Workshop New Tools Day #5: It never ends, yay!
Enticing new tools from Pedro's, Unior, Abbey, Daysaver, SQLab, and plenty more.
Welcome back! In this edition of
New Tools Days, you’ll find a couple of desirable pocket-sized multi-tools, two of the nicest cassette lockring sockets going, a way to bring new life into an outdated derailleur hanger gauge, a ratchet that fits in places others don’t, and plenty more.
As usual with the New Tools Day series, my goal is to provide you, the reader, with knowledge of the tools that extend well beyond the usual brand-provided information. If you’re not in the market for new metal bling, hopefully you’ll still learn something here.
On that topic, I’m looking to gauge interest in a newsletter focussed on all things tools, the use of tools, and perhaps even the act of fixing bikes. If you’re keen, whether you’re an Escape Collective member or not, please sign up.
Oh, and a quick mention that throughout this gallery you’ll find varying currencies, quoted based on known availability. Google is your friend for finding local sellers. Ok, on with the show!
A Kickstarter success story, Daysaver is a Swiss bicycle tool company with a novel and impressively compact approach to the bicycle multi-tool. Shown here is the company’s newly updated Essential8 (bottom) along with the pre-existing CoWorking5 (top). The pair of these weighs just 66 grams, a figure that’s approximately half that of many popular multitools with comparable functionality. The genius of the Daysaver Esstential8 is in the stacking and flippable magnetic tool bits. Meanwhile, available separately is the CoWorking5 that offers a quality chain breaker, a good tyre lever, a valve tool, spare quick link holder, and a common-sized (3.3 mm) spoke wrench. Tool geeks will have seen the Daysaver previously. The first iteration was called the Original9 and was produced by PB Swiss, a highly regarded specialist manufacturer of hand tools. By comparison, its successor, the Essential8, loses one tool size, is six grams lighter, and at US$49 is a fair whack cheaper. Interestingly Daysaver didn’t just off-shore the manufacturing, but rather re-designed the tool, too. The proprietary-sized bits are now yet another new one-off size, and the exact configuration makes them more useful than before. For example, the 5 mm hex bit is now a more generous length and can be used in a shrouded rear derailleur bolt. Meanwhile the tolerances of the bits remain comparable, although a little wiggle between each bit means this is best kept as a trail or roadside tool. The Daysaver Essential8 and CoWorking5 duo is a competitive size while feeling like a real tool in use. Its slim profile and low weight are hugely attractive features. Meanwhile, as I covered in my review at ‘the old place,’ the big trade-offs are that the individual bits are absolutely not for the clumsy, and can be fiddly to flip with sweaty hands. I personally carry the Daysaver in a small zippered cycling wallet along with my keys and Dynaplug Racer (tubeless tyre plug). However, the company also offers a handful of carrying-related accessories, including a neat bolt-on system that doubles as a tube strap (top of photo). Alternatively, Milkit sells the Hassel’off, an on-bike toolkit system that provides the Daysaver Essential8 and CoWorking5. James Huang should have a review on this shortly. The Carrier (US$16) simply lets you carry the Essential8 beneath a water bottle cage. The US$6 Hug is like a BananaGuard for your Essential8. I personally quite like the US$18 Guard, a semi-flexible case for the Essential8 and CoWorking5. The Guard and tools together weigh 91 grams and can be bought as a kit for the premium price of US$100. Let’s talk cassette lockring sockets. There’s a myriad of options on the market and even the cheapest ones tend to do the job for casual users. However, in my mind there are two options that stand above the rest. The first is the new Pedro’s Pro Cassette Lockring Socket. With both 3/8 in square drive and 24 mm wrench flats, this machined steel tool can be turned with an assortment of ratchets, torque wrenches, spanners, sockets, and shifting spanners. The second socket I’m fond of is the newly updated Socket Crombie from Abbey Bike Tools. You’ll find more about this lower down. Pedro’s offers its new Pro Cassette Lockring Socket in two variants. There’s the US$30 version without a central guide pin that then also fits certain RockShox fork topcaps. Or for US$40 there’s the version with a guide pin (pictured). The guide pin version is rather clever. The gold-coloured sleeve is for use with 12 mm thru-axles, while it slides off to reveal a quick-release-friendly 5 mm pin beneath. The tolerance between the two pins is so perfect that it makes a satisfying “pop” sound when you remove the 12 mm guide. It’s hard to go wrong with either of these. Both offer a precise fitment with lockrings. Both can be used with a torque wrench. And both offer just enough clearance to fit over the hub end caps for use with centerlock disc brake rotor lockrings. Pedro’s offers a version with a guide pin and can be turned with a shifting spanner or socket holder handle. Meanwhile the US$42 Abbey tool offers an even shorter stack height and is made in America. I personally prefer such tools without a guide pin and so the Abbey speaks to me that little more, but I’d be stoked to use either one. Got an older derailleur hanger gauge tool? At the top is an older Park Tool DAG-2, and beneath it is the current DAG-2.2. One key difference is that the newer version offers improved clearance for many newer thru-axle type derailleur hangers, while the old version simply won’t clear certain frame designs. To solve for this issue, British-based BSC Tool has its DAG Extension (£10 / US$12 / AU$19) to bring new life into that old derailleur hanger gauge. It works by it simply extending the M10 threaded section of a regular derailleur hanger tool. Here’s an older Park Tool DAG-2 failing to clear a modern dropout (UDH frame). And here’s the same tool with the BSC DAG Extension. It solves a problem, but just be warned that you may need to get creative if the indicator rod no longer reaches the rim (using a hex key for a consistent size reference is a good idea). Also, the BSC DAG Extension lacks a mechanism to tighten and lock it into place, so you may need to use some pliers and Loc-tite to keep it threaded on the DAG. Escape Collective member Koen Miseur put me onto this ultra low-profile bit ratchet from German-based BGS Technic. I’m a big fan of tools that solve unique problems and this one fits where other screwdriving tools don’t. The BGS 115 ‘Special Bit Ratchet’ is vastly slimmer than the already low-profile Vessel TD-76 ratchet and is even more compact than a specialty stubby hex key. Those in Europe can pick one of these up for as little as €12, but as I found out, they’re expensive to source in other regions (I purchased mine through Amazon). The accompanying bits are equally special. On the left is a 5 mm hex bit from the BGS 115-1 bit set (an added expense after the ratchet), in the middle is a stubby Vessel TD-76 bit, and on the right is a regular “short” C6 bit from PB Swiss. Unfortunately these special BGS bits are only available as a set. The BGS 115 (on the left) offers a massive clearance advantage over a regular bit ratchet (seen to the right of it). Ok, so it’s rare that you’ll ever need such a low-profile ratchet when working on bicycles, but there are occasions where such a tool can save time. One example is when adjusting a front derailleur bolt that’s blocked by a bottle cage. And another example is quickly adjusting certain seatposts that otherwise require you to adjust the bolt from the side (or through an open saddle channel if available). Got a Park Tool or Unior repair stand with jaw covers that look a little chewed up? Of course you can buy replacements from each respective brand, or you can get something a little more colourful … … just like these Repair Stand Jaw Covers from Elevation Wheel Company. Designed to be a direct replacement, these US$20 covers are 3D printed from a flexible TPU, a manufacturing method that allows for plenty of colour customisation. Elevation’s replacement jaw covers are a snug fit that, while harder to install, are sure to stay put. They also offer more material at the top and bottom of the jaws which should help resist the usual first point of wear. These jaw covers feel to be made of a harder (less tacky) durometer than the stock Park Tool covers. From my point of view, the only strong reason to get these is to add a splash of colour to your workstand, but that’s likely to prove plenty reason for many looking to replace likely-torn covers. Abbey Bike Tools has historically produced tools that bring a unique design approach to making a common tool better. The company’s newest tool, the Star Nut Setter, is a little different to that norm in that it’s, well, not different. Related, you can see this tool in the making from my factory tour of Abbey Bike Tools. The Star Nut Setter has the sole purpose of installing a star-fangled nut into metal fork steerer tubes. The green anodised sleeve fits over the outside of a regular 1 1/8 in steerer tube and acts as a guide to keep the silver steel driver perfectly straight while it’s hit with a hammer. The tool bottoms out once the star fangled nut is set at the correct depth. Abbey’s new Star Nut Setter shares a lot in common with the Pedro’s Star Nut Setter. Both can do 1 in and 1 1/8 in steerers. Both are priced at US$60. Compared to the Pedro’s, the Abbey guide slips down a 1 1/8 steerer a further 10 mm for greater stability, meanwhile the guide pin has a tighter interface fit. Such additional support likely isn’t needed for those who can hit a hammer straight, but more guidance is rarely a bad thing. The Pedro’s was my previous top pick for this tool type, and now there’s another great choice, pick your poison. Abbey Bike Tools’ T-Way started as a quiet collaboration with SRAM and quickly blew up on Instagram. Much to Abbey’s surprise, the tool has fast become a big seller with many buyers opting for the newest magnetic version with interchangeable bits. Alternatively, the tool can also be purchased with pre-selected bits that are held in place with a retaining compound (which can be undone with heat). Abbey supplies its T-Way tool with quality bits from Wera. Meanwhile the solid steel construction with a fine knurling offers a quality, albeit heavy, feel in hand. Prices start from US$60 for a handle with three bits. Abbey’s machined aluminium bit holder is my favourite piece. Its magnet isn’t just strong enough to hold the bits and itself in place, it can even support the T-Way tool. Abbey makes no claim to being the first to do such a magnetic bit driver, although it does raise the quality level. PrestaCycle has a good one if you like more traditional three-way style tools, meanwhile Park Tool’s QTH-1 is quite clever in its ability to change bits one-handed. Abbey Bike Tools has updated its Socket Crombie, an HG-style cassette lockring tool to cover everything from Shimano/SRAM cassette lockrings, internal centerlock rotor lockrings, and select RockShox fork topcaps. The new version (left) offers a shorter stack height than the original (right), which means it’s less likely to cam-off at torque. The Socket Crombie is a pretty simple tool that can only be driven with a 3/8 in square drive. There is just enough depth to clear the end-caps of centerlock rear hubs with no wasted length beyond that. Expect to pay US$43 / AU$102 for one of these precision machined and hardened steel sockets. SRAM’s Ultimate Piston Press tool was released earlier this year and has proven to be a premium-priced (US$94), yet rather brilliant disc brake service tool. It’s a tool that inspired Escape Collective member and 3D printer extraordinaire, Chris Heerschap, to come up with a more affordable alternative. Heerschap’s concept borrows the basic sliding wedge design but takes a far simpler approach. Early testing suggests Heerschap’s 3D printed idea works surprisingly well, and unlike using a tyre lever or spanner end, this design ensures the brake caliper pistons are pushed back perfectly square. Heerschap has produced two widths of the tool (26 and 19 mm), with the wider version fitting into Shimano road calipers – something the SRAM Ultimate Piston Press Tool cannot do. Meanwhile the narrow version (pictured) can get into the small gap of Shimano’s entry-level calipers, such as those that take B-series pads. Heerschap offers these, along with many other 3D-printed tools on his Etsy store for impressively fair prices. The files are also currently available for free download for those with a 3D printer. Chapeau Chris! Best known for its ergonomic saddles and components, SQLab certainly isn’t a brand you’d expect to find in a tool feature. And yet, the German company’s Nine Key Card is well worth talking about. Made in collaboration with Wera, this compact set offers hex 2-6 mm, T10/T25 and a PH2 (Phillips) – all wrapped up in a useful case that doubles as a card holder. The SQLab Key Card is impressively compact given it’s a handful of regular tools. However, those regular tools do add up in weight. By comparison, the smaller Daysaver Essential8 is just 33 grams and even has an 8 mm hex key. I prefer lighter tools for carrying on rides, but this little €50 / AU$80 set has proven a perfect addition to the glovebox of my car, and would be an equally good fit for a well-equipped Everyday Carry (EDC) setup. The Stainless steel hex keys offer Wera’s patented HexPlus profile for greater surface area with a fastener. Meanwhile the 6 mm hex key has a PH2 on its long end. The plastic case is easy to grab keys from while offering secure, rattle-free storage. The SQLab Nine Key Card provides keys that are far smaller than the more commonly found long keys from Wera. Space at the back for a few cards. Those cards can be slid in and out. Lightweight hammers. It’s an odd idea to make something that should be heavy, light, but I’ve come to really appreciate such a thing in recent years. Such low-mass hammers don’t pack quite the punch, but that’s exactly why they’re the perfect tool for finessing something into or out of place. Second from the left is my newest addition (one I brought home from MADE), a dreamy titanium whacker from Canadian-based titanium frame maker Rollingdale Cycles. For reference, on its right is the original lightweight titanium travel hammer (US$189) from Abbey Bike Tools. On the far left is a useful and not terribly expensive mallet from Wera, while the one on the far right is the “I can’t believe it’s this light” 3D-printed titanium hammer from Silca (seemingly discontinued). The Silca is too light, but something like the Rollingdale feels just right for many more-delicate tasks around a bicycle. Thumbs up indeed. Titanium isn’t the best choice if you’re looking for a hammer to whale against hardened steels. I personally keep a few different hammers at nearby reach depending on the task at hand. Knocking out a stuck crank? My Noble Deadblow hammer with its super wide plastic face is the first pick there. Smashing the end of a pin punch? I’ll reach for a PB Swiss or similar deadblow that offers a steel face to match. Meanwhile a titanium hammer like this is just about perfect for tapping in barplugs, guiding in a shifter pin, doing a suspension lower leg service, or any similar task where tactile feedback is important. Like many of this hammer style, the Rollingdale offers a replaceable soft face on one side. Want one? Reach out over Rollingdale’s website or Instagram. While not super new, Unior has updated its Spoke Wrenches. The #1630/5 sell for €15 a piece and are offered to fit the most commonly sized square nipples along with DT Swiss Spline drive. These die-cast zinc-alloy spoke wrenches offer four sides of engagement. The fit and feel is generally good, but that is also greatly dependant on the brand/model of nipple being twisted. I’m a big fan of spoke wrenches that let me use my preferred bladed spoke holders. As for the 3.3 mm size, that’s Unior’s answer to covering both 3.23 and 3.3 mm nipple sizes. It does the job, but perhaps doesn’t fit as tightly on nipples that measure closer to 3.23 mm. Spoke wrenches are a highly subjective tool choice. The red DT Swiss in the middle is my favourite to use when it fits, but each popular option on the market offers a subtle point of difference. The good news is that buying a few to get a feel for what you prefer isn’t a hugely expensive exercise.
Hey, Dave here.
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😐Meh 😊️Solid 🤩Excellent