vise with the end to be removed above the vise jaws. Take a hammer and give it a good whack, the end will break off. Use the grinder to finish the end back to the marked line. Smooth the end so that it will be comfortable in your hand.

Step 2: The Screwdriver

You will need two, 2-way screwdrivers. The kind sold at hardware stores, usually next to the register. You will use the shanks from both, but only one handle.

Mark one of the shanks at a point 3-1/2 inches from the cross tip (+) and the second shank at a point 3-1/2 inches from the flat tip (-).

Cut the ends off with either the dremal tool, or the scoring methos mentioned under step 2.

Finish the ends as needed.

Step 3: The "Hex" or "Allen" Wrenches.

Needed are 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, and 6mm Allen wrenches. If you need a 8 mm use an adapter that can be purchased at a bike shop, or may come with an older multi-tool.

The only wrench in need of modification will be the 6mm. You need to make the long end short enough to fit into the Altoids tin. This step is easy, just use your bench grinder to trim back what is needed.

Step 4: Packing

The most important step is packing. Unless packed correctly, the whole kit will not fit. The steps are self explanatory by looking at the pics.

Other items such as a presta-schrader adapter, glueless patches, and tire boots can also be fitted inside the tin as needed.

Step 5: Final

Use a rubber band to hold the lid shut so that it does not pop open while in your seat pack. I make mine from cutting cross sections from old inner tubes.

The Instructables Book Contest

Participated in the
The Instructables Book Contest

1 Person Made This Project!


  • Made with Math Contest

    Made with Math Contest
  • Multi-Discipline Contest

    Multi-Discipline Contest
  • Skateboard Contest

    Skateboard Contest

23 Discussions


8 years ago on Introduction

Very nice instructable! A solid collection of tools; the chain tool comes in handy on off road rides, and I've used mine to help a fellow cyclist out of a jam on the bike path too! You never know... might get a free beer out of the deal! ;)
I agree with the minimal Allen keys... just take the most common ones (2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5 mm) and leave the 6mm at home. It's not as common on new bikes anymore, and if you need it or a bigger one it's time for some maintenance! :O
Some small additions that are very useful are a 4" crescent wrench (gasp!)... it comes in handy for a lot of things besides nuts and bolts and is small enough to replace the modded open end wrenches. Another useful addition are a pair of mini Vise Grips (the smallest ones available, about the size of the 4" crescent). Adjusted to the right tension (and the proper sleight of hand) you can un-crimp lead cable ends for reuse, and pull on the derailleur wire with the right amount of leverage to securely tighten it.
With bicycleflyer's pack and the above additions you can handle most mechanicals on and off road, with the exception of hub work.

bicycleflyerpoop poop

Reply 9 years ago on Step 1

Thanks for pointing that out... I know the pics I use are inconsistent in that there is at least one pic with open ends, and others with boxed ends. The reason for this is simple. I just recycled some older pics from an article I wrote several years ago. When I made the instructable I had to take more photos to illustrate the steps and I used the boxed ends in those. Yes, it is inconsistent, but I think it illustrates well that you can use either end that you choose.


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

Altoids tins are not very big. I doubt you could place a ratchet in there if the tin was empty, much less when the tool kit is crammed inside.



Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

yes it fits now to make a mini socket set instead of the spanners could you cut a crescent wrench down to size?

There is another intructable called "mighty-tiny tool kit" you may want to check that design out ... it may fit your needs better than my kit.


4 replies

I would be happy to use ball end. But most ball ended wrenches are the long handle variety and will not fit into the tin. Show me some short ones and I'll be happy to look into it. Remember, the goal is to keep this kit compact, but functional. I've been riding 15 years, almost 9 with this kit and I've never encountered anything that these standard L-type wrenches could not handle.


Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

now i have a question, i dont have the spoke thing, do they break often? also i dont have that kind of rench or anything, so can you explain the uses and how often theyr needed, thank you


Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

Sorry for the delay, I was on vacation. Spokes don't break that often. Besides, if it breaks, the tool will do you no good. The spoke wrench is more for minor wheel truing. The 8 and 10mm wrenches are for the obvious... 8 and 10mm bolts or nuts. If your bike has those then yes, you do need them. Not all bikes use those these days. If you find that you do need them, they can be bought cheap enough at any hardware store.


10 years ago on Introduction

That looks like a nice little kit, but it made me wonder about how often you use the chain breaker. Also instead of the screw drivers I have found a very small ratchet wrench by Gearwrench instead. It takes the 1/4 inch screw driver bits and sockets (The one I have is from Sears).

1 reply

Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

In 15 years of riding... I have used a chainbreaker twice. Both times I had to remove a bad link to get me home. One of those times was with the kit pictured above. Ironically, I was actually debating removing it just a week before. Glad I decided against that. Many ways to go for a bicycle kit... Use any tool you like, there really is no wrong way so long as it does not weigh excessively. Just to follow up on your comments ... Sears has introduced an L-shaped bit driver that would use 1/4 bits in all hex and screwdriver sizes. Check one out... you may like it.