I’ve read some of the other topics but can’t seem to find what I want so apologies if this is redundant! I am an amateur bike mechanic and just got a ratcheting all in one (the Megapro 211R1C36RD) and would like to buy a GOOD bit set that has common sizes for bike work - 4mm, 5mm, 7mm, etc. A lot of the stuff I’ve used in the past will strip screws, so the more precise the better. I have allen keys, but I want something like that will ratchet. Thank you for any recommendations.
First you might take a look at Park Tools to get a feeling what sizes are in common use. If you are only working on one or two bikes - then your needs will likely be more limited:
Next - you probably realize that a ratcheting driver like the Megapro - offers some speed and convenience - but may not provide enough torque to break some fasteners loose
You might also note that many 1/4 inch hex-drive insert (1 inch long) bit sets come with other drive-point styles (like flat, Phillips, Robertson and Torx) in combination - more so than with hex bits.
I tool a quick look at PB Swiss - one of my favorite brands for fit and finish - and I did not see a hex-bit exclusive assortment.
An alternative might be the Wiha 79256 set:
KCTool offers a discount for ToolGuyd readers - I think the code is ToolGuyd4Life
Another good brand is Wera. They offer a style called HexPlus that is said to grip socket head screws better:
Thanks for the comprehensive answer. Regarding the torque, what if I also got a ratchet (eg https://www.kctoolco.com/wera-346293-30-universal-bit-ratchet-zyklop-mini-set-retail-pack/)? Or you feel that wouldn’t be enough as well? Thanks.
Socket head screws can sometimes be a bit frozen in place - but by their nature you can’t apply loads of torque to them without either stripping out the recess or shearing the head off. Its just that a normal screwdriver - handle in the palm of your hand - sometimes doesn’t cut it. Some screwdriver designs provide a flat spot. square area or hex bolster - up at the handle to allow you to “wrench” on the tool for added torque. T-handles and short ratchets are another option and the little Wera ratchet that you link to is nice. In a pinch a 1/4 in hex box wrench can we applied directly to the hex bit…
Cool, thanks Fred. Appreciate the insights.
Fred - PB Swiss makes a BikeTool, also available under Victorinox branding.
I built my own assortment buying loose PB Swiss bits during holiday promo seasons.
I also have inexpensive Craftsman and MIT (probably now under Tekton branding) socket sets. A lot of bike maintenance stuff does take more than a bit screwdriver can handle torque-wise.
Jackie, the Wera Zyklop mini is an excellent bit ratchet, and that set sees a lot of use here. The bits will most certainly be helpful, but even that bit ratchet is going to be on the small side for some of what you’re going to want to do.
I have older Park Tool beam-style torque wrenches for final tightening (they were maybe $25-30 each when I bought them), and I often use a larger driving tool or 1/4" ratchet for lighter duty tasks, and a breaker bar or larger ratchet with adapter for tougher tasks.
Something like replacing or maintaining pedals is going to require a bigger tool. I’ve had to use a dead blow mallet to break really stubborn fasteners free.
The Zylop swivel-head ratchets are helpful, in that they can be used for higher torque delivery, or inline with screwdriver-like speed.
But, I also have Park Tool L or P-handle drivers. I believe they’re made by Bondhus, which is a good name when it comes to ball-end hex drivers. I didn’t buy a whole set, I bought drivers in 4mm, 5mm, 6mm sizes.
OH! I also bought a Craftsman magnetic L-shaped driver once. It lost a magnet the first time I used it, but I mostly bought the set for the hex bits it came with.
For greatest precision, you cannot do better than PB Swiss. Wera might be a good alternative - I’ve used those bits with good success. I’ve stripped some screws, though, mainly button head socket head screws, with shallow recesses.
The benefit of the PB Swiss/Victorinox Bike tool is that you get a portable “emergency tool” that you can pack with you for road or trail adjustments. But it’s pricey, even discounted under Victorinox branding.
Bits: Slot 3; PH 2; TX 25; Hex 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 6
In terms of ratchet tools, I have Wera sets, which come with ratchets, bits, and bit holders. But there’s a lot of wasted value if you’re looking at bike-maintenance-only tools.
A more economical solution would be Gearwrench Roto Ratchets, probably 3/8" or a 3/8" and 1/4" set -
And any common bit holder adapter should do (I love Wera adapters, but their socket bit adapters aren’t as compelling). You can find them for $5-6, sometimes less.
Thanks for that breakdown! I already have a few bike tools that can be thrown in my bag - as well as a full set of Wiha Allen keys (L shaped). But I want something ratcheting and strong and was thinking to move to bits + ratchet when in tight spaces. I do not have the T (plast handle) park tools and was thinking of those as well. Thanks!
I know you already have a driver, but I’ll talk about drivers first. I chose a wrench-style ratcheting bit holder rather than a screwdriver style because it offers more torque for the same tool size, and because most bolts on the bike are relatively exposed, I didn’t need a screwdriver’s extension (and anyway, there are extension shafts for hex bits.)
So here is the driver I got.
It is tiny, but well made. Maybe a little heavy to carry in the seat pouch though.
I also got this stubby screwdriver-style driver. Not as nice (larger teeth in the pawl) but cheap.
So next, bits. If the rest of you don’t know, a lot of the screws on a bike take a metric hex bit. So what I was looking for was 1" metric hex bits, i.e., one size of the bit is 4 mm hex, say, and the other is 1/4" hex to fit in the bit holder. And, I really wanted ball “wobble” tips, for greater speed in inserting the bits.
But it turned out to be difficult to find a set of assorted ball tip metric hex driver bits. You CAN find a set of ten 4mm bits, or ten 5 mm bits, etc., but not a set that has one of each. You can also get 3" bits, but I didn’t want the extra length.
So since that little ratchet wrench also has a 1/4" square drive, I ended up going with these hex- tip SOCKET bits.
The ones I got were ball-tip, but apparently they don’t sell those any more. They work fine, and with a ratcheting driver, are super-fast to loosen or tighten. I wouldn’t use ball tip hex drivers for high-torque applications, but for tightening pedal straps or a loose rack, they rock.
Williams makes some ratcheting t-handle bit holders worth considering:
They come in 3 lengths - and Amazon sells them - but is pricey. If you shop around you might find them for under $25.
Also if you really get into bikes - you may end up with shop tools versus road tools. Tools for normal maintenance versus tools for rebuilding components - our actual frame building. Sometimes you may find that general purpose tools will do - or that you having specialized tools from sources like Hozan, Park, Shimano or Var will do better. There are (or were if you need to find older tools) also companies like Avenir, Bicycle Research, Campagnolo, Chris King, Crank Bros., Cyclus, Efficient Velo, Eldi, Finish Line, Ice Toolz, Jagwire… J A Stein, Jim Langley, Lifu. Morningstar, Pedro’s , Phil Wood, Rohloff, Scura, Topeak, United Bicycle Tools, White Industries and X-Axis - to name some of the bike tool companies that I know of.
Thanks for these responses.
Re: specialized bike tools, I have some of those too (some Park pedal wrenches for example) but I find that often there’s a premium for a bike-only tool that can be solved by a general toolset.
Sure - but cone wrenches have a thinner profile than most general purpose wrenches.
Chain breakers for bicycles don’t have a convenient general tool replacement.
Bottom bracket wrenches vary from bike to bile and its hard to do without them.
The same is true for tools to remove your freehub or freewheel.
Third hand and Fourth hand tools make working on cables a whole lot easier.
If you need to pull your crankset - the appropriate crank extractor will make your life easier.
If you need to re-tap a crank arm, chainring etc.- you need the right taps.
Where you get into real money - is when to start doing wheel building/truing, working on forks and frames or move on to custom building. Really expensive tools are ones like a bearing cup press, a crown race puller, a crown race cutter and other crown race tools, a headset reamer and facer, a column die set, a bottom bracket tapping set, and a stem facing set. To equip a complete bike maintenance and custom building shop you could easily spend $10k. Maybe that’s less pricey than equipping a auto repair shop - but like with autos - new model bikes seem to come with some additional specialized tools. Shimano alone has probably put out close to 100 different tools over the years.
Yes. Bikes can require some really specialized tools. Some are specific to particular brands or even particular product lines. Which should probably piss us off, except, as Fred says, bikes are still much cheaper to service than cars.
Maybe someday, when all bicycles are built by robots, the design will be “rationalized” to reduce the number of specialized tools required. I predict that will happen around 2300 AD.