Having used these tools for just over three years, I can attest to the high quality and longevity. The Hex Plus design, which Wera has patented, reduces the chance of damaging bolt heads which will be music to the ears of many home mechanics. The plastic sleeves have begun to slip, this would be an easy fix but is a shame on a premium tool.
Hex Plus makes it hard to round bolts
Plastic sleeves slipping
There are two types of mechanics in the world: those with patience, and those who break things often. I am more than happy to admit that on many occasions I fall into the second category, which can be handy when reviewing bikes and equipment since this approach is much more likely to reveal the potential pitfalls for future owners.
One of the pitfalls of an impatient mechanic is rounding bolts, and since bike testing involves setting up new machines on a weekly basis it's something I'm well aware of, especially with some brands choosing to create proprietary designs with assorted fasteners nestled away at strange, hard-to-reach angles. See also: bolt heads seemingly made of cheese.
Wera's Hex Plus L-keys are specifically designed to offer larger bearing surfaces in the screw head. Whilst some tool manufacturers set their aim at perfect tolerance, Wera has patented 'Hex Plus' to offer a greater contact patch between the tool and the fastener. The purists out there might not applaud this idea, preferring perfect tolerances in both bolt head and tool, but it works as far as I'm concerned. In fact, I've been using these tools for a full three years and I really can't remember having rounded a bolt with one of these coloured wands in hand.
Wera says that not only does the Hex Plus design reduce the chance of bolt head deformation, it also allows the user to apply as much as 20 per cent more torque. The set covers all the sizes I've needed when maintaining bikes so far (1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10) with longer handles on the larger tools, in line with the expected torque required.
These Allen keys are constructed from chromium molybdenum steel (chromoly), and come with a ball-end for when you're working in a smaller space, or around a niggly corner.
Each key is treated with what Wera calls a 'Black Laser' surface treatment, offering a reported increase in longevity and reduction in corrosion. The steel has indeed lasted the test of time so far.
However, the keys are wrapped in Thermoplastic sleeves, which are colour coded for quick and easy identification. This plastic has not lasted nearly so well as the all-important metal. The most used keys (4 and 5) now slip out of the plastic sleeve when removed from the holder. This is something I could fix with a dab of superglue but it seems rather a shame in an otherwise excellent quality construction. The numbers have rubbed off the side from use, as well - but by this point in our relationship the colour coding is well ingrained in my mind.
The Hex Plus L-keys arrive in a holder, with a flexible plastic hinge mechanism and a clasp which keeps them neatly in place. This smart package does drastically increase the chance of my keeping them all together, and makes throwing them into a bag ahead of a launch event or race simple. The set isn't light (579g) but the extra weight is worth it for the quality of tool on offer.
At £39, these aren't the cheapest hex keys available by a long shot. However, aside from the failure of the plastic sleeve they offer excellent quality - and it is better to buy an effective tool once rather than an ineffective tool three times.
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is Cycling Weekly's Tech Editor, and is responsible for managing the tech news and reviews both on the website and in Cycling Weekly magazine.
A traditional journalist by trade, Arthurs-Brennan began her career working for a local newspaper, before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining writing and her love of bicycles first at Total Women's Cycling and then Cycling Weekly.
When not typing up reviews, news, and interviews Arthurs-Brennan is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 190rt.
She rides bikes of all kinds, but favourites include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6.
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