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Old 06-14-09, 02:39 PM   #1
bagel007
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Which allen/hex wrench set would you recommend for basic repairs?

Here are the options I'm considering:
Thanks in advance!
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Old 06-14-09, 02:44 PM   #2
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The Topeak is a nice set, but only for emergency repairs.
The Park is OK, but again will be cumbersome to use.
Get a decent set of L-shaped hex keys. Something like this: http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1...hex+wrench+set
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Old 06-14-09, 02:49 PM   #3
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The Park is fine. Has a nice feel in the hand. I used to use one of those all day, every day.
L-keys are a nice option, but not necessary for most work.
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Old 06-14-09, 02:57 PM   #4
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I agree the L keys are not *necessary*, but they make things a lot easier in the following ways:
1) Having a short arm and a long arm gives you choices in cases of limited clearance, or where you might need more leverage.
2) Having the ball ends on the "low-torque" ends again gives more choices for access -- you can't always get at a fastener straight-on.
3) The other keys/body don't get in the way of use.
4) The L-sets are often better-made than the all-in-one sets.
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Old 06-14-09, 03:11 PM   #5
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Those folding tools are great for your saddle bag for on the road repairs and adjustments. If it's all you can afford, you can almost do anything you need to do with them.

For your home, if you plan to do most of your own wrenching, forget about the folding sets or even a set of ball-end L-shaped ones (which are better, but not great). Get three items:

A set of T handled hex wrenches with ball-end on the long shaft and regular hex keys on the short (T handle) end. I have Craftsman, but there are others, including Park. They're pretty much generic, so buy the ones that you can afford, are available to you or feel the best in your hand. WONDERFUL tools and not too expensive for a complete set ($20-25?). If you use a set, you'll wonder why you spent years with those awful L allen keys which are really make-do tools as opposed to real tools.

A set of allen sockets for your socket drive and /or torque wrench. Again, real tools which work infinitely better than L-shaped ones. I have a medium grade set I bought at Auztozone or something, but you can go as cheap or expensive as you want like every other set of socket wrenches. For casual bike wrenching, cheap is probably just fine.

I also have a screwdriver type handle with a full set of metric allen inserts. That's a great tool too and only cost about $10.

Almost every single fastener on a bicycle is allen. Why use corner-cutting tools like the folding mini-tools and L-shaped allen wrenches? Use real tools, just as you do for every other mechanical project. The socket set and T-handle set are the way to go.
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Old 06-14-09, 03:11 PM   #6
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I have the set that Mondoman recomends. It's great- the fast ball end when you want it, the long handle when you need it. Plus if the small ones bend or break, or if the balls break off, just bring it in to Sears for a free replacement.
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Old 06-14-09, 03:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
Those folding tools are great for your saddle bag for on the road repairs and adjustments. If it's all you can afford, you can almost do anything you need to do with them.

For your home, if you plan to do most of your own wrenching, forget about the folding sets or even a set of ball-end L-shaped ones (which are better, but not great). Get three items:

A set of T handled hex wrenches with ball-end on the long shaft and regular hex keys on the short (T handle) end. I have Craftsman, but there are others, including Park. They're pretty much generic, so buy the ones that you can afford, are available to you or feel the best in your hand. WONDERFUL tools and not too expensive for a complete set ($20-25?). If you use a set, you'll wonder why you spent years with those awful L allen keys which are really make-do tools as opposed to real tools.

A set of allen sockets for your socket drive and /or torque wrench. Again, real tools which work infinitely better than L-shaped ones. I have a medium grade set I bought at Auztozone or something, but you can go as cheap or expensive as you want like every other set of socket wrenches. For casual bike wrenching, cheap is probably just fine.

I also have a screwdriver type handle with a full set of metric allen inserts. That's a great tool too and only cost about $10.

Almost every single fastener on a bicycle is allen. Why use corner-cutting tools like the folding mini-tools and L-shaped allen wrenches? Use real tools, just as you do for every other mechanical project. The socket set and T-handle set are the way to go.
I've been wrenching bikes for 20 years, and think this is overkill.
Allen bolts on a bike are relatively low torque and easily accessible. The vast majority of the time, a simple and comfortable folding set like the Park are all anyone needs.
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Old 06-14-09, 03:59 PM   #8
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b - as you can see, we bicycle mechanics always speak with one voice!
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Old 06-14-09, 04:12 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Torchy McFlux View Post
I've been wrenching bikes for 20 years, and think this is overkill.
Allen bolts on a bike are relatively low torque and easily accessible. The vast majority of the time, a simple and comfortable folding set like the Park are all anyone needs.
Torchy, your probably a real coordinated, ambidextrous guy... I am a klutz, and I NEED every type of Allen wrench made just to keep from pulling my (remaining) hair out. One man's overkill is another man's necessity
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Old 06-14-09, 04:19 PM   #10
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If all you want is one to carry with you and use for minor repairs, the Park is fine. I have one in my pack. I use these mostly in the repair stand, though http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/BONDH...QQcmdZViewItem (which also gives you larger sizes that the AWS10 doesn't have and you might need, depending on your bike, the AWS 11 might be a better choice depending on what you need for your bike).
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Old 06-14-09, 05:02 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the responses!

Let me put it all this way: I'm looking for fenders for my Giant Cypress bike (see my post here) and after reading the manual for one of recommended fenders I've realized that they don't come with installation tools. That gave me an idea -- why to buy one specific allen/hex wrench (4 mm) required for the installation if I can buy for probably a little more money a whole set of allen/hex wrenches I can use in the future for basic repairs or upgrades I'm considering to do. For instance, additional bottle cage or rear rack (like the Topeak Explorer Tubular Rack).

For that type of repairs or upgrades, which set is better?

The TOPEAK Mini 9 Bike Tool (with 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm hex wrenches), or the PARK TOOL AWS-10 Folding Hex Set (with 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, and 6mm hex wrenches)??

Do I need the 8mm hex wrench?? (the Topeak set does have it, the Park Tools set doesn't).
Do I need the 1.5 hex wrench?? (the Park Tools set does have it, the Topeak set doesn't).

Are there any other difference between those two sets that I should bring into consideration??

TIA
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Old 06-14-09, 07:46 PM   #12
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If you're intending on packing it with you as part of your emergency repair kit, get the Topeak. It has more features in a smaller package.
If you're intending on keeping the tool at home and using it on a regular basis, get the Park. It has a more comfortable handle and longer keys.
An 8mm is used on many crank bolts. The reason Topeak has it on their tool is because it's designed primarily to be used in an emergency - like when your crankarm falls off halfway through a ride. An 8mm crank bolt should usually be torqued between 300 and 400 inch-pounds - not something that's easy to do with a little folding tool. If you want an 8mm, you can buy ones with nice long vinyl-dipped handles for not a lot of money.
A 1.5mm is used on some grub screws. It's handy to have, and when it's in a folding wrench, it's difficult to lose.
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Old 06-14-09, 07:47 PM   #13
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b - you're focusing too much on sets that fit in your pocket (which makes them less useful as general tools), unless there is some other consideration you haven't mentioned. You probably won't use a 1.5mm key, while you sometimes will use an 8mm key. However, the 8mm key in the topeak tool is likely too wimpy to use in practice.

Is $8 too much for a proper set? http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=65425
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Old 06-14-09, 08:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Torchy McFlux View Post
I've been wrenching bikes for 20 years, and think this is overkill.
Allen bolts on a bike are relatively low torque and easily accessible. The vast majority of the time, a simple and comfortable folding set like the Park are all anyone needs.
Yea, I've been doing maintenance on my own bikes since the early 70s. Not a pro, but an "enthusiastic hobbyist". Until literaly about a year ago, I used folding hex keys and an assortment of L-shaped hex keys that I'd collected over the years. They work fine just like you said.

I definitely believe that T handled hex keys are a great tool. Sure the others do just fine, but so does a crescent wrench, but I prefer a set of box end wrenches.

As for the socket hex keys, again, compared to other wrenches: you can get by with a set of box end wrenches, but a set of socket wrenches is generally considered part of a basic tool set because they are much better for many applications. You absolutely need them if you believe that torque specs are important (I'm not being argumentative - there is difference of opinion on this factor).

Anyway, I'm not a tool geek. I tend to buy mid-level tools, but the T handled hex wrenches are one of the most pleasant additions I've made to my collection in many, many years.
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Old 06-14-09, 11:51 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Torchy McFlux View Post
I've been wrenching bikes for 20 years, and think this is overkill.
Allen bolts on a bike are relatively low torque and easily accessible. The vast majority of the time, a simple and comfortable folding set like the Park are all anyone needs.
Vast majority - yes. Unfortunately, that's not good enough.

I can't think of a simpler bike mechanic job than installing a water bottle cage - unless the only allen wrench you happen to have is part of a folding set.
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Old 06-14-09, 11:55 PM   #16
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Check out your local Sears, they often have sales on decent quality hex sets, and they should last you for many, many, years.
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Old 06-15-09, 12:00 AM   #17
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http://www.bondhus.com/products/foldups/body53.htm
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Old 06-15-09, 12:32 AM   #18
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For a carry-on tool-set I carry a Topeak Alien II - which has a set of metric Allen-wrenches. For the shop I have a set of L- shaped ones from 1.5mm to 16mm (really! even a 7mm). And I have a socket-set from 2mm - 10mm. And I have a Park 5mm with a handle, and a Pedros 4mm - which I'm scared will brake everytime I use it. The Pedro hex-wrenches feel weak to me, and I've heard others say they have broken them with any serious work. Beware. But the 5mm and 4mm are the most common sizes I use.

It always bothers me to have tools I don't trust. What am I going to do with them after I've replaced them? Give them to some aspiring bike-mechanic who may end up hating me? Yuck!
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Old 06-15-09, 01:02 AM   #19
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Well, I am a pro. I work on multimillion dollar semiconductor equipment. 12 hour shifts in the clean room wearing bunny suits, masks, and rubber gloves. This is what I use: http://www.wihatools.com/600seri/669Chrom_mm.htm . I was skeptical about spending so much for hex wrenches. No longer. Wiha wrenches are the absolute best.

Really long T wrenches are nice when you need to start machine screws deep in a machine. Use a bit of rubber glove to hold the screw on the wrench.

Folding wrench sets are a pain. Disassemble the set. You can stick a screw driver through the looped end to get more leverage.

On the road? Carry only the loose wrenches that fit your bike. 4, 5, and 6 are usually all you need for on the road work.
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Old 06-15-09, 06:16 AM   #20
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It always bothers me to have tools I don't trust. What am I going to do with them after I've replaced them? Give them to some aspiring bike-mechanic who may end up hating me? Yuck!
There's a lot of wisdom in knowing when to throw something away.

Allen wrenches don't last forever. When they get work to the point where they don't fit tightly anymore, replace it. If you scan the mechanic posts for any significant period of time, you will see several asking how to remove a rounded out allen bolt. That's the result of keeping an allen wrench too long.
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Old 06-15-09, 06:39 AM   #21
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There's a lot of wisdom in knowing when to throw something away.

Allen wrenches don't last forever. When they get work to the point where they don't fit tightly anymore, replace it. If you scan the mechanic posts for any significant period of time, you will see several asking how to remove a rounded out allen bolt. That's the result of keeping an allen wrench too long.
Maybe for the pro, but a decent set will last someone working on their own bike for a damn long time.
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Old 06-15-09, 06:40 AM   #22
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Well, I am a pro. I work on multimillion dollar semiconductor equipment. 12 hour shifts in the clean room wearing bunny suits, masks, and rubber gloves. This is what I use: http://www.wihatools.com/600seri/669Chrom_mm.htm . I was skeptical about spending so much for hex wrenches. No longer. Wiha wrenches are the absolute best.

Really long T wrenches are nice when you need to start machine screws deep in a machine. Use a bit of rubber glove to hold the screw on the wrench.

Folding wrench sets are a pain. Disassemble the set. You can stick a screw driver through the looped end to get more leverage.

On the road? Carry only the loose wrenches that fit your bike. 4, 5, and 6 are usually all you need for on the road work.
Those really aren't that expensive. A nine piece set for $23 isn't bad at all.
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Old 06-15-09, 10:15 AM   #23
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There's a lot of wisdom in knowing when to throw something away.
Well said. However - the Pedros allen-wrenches were/are DOA. So it's more to the effect of admitting I was ripped off. Thank you anywho!
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Old 06-15-09, 10:38 AM   #24
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As of now, I'm leaning towards the PARK TOOL AWS-10 set. From what I hear here, it has a nice feel in the hand. And it's $8.

If I'm not mistaken, it should suffice to install fenders, rear rack and bottle cage. Correct me please if I'm wrong.
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Old 06-15-09, 10:48 AM   #25
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As of now, I'm leaning towards the PARK TOOL AWS-10 set. From what I hear here, it has a nice feel in the hand. And it's $8.

If I'm not mistaken, it should suffice to install fenders, rear rack and bottle cage. Correct me please if I'm wrong.
Depends on your particular set-up.
I have that Park set, and it's useless for the rear rack on my Surly CrossCheck. Only thing that reaches is a ball head on the long arm of an L shaped wrench. YMMV, but it may not be all you need.
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