Park Tool AK-38 Advanced Mechanic toolkit review£300.00

A workshop wonder, or just badge engineering?

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Everything in Park Tool’s 38-piece kit is high quality and a pleasure to use, but it’s not nearly as exhaustive as we’d like for the price. We think ‘intermediate’ would be a more accurate description than ‘advanced,’ given the selection inside.

The big plastic chest is flexy but actually very robust, and there’s plenty of room under the removable tray for extra tools (which you’re probably going to need). What’s inside is pleasingly hefty and solid, with the big chainbreaker, the long, right-angled 8mm Allen key – perfect for recalcitrant pedals – the steel-cored tyre levers and the four screwdrivers being standouts.

Normally we see screwdrivers as a waste in kits like these – they’re often of questionable quality, and a bad fit for most screw heads, making them prone to mangling things. That’s an obvious false economy. Park’s are comfy and very crisply made, however, and you get two sizes of both flat blade and crosshead. The only niggle is that the large flat blade is rather thick.

We would happily do without the tyre boot, puncture kit, brush and bottle opener if it freed up budget for something more specialist, such as a star nut setter or a saw guide. This is badged as an ‘advanced’ kit, so why the generic, easily-acquired fluff?

The three-pointed Allen and Torx tools are also a disappointment. Individual long, L-shaped keys are far less prone to tangling with cables and solid parts, and given the number of Allen bolts on the average bike, these awkward alternatives are a disappointment. The collection of thin but rubber-handled cone spanners is great – if you’re still running cup and cone in this age of cartridge bearings.

Ultimately, there’s too much filler here. It’s good quality filler that will probably last until some furious believer works out how to set fire to the oceans, but neither the quantity of tools nor the overall selection justifies that price. At heart it’s an entry-level kit for advanced money, and it’s easy to get more – or spend less – elsewhere.

USA Price for the updated AK-40 is US$335

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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