FIX IT STICKS T-WAY WRENCH
190g (inc pouch) rrp £24.99
The Fix It Sticks T-Way is most simply thought of as the wedge-pack-friendly Fix It Sticks fed a steroid diet. Designed for workshop duties, it offers a nice blend of torque, yet remains nimble in relatively confined spaces.
Some of the team reckon it could be a good pannier companion on tours. I can see where they’re coming from - it also comes complete with a handy pouch and wouldn’t consume much space. Nonetheless I reckon folders have the edge, since there’s little chance of losing bits in long grass. Besides, bikes ready for touring shouldn’t have any stubborn fasteners …
The T-Way Wrench kit comprises of a T bar and seven bits. The bar is made from nickel-plated 4140 steel, which is a blend of chromium, molybdenum and manganese - a Cro-moly steel no less. Socket ends feature neodymium magnets and designed to accept any standard ¼ inch bits.
To date, I’ve found them a reassuringly precise fit, with no fear of slipping-even when tackling high stress fasteners such as 8mm crank bolts. The seven bits are made from chromium plated S2 - a similarly hardy steel that is commonly used in decent tooling.
I’ve come to the conclusion there’s nothing universal when it comes to tooling. There’s usually something we’re missing, or feels surplus to our bike’s needs. With this in mind, there’s 2,2.5,3, 4, 5, 6 hex and a Torx bit - pretty much everything you’d need for tweaking a contemporary road, touring, mountain or gravel build.
In common with T-handled Allen keys per se, the fixed head design means it’s easily whipped around, for access or in other cases leverage. On that subject length is another thing, which is tricky to optimise, but by my reckoning, Brian Davis has hit the sweet spot here.
Though I don’t have hands like the proverbial shovels, I am blessed with long fingers and can find some versions cramped and fiddly. Not in this instance. The T-bar feels natural and comfortably in the palms, allowing you to concentrate on the job. Juniors and other mechanics with smaller hands shouldn’t have any problems either.
Thanks in part to the matt finish and orange gripper, sweaty palms with prolonged use hasn’t been a problem, although I’m inclined towards gloves for convenience, say nipping to the toilet, or answering the phone.
As I suggested earlier, there’s sufficient oomph for shifting stubborn pedals, or crank bolts-although I’d recommend a bit of penetrant spray on these.
I’ve also liberated shoe cleat hardware, (without primal grunting, or chemical assistance) that had, ahem gone a bit organic due to mid-winter oversights.
Confined spaces are common, especially on small compact geometry framesets. In this instance, while clearance or dexterity weren’t overly hampered, using the OEM bits, I longed for ball ends when introducing two bottle cages to the down and seat tube bosses, or tackling a twin bolt seat post cradle such as my Univega’s latest upgrade.
These are marketed as a shop quality multi-tool. Hmm, no quibble quality wise and with basic care, I expect them to last. Pricing is well within the reach of most home enthusiasts-we’ve seen them for £19.99 online. The availability of other, aftermarket bits is another, obvious attraction.
My one minor gripe, though not a deal-breaker is that standard bits are not ball ended, disappointing given the otherwise extremely intelligent design.
Verdict: 4/5 Brilliantly designed workshop quality multi-tool, but would benefit from ball ended bits.
PUBLISHED MAY 2017