Feedback Sports Team Edition Tool Kit and Unior Pro Tool Roll
That's what Bike Shops are For
This is the golden age for DIY anything, and bike mechanic-ing in particular. If you can 'play' with Lego, you can swap a bottom bracket, change your handlebar or install pedals. The finer points of installing a drivetrain, seatpost or brakes might be a little more finicky, but the broad strokes aren’t bad at all. If you have to go to the shop for fine tuning, you’ll still have saved a packet and learned some things that will help you in the future if, for example, you have to repair a chain mid ride. If you are happy with your bike shop service, and with paying for everything to be done for you, I won’t discourage you from that course. Bike shops are wondrous places. If however, you are curious about the pleasure and satisfaction that comes from working on your own bike however, I highly recommend it.
Take it on the Road
Two part question: 1. When was the last time you broke your bike at home? And 2. Where do you keep your tools?* All of us have experienced a ride ending issue that could have been solved in seconds, if only we'd had the right tools. And yet, many of us are loathe to drop cash on quality tools that would keep our bikes running smoothly, not to mention those we can easily bring on the road with us. Of course, for many of you reading this, based on what I have learned over the years, this is not an issue. I regularly learn new things about working on bikes from the bike sages who respond below our articles.
*This is assuming you didn't ride from home of course.
DIY Jobs are Just an Excuse to Buy Tools
At any given moment I have at least two full day's worth of bike work on my to do list. Tires need to be swapped (either because of wear or for testing purposes), components need to be exchanged, forks need a lower leg service, and six or several bikes need a good cleaning and some general maintenance. And probably a brake bleed.
There is help around I could access, and for some issues I take advantage, notably at Obsession:Bikes, but I prefer the DIY approach when possible. I spent several years working on bikes for a "living" in the pre-hydraulic era, and it's something I have again begun to enjoy, in the last five years or so. In fact, taking on more difficult tasks (at my meagre level) makes me look forward to the process more as my confidence increases. More importantly, I learn something every time I perform even mundane tasks on test bikes, and on those I call my own. Reviewing parts I have installed and worked on gives me information I wouldn't be able to access otherwise, and it's a much more satisfying experience.
You might be getting the sense that I'm trying to justify a tool fetish. After you've worked in a bike shop, it feels ridiculous not to have all the tools required to perform most tasks on a mountain bike, and I've done a decent job keeping up. Different linkage bearings, headset and bottom bracket standards, lockrings and bottom brackets with different notch counts, and now the world of eMTB, mean I shop for new tools with some regularity.
I lacked a good crown race removal tool until a couple of weeks ago, but a putty knife, a mallet and a very fine screwdriver usually did the job without marking the crown too much (but I hate marking the crown at all). I also just purchased a cheap headset press off Amazon. All I really needed was fittings to press races into tapered head tubes which I'll port over to a higher quality press from Endura. I use a chunk of hardwood and the same wooden mallet to set crown races and I have a crappy star fangled nut setter that usually does the job adequately, even after my friend Eamonn (aka El Camino!) brought it back stripped. Many of these tasks can be done passably with makeshift tools, but they add an unpleasant element of uncertainty and stress that stifles most of the waves of satisfaction and self-importance that make DIY projects worthwhile.
I could also add a flush cutter (thanks Brian!) and a quality fourth hand tool for pulling both cables and zip ties taut, a proper 28.99 puller for press fit bottom brackets, while they remain with us, and nobody's collection of drifts, presses and pullers (blind and otherwise) is complete when you are working on bikes of different vintages and from different brands.
Having tools at home is one thing, but bench tools should never leave the shop in my world. I can see most of them at a glance so it's obvious when something is missing. I have kept a doctor's bag (from the now defunct Wrenchforce) full of a reasonable tool hodge-podge, at the ready for trips for years, but without any way of keeping inventory, it's pretty easy to arrive two hours from the nearest bike shop and discover you don't have a 16 notch bottom bracket tool, or a 10 mm hex. If you've seen toolbox wars on instagram, you can likely appreciate the red flag shot up by a gaping hole where one of your tools used to be. My doctor's bag was not useful in that regard.
Feedback Sports Team Edition Tool Kit - 350 CAD
This first kit, from Feedback Sports, had my attention right away. It appears poised to solve a lot of problems (more on that below), it's nice and compact, and it can be hung up to approximate a tool wall, complete with an inserted lateral support, or laid down flat on a tailgate. It's also organized well enough that tools rarely interfere with each other when you want to grab one. A favourite element however, is the at-a-glance ability to make sure everything has been put away. Losing tools is the worst.
The Carrying Case
To paraphrase Rowan Atkinson from Love Actually, this is so much more than a case. The design lets you access all the tools individually quite easily and it also contains straps to attach it to a pole, like the one on a Feedback Sports work stand. or something similar. This is handy in terms of proximity, but your bike is going to be in the way to a certain degree, so it's not ideal. It could also strap to a pole in a chainlink fence or any pole as long as it's not too thick. A pair of poles slide together to become a batten that holds the case open and straight. When closed the shape is convenient and compact allowing it to be stored under the seat of a car or behind the rear seats of a pickup truck.
A downside of the case, perhaps the only one I've found, is that the zippers are a little tricky. Instead of finishing flush with the outside of the case when it's time to open, the two zippers angle towards the centre of the case to reach their open position. If you don't manage to push them into these recesses, which is a little awkward, the case will not open flat, and you may damage the zippers. Feedback reports this information about the construction of the little briefcase: TPU-coated travel case is abrasion-resistant, water-resistant, resistant to greases and oils
Over the last few days I've done about 6 rear wheels swaps for two bikes, because of flats, a broken rim, and thanks to forgetting that my We Are One Arrival has a boost 157 rear end. Each of these involved tire removals and installs with inserts. I'll also confess, there are times when I tackle tasks that could wait, just because I feel the need for some time in the shop.
This kit has come in extremely handy for those swaps, because of one of my favourite tools from these two kits in particular; Feedback's Cassette Pliers. These can, in theory, be used on several different cogs, but Feedback says "For Sram AXS 12 speed cassettes, you must clamp only on the 10t cog." I have no idea why this is the case and I definitely broke this rule multiple times before learning of it. In fact I saw moving up the cassette as a benefit of this tool because it opens some space between the devices.
The tool locks in place, either when clamped to a cog or to make it more compact for storage when not in use. If you are swapping a cassette from one bike to the other, you never have to touch the cassette at all; simply lock the pliers closed, or keep gripping the handle, and then use them to align the cassette on the other wheel, and tighten it up.
Feedback Sports Team Edition Tool Kit Contents
- 25 functions from 19 professional grade bicycle-specific tools
- Ergonomic, overmolded file tread grips for precision, comfort and style
- External attachment and internal support structure for mounting on Feedback Sports work stands
- TPU-coated travel case is abrasion-resistant, water-resistant, resistant to greases and oils – built to last
- Organizational elastic banding keeps everything in it’s place and offers space for additional tools
- Allen Wrenches – 2 / 2.5 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6mm
- 8 & 10mm L-handle Allen Wrenches
- Magnetic-Tipped Screwdrivers – Flathead 6mm; Phillips #2 and #0
- Shimano Crank Cap Tool
- 15mm Pedal Wrench
- 15mm Bolt-on Axle Nut Tool
- Steel Core Tire Levers (2)
- Spoke Multi-Wrench
- Valve Extender Wrench
- Valve Core Tools – Schrader and Presta
- Rotor Truing Tools
- Precision Chain Pin Press
- Cassette and Disc Brake Rotor Lockring Wrench
- Cassette Pliers
- Cable Cutter and Cable Crimper
- And several more…
Absent - individual hex and Torx, but otherwise nothing I'd call mission critical. I love being proven wrong however.
To Conclude (about the Feedback Sports Team Edition)
This is a great kit. Of course, if you aspire to complete every possible task on your bike, there are tools missing, and those kits cost much more. Unior makes a "Pro kit" that sells for anywhere between 1580 and 1025CAD for some reason. It also lacks some tools you'd need to, for example, build a bike from the frame up. Park Tool, the grand daddy of bike-specific tool manufacturers in North America, sells a Master Tool Kit that includes a top-end truing stand a stool, and a stunning array of professional quality tools to do most anything on your bike, in terms of installs, removals, or repairs, will set you back 9,297 USD.
Now that we've established that you can go as big as you'd like, this kit covers the broad strokes very well. If you were to pick up a bleed kit for your brakes, you'd be set to do most basic maintenance and component swaps, aside from headsets. You'd also be able to build most bikes from the frame up, aside from headset installation. You may also need some help routing internal cables and hoses,* but Shimano makes a really good kit for this task for around 80 USD I believe. Or you can take your chances on a cheap one off Amazon. It might make sense to add a torque wrench as well.
*Depending on your frame
I have found this kit for prices between 350 and 480 CAD and the range is surprisingly similar in green backs. Good luck figuring out the best price.
Unior Pro Tool Roll
This kit has some really nice and useful tools, and it's a great start for a home mechanic or someone who wants to be able to do some wrenching on the road. This tool selection will solve a lot of basic problems but you'll find some serious holes when you want to take your game up a level. At the same time, you are going to be spending significantly less than the Feedback Team Edition.
Unior Pro Tool Roll Contents and features
- Long ball end hexagon wrench, sizes 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 mm
- TX profile wrench, size T25
- Crank cap tool
- Chain tool
- Round spoke wrench
- Set of two tire levers
- Cross tip screwdriver PH 0 (size)
- Pro Socket Handle
- Chain wear indicator
- Cassette wrench and Cassette lockring tool
- 2-For-1 disc brake tool
- Aluminum eyelets for setting the wrap on the car seat, with fixation under the head rest
- Strong Velcro® straps for secure closing
- Side pockets with full flaps closing for parts or additional tools
- Additional elastic straps for even more tools
- Made from coated PU material, waterproof and oil resistant
- You can fit mini pump in there as well
Final Analysis: Unior Pro Toll Roll
It turns out hyperbole runs rampant among tool manfucturers. This is not what you'd call a tool kit, and no "team" mechanic would be caught dead with the Feedback Sports Kit pictured above. Ignoring the labels, both do a good job for a decent price, when the high cost of individual bike tools is considered. I'm not disparaging the quality of the tools in either kit however, which I found to be excellent.
This tool selection will solve a lot of basic problems but you'll find some serious holes when you want to take your game up a level. At the same time, you are going to be spending significantly less than the Feedback Team Edition.
The Unior Pro Tool Roll Kit will set you back around 200 USD. I wasn't able to find a Canadian price for this kit, but other Unior sets can be found north of 49.
In the end, my unbiased advice is, buy more tools, and save more money. Either of these kits will put you on that road.