I have a toolbox full of bike tools, some dating back 30 years – crank pullers, freewheel removers, sprocket remover, double-ended cones wrenches, tire levers, spoke wrenches, a wheel truing stand, a cable stretcher, a third hand, allen keys, a torque wrench, chain wear gauge, an assortment of wrenches, needle nose pliers, chain tools, chain cleaner, side cutter pliers, pumps, screw drivers and pedal wrenches. The list goes on. I have an assortment of both metric and imperial tools. Unfortunately, there is no standard for bikes. And, as the technology changed, I needed to maintain disc brakes, cantilever brakes, suspensions, cassettes and carbon parts. I use all of these tools from time to time depending on which bike I am working on. But the most used tool in my box is the 3-way hex wrench (3, 4 and 5 mm) pictured above. I use it regularly to adjust saddles, seatposts, stems, bottle cages, brakes and derailleurs.
I prefer the tools designed and manufactured by Filzer, a Vancouver company and available from MEC. They are well designed, easy to use, reliable and conveniently available at all MEC locations and on-line. Their 3-way hex wrench has a ball on one end, which allows the tool to be used at an angle off-axis to the bolt (this type of hex key was invented in 1964 by the Bondhus Corporation).
Some features I like –
- The tool is small, light and easy to use.
- The angled use feature enables you to reach obstructed components that otherwise require a small allen key.
- The palm-fitting handle allows you to apply all the torque necessary, unlike single allen keys.
- The contact surfaces of the bolt are protected from external damage.
- The key fits snuggly into the bolts minimizing any potential for damage to the bolt head and enabling the tool to hold the bolt in place during installation.
- Very small bolt heads can be accommodated. I also have a 2, 2.5 and 3 mm version as well used for small adjustment bolts on brakes and derailleur assemblies.
- The tool fits most of the components on both my commuter and road bike. As the rides have been upgraded, I have been careful to use mostly Shimano components.
If I was just starting out, the 3-way hex wrench is the first tool I would purchased.