On the road or in the shed, the tool selection in the Birzman Travel Tool Box covers practically all the basic maintenance jobs tackled by the home mechanic. The quality of the tools means you shouldn't be replacing anything too soon either.
Bikes are pretty simple machines, and once you've done a bit of internet research you'll find that the majority of tasks are achievable with just a handful of tools. That's why the Birzman Travel Box is so good: it has (nearly) everything you need and nothing you don't.
We've got the 20 model which has, yep, you guessed it, 20 tools in the hard case. It is biased very much towards Shimano setups, which makes sense as it is by far the most common drivetrain manufacturer, found on all sorts of bikes.
The tools are solidly built, and not only do they fit the job in hand at the business end, but Birzman has really concentrated on the ergonomics of the handles too. With a lot of jobs requiring a bit of force, you need a tool that is comfortable to use and offers plenty of grip – especially with oily hands.
The most expensive part in the whole kit is the Damselfly Chain Extractor (£34.99 individually; in fact buy buying the tools as a kit you are saving around £30 on the individual rrp), which is an absolute joy to use. It holds the chain straight and true, and thanks to the amount of pressure it applies the chain pin pops instantly with very little force. It comes with a spare extractor pin to allow for varying chain sizes from 1/8in singlespeed through to the latest 11-speed systems.
Hex keys – aka Allen keys – can be picked up for a few quid these days, but the Birzman jobbies (£19.99) are lovely bits of kit. With soft alloy bolts being used for some components nowadays you need a good close-tolerance fit and that's what you get from these. The ball end is ideal for tightening or loosening bolts at an angle, and again here the fit is snug to stop you rounding the bolt heads.
Companies like Fizik supply their stems with Torx screws and Birzman has sensibly included a full set of these in the kit too. They are the same level of quality as the hex keys, with a close fit and plenty of length for loosening stubborn screws.
For working on the drivetrain, you get a decent chain whip that works with 8, 9, 10 and 11-speed blocks, plus removal and fitting tools for both Shimano cassettes and freewheels.
Move to the middle and you've got a selection of options for removing your bottom bracket, whether cartridge type or Hollowtech. If you're a Campagnolo user you'll have to treat yourself to some specific tools, though. Chainset-wise the crank puller will remove older style square taper or Octalink chainsets – anything with a tapered mating face, basically. Again, all of these fit well, the threads are clean and tidy, and you don't get any movement in the tools when pressure is applied.
The cable cutters (£13.99) are probably the only weak link in the entire kit; although they cut through outers and inners with ease, they don't have quite as solid a feel as the rest of the kit. Mind you, 14 quid is quite cheap for a set of cable cutters, so to be fair their performance is on par with that.
The rest of the kit is basic maintenance stuff: chain wear indicator, tyre levers, patch kit, a spoke key and a couple of screwdrivers chucked in for good measure.
Overall, the Birzman Travel Tool Box is a decent long-term investment for the serious home mechanic. There isn't really much you can't do with it, especially if you are a Shimano/SRAM user, although it is missing cone spanners, for working on your hubs.
For £169.99 you get some quality kit, at a 15 per cent saving over buying everything individually. Plus you get the robust carry case. If I was starting again with regard to tools I'd go for something like this and just add the few specifics I needed.
A portable toolkit that covers virtually everything the home mechanic needs, unless you're a Campag user...
road.cc test report
Make and model: Birzman Travel Tool Box
Size tested: Includes 20 pieces
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Birzman says: "Designed to go where you want to go, this portable tool kit is the ultimate companion for the mechanic on the move. Ideal for team mechanics at races or the home mechanic who wants the freedom to 'wrench' anywhere."
That pretty much covers it; ideal whether you are using it at home or slung in the boot of the car for race weekend. The tools are strong enough for regular small club use rather than full-on race teams, mind.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
1: Torx® Key Set T10/ T15/ T20/ T25/ T27/ T30/ T40/ T45/ T50
2: Hex Key Set 1.5/2/2.5/3/4/5/6/8/10mm
3: Chain Wear Indicator 0.75% to 1%
4: Patch Kit
5: Tire Lever Set
6: Shimano® Cartridge B.B. Tool
7: Shimano® HG Cassette
8: Shimano® MF Freewheel
9: Universal Crank Puller For ISIS® Drive and Octalink® crank arms
10: Cable Cutter
11: Hollowtech® II B.B. Tool
12: Socket Wrench For 1/2" drive hex bit sockets
13: Crank Arm Installation Tool
14: Spoke Wrench 12G/13G/14G/15G /Shimano® 4.3/4.4
15: Chain Rivet Extractor 1/8", 3/32", 9,10 and 11 speed
16: Pedal Wrench 15mm pedal wrench
17: Chain Whip 8/9/10/11 speed
18: Flathead 5.5
19: Crosshead #2
20: Combination Wrench 8/10mm
On the whole very good quality, although the cable cutters don't feel as solid as the rest.
Tight tolerances and close-fitting tools.
I can't see any issues with longevity with regards to home mechanic usage.
Light enough to carry and at 4.4kg shouldn't bother your flight luggage allowance as long as you pack sensibly.
Sensibly shaped handles and grips.
A mixture of top end and basic tools, which comes in at a sensible price especially when you consider you can get it for just over £150 online.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The tools are of a good quality, and this shows when you are working with them.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Quality tools like the hex keys and the chain tool.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Cable cutters don't quite feel up to the standard of the rest of the kit.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The Birzman toolkit is a sensible collection of tools coming from various ends of the Birzman range, higher quality where it needs to be and more basic where it doesn't, which makes for a well rounded beginner to intermediate toolkit. Take into account your LBS labour charges and you'll soon recoup the investment.
About the tester
Age: 36 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Kinesis T2 My best bike is: Mason Definition
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.