Mountain Bike Action’s Tool Shootout
Pro riders are not the only ones who take their equipment seriously; mechanics know the value of quality equipment as well. You can find evidence of that by looking into the toolboxes of many top pros’ mechanics. These boxes are sometimes as impressive as the bikes the mechanics work on. Considering the high volume of bikes that roll through the Mountain Bike Action office, we have to rely on quality tools to keep our test bikes running smoothly. So, the wrecking crew decided to shoot out two different types of Allen wrenches to see which would reign supreme. Instead of grabbing a traditional Allen wrench set, we opted to put Park Tools T-handles up against Prestacycle’s ratchet set. Read on to see how well these two different tools handled the same task.
PARK TOOL T-HANDLES
Park Tool is recognized as a top manufacturer in the bicycle industry, providing tools for every type of bike repair imaginable. T-handles are among its newest offerings, available individually or as a set with a hanging tool holder. The set includes hex wrenches with a list of sizes from 2mm up to 10mm, allowing riders to take on just about any job. A set of Torx wrenches is also available in sizes ranging from T6 to T40. A unique feature that sets Park Tool’s T-handles apart is the Strip-Gripper design that makes it fast and easy to remove stripped bolts. Another notable feature is the anodized spinning grip that allows mechanics to spin the T-handles effortlessly.
Hex T-handle set, $129.95; Torx T-handle set, $109.95 (both sets offer eight tools and a holder.)
The T-handle set from Park Tool is made for professional mechanics looking for top-quality tools. Most home mechanics don’t want to spend nearly $250 for Allen and Torx tools. That said, these T-handles offer superior craftsmanship and quality you can see and feel. The tools have a nice weight to them and make a strong connection with every bolt they come in contact with. The top of the T-handle slides from side to side, giving the tool better leverage or reach when needed; however, in some cases, the tool’s larger size was a hindrance. It didn’t happen often, but some bolts were hard to get to with Park Tool’s T-handles.
We loved the Strip-Gripper design. It got us out of a pinch when we needed to remove a stripped or rounded-off bolt. To our surprise, the tool grabbed these types of bolts with ease and saved us the headache of doing something reckless, such as drilling the bolts out. We found ourselves grabbing the Allen wrenches more often than the Torx tools, leaving many of them hanging on the wall unused. If a mechanic were to buy these tools, we would recommend the complete Hex toolset accompanied by a handful of Torx sizes. Park Tools T-handles
Prestaratchets have quickly become some of our favorite tools due to their versatility and speed. While most Allen or Torx tools have one tool per size, these ratchets allow mechanics to swap out bits to make the ratchets usable for almost every bolt size. With their value pricing, these tools are especially appealing to mechanics on a budget. The ratchet tool we prefer to use comes with a handy tire lever integrated into the handle; however, multiple designs are available to suit any mechanic’s needs. A small lever at the back of these tools allows the ratchets to change direction. Additionally, bit sets are available in a variety of sizes and lengths.
$19.95 (One ratchet tool and bit set) $15.95 (Ratchet tool without bits)
Prestacycle’s ratchet set is made for mechanics looking for fast and efficient tools that won’t break the bank. The tools feel less refined than the Park Tool T-handles, but what they lack in feel, they more than make up for in function. With just one tool and a handful of bits, a mechanic can nearly assemble an entire bike from the ground up. Since the ratchets are fairly inexpensive, we found ourselves setting up multiple ratchets with different-size bits already pressed in to limit the time spent swapping bits. This further increased the speed of our jobs.
The tools are lightweight and reach just about every bolt with ease. Occasionally, we swapped out a longer bit for better access, but that change can be done in seconds. The bits themselves made strong contact with our bolts, preventing any issues with stripping or rounding them out. Prestacycle’s Ratchet Set
Both tools earned high praise, so it was hard to pick a clear winner. On one hand, Park Tool’s T-handles are top quality and would be a standout in any pro mechanic’s toolbox. They performed great and offered top-notch construction, but that came with a price. Prestacycle’s ratchet set is a workhorse tool designed to be as versatile as possible and to get the job done fast. This lightweight tool is small enough to be carried on the trail while still being reliable enough to be a permanent bench-top tool.
Ultimately, it came down to price and versatilely over professional craftsmanship. The winner of our Allen/Torx wrench shootout was Prestacycle’s Prestaratchet. While Park Tool’s T-handle would make an excellent addition to a mechanic’s toolbox, we couldn’t ignore the difference in price. For about half the cost of Park Tool’s T-handle sets, a mechanic could build out a nice toolbox full of Prestarachets ready to take on any job.
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