Silca's HX-Three Travel Essentials Kit is a top notch set of hex keys but, as David pointed out with the HX-Two kit he tested, they don't come cheap. With tight tolerances and a great feel in the hand they are ideal for virtually any job on the bike; the only thing lacking really is a ball-end on the long section.
- Pros: Perfect fit in practically every bolt head, solid and durable feel to them
- Cons: No ball-end makes them difficult to use in tight spaces
With a constant flow of bikes and components passing through my hands every month, I need to make a lot of adjustments and the hex key is my most-used weapon of choice.
Now, you can pick up a set of hex keys to cover the range of sizes found on a bike for a couple of quid, and you can get a good set for about £15, so why pay so much for the Silcas?
The main reason is how tight the tolerances are: they are just a snug fit into any bolt head I tried, without the slightest bit of slop. This is increasingly important for undoing soft titanium or aluminium alloy bolts found on a lot of top-end kit these days, or if you're a commuter you know what it's like trying to remove a stubborn bolt that's corroded into the frame from months of riding in salt and rain (especially if you have the slack maintenance routine that I did). I've rounded or knurled the head of many a bolt with cheap hex keys.
As I mentioned above, the only real downside is the lack of a ball-end on the long section. Getting in to tighten or loosen bolts with limited space, like between the brake bridge and seat tube, it's always nice to be able to hold the key at an angle once you've got things started if you are loosening. The hex keys found in both the HX-One and HX-Two have them so it's a shame not to see them here.
In the pack you get hex keys to fit pretty much everything you are going to need on a bike: 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10mm. They are a good length too, for plenty of leverage.
Durability should be excellent. The Silcas are made from heat treated S2 tool steel, which is usually used for impact tools like hammers and chisels, so it shouldn't matter if you drop one. We've had the HX-One Home and Travel kit in the office for over two years as the main tool kit and the keys barely have a mark on them.
They are finished in a satin chrome and then have textured polymer coating added for grip – not that I found it made a significant difference to all-metal versions.
Although £35 for a set of hex keys might seem excessive, it isn't massively pricey for professional level tools, and this is exactly what the Silcas are. Pedro's L Hex Wrench Set, for example, scored highly and will set you back £29.99.
If you don't need workshop-grade hex keys then it's probably not worth investing so much money, as there are plenty on the market at a much cheaper price point, but if you do go for the Silcas, the only drawback is the lack of ball-end.
Excellent quality and great fitting hex keys, but for the money I'd like to see ball-ends on the long sections
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Silca HX-Three Travel Essentials Kit
Size tested: High strength S2 steel tools
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?
Silca says, "HX-THREE is SILCA's offering for the mechanic who's simply looking for the highest quality hex keys. These tools boast the same 9 step heat treated S2 tool steel and exceedingly tight tolerances of HX-ONE and HX-TWO, while also featuring the same high-engagement satin chrome finish as HX-TWO. Each tool is hand finished with a high-grip textured polymer coating and the set stores in a custom molded holder with high-contrast size markings."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
High strength S2 steel tools
Precise tool interface dimensions
Polymer coating for superior grip
Laser etched size indication
Compact tool holder
Hex Wrenches: 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10mm
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Absolutely great on any bolt head.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
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 overall score
If you want your tools to last a long time and are willing to pay for it then these are hard to knock. It's just that lack of ball-end that niggles.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 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.