Free bike tool: Swag that’s not worth taking |

Free bike tool: Swag that’s not worth taking

Paul Conrad
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Not all things that are free are cheap, but this one is.

One of my recent assignments was to photograph the races in the National Mountain Bike Series at Snowmass. While there, I perused the booths and picked up some swag, including a bike tool from the Toyota FJ Cruiser booth. It’s a small kit complete with fold-out tools, tire repair kit and carrying case. Of course, it’s a promo thing, so it has the FJ Cruiser emblem on it. The kit has six hex wrenches, a flathead and Phillips screwdriver, a small socket set with 8, 9 and 10 mm sockets, and a fold-out spanner wrench. Not a bad tool set, as it has almost everything you need for a quick trail repair. My bike needed a tuneup, so I decided to give the freebie a try. I found the tools a bit heavy and bulky, so they did not sit well in my hand.

The hex wrenches fit, but the edges are slightly rounded so it felt as if they could slip when a good amount of pressure was applied. But that didn’t happen. They worked well.However, the screwdrivers only worked when they were fully extended. If the screw was in a tight spot, the tool didn’t work; it was too inflexible. Plus, neither the Phillips nor the flathead have sharp enough edges to really grip the screw. And the Phillips was not quite small enough to work with small derailleur adjusting screws.The spanner wrench is one step away from worthless. The tool slips and is not strong. The lock that holds it is similar to that on a jackknife, and I could see it bend slightly before it slipped. Luckily, I have a good quality mechanic’s tool set.

The sockets did not fit on the drive very well. Only a little torque can be applied before the socket gets stuck on the nut and the drive slips off. If you’re on the trail and left your pliers at home, you’re out of luck and the socket stays for the rest of the ride.Overall, I’d recommend buying a real bike repair kit from a notable cycling company. When you’ve invested good money on a bike, then invest in a good tool kit.