Review: Birzman T-Bar Wrench Set

Birzman Allen Wrench Review (2)

Ask any mechanic, and they probably have a favorite set of allen wrenches they immediately head for when working on a bike. Having the right tools can mean zipping through a repair, or struggling to get it done, even when it comes to allen wrenches. The Birzman T-Bar could be considered more of a prosumer product due to the price, but if you’re looking to outfit your home workshop, the set is worth a look.

Birzman Allen Wrench Review (3)

Made from Chrome Vanadium tool steel, each wrench is completed with a Satin Chrome finish. In addition to the labels on the tool cradle, each wrench is labeled twice, both on the shaft and on the ABS handle. Each set comes with a 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10mm allen wrench plus a T25 torx driver.

Birzman Allen Wrench Review (5) Birzman Allen Wrench Review (4)

One of my favorite design features of the Birzman set is the shape. Usually I reach for my set of Allen T-wrenches, which have a true T shape unlike Park’s P-handle wrenches. I find the T shape to be more balanced, especially when spinning the wrench quickly to remove a fastener. The Birzman wrenches are closer in shape to the T-wrench than the P-wrench which means they are also a bit better balanced with the addition of the second wrench head.

Birzman Allen Wrench Review (8) Birzman Allen Wrench Review (1)

Each of the Birzman T-wrenches lives up to its claim of being easy to use – the ball end makes getting into tight spaces a breeze, and the short end with a standard flat tip provides the necessary torque when needed, espeically on the 8 and 10mm. The form factor of the hand only adds to the experience.

Birzman Allen Wrench Review (7) Birzman Allen Wrench Review (6)

Compared to most other ball end allen wrenches though, the Birzman wrenches can present an issue with the right fastener. Over the entire course of the review, the only time I ran into trouble was on the steerer clamp bolts for a RaceFace stem where the ball end wouldn’t stay seated. As far as I can tell this is due to the Birzman wrenches having a rounded tip instead of it being squared off like Bondhus or Park. This means that if the fastener’s hex socket isn’t deep enough, the wrench won’t properly engage with the bolt. As mentioned, this only presented itself as an issue with the 5mm wrench on a single bolt, but it’s something that could be easily remedied with a small design change.

We spoke with Birzman about the issue and they said it would be addressed. Also, our set of wrenches was a 2013 model and Birzman has an updated set on the way.

Bottom line is I really like these wrenches and will continue to use them, but the ball end is a bit of bummer. It’s actually incredibly easy to remedy – just pass a file over the tip to flatten the point, but you shouldn’t have to do that with a brand new wrench set. The wrenches retail for $169.99, but you can find this particular set selling for around $74-84.99.

birzman.com

Comments

David - 05/29/14 - 2:13pm

You referenced the Park and Bondhus wrenches. Just an FYI, they are the same wrench. Bondhus actually manufactures the wrench insert for Park.

In the shop, I can’t stand the Park wrenches. They are cheap though… I could get by with Craftsman. Their ball ends grip well enough. Nothing I’ve found yet can match Snap On though. I’ve worn out a few so that the ball won’t grip well anymore, and they’ve never asked any questions, just replaced them.

el duque - 05/29/14 - 2:26pm

The ball side is for when the angle of the tool can’t be straight and the torque is super light. You finish the torquing with the flat short side where you’ll have more leverage anyway. It saves time and I find it useful, but we keep one 5mm with the ball shaved off.

ApeEscape - 05/29/14 - 4:22pm

Snap-on is by far the best. My beef with the Birzman is the T25 wrench doesn’t fit in a Campagnolo Rear Derailleur

greg - 05/29/14 - 5:02pm

bondhus doesnt make ALL of Park’s wrenches. i seriously doubt they make the inserts in their AWS1 (except for the gold special edition ones), as they round out much easier than others. and Park’s torx P-handle wrenches.
Pedro’s hex wrenches are the toughest ive ever used, and ive used them all.

Marcassin - 05/29/14 - 6:24pm

Had to use the Birzman because my shop belonged to the local importer. This product is okay -not bad nor fantastic but okay. I do agree about the Park -overpriced and not good work professional use. I guess my hands don’t like their keys.

Icetoolz are by far my favorites Allen keys, are cheaper, and last longer.

Peter Goezinya - 05/29/14 - 6:43pm

For that price, go with PB Swiss…

As far as a comparable complete set, look at wiha out of Germany

http://www.wihatools.com/500seri/540_MM_soft_Chrom.htm

john hansen - 05/29/14 - 8:02pm

Pedros….

greg - 05/30/14 - 12:11am

just realized the price. that is ridiculous.
agree w Peter on PB Swiss. i have lots of their tools and they are outstanding.

thesteve4761 - 05/30/14 - 12:42am

Pastorino T handles.

The one and only.

david - 05/30/14 - 2:24am

@greg, agreed the price is too high considering the design isn’t very far off from other brands that already provide great quality. My aws1 hex set is wearing significantly faster than the pedro’s, which seem to show little wear ever. I would like to see the Park Anniversary Hex inserts placed into T handle grips.

Kimmer - 05/30/14 - 4:47am

It would be helpful if they did each size in a different colour or, at the very least, do them in orange or green or something so they stand out on the workbench/in the toolbox. Stealth black is only good for well, stealth!

Jdog - 05/30/14 - 5:34am

I grabbed a set of USAG ball head t handles from Italy. I have not seen a better set as of yet.

Aaron - 05/30/14 - 6:05am

For $169.66, I could buy about 15 sets of perfectly good T Allen wrenches from Harbor Freight. I’m f’ing tightening bolts on a bicycle, not performing open-heart surgery.

Gabe - 05/30/14 - 8:57am

@Aaron

I understand what you mean regarding the price vs what’s available from HF..However I will say this. I have used just about every brand of Allen key, wrench, t-handle whatever..And the cheaper Box store/HF brands tend to have poor fitment for long-term or delicate use. I bought a set of Kobalt metric allen to have around the house as a spare, and quickly noticed how most of them were undersized, and left a considerable amount of play that could damage fasteners. The larger 8-10mm size I wouldn’t use on any crank bolt that I planned to re-use and the mini sizes like 1.5mm wouldn’t even tighten a preload set screw for an S-Works crank without skipping. I rely on my 14 year old Snap-on set for types of jobs like those. Yes they cost more, but in my experience they are better quality to begin with and the life expectancy is much greater.

Roger - 05/30/14 - 12:44pm

Wiha tee handle ball drivers are very nice-about the same cost and quite good quality

timmbo - 05/30/14 - 1:29pm

I’ve never liked ball ends, grind them off every time, 5mm and smaller will all eventually strip on every wrench on the planet. that said I use an “L” wrench over the “T” in those tight spaces, even custom my own set if mini “L” wrenches

timmbo - 05/30/14 - 1:40pm

@kimmer

http://sheldonbrown.com/colorcode.html

80 - 06/03/14 - 12:13am

@Aaron

Dude – they’re for “prosumers.” You buy them to look good on your workbench, so your lesser friends are impressed when they come over.

You don’t actually work on your bike with them – get a mechanic for that.

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