Author Topic: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?  (Read 619 times)

bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« on: February 05, 2019, 03:12:56 pm »
I do a moderate amount of bike fettling and until now have used a dumb bell spanner, or an adjustable, which I've always known is a Bad Idea - and to be sure the dumb bell is unnervingly feeling a bit flimsy.

I've just been given £22 in scamazon vouchers and thought this would be a good investment.

I don't want to buy a full 8-22 mm spanner set, but want to be able to fettle the main essentials.

Can anyone recommend some options? Otherwise will just size up the various bolts I've been spending the most time on and buy individual units which are reputedly good quality based off scamazon reviews.
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Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2019, 03:19:21 pm »
best get spanners that fit your bike.  Cone spanners are useful, even if you don't have cones to adjust; for example most DP brakes are designed to be centred using a cone spanner.

cheers

rr

Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2019, 03:23:39 pm »
I think the only hexagonal nuts on the Black Rose are buried deep in the BB7 brakes. 13mm if I remember correctly.
Mountain bike: only the cones on the wheels, 17 & 15mm I think, but you need cone spanners rather than ordinary ones.
Wheel nuts if not qr are generally 15 or 17mm.
My advice would be to buy an Aldi/Lidl 8-17 set and apply the Kim principle to replacement.

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Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2019, 03:28:07 pm »
I haven't regretted owning a set of Aldi 8-22mm combination spanners.  Cheap as chips and much better than mucking about with adjustables, though the adjustable has its place in the touring toolkit and for when you need a second spanner of the same size or a disc rotor truing tool.

I have an assortment of Park cone spanners, as dictated by the hubs I've had to service.  And cheap and cheerful pedal and headset spanners.  (Also some plumbing stuff which is beyond the scope of this thread unless you've got a sacrificial headset to remove.)

In terms of what gets used most?  15 and 17mm for axle nuts.  8mm and 10mm for little things like lights, idlers, mudguard and rack fixings.  Pedal spanner (if only because I make a habit of removing and re-greasing pedals every year or two in order to prevent future pain), but I do occasionally swap pedals between bikes as they get clicky.  And then non-cycling things, which is mostly the small ones for fettling electronics enclosure fixings and the large ones for panel-mount connectors/switches, and whichever size it is for getting at stubborn tap washers.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2019, 03:49:58 pm »
For most nuts/bolts, a socket set is often more useful than spanners. With a ratchet handle, and a straight handle to get into tight spaces.

Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2019, 03:52:39 pm »
Cheap spanners are fine for bicycles, except for cone spanners which need to be good quality not to spread or mangle. 

Cheap screwdrivers are a waste of money; buy Stanley or other good ones.  Similarly, buy decent hex or torx wrenches.

Having accumulated a vast collection of tools over the years, I'd find it weirdly frustrating not to be able to lay my hands on whatever I needed for a job.

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2019, 04:06:46 pm »
For most nuts/bolts, a socket set is often more useful than spanners. With a ratchet handle, and a straight handle to get into tight spaces.

Agreed.  Ideally you need both.

One of my most useful tools is a small (about 80mm long?) socket/hex bit ratchet I found in the bargain bin at Maplin.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2019, 04:14:52 pm »
Ratchet spanners are great for awkward jobs like Brompton brake bolts.

Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2019, 04:55:20 pm »
Most modern road and mountain bikes have very few, if any, hex head nuts and bolts.

A 15mm can be handy for centering some modern direct pull brakes, but it can be a cheap one or even an adjustable because that job doesn't need much force. A good quality 15mm is needed for most hub nuts on a fixed gear bike. A big pedal spanner isn't used often, but is a nice to have when it's needed. For little hex heads on things like mudguard draw bolts and racks, if you have those, ring spanners can be handy in confined spaces, or the ones with a little ratchet built in. Again, small bolts shouldn't need a lot of force so no need for the most expensive ones. A Y-wrench with 8/9/10mm sockets can be handy for things like mudguards. Get some decent cone spanners if you need them. If you buy cheap cone spanners you'll only probably end up buying the more expensive ones later.

Of course, if you find a good deal on a set, they're handy to have for lots of non-bike related tasks.

Ditch the cheap dumbell spanner immediately. When you put too much force on them the shaft can snap suddenly creating an extremely sharp and jagged fracture surface which then slices deeply into your wrist, resulting in a huge bloody mess and requiring a 999 call. Don't ask me how, etc.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2019, 04:56:09 pm »
I'd invest in a set of cone spanners, they are the only thing on my bike that uses a spanner to adjust. Everything else is hex, apart from my rack which is torx.

As an after market extra I've got pitlock protection on my axles, which uses a 15mm spanner.

J
--
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Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2019, 05:19:39 pm »
Depends on your bike.
For me, it's 8/10mm for stuff like brake pinch bolts, 15mm for fixie rear wheel, proper pedal spanner (if you have pedals with flats on them), 19mm for the Tacx wheel bolts for the fixie to go in the turbo and headset spanners (no idea what size they are, used the shop ones). I have a set of cone spanners, and I honestly don't know when the last time I used them was.

Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2019, 05:29:55 pm »

proper pedal spanner (if you have pedals with flats on them),

Decent spanners are nice to use. Cheap ones grate the hand and over the years you will own them the chromium can start to come off and they look all tatty. I'm not a fan of budget tools but I use tools on a near daily basis - for which I have a 20 year old set of Snap On I bought as a young race car mechanic and they are still as good as new.

Halfords Professional spanners are the nicest mid range ones I've used and they have the advantage of being a bit thinner to the point the 15mm fits every flat on every pedal I own across 7 bikes.
Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped

Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2019, 05:31:52 pm »
Aldi and Lidl often do sets of allen keys and other tools. Subscribe to their email newsletters to get advance notice of their offers twice a week.

Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2019, 06:26:44 pm »
I'd second the comment about dumbell spanners; these days they are generally zinc die castings and simply are not up to the job; well, any job pretty much.

I dunno what you can get on amazon that is any good but in my local tool shop they sell 'silverline' combination spanners individually.  They are a cut above the most  basic but they are also not a lot of money; about £1.50 each in the small sizes.  I do like the feel of nice spanners in the hand (and yes I own snap-on, Halfords professional, Facom, Britool, etc) but these are very good for the money.

The ones I like are often called LS series spanners (which would make this an LS10)



https://www.ebay.co.uk/p/Silverline-10-Mm-Polished-Combination-Spanner-10mm/1292681262

and these spanners seem a tolerable fit, and are nicely polished before being chrome plated to a sort of silk (rather than mirror) finish. Not quite as nice as snap-on etc of course but they feel good in the hand.

The other comment I would make is that Halfords offer a lifetime warranty on their 'professional' tools, and they are (IME) pretty good about honouring it too. This means that you can get your tools swapped out locally without a lot of hassle should they let you down.

cheers

mattc

  • n.b. have grown beard since photo taken
    • Didcot Audaxes
Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2019, 06:39:23 pm »

proper pedal spanner (if you have pedals with flats on them),

Decent spanners are nice to use. Cheap ones grate the hand and over the years you will own them the chromium can start to come off and they look all tatty. I'm not a fan of budget tools but I use tools on a near daily basis - for which I have a 20 year old set of Snap On I bought as a young race car mechanic and they are still as good as new.

Halfords Professional spanners are the nicest mid range ones I've used and they have the advantage of being a bit thinner to the point the 15mm fits every flat on every pedal I own across 7 bikes.
Halfords often do amazing sale offers on their Pro range. I've certainly no complaints about my set (one of the cheaper ones!)

(They had a sale on about a week ago IIRC? )

incidentally, I've never needed "special" spanners for my pedals - but then I've never owned expensive pedals :P
Has never ridden RAAM
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Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2019, 06:58:08 pm »
incidentally, I've never needed "special" spanners for my pedals - but then I've never owned expensive pedals :P

I reckon it's not so much about expensive pedals (indeed, the expensive ones don't have anywhere to put a spanner), as about well-corroded-in-place ones.  The worst fight I've ever had with pedals was on BSO-grade kit.

My pedal spanner is one of the survivors of the £20 Aldi bike tool kit I bought back in 2007 or so.  Of that, several items were made of cheese (chain tool, crank remover, tyre levers) and have since been replaced with proper ones.  Some have been used so rarely they're in as-new condition (BB spline tool, headset spanner, cone spanners in all the wrong sizes etc.), and others have proven to be admirably durable (chain whip, pedal spanner, cassette lockring tool and - astoundingly - allen keys).

I reckon that kit was good value for money.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2019, 07:16:17 pm »
Def the pedal spanner. I bought one and a crap set of plastic pedals once when in Inverness and remembering my SPD shoes were in Essex. The pedals have long gone but the spanner is brilliant.

Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2019, 09:04:47 am »

proper pedal spanner (if you have pedals with flats on them),

Decent spanners are nice to use. Cheap ones grate the hand and over the years you will own them the chromium can start to come off and they look all tatty. I'm not a fan of budget tools but I use tools on a near daily basis - for which I have a 20 year old set of Snap On I bought as a young race car mechanic and they are still as good as new.

Halfords Professional spanners are the nicest mid range ones I've used and they have the advantage of being a bit thinner to the point the 15mm fits every flat on every pedal I own across 7 bikes.

I second everything you say about nice tools (and Halfords Pro). I mentioned pedals with flats because I have some pedals that have no flats and you need to install them using an (8mm?) Allen key (Powertap ones, so I'm constantly switching them about).

Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2019, 11:33:37 pm »
Cheap screwdrivers are a waste of money; buy Stanley or other good ones.
For crosshead screws, I'd recommend Vessel screwdrivers.

Most of the screws on a bike are actually JIS rather than Philips, and they are subtly different, so that a Philips screwdriver will often mangle the head of a bike screw, whilst a JIS screwdriver is OK on pukka Philips head screws.
I think it's that a JIS screwdriver has the tip of the cross absent, with a matching lack of depth on the screws.

Note that the Vessel screwdrivers call themselves Philips, and officially the JIS screw head standard no longer exists, but that hasn't changed the above.

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2019, 11:47:05 pm »
Phillips screwdrivers are a work of Stan, and should be hidden away for the odd occasion where you actually encounter a Phillips screw.  JIS screws appear to be a weird bike-specific thing that doesn't happen in the real world.  Everything else seems to be Pozidrive by default.

If you don't already understand the difference between Phillips and Pozidrive, a quality 5 minutes spent learning how to tell the difference will greatly enhance your screw-driving experiences.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Re: Which size spanners/spanner set should a cyclist have around?
« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2019, 10:46:35 am »
Ended up with a pair of these: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Silverline-598522-Fixed-Ratchet-Spanner/dp/B000NBRMUC

Seem terrific so far. Thanks for the info everyone. Maybe I'll get a full spanner set one day.
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