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Good wrenches for older bikes

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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BBB Head Fix Headset Spanners £10.95 each

The head-fix bridges the gap between a full-on workshop quality tool and the bargain basement get-you-by type when it comes to accurately adjusting and servicing the threaded headsets still prevalent on older road, tourers, cross and mountain bikes.

Weighing a reassuringly hefty 300g a piece, the Taiwanese made wrenches feature hardened, matt chrome steel construction and dual ended design to accommodate 26/32 and 32/36mm sizes. From the outset fit has been very precise, eliminating the risk of rounding or gouging-especially with repeated use on soft aluminium models.

However, while dual ended designs are a bonus in terms of convenience, open- ended tools offer greater leverage. Hard rubberised sleeves give improved grip with sweaty or greasy hands but a softer compound would’ve been nicer as they’ve a tendency to dig uncomfortably into the palm-especially tackling very weathered locknuts and curiously drilled holes mean they’re not the easiest to hang on the tool board.

To their credit, the finish has stood up to the usual workshop abuse and hasn’t tarnished despite spending a few nights in open coastal air. They’ll repay their investment ten fold in time and money for budding mechanics and seasoned riders fettling winter workhorses and/or classic mounts but open ended models are more comfortable over prolonged periods.


Good wrenches for older bikes and cost conscious home mechanics

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Make and model: BBB Headset spanner

Size tested: Std

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

These are aimed at the budget concious home mechanic who still has a bike or two with old fashioned threaded steerers. I'd broadly agree with this.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Double ended matt chrome plated, hardened steel in a choice of sizes 26/32 and 32/36.

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Surprisingly hardy given the price.

Rate the product for performance:

Good accurate fit on most designs-will pay their investment by not damaging expensive parts.

Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:

Reassuringly solid.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:

Softer compound rubber sleeves would improve comfort

Rate the product for value:

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Quite pleasant to use and accurate enough to be used regularly.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Solid construction and good precision.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Hard rubberiseed sleeve could be uncomfortable over prolonged periods.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 35  Height: 1m 81  Weight: 70 kilos

I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset  My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)

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