The Birzman Essential Tool Box is a starter tool kit that firmly stands as a great starter tool kit thanks to its range of good quality and useful tools housed within a solid carry case. It’ll easily solve many newbie maintenance tasks while providing an excellent booster to those who already have a few tools under their belt. However, for modern bikes, the Birzman Essential Tool Box needs a few extra tools to be complete.
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Birzman Essentials Tool Box - Technical details
Birzman claims the Essential Tool Kit comes with everything you need and nothing you don’t. While that certainly rings true for the most part, there are a couple of tools that I wouldn’t exactly call essential these days. However, it’s touted as a tool kit that carries the bare minimum for the mechanic on the move.
But to list the kit included in this package, there are 2 to 8mm Allen keys, a T10 to T40 Torx set as well as a chain whip that’s compatible with 7-12 speed cassettes. On top of that, there’s a reversible Phillips and Flat Head screwdriver, a 1/2in driver, an HG cassette tool and a chain tool complete with a spare pin.
Wrapping up the kit is a pedal wrench, Hollowtech BB tools, and handily, Birzman’s Disc Brake Gap Indicator, which is definitely a nice addition. Oh, and there’s a set of tyre levers and spoke wrenches for a solid range of spokes.
All of this is held within a good quality plastic case that’s shock-resistant and looks set to stand the test of time.
Birzman Essentials Tool Box - Performance
To test, the Essentials Tool Box became my go-to for all of the bike-based fettling I do, whether that’s installing new kit, tweaking bits and bobs, or full-on repairs. For the most part, it covered everything I needed it to but it could be made to be more complete.
Of course, the Allen and Torx sets saw the most use and I found them to be of excellent quality. Granted, we’re not talking Wera-level excellence but the Allen keys are built of solid stuff, and offer serious grip within Allen bolts, thanks to the grooves cut into the interface. Throughout my time using these Allens, I’m still yet to mangle a bolt and I’ve not been careful. The same goes for the Torx keys too, and handily the very ends of them are dimpled, so they can work with all Torx bolts. Even after regular and heavy use, everything here is as sharp as it was when brand new.
On the subject of Allens, the 8mm comes separate from the collection and is well-designed, featuring a comfortable rubber sleeve that takes the edge off when unthreading stubborn cassette lock rings. Though, with so many pedals using 8mm Allens to screw into cranks, it would be great to see a ball end, or any bare end at all in order to make the installation of pedals smoother. Though, if annoying enough, the end of the sleeve could be cut away.
The 8mm Allen is what’s used as the lever for the cassette tool, which is done by throwing the ½ drive onto the end of it and then the cassette tool. This results in a collection of tools that sticks out from the wheel quite far, which doesn’t instil in the user a lot of confidence when wrestling with the lock ring but it’s undone plenty enough not to worry about this.
This leads me very nicely to the cassette tool. And while it’ll handle almost all cassette lock rings with ease, the spindle that pokes out limits its use to just cassettes. RockShox air chamber top caps use an interface that can be undone using a flush cassette tool, so the one included in this tool kit won’t work, for RockShox users, this can be a bit of a pain.
It’s a similar story with the Hollowtech BB tool. While Hollowtech BBs are the most common around, this won’t suit everyone and those people will need to buy one that suits their specific BB. Though, this kind of tool and compromise comes as part of a range of tool kits, so it’s not one that marks this one down at all.
The one tool included in this kit that impressed me the most was the chain tool. At first, it feels a little light and that it’s not built terribly well but in use, it’s a fantastic chain tool. Inside its handle is a spare pin, and a chain hook so in one package, you’ve got everything you need to repair a chain and more.
Working with this tool is an absolute pleasure as it offers plenty of leverage, making pins a doddle to remove but what’s extra cool is that it uses a Smart Cradle, which is a spring-loaded bed, or holder that the chain meshes with that holds the chain firmly in place. It’s a small addition but it’s one that makes life much easier. The tyre levers are surprisingly durable, too.
There’s an awful lot to like about this tool kit but there is one tool that’s included, that’s actually a bit redundant, especially for modern bikes and that’s the pedal spanner. I can’t remember the last time I needed a pedal spanner to remove a pedal, rather than a 6 or 8mm Allen. In fact, most performance pedals don’t have an interface for a pedal spanner.
Instead, I would love it if the pedal spanner was swapped for cable cutters or even a master link plier as both of which (mostly the former) would seriously up the capability of this kit and make it a one-stop shop for almost all basic bike maintenance.
Birzman Essentials Tool Box - Verdict
Even though the Birzman Essential Tool Box comes packed with a range of very useful tools that are built to a high quality, a few similar products beat it in terms of value such as Lifeline’s X-Tools Bike Tool Kit 37-piece. It comes with some pieces that the Birzman box doesn’t get at a friendlier £70. However, it doesn’t come with as full a range of Torx keys and I managed to break the chain tool very early on in its life.
There’s also Pro’s Advanced Toolbox which gets more for your money, including the cable cutter and quick link tool that I mentioned before. The tools are built to a higher quality, as is the case but you’ll be spending another £100 for the privilege.
Although the Birzman Essentials Toolbox doesn’t provide the absolute best value for money, against options from Park Tool and Pro, it represents significant value for money. All of the tools are built of a high quality and although it could do with a little bit of topping up, like that addition of cable cutters it offers a very comprehensive range of pieces that’ll be appreciated by anyone who’s looking for a first cycling-specific tool kit.