15 Essential Triathlon Tools

1. Chain Checker

As cassettes have gone from eight speeds to nine, 10 and 11, chains and cogsets have become increasingly expensive. So improperly judging wear on these parts carries painful financial consequences.

With the likes of Park Tool's CC-2 (£24.99, madison.co.uk), you can accurately gauge your chain's life in real terms so you don't toss one that still has miles to go - and you don't keep using one so worn that it starts eating your cassette cogs alive.

2. Torx Keys

Torx bolts are often preferred to bolts with Allen key heads on bike components, though the takeover is not yet complete.

Disc-brake-rotor hardware is nearly all Torx already, and Campagnolo uses Torx on many of its newest components, as does SRAM throughout its XX group and FSA for chainring bolts.

Three sizes will cover everything you need (for now): T-10, T-25 and T-30. Park Tool makes a folding set (TWS-2C, £19.99, madison.co.uk) that has these sizes and more.

3. Floor Pump

No one pumps more tyres in any season than SRAM Neutral Race Support's Jose Alcala. He is present at more than 100 race days a year, with no fewer than 36 wheels. Every tyre is topped off every morning before the first racers arrive to sign in. Alcala uses an SKS Airbase Pro pump (£74.99, chickencycles.co.uk). End of story.

4. Minipump

As minipumps go, the Crank Brothers Power Pump Alloy (£34.99, 2pure.co.uk) is as dependable as they come. It's not the most expensive model, nor the lightest, but its durable, CNC-machined barrel and accurate dial gauge make it ideal for the roadside or trail.

Set it to high volume to fill tyres quickly to about 80psi; when the pumping gets tough, twist a knob to switch into high-pressure mode and inflate up to 130psi.

5. Chain Tool

These come in many varieties, from budget models that get the job done to pieces of art. For a 10-speed drivetrain, the Shimano TL-CN32 (£129.99, madison.co.uk) might be the finest tool on the market. And your 11-speed drivetrain calls for the elegant precision and function of Campagnolo's UN-CT300.

6. 8-, 9- and 10mm Combination Wrenches

Accessories such as racks are often fitted with small nuts and bolts. Snap-On wrenches (£22.20, snapon.com) are legendary for their quality, and in these sizes they aren't that expensive.

7. Tyre Levers

If you have Mavic wheels, it's best to change tyres with Mavic levers, available as part of a set (mavic.com). Even if you don't, the broad, flat blade and rigid plastic build make them kind to even stubborn tyres and rims.

8. Cable Cutter

The Felco C-7 cutter (£49, worldoffelco.co.uk) was the first bicycle-specific tool I purchased for my toolbox more than 20 years ago, and I still use that same one to this day. And I know mechanics who have had theirs for even longer. Sure, it's expensive, but you just can't argue with longevity like that.

9. Compact Scissors

Many pros love Fiskars 5-inch Micro-Tip scissors (£11.99 www.fiskars.com). They're handy for trimming handlebar wrap and snipping vinyl tape. And you'll know right where they are next time you have to liberate a new toy from an irritating blister pack

10. Allen Keys

Of the hand tools that are a necessity for every cyclist, first and most obvious are these. Bicycle-specific toolmakers make sets, but quality metric keys from a hardware store work fine.

Bondhus (9-key set, £7.57, rowlandtools.co.uk) is a popular brand, known for its often-copied ball-shaped tip, which allows you to easily spin bolts from an awkward angle. Get the following sizes: 1.5-, 2-, 2.5-, 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 8- and 10mm. These will work with tiny setscrews on suspension-fork adjuster knobs, crankarm fixing bolts and everything else.

11. Vise-Whip

When it's time to change your cogset, you'll need a combination of tools. You can get by with an old-fashioned chain whip and cassette lockring tool, but Pedro's cool, high-tech Vise-Whip (£49.95, bikegoo.co.uk) locks into place on your cog, eliminating the chances of a slip of a traditional whip. You'll also need the next slide...

12. Cassette Lockring Tool

Pair your vise-whip (previous slide) with the Cyclus cassette lockring tool (£12.25, i-ride.co.uk) that has both Shimano/SRAM and Campagnolo lockring compatibility built into a single tool.

13. Multitool

A good multitool can mean the difference between making a swift, easy midride adjustment and hobbling home with a scowl. Carry a palm-sized workshop such as the Lezyne RAP 13 (£16.99, upgradebikes.co.uk), which has eight sizes of Allen and Torx keys, a Phillips screwdriver, a chain tool, two sizes of standard square spoke wrenches and a third spoke wrench for Mavic splined nipples.

14. Spoke Wrenches

With so many wheel manufacturers using unique spoke-nipple designs, it's impossible to recommend any one model. If you have conventional square spoke nipples on your wheels, you can't go wrong with Park Tool's SW42C (£8.99, madison.co.uk). The design has hardly changed since the 1960s - and that's because it doesn't need changing.

15. Sharpened Spoke

A sharp pick has many uses, from opening the liner on a freshly cut piece of cable housing to poking leaves out of a cogset. Sharpen the end of a broken spoke with a file to make your own. Bend a loop at the other end to hang it on a peg board.