A little while back we did a blog on what you need to pack to prepare for a long-distance unicycle trip. Included in that article was an admonition to take along some unicycle tools.
So this got us to thinking, what tools exactly do you need, at a bare minimum, to be prepared for (pretty much) anything that could befall a dedicated one-wheeler?
There are 5 must-haves. Here’s what we came up with.
Allen Keys (Either a 3-Way Allen Key or a Full Set of Standard Sizes)
Arguably, this is the most fundamental of all basic unicycle tools, and it will definitely come in handy if you ride long enough.
To illustrate the utility of a set of allen keys, we’ll use a hypothetical. Have you ever performed the “rattle test”?
It’s when you hold your unicycle 2” off the ground by the saddle and let it drop. If it rattles, it means something’s loose. Could be the bearings. Could be the crank arms or pedals. It could even be the seatpost clamp - which, by the way, will require an allen key for tightening, if it is a bolted model.
At a bare minimum, take along a 5mm allen key, necessary not only for assembling but maintaining unicycles. One of these is light and slim enough to stash basically anywhere.
A safer bet is to take a Y-allen key set, with 4, 5, and 6mm wrenches. Or, if you want to play it even safer, bring along a whole set of standard allen keys (with an 8mm key you’ll need for the cranks). They’re available at any hardware store, cost only a few dollars, and won’t add much weight to your kit.
A Bearing Puller
A bearing puller is another unique tool that’s a must-have for unicycle riders, at least if you want to be able to remove and replace your bearings - which can fail at the most inopportune times.
A bearing puller like the Nimbus bearing puller is designed to slip over any complete unicycle bearing/hub interface and can remove the bearing with minimal effort. It also cups half the bearing which prevents it from slipping off while the crank arms are removed (please do not use this tool with the crank arms attached).
Please note if the bearing is broken and the inner race is only showing, a 2 arm or 3 arm pulley puller will remove it or take the wheel to your local bike shop.
A pedal wrench, specifically our pedal wrench/socket combo tool, is also a highly valuable tool for unicyclists.
For one, you can’t use a plain adjustable wrench (or a standard 15mm wrench) to adjust a unicycle’s pedal. The jaws are too wide and will bind between the axle and the crank arm. You won’t be able to tighten the pedal properly.
This particular combo tool has both a 15mm wrench (for tightening pedals) as well as a 14mm socket, the typical size of axle nuts/bolts.
Crank Arm Puller
A crank puller like our 2-in-1 crank puller is another useful tool, not necessarily unicycle-specific but still nice to have.
With 22x1mm fine threads, this tool offers great leverage to remove tight crank arms and will work with both cotterless and ISIS cranks, a bonus, since ISIS cranks need a special removal tool.
Using it is simple, too. Once the crank bolts are removed (for which you need an 8mm allen key), insert the 2-in-1 crank puller and tighten it all the way down (so you don’t strip the threads), then use the same 8mm allen key to “unscrew” the crank, pulling it off.
Not unicycle specific - any air pump for a bike will work, too - but something you definitely need to have.
If you don’t run your unicycle’s tires at an appropriate pressure, you’re liable to get pinch flats. These occur when your pressure is low enough that it can be overcome by an obstacle which presses it against the rim, resulting in not one but two holes.
Of course, this is easily avoided by keeping your tire pressure at the proper level, which is easy to do with one of our compact, lightweight, and affordable mini pumps.
Also, if you’re not certain what to set your unicycle’s tire pressure at, consult the previous blog.
Honorable Mention: Nimbus Multitool
Now that we’ve covered the 5 main indispensable tools you need, there’s one that would be good to stuff in your pack, too: the Nimbus multiool.
It includes, among other things, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5 and 8mm allen keys (5mm is necessary for the seatpost clamp and 8 for the crank arms), as well as ring spanners and spoke keys for unicycles, bikes, and penny farthings. It also includes a Torx T25 driver, a chain tool, and two tire levers.
For a few dollars, it’s a pretty useful tool to have.
Unicycle Tools, Seatpost Clamps, Parts and Other Hardware
Whatever you do, make sure you have the 5 main tools mentioned above in your pack or at home ready when you need them. All serious unicyclists should.
We also carry unicycle seatpost clamps, saddles, and hardware. If you need it, we have it here!