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Park Tools SWB-15 breaker bar review

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Park Tools SWB-15 breaker bar review

Old 05-12-19, 08:55 PM
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Le Mechanic
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Park Tools SWB-15 breaker bar review

I made a short review video of the park SWB-15 breaker bar. As a long time veteran in the bicycle industry, there are times when you need some extra leverage to break a tight or stuck nut, bolt or bottom bracket loose. Park Tools recently released this tool, and these are my thought on it.

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Old 05-12-19, 09:29 PM
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The upshot: an expert user finds the new tool a little lacking in precision execution.

I've used cheaters to extend a wrench, but this approach ignores a pretty important factor: there's a reason why 3/8 bars are shorter than 1/2 inch drives: the 3/8 tolerates less torque. I agree that sometimes you need to try a little extra on some bolts, but just using a longer bar is gonna end up braking the drive head at some point.

In general, the solution when you need more torque (on a BB, for example) would be to go to a 1/2 drive socket and tool.
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Old 05-12-19, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by WizardOfBoz View Post
The upshot: an expert user finds the new tool a little lacking in precision execution.

I've used cheaters to extend a wrench, but this approach ignores a pretty important factor: there's a reason why 3/8 bars are shorter than 1/2 inch drives: the 3/8 tolerates less torque. I agree that sometimes you need to try a little extra on some bolts, but just using a longer bar is gonna end up braking the drive head at some point.

In general, the solution when you need more torque (on a BB, for example) would be to go to a 1/2 drive socket and tool.
I agree 100%, but most bicycle specific tools are set up for 3/8" drive?!?
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Old 05-12-19, 09:59 PM
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Stay tuned for my review of an old block of wood, coming soon.
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Old 05-12-19, 10:50 PM
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Did anyone ever test an impact wrench on stubborn BBs?
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Old 05-13-19, 08:17 AM
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How much more does the Park tool cost versus one from Harbor Freight?
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Old 05-13-19, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by leob1 View Post
How much more does the Park tool cost versus one from Harbor Freight?
$9.49. The Snap On one costs $75-95 (for long and extra long).

Let me google that for you...
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Old 05-13-19, 08:56 AM
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Park's specialty tools for specific bicycle components are fine but there is no reason to buy from them for tools easily available at any hardware or big box home store. Perhaps a bike shop could bundle this type of tool with an order for Park's dedicated bike tools but for most of us it's unnecessary. From Harbor Freight up to Snap On everyone makes these things.
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Old 05-13-19, 09:01 AM
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What's up with tightening a BB while bike is held on a stand? Or am I OCD.
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Old 05-13-19, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by AnkleWork View Post
Stay tuned for my review of an old block of wood, coming soon.
My review of the old pipe section/cheater bar that I inherited from my grandpa while follow shortly thereafter.

I know I'm going to really struggle to make my review last a painfully long 5:41 like the OP's.
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Old 05-13-19, 12:01 PM
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When I needed a longer armed ratchet I went to Harbor Freight and got an extendible one and a set of long reach hex keys in 3/8" that I bought online. I then serviced my BB and had no trouble at all. It also makes removing pedals easy. I can easily break any bolt on a bike now except that I bought a 3/8" torque wrench too so I won't. It makes me feel like a real mechanic when I use these.
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Old 05-13-19, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
When I needed a longer armed ratchet I went to Harbor Freight and got an extendible one and a set of long reach hex keys in 3/8" that I bought online. I then serviced my BB and had no trouble at all. It also makes removing pedals easy. I can easily break any bolt on a bike now except that I bought a 3/8" torque wrench too so I won't. It makes me feel like a real mechanic when I use these.
Until that one you can't. That's not a 3/8 breaker bar



Some are more stubborn than others.
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Old 05-13-19, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Le Mechanic View Post
I made a short review video of the park SWB-15 breaker bar. As a long time veteran in the bicycle industry, there are times when you need some extra leverage to break a tight or stuck nut, bolt or bottom bracket loose. Park Tools recently released this tool, and these are my thought on it.
Great review! You certainly showed the shortcomings of that tool. It isn't up to the usual standards of the Park Tool Company.
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Old 05-13-19, 01:01 PM
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OK its a 3/8" drive 15" long breaker bar , & how long atr 3/8" breaker bars usually?

you can get a 1/2" breaker bar & put a 1/2 to 3/8 reducer socket on it, of course..
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Old 05-13-19, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Park's specialty tools for specific bicycle components are fine but there is no reason to buy from them for tools easily available at any hardware or big box home store. Perhaps a bike shop could bundle this type of tool with an order for Park's dedicated bike tools but for most of us it's unnecessary. From Harbor Freight up to Snap On everyone makes these things.
I was thinking about getting the Harbor Freight breaker bar for $9.49, but we didn't really want to drive across town to save a couple of bucks when we could just order the Park model and have it delivered the next day with our normal parts shipment. Honestly, I thought the Park breaker bar would be about the same as the HF tool, or even a little better.
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Old 05-13-19, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
What's up with tightening a BB while bike is held on a stand? Or am I OCD.
A commercial bike stand clamped to the seat post is the best way I've found. If you know of a better method, I'd love to hear it.
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Old 05-13-19, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
Great review! You certainly showed the shortcomings of that tool. It isn't up to the usual standards of the Park Tool Company.
Thanks! Yeah, I was expecting a little better made tool. I sent an email to Park tech support asking about it with a link to the video. I'm interested to know if this is an acceptable tolerance for them or if I just got a defective tool.
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Old 05-13-19, 05:47 PM
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I use 1/2" drive for sprocket rings and BBs, so no need for a cheaterbar (except for some rare really stubborn BB).
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Old 05-14-19, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Did anyone ever test an impact wrench on stubborn BBs?
Racing Dan,
I have not bothered to create a video on the merits of using an impact gun on a bottom bracket, but it is the method of preference here at my place. Someone asked me last week about my tool choices. I use the tool truck variety like Mac and Snap-On. The torque of a Craftsman impact wrench won't break a freewheel or loosen a rusted in bottom bracket. I use the 1/2"drive impact wrenches( both Mac and Snap-On) to take the BB's and freewheels apart, and even if the tools need a socket in between them and the impact, the part still releases. Pneumatic wrenches are our friends! Smiles, MH
BTW, The Snap-On 1/2" breaker bar at 24 inches and using an adapter for 1/2" to 3/8" will provide plenty of torque to break a Bottom Bracket loose. However the impact gun is far easier, and less demanding on my old shoulder muscles.
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Old 05-14-19, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Mad Honk View Post
Racing Dan,
I have not bothered to create a video on the merits of using an impact gun on a bottom bracket, but it is the method of preference here at my place. Someone asked me last week about my tool choices. I use the tool truck variety like Mac and Snap-On. The torque of a Craftsman impact wrench won't break a freewheel or loosen a rusted in bottom bracket. I use the 1/2"drive impact wrenches( both Mac and Snap-On) to take the BB's and freewheels apart, and even if the tools need a socket in between them and the impact, the part still releases. Pneumatic wrenches are our friends! Smiles, MH
BTW, The Snap-On 1/2" breaker bar at 24 inches and using an adapter for 1/2" to 3/8" will provide plenty of torque to break a Bottom Bracket loose. However the impact gun is far easier, and less demanding on my old shoulder muscles.
I used an impact gun pretty frequently at the shop I worked at before the current one. Definitely my first choice on a stubborn bottom bracket. I also like my little DeWalt cordless impact driver, works great to remove or install bolt on axle nuts. Probably faster than a quick release!
Sometimes worse case, you gotta use a 1/2" breaker bar with a 3' pipe onto a 1" socket connected to the spline tool for those really seized bottom brackets.
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Old 05-15-19, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Le Mechanic View Post
A commercial bike stand clamped to the seat post is the best way I've found. If you know of a better method, I'd love to hear it.
I always remove or install bottom bracket cups with the bike on its wheels on the ground. That avoids putting a lot of force on the frame tubes or seatpost.
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Old 05-15-19, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Le Mechanic View Post
I agree 100%, but most bicycle specific tools are set up for 3/8" drive?!?
Another thought: most of the stuff that I recall being difficult was done using the bench vice as a wrench. Taking off freewheels, and removing BB bearing cups, for example.

I can't imagine using a breaker bar for nearly anything else on a bike.
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Old 05-15-19, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
I always remove or install bottom bracket cups with the bike on its wheels on the ground. That avoids putting a lot of force on the frame tubes or seatpost.
There's quite a lot of force put on the seat post from just riding down the road. I've seen many bent seat posts and damaged or broken frames when pushed too far from aggressive riding. I don't ever recommend clamping a frame tube into a bike repair stand. I cringe every time I see a video or hear someone suggest "it's ok as long as you don't clamp it too tight". I've seen a LOT of damaged frames, destroyed classic decals and scratched up paint from it, so you definitely don't want to do it if you're trying to free a tight or stuck component and you're going to be really wrenching on the bike. I've been a mechanic a long time and I've never seen a bike damaged by clamping it on the seat post, plus I like to work on stuff at a comfortable standing position.
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Old 05-15-19, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by WizardOfBoz View Post
Another thought: most of the stuff that I recall being difficult was done using the bench vice as a wrench. Taking off freewheels, and removing BB bearing cups, for example.

I can't imagine using a breaker bar for nearly anything else on a bike.
20+ year old splined BB's seem to be the worst, but I like using a breaker bar for outboard BB cups, SRAM spindle bolts and sometimes cassette lockrings.
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Old 05-16-19, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Le Mechanic View Post
20+ year old splined BB's seem to be the worst, but I like using a breaker bar for outboard BB cups, SRAM spindle bolts and sometimes cassette lockrings.
Given your forum name, I suspect am sure that you know more about these things than I. I have old industrial (Proto) 1/2 and 3/8 breaker bars, so I should be set.
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