I’ve been riding bikes for as long as I can remember; as a kid I enjoyed taking bits and pieces off my ridged Carrera and Peugeot. The kitchen was (and still is) my place to spend time on the tools. Back then my mum would pull her face about the mess I’d make and my dad would leave me to it. He pretended he knew what he was doing but he had about as much of a clue as I did. Generally, I’d make things worse; round a bolt off, or I’d just lose the tools I had borrowed from my dad’s tool box.
During university, and just after, I moved away from riding for a while. Instead I spent a lot of time climbing, windsurfing and kayaking. On my return it seemed technology had progressed rapidly and I felt like breaking something and subsequently trying to fix it was going to be a costly experience.
So I handed my broken bikes over to friends who knew what they were doing, friends with tools and a space to work. It’s a slippery slope – I wasn’t learning to do it myself and I was relying on their goodwill and kind nature.
Like most people, though, I have some basic tools that everyone should have: sat in the cellar, unorganised in a big tool box, with sharp objects lurking in the dark waiting to bite when you’re looking for a specific spanner or a hex key. But still I shied away from spending time on the tools.
Over the last year or so I’ve been making a conscious effort to polish my rusty skills and knowledge. But still I found I needed to take myself of to the Singletrack office or friends for most jobs. Whilst at the trails, again, out came friends’ travel tool kits to keep us moving.
So it was beyond time to redress the balance. Step forward the Birzman Studio Tool Box.
My first impressions when it arrived was the quality of the case. The heavy duty plastic is outstanding and has so far survived several slides out of the side door of the ST van (when I opened it without looking, I’d like to point out). Strong hinges hold the two sides together, with a lift out of the middle section. Two reassuring hook clips keep the lid closed and there’s a solid handle. It is a bit weighty but that would make you happy in the knowledge of the goodies hiding inside the svelte case.
Once opened you’ll be excited to find all of the tools neatly sat in specific moulded homes; they even have a little moulded label indicating their use in case you forget, and it’s a good way of reminding yourself where they live.
We all have our own requirements for a tool kit and there will always be something you either won’t use or you really do want to use. It was a refreshing change to find no cone spanners here – as I’ve found them to be unnecessary space fillers for the most part, but that’s just me.
The 37 tools are nicely laid out in three sections. Torx, hex keys, tyre levers, screw drivers and cutters (as well as others) are positioned snuggly in the what-would-be lid of the box. Whilst an adjustable spanner, chain whip, pedal spanner, rotor truing fork (and again, the others) are stored in a lift out divider: which has a really nice foam topper. It’s a useful place to put bolts etc down.
And at the bottom of the case you’ll find things like needle nosed pliers, a chain wear indicator, a dead blow hammer and a tape measure.
I’ve managed to use pretty much all of the tools over the past couple of months, except for various sizes of hex/torx keys, the Campagnolo cassette (I’m not roadie enough to own a Campagnolo bike) and the Mavic spoke wrench.
All of the tools have that quality feel which I’ve come to expect from Birzman. Yes, some of them aren’t as perfect as you’d get from searching every tool store to buy the best you can, but they do get the job done well without you needing to worry about weak links. However, the ball end of the hex keys seem too rounded for some more stubborn nuts and they are a little tricky to get them out of the holder. It might also be nice to have a three-way hex for some jobs, just for ease. The Torx wrenches have a real feel to them, they grip well and give you the confidence to put pressure on any of the nuts I’ve had to tighten or loosen so far.
The chain rivet extractor is also pleasure to use. There’s a replaceable rivet pin and a sprung loaded plate that helps hold the chain in place. A large solid handle ensures you’re not going to lose your grip and the wing style operating handle provides smooth operation.
All of the handles on the chain whip, adjustable spanner, pedal spanner and rotor truing tool have a great feel and are long enough to provide plenty of pressure to tighten, grip and remove cassettes and pedals etc.
I pull it out at any opportunity and use it with pride, hoping everyone can see it.
Having the likes of link pliers, a good dead blow hammer, tape measure (we all have one but it’s most definetly in your ever growing with clutter ‘man-draw’), a small file, piston press and an array of bb tools and cassette tools all handly laid out in the same place. I know for sure I’ve been meaning to buy many of these tools separately for a while and have never got around to it.
As amazing as I’ve found this tool box I did notice a couple of tools missing that I would have liked. A 7mm spanner is one of them. If you run Shimano brakes you need a 7mm to open and close the bleed port on the calliper. I tried using a socket and an adjustable but they just didn’t work as you need them to. I also found the tyre levers to not feel strong enough when trying to seat an awkward tubeless tyre. You know when you run a lever around the tyre to try and get the bead out of the centre of the wheel gutter. It was one of those experiences where I was just waiting for them to snap with bated breath. They didn’t break it, but I’ve got used to burly strong levers. It would also be really nice to have 8mm pedal hex wrench with a longer handle for the leverage (for putting pedal on). The stock 8mm works but can be cumbersome if someone has cranked the pedals on.
After a couple of months of use, I have really enjoyed getting the tools out and pretending to be a credible mechanic (which did happen… on some days). I’d even go as far to say the studio toolbox has made it a pleasure. I pull it out at any opportunity and use it with pride, hoping everyone can see it. Almost like when you get a new bike and you want everyone on the trail to ask you about it. Yes there are some bits missing or could be slightly improved but the quality is there and everything has its place. Having a tool box like this is definitely money well spent. Especially if it means you can work on your pride and joy, with your chest puffed out and your chin up. Which always beats shouting and swearing when it’s all going wrong.
Overall: The studio isn’t cheap but it is a quality, well stocked tool box that I now couldn’t do without. It’s great at home (obviously) and in the car/race van as a travel kit. If you don’t want to spend that much Birzman try a smaller Travel Tool Box.
DEALS ON BIRZMAN STUDIO
|Product:||Studio Tool Box - 37pcs|
|From:||iRide - www.i-ride.co.uk|
|Tested:||by Richard for|