With a little knowledge on how to use them, a set of common bicycle tools can certainly save you money and keep you riding. While the majority of riders sway toward the cheapest option for casual use, spending a little more once is a sure way to ensure the tools work when you need them to.
At over 95 years old, Slovenia-based Unior is a steel-forging specialist that does a great deal more than just bicycle tools. This makes Unior a unique company in the cycling industry – not only does it make all of its own tools in Europe, with its own steel, but much of the more universal stuff is designed for the automotive industry and built to exacting standards.
Related reading: Don’t buy the cheapest tools
Available throughout Europe for a long time now, Unior has recently started expanding its export reach into the likes of the United States and Australia. In the US, the tools aren’t in Unior’s traditional blue (as pictured), but are instead red and orange.
The new 20-piece bike tool set and bag is designed for the starting mechanic or perhaps a travelling user seeking a mostly-ready second set. With this, even a Phillips #2 screwdriver is included.
All tools provided are manufactured by Unior itself, a rare thing these days. The combination of cast, forged and laser cut tools add to a high quality set that is at least on par to Park Tool for most tools, some a little less so, some a little more.
The unior steel cable cutters are quite nice and make clean cuts on housings. these are one of the reasons for the kit being priced so high:
Good cable cutters aren’t cheap, and do help to explain this kit’s price
Items such as the chain whip, external cup bottom bracket wrench and pedal wrench should all last a lifetime under normal use. These items also feature long handles which afford plenty of leverage. Even more quality is seen in the cassette spline tool and steel cable cutter, both of which wouldn’t be out of place on the bench of a discerning full-time mechanic.
A simple inclusion, the chain wear checker is a real winner; this is such a basic tool and yet is commonly left out. Better yet, the one included offers multiple wear-point indicators and so is great for tracking wear until replacement is needed.
Related reading: All about chain wear
The tools are all high quality made with unior’s own steel. the shimano crank preload cap spline took is a nice addition, and the magnet to prevent it from going missing is clever:
This little tool is crucial for working with most Shimano cranksets
We like the magnetic spline tool for use on the bearing preload cap of Shimano cranks, something commonly lost otherwise. And the pair of plastic tyre levers do exactly as they should – they’re rigid and slippery enough to slip beneath tight tyre beads.
The zippered case itself is an equal match in quality to the kit’s contents and makes the whole package easily portable. Looking much like a binder folder, inside its plastic-reinforced construction is a series of elastic loops for holding a variety of tools in an organised manner. There are a few loops spare and you’re able to customize the layout of the tools to your liking.
There are lots of things to like about this kit, but there are a few obvious gaps and limitations too. And frankly, for the money this shouldn’t be.
Small in size, the chain breaker does the job and will work with the majority of multi-speed chains. However, it lacks leverage for easily snapping free tight pins and doesn’t offer a replaceable pin in the event anything goes wrong with it.
One let down of this tool set is the included hex keys (pictured on right). the quality is great, but they lack length (leverage) and a ball end. unior offers better options for sure:
We’re disappointed in the choice to supply such a short set of hex keys
The included hex wrench set is of nice quality with great tolerances, but significantly lack in leverage and a ball end for convenient access in tight spots. What can you do with such a short 8mm wrench? Certainly not snap free a tight crank bolt or pedal.
Unior states that it included this hex key set following external feedback, and that it’s been done partly to reduce weight for easier carrying, but also to reduce costs. Either way, we don’t agree with it and – Unior certainly has far more suitable hex keys (which we rate) in its catalogue that we’d have preferred to see.
Related reading: Building a cycling tool kit from scratch
A basic set of Torx keys is noticeably missing too given it’s difficult to fully service a high-end bike these days without these tools. Sizes T25 and T30 are commonly found on many components from Shimano, Campagnolo and SRAM.
Finally, there’s the obvious exclusion of something to turn the cassette tool with. Some tool kits supply little square drive adaptors, others a small adjustable wrench – but for Unior, you’re expected to add your own wrench handle or perhaps bench vise.
In the end, we can’t fault the general high quality of these European-made tools. Many of these are suitable for professional use and will serve an amateur DIYer for a lifetime. We also can’t fault its easily portable case and 2kg total weight.
However, priced at $275 / €203 / £149 / AU$299, this kit is expensive enough without having to fill in the missing items. The more expensive ‘Pro Home Set’ just about answers all our complaints and more, though it also costs nearly double.
- Phillips #2 screwdriver
- 1.5-10mm short hex wrench set
- Shimano/SRAM cassette tool
- External bottom bracket tool
- Shimano Hollowtech crank preload spline tool
- 15mm pedal wrench
- Chain whip / Freewheel removal spanner
- Chain wear checker
- 5-11 speed chain breaker
- Multi-spoke tool
- Steel cable cutter
- Tyre levers