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
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.
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.
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.
b - as you can see, we bicycle mechanics always speak with one voice!
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).
Mountain bikes: Santa Cruz Hecklers (99, 02, 07), Santa Cruz Nomad, Moots YBB, Trek OCLV Pro Issue, American Breezer
Road bikes: TST, Trek 2300 (Carbon/Alum)
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??
Giant Cypress 2009
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.
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
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.
Check out your local Sears, they often have sales on decent quality hex sets, and they should last you for many, many, years.
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!
How do you keep an idiot in suspense?
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.
It's around here somewhere . . .
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.
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.
Giant Cypress 2009