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The Wera Tools 6001 Joker Switch 4 Set is absolutely lovely to use and designed very impressively – these spanners feature a host of neat, useful details. It's an expensive set, however, and you can get almost the same performance elsewhere for less money.
This is not a spanner set aimed specifically at bicycles, so the sizes aren't necessarily what you'll be wanting – though that depends, of course, on your specific bike. However, they're available individually in a range that starts at 8mm, then runs from 10-19mm in 1mm increments. That covers most things.
But a spanner is a spanner, right? Why pay this much? The answer is that strength and precision make your day far more enjoyable. The jaws of 'budget' spanners fit poorly and spread easily, while handles bend easily (I've done it) and even break under extreme loads. The cheaper, older and rustier the fasteners are, the more you benefit from quality. A stuck bolt is one problem; a stuck, rounded-off bolt and bleeding knuckles are quite another.
These feel good as soon as you pick them up, with the steel inserts giving a pleasing heft and the chromoly steel's rounded form proving very comfortable under force. They feel strong even when you start really cranking on them, with no sense of give. The nickel-chromium coating Wera uses has a really nice satin finish, too.
The details impress. At the open end, you get a 30-degree return angle – that being how far you have to turn the bolt to get the spanner back on at the same angle – instead of the usual 60 degrees. This is thanks to the jaws effectively having six faces instead of the usual three, and makes it much easier to use in restricted spaces, such as where cables or components get in the way or bolts sit close to raised sections that stop you getting much rotation each time.
The spanner also engages across three faces of the bolt or nut instead of the usual two, for a more secure grip.
The removable steel plate on one side of the jaw has two functions. With a bolt in the usual orientation (sides parallel with the jaws), the plate's serrated edges boost grip – I tested this adding just a gentle amount of torque and then pulling the spanner off a nut, then repeating that test with a regular (Draper Expert) spanner. The plate does seem to add friction and make it harder to slip the tool off the fastener.
The second function is to act as a stop so fasteners can't slide right through and out the other side. If you orient a bolt in the extra slots (so it's a half-turn from having two sides parallel to the jaws), the plate blocks the channel at the top. The bolt can't pass right through. It's much easier to wind a long bolt in when you can just press the spanner down and have it securely aligned each time you crank it.
At the other end you get a ring sitting at a 15-degree angle (for hand clearance) and filled with a reversible 80-tooth ratchet. This is incredibly handy, and I used it whenever possible. Wera doesn't specificy what exactly it's made from – it simply says 'hardened metal', as with the plate in the jaws – but it feels tough, is cut crisply and suffered no obvious wear or damage during the test.
The ratchet feels strong and gives a lovely crisp, positive click as it goes.
Each spanner is colour coded for size – if you want the 10mm, for instance, you only need scan for the yellow one. Handy.
Be aware there are variations of this Joker spanner, and Wera isn't massively in-your-face about the differences. The numerical code is very important – these are the 6001 model. If you like them, make sure you're finding 6001 as you're searching for the best price.
The similar looking 6000-series Joker has the ratchet inline instead of angled, and it has no switch – you flip the spanner over to reverse direction.
Meanwhile, the 6003 series has an even smaller (15-degree) return angle for use in very tight spaces, but no plate in the jaw, and a slim, angled ring with no ratchet. Wera actually does a bike-specific set of these that includes 8, 9, 10 and 13mm sizes plus a 15mm Joker pedal spanner.
The 6002 models are the most obviously different, as they're open on both ends.
Obviously, you can buy cheaper spanners than this – you can find 11-piece sets on eBay for as little as £6.99, in fact. If that seems like good value to you, bon voyage, but there's probably cheese in my fridge that's less ductile.
The latest Draper Expert Hi Torq spanners are perfectly decent and can be had as an eight-piece metric combination set for £24.60, though these feature standard jaws at one end and regular, non-ratcheting rings at the other. They're not as good in tight spaces or as convenient or secure in general as the Wera 6001s, but they'll get the job done and for far less money.
For bicycle use, you're probably better off avoiding large sets or just going for the five-piece Wera Tools Bicycle Set 10 Joker Wrench Spanner Set mentioned above – it's £64.99. If you really do want a large set, the Park Tool Ratcheting Wrench Set MWR-SET includes 12 spanners from 6-17mm and is £149.99. The open ends are just regular style, though.
If you particularly like these 6001s you might be better off just getting the specific sizes you need because, at least for bike use, there aren't generally that many. The 10mm is officially £58.79, which is obviously extremely high, but in general Wera's RRPs don't seem to mean much, and most retailers sell them for considerably less. For instance, one of the few places with stock at the time of writing, SGS Engineering, was selling them for £23.34. That's still not exactly cheap, mind you.
If you want high quality – and British made quality at that – then King Dick (stop sniggering) is a fantastic option. Its ratcheting combination ring spanner is £18.15. It lacks the plate in the jaw and the colour coding, though, and you'll note there's no switch as the ring is not angled. So really it's more like the 6000 series Jokers, which have a very similar real-world price: Epic Tools sells them on eBay for £17.20 in 10mm.
Though these aren't cheap, they are very well designed and made, and offer some really useful features that most rivals don't. For that reason – and because of how nice they are to use – I'd say the value was still good, but only if you really want to treat yourself (and your bike). Otherwise, there are very good alternatives you can get for less.
Mmmmmm... truly lovely spanners with some very impressive design work, but expensive
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Wera Tools 6001 Joker Switch 4 Set
Size tested: Set 4pc
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?
Wera says: "Joker - Can.Do.Everything.Better.
"When we began to think about open-ended wrenches, we asked ourselves: why does the wrench always have to be flipped over; why does it have an offset design; why does it slip off injuring fingers? The new design of the mouth resulted in a real 'Joker' that works even when all other trumps have been played."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Wera says: "Joker ratcheting combination wrenches with angled ratchet head and switch lever. The metal plate in the jaw provides for the holding function which reduces the risk of losing nuts and bolts. The integrated limit stop can prevent any slipping from the bolt head downwards and enables higher torque to be applied. The exchangeable metal plate in the jaw securely holds nuts and bolts with its extra hard teeth and reduces the risk of slipping. The double-hex geometry delivers a very positive connection with nuts or bolts and again provides for a lower risk of any slipping. The low return angle of only 30° at the jaw end avoids any time-consuming flipping of the wrench when fastening. The reversible ratchet mechanism at the ring end with its fine toothing (80 teeth) ensures great flexibility even in confined spaces. Audibly precise ratchet mechanism. Additionally, the robust two-piece locking element provides for an extreme stability. Comes with a 15° angled ratchet end for secure work even at high torque. The special forged geometry allows for high torque transfer and high flexural rigidity. Manufactured out of high-performance chrome-molybdenum steel with a nickel-chromium coating for high corrosion protection. With "Take it easy" tool finder: colour coding according to size."
Look and feel absolutely lovely.
Expensive, but they are very well designed and made, and offer some really useful features that most rivals don't, so worth the premium.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Extremely well, both at the ratchet and open ends.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Quality feel, colour-coded sizes, useful limit stop, great engagement angles, satisfying ratchet, comfortable shape, strong.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
This is very expensive, as are the spanners if bought individually.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Just looking at these will make your nuts tighten up. They really could be cheaper, though – you're going some if you make Park Tool look like the budget option. While I think they just earn the premium with their extra details, you can still get the job done very well with cheaper – yet still extremely good – alternatives. That holds them back.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,