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Verdict: 
The last word in derailleur alignment precision: a tool you'll love for life
Weight: 
533g

The Abbey Bike Tools Hanger Alignment Gauge (HAG) is a stupendously accurate (and commensurately expensive) way to ensure your rear mech is given the best possible chance of achieving shifting nirvana. Relatively small, light and rebuildable, it really is 'The last hanger tool you'll ever have to buy'.

  • Pros: NASA-grade accuracy, light, compact, rebuildable, used by the pros
  • Cons: Price, practice needed to perfect measurement, won't do 20in or smaller wheels, you won't want to put it in your toolbox and it's likely to get nicked from a shadowboard

The motto of Abbey Bike Tools is 'Precision is our religion'. Owned and operated by Jason 'The Friar' Quade, the Abbey name stems from a love of the spiritual home of cycling, Belgium, and its indescribably good beers. Bend, Oregon is where Abbey started in 2010 and is still based today.

> Buy this online here

Let's get something out of the way first: the price. It's One Hundred And Seventy British Pounds, for something with five parts that is ostensibly a stick to bend your derailleur hanger with. Those of a nature that upon reading such a description find their pulses racing with indignation can turn to the latest Aldi catalogue, I'm sure there's a bike tool special buy due any day now. This will not be the review for you.

Let's set the scene for the HAG, because beginnings are very delicate times. The ethos of Abbey Bike Tools reads thus:

'We design new tools without concern for the final price. This doesn't mean we aim to build expensive tools. Rather, we aren't willing to cut corners in the name of price. This is the reason that we have such a loyal following among professional race mechanics across all disciplines and around the world. When time matters and results pay the bills there's only one tool company that you want in your hand, sponsors be damned'.

And just as pro teams will use tyres from non-sponsors with logos Magic-Marker'd out, pro mechanics will use whatever they think will do the job best – 'sponsors be damned'. In many drivetrain cases, that tool is the HAG – but not just any HAG. From time to time The Friar goes all-out with a titanium version – it's 160 hand luggage-friendly grams lighter than the steel version and costs $325, with custom engraving and, one assumes, its own green velvet cushion included.

But we digress.

Small is good

Physically the HAG is smaller than any other hanger tool – for good reason. This is a pro tool, designed to be carried in toolboxes onto planes by pro mechanics. So every gram and millimetre is critical, as is the ability to rebuild if worn or damaged. As the measurement point is at the end of the arm, there's an inherent limitation to the size of wheel you can measure, in this case nothing smaller than 24in. But hey – this is a pro tool and the use case isn't truing Bromptons or kids' bikes.

A good frame of reference at this point would be the alternative, and that's really the £63 Park Tool DAG-2.2. Since reviewing the 2.2 a few years back, I've owned one and used it hundreds of times on my own and customers' bikes. As reviewed, it's fine – I stand by my assertion that it will meet the needs of all but the pickiest of home mechanics. As I highlighted in the review, you need to shift the measuring arm out of the way and use the rubber gauge every time – which, as you'll see, is a step and possible inaccuracy the HAG does away with.

Abbey Bike Tools Hanger Alignment Gauge Tool 3.jpg

The premise of the HAG, as with any hanger tool, is thus: remove mech, screw tool into hanger, spin wheel so valve is at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o-clock as viewed from the drive side, and check at each point that the 'gauge' rod is just touching the valve. That's it.

When you find that at 180-degree opposite points the gauge reads closer or further away, you use the arm of the tool to carefully bend the hanger, so that on a repeat of measuring everything's equidistant. This may well take three or four goes to get it just right, necessitating repeated movement of the gauge as needed. Once done in, say, the vertical plane, repeat for the horizontal. Then check that the subsequent adjustment didn't muck up the first one – so as you can sense, there's a fair bit of back-and-forth.

Chainstays, seatstays, racks and mudguards complicate this process by getting in the way, necessitating a fair bit of faff if the measuring rod needs sliding and locking – as the DAG-2.2 does. And if you knock the little rubber ring gauge, start all over.

The part of the HAG that screws into the hanger is functionally the same as the DAG-2.2, but the execution is exquisite. The first turn of the T-handle inside its replaceable brass bushing tells your fingers that this is special – the threads engage with a silken action that I've rarely felt on any tool, bike or otherwise. The precision is such that when tight, the T-handle stops dead – no play, no ability to force it further belying a slightly sub-perfect thread cut.

Abbey Bike Tools Hanger Alignment Gauge Tool 2.jpg

Once screwed in place the HAG is free to spin on the hanger, and the measuring begins. The green alloy body can slide in and out and rotate freely. At its head is a threaded cap, with the actual measuring rod stored inside. The rod is removed, and inserted at 90 degrees through the cap. The body then screws further into the cap, locking the measuring rod in place, and allowing the whole setup to move in and out and spin.

Genius

This is the genius of the HAG – once you've set the first measurement, it is very quick and one-handed to spin and shift the tool around the stays to measure further points while the other hand rotates and holds the tyre. If an adjustment is needed, the rod can be easily shifted and resecured, which is a two-handed operation.

My only gripe – if you can call it that – with the HAG is that if you let it swing down and let go, then sometimes over a dozen or so seconds the body will slide off the bit that's threaded to the bike and end up on the floor. Does it need some sort of stop, or should the expectation be that if you've invested £170 in such a tool you are 100 per cent focused on its use and care? Either way, the fact that it takes that long to slide apart gives you a hint at the tolerances (down to 0.0063mm) the parts are machined to.

The Shimano derailleur hanger specification allows for less than +/- 4mm deviation as measured at the rim. Your rear mech's top jockey wheel feeds the chain onto your sprocket at a radius of between 30 and 50mm from the mech hanger (as viewed from the side), depending on what gear you're in. So that 4mm maximum hanger deviation spec at the rim 300mm away translates into a possible 0.4-0.8mm departure from vertical at the jockey wheel.

This might sound like a tiny amount, but if you have an 11-speed cassette, the clearance between the chain’s outer plates and the neighbouring sprockets' teeth either side is about 0.13mm. So you can see how a jockey wheel out of place by 0.4-0.8mm when your chain only clears the neighbouring sprockets by 0.13mm can lead to shifting problems. The issue being, the error of 0.4mm in your smallest sprocket is amplified to 0.8mm at your largest sprocket as you shift across.

This is why, if your hanger is bent, you can index the smaller sprockets fine but the shifting goes to pot as you move up the cassette. Jockey wheels have side-to-side play built into them to try to accommodate these tight tolerances, but if the hanger's bent the increasingly-wider gap can't be taken up.

At 90rpm in a 50T chainring your chain is contacting new sprocket teeth off the derailleur jockey wheel at a rate of about 75 links per second. And you're likely putting 200 watts plus through it, if you're going for it. Frankly I'm amazed bicycles work at all, but again I digress.

Measuring the valve gap on my good bike with the DAG-2.2 I got about 2mm, which was pretty good I thought. Historically if it were that close I usually stopped there. Measured with the HAG, the gap was 1.5mm – but with no reference ring like on the 2.2 I had to use a feeler gauge to confirm.

Aside from measurement, the other role of the HAG is brute force bending, to adjust the hanger. With zero play in the body or thread, this felt tighter and more controlled than with the DAG-2.2, meaning adjustments were made quicker and with less to-and-fro and repeated bending likely to lead to a stress fracture in the future.

After a bit of fettling I was able to get the variance down to about 1.15mm difference between the HAG and DAG-2.2. But there the DAG-2.2 ran up against its inherent lack of precision – in addition to the 1mm or so of play in the main bushing, spinning between measurement points the DAG-2.2 wouldn't true completely, leading me to suspect something in the geometry of the threaded section was out, thereby condemning it to forever swing in an arc out of true with the wheel itself.

Using the HAG, my hanger aligned perfectly, referencing all the way around the wheel. And I mean perfectly – like, no space for any of my automotive feeler gauges to fit betwixt rod and valve. I got to slowly spinning the body back and forth with the rod merely scraping the valve stem, more barely-audible than tactile, to confirm the contact.

Purr-fect

The proof's out there on the road, and the HAG's work gave me a sound from the Shimano Ultegra groupset I've never heard before, but easily detected on new smooth tarmac – I can only describe it as 'purring'. After you've put many thousands of miles into a bike you become acutely attuned to changes in sound and feel, and that's what I picked up after aligning things with the HAG – the experience of shifting and pedalling was notably quieter and slicker.

I had the same experience aligning my turbo trainer bike's Microshift 11-speed groupset: quieter, tighter, across the whole cassette.

For what it's worth…

Now £170 is indeed a pretty penny to spend for 'tighter' and 'quieter', and here's the nub of the HAG-vs-DAG debate: is it *worth* an extra £110? As with so many things bike, that depends entirely on your optics – where you sit re budget, precision, size, weight, performance, design and so on. If you're on a limited budget and need to get your bike functional, the DAG-2.2 will do the job just fine, and more power to you.

> Beginner's guide to bike tools

I asked Mark Legg, pro mechanic and husband of cyclo-cross star Katie Compton, for his thoughts on the HAG: 'I've bought two of them. One for the US and one for Belgium. Functionally they are fantastic to use. I often keep one in my pit bag for CX. I love the craftsmanship of the HAG. Definitely a must have tool to own for the races or the workshop.'

So yes, you can get close to perfect for one third the cash. But if you're working at the pointy end of cycle racing, frequently bend bikes while travelling, are after a psychological boost from knowing your ride is as tight as it can be, or maybe you're just a fan of exquisite engineering and the beauty of a near-perfect tool, the Abbey Bike Tools HAG might be one for your Significant Birthday wish list.

Verdict

The last word in derailleur alignment precision: a tool you'll love for life

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Abbey Bike Tools Hanger Alignment Gauge Tool

Size tested: One

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?

It's for someone who wants and will appreciate their bike running as smoothly as possible.

Abbey Bike Tools says:

The HAG is the last hanger tool you'll ever have to buy.

Why you need one

The derailleur hanger is the foundation for the modern drive train to work properly. With modern bikes getting as many as 12 cogs in the space that we use to put 8 it's never been more important to make sure the hanger is perfectly straight. Sadly many of the current tools just aren't capable of achieving this kind of precision.

What makes the HAG the best

We went through extra steps to make this tool half precision measuring instrument and half pry bar.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

From Abbey Bike Tools:

Tolerances as tight as a quarter of a thousandth of an inch (.0063mm) in some critical dimensions of this tool.

Ability to lock in the feeler so you don't have to second guess your measurement after bumping it on the tire.

Top half of tool will rotate out of the way of fender stays and frame tubes.

Feeler gauge stick stores inside the top half of the tool, very handy for the traveling mechanic.

T bolt extends past the tool for access to those problematic hangers found on some modern full suspension bikes.

Compact at just under 11" ( 28cm).

Re-buildable. While ideally your HAG should be sent back for a rebuild, it is possible to do them in the field by replacing the brass bushing in the T-Bolt.

Compatible with the three most common wheel sizes, 26, 27.5/650B and 700/29)

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
10/10

Just... wow.

Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10

It's perfect.

Rate the product for durability:
 
10/10

This will become a family heirloom, it's that well made.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
10/10

Compared to the competition, it's a home run.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

This has to be the only place you could mark the HAG down, and is utterly dependent on your perspective.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Flawlessly, beautifully, perfectly... we're gonna need a bigger bucket of superlatives.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Everything. The vibe.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Only the falling-apart bit, if that could be fixed. But really that's a very minor gripe.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Compared with the Park Tool DAG-2.2, yes it's off the charts expensive. But that's to miss the whole point of a pro tool, which the DAG-2.2 ain't.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes, but don't tell my wife.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

I can only mark the HAG down on price. That's it. Functionally, it's perfect.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 45  Height: 183cm  Weight: 72kg

I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc  My best bike is: Velocite Selene

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, Dutch bike pootling.

22 comments

Avatar
ktache [2314 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes

Thank you for that review.  It is a thing of true beauty, if only I could justify such a purchase.  The Abbey range are lovely to look at, if only I could find a need.  I could, I suppose imagine a reason to buy one of their crombies. 

Them and Silca.

I'm humming and hawing about getting a Rohloff sprocket wear indicator at the moment, could be useful, but there is a fair bit of subjectivity in it's use.  And when I'm feeling particuly flush I think a Pedros Vice Whip would be a nice addition.

Well done for using the term ShadowBoard, I've always wanted one, it's nice to give it a name.

Of course when I do get my HAG, I will get my local artisinal leather worker to make me a custom pouch so it does not get scratched in my carry round kit.

Avatar
clayfit [145 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes

Not sure I'd pay that much, but a gear hanger alignment tool has been an essential part of my tool kit for a long time.  

I bought it when I could not get a brand new kid's bike (Spec Hot Rock) to change gear properly.  I asked the LBS where I bought the bike to get the gears to work, but the bike came back just as bad...  So I bought the tool and end of problem.  Moral of story- even new bikes can have bent hangers. And even a high end LBS can be incompetent.

The kids also tended to drop their bikes on whichever side was convenient, so out came the hanger adjuster on numerous occasions.  To mend the hangers, not to wallop the kids for bending them again, I should add.

Avatar
clayfit [145 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Not sure I'd pay that much, but a gear hanger alignment tool has been an essential part of my tool kit for a long time.  

I bought it when I could not get a brand new kid's bike (Spec Hot Rock) to change gear properly.  I asked the LBS where I bought the bike to get the gears to work, but the bike came back just as bad...  So I bought the tool and end of problem.  Moral of story- even new bikes can have bent hangers. And even a high end LBS can be incompetent.

The kids also tended to drop their bikes on whichever side was convenient, so out came the hanger adjuster on numerous occasions.  To mend the hangers, not to wallop the kids for bending them again, I should add.

Avatar
srchar [1658 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

Tools as art.

Avatar
jamesppics [13 posts] 7 months ago
3 likes

Why no picture of the tool in action? Its hard to envisage what "the rod is removed, and inserted at 90 degrees through the cap. The body then screws further into the cap, locking the measuring rod in place, and allowing the whole setup to move in and out and spin." actually means

 

Avatar
bechdan [263 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

very pretty but it is just a tool and I for one  would never pay that much regardless how nice it looks, perhaps worth it for a busy pro mechanic but not for home use surely, you can get a perfectly decent one for £35

Avatar
KiwiMike [1431 posts] 7 months ago
3 likes
bechdan wrote:

very pretty but it is just a tool and I for one  would never pay that much regardless how nice it looks, perhaps worth it for a busy pro mechanic but not for home use surely, you can get a perfectly decent one for £35

I hope I’ve quantified ‘perfectly decent’ in the article - I agree, if you’re happy with sub-optimal ‘good-enough’ shifting, then the HAG is overkill. If however you’ve splashed £2k plus on an Ultegra-spec bike, £170 for a lifetime of perfect shifting across all your, your family and friend’s bikes isn’t a bad investment, IMHO  

Noting the £35 mech hanger tools have even more slop in them than the £65 Park Tool version. 

Avatar
Markopic [44 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes
bechdan wrote:

very pretty but it is just a tool and I for one  would never pay that much regardless how nice it looks, perhaps worth it for a busy pro mechanic but not for home use surely, you can get a perfectly decent one for £35

Come on, why you need to mention that there are cheaper tools than this? We all know that, but the question is, have you ever used such a tool?

I have one of the cheaper ones, from very good brand, and I use it all the time, but there is significant amount of play, so that it is not possible to straighten derailleuer hanger with tolerances better than 1-2mm. Also, these tools are hard to use if you have rack or mudguards installed.

Based on this review and my experience with cheaper tool, I have also ordered HAG tool - I think it is more than worth the money.

 

Avatar
Mungecrundle [1646 posts] 7 months ago
5 likes

Good tools are always a good investment. Spend what you can afford.

I know people who spend £170+ a month on each of take outs, booze and fags.

Avatar
biker phil [130 posts] 7 months ago
3 likes
Mungecrundle wrote:

Good tools are always a good investment. Spend what you can afford. I know people who spend £170+ a month on each of take outs, booze and fags.

Agree completely, over the years I have spent a fortune on top quality tools, 'Buy it cheap, buy it twice". I only ever buy the best available, even if it means waiting a few weeks/months to save up. The best tools are a pleasure to use, and remain so for a lifetime. I have a large amount of Snap On tools, expensive, yes, but I am still using the ratcheting screwdriver bought nearly 30 years ago, it still works as it did when purchased. 

Avatar
ktache [2314 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

My father, who by profession was an engineer, and I'm guessing quite a good one at thet, he spent the last few years before retirement making aircraft altimiters, little mechanical things, loved to buy cheap and awful tools from Blackbush market.  He did love a bargain, though cheap and nasty tools hurt the things they work on, and never last that long, and often take longer to use.  

The minimum for me is Park, I have bought cheaper before, and have regretted it, and I have had to replace them.  Get the best you can, seemingly a lesson in life generally, but definitely with tools.

Avatar
janusz0 [343 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Mike, you state that  “It's One Hundred And Seventy British Pounds”, but the Amazon link that you give is for more than twice that amount!  The eBay link gets closer, but I see no clue to buying it fot £170.  What’s going on?

Avatar
ktache [2314 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Sigma sports, the one at the top of the page has it for £170.  Next to the weight.

And a fairly full range of the Abbey Bike Tools, careful, very tempting.

Avatar
Gkam84 [9146 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

I've been using this tool for a couple of years now, wouldn't use any other HAG after I first got it, I know we have disagreed on your reviews before, but you are almost spot on with this one, my only gripe is your 5/10 for the value. If you are a professional and not a workshop mechanic this is 10/10 for everything, even as a workshop mechanic it should be up there around 7/8.

Abbey tools are first and foremost aimed at professional team mechanics as we have to travel all over and need precise tools that don't weight a ton and we can rely on them. That is why I have a number of Friar's tools in my kit.

Avatar
janusz0 [343 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
ktache wrote:

Sigma sports, the one at the top of the page has it for £170.  Next to the weight.

And a fairly full range of the Abbey Bike Tools, careful, very tempting.

Yes, but that wasn't there when I wrote my comment.  I see that both the Amazon and eBay links, that I followed, have now vanshed. 

EDIT:  on looking again, I see "This item is no longer available to buy. Click here to view similar products" on the Sima Sports webpage.  Has this road.cc article led to a buyers' stampede?

Avatar
Woldsman [339 posts] 7 months ago
1 like
janusz0 wrote:
ktache wrote:

Sigma sports, the one at the top of the page has it for £170.  Next to the weight.

And a fairly full range of the Abbey Bike Tools, careful, very tempting.

Yes, but that wasn't there when I wrote my comment.  I see that both the Amazon and eBay links, that I followed, have now vanshed. 

EDIT:  on looking again, I see "This item is no longer available to buy. Click here to view similar products" on the Sima Sports webpage.  Has this road.cc article led to a buyers' stampede?

The link to Sigma Sports was definitely there yesterday because I clicked on it: I’m pretty sure it was the ‘Buy this online here’ one. And I’m 99.5% certain there was a low stock warning - only three left - so you could be right about that stampede  1

(If my wife is reading this I didn’t buy one.)

Avatar
rkemb [143 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
ktache wrote:

Get the best you can, seemingly a lesson in life generally, but definitely with tools.

I came across the advice recently, for tools, to buy cheap the first time and then, if they wear out, you use them enough to make it worth buying the best you can afford to replace them.

Avatar
Woldsman [339 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
rkemb wrote:
ktache wrote:

Get the best you can, seemingly a lesson in life generally, but definitely with tools.

I came across the advice recently, for tools, to buy cheap the first time and then, if they wear out, you use them enough to make it worth buying the best you can afford to replace them.

There is a sound logic to that. It’s just that some times they can wear out at some critical point and drop you in the shit. 

I’ve bought cheapish stuff in the past, but aside from those tools that e.g. lack precision - I have a very cheap mallet to go with my wood chisels. Why pay more? - I’m only buying good kit from now on. 

Having said that, I have the Park Tool DAG2.2 and it’s going to have to be enough for me. 

Avatar
srchar [1658 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes

I can see why the Abbey Tools are so expensive - when you see what goes into their design and construction, it's understandable - and I don't have a problem with a £170 hanger tool, given it will save hours chasing down niggly shifting issues.

What I don't understand is why the Park tool is so rubbish at sixty quid. It's got more slop than a hospital dinner.  After borrowing it from a mate, I made my own out of a length of steel box and various other bits.

Avatar
srchar [1658 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
jamesppics wrote:

Why no picture of the tool in action? Its hard to envisage what "the rod is removed, and inserted at 90 degrees through the cap. The body then screws further into the cap, locking the measuring rod in place, and allowing the whole setup to move in and out and spin." actually means

There are pics that explain it on the Abbey website: https://www.abbeybiketools.com/collections/tools/products/hag

Avatar
KiwiMike [1431 posts] 7 months ago
3 likes

Here’s the video, speaking a thousand words better than I ever could.

Avatar
reippuert [125 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
ktache wrote:

Thank you for that review.  It is a thing of true beauty, if only I could justify such a purchase.  The Abbey range are lovely to look at, if only I could find a need.  I could, I suppose imagine a reason to buy one of their crombies. 

Them and Silca.

I'm humming and hawing about getting a Rohloff sprocket wear indicator at the moment, could be useful, but there is a fair bit of subjectivity in it's use.  And when I'm feeling particuly flush I think a Pedros Vice Whip would be a nice addition.

Well done for using the term ShadowBoard, I've always wanted one, it's nice to give it a name.

Of course when I do get my HAG, I will get my local artisinal leather worker to make me a custom pouch so it does not get scratched in my carry round kit.

 

Abbey is cool, but unless you make a living of fixing bikes its imposible to justify.

silca, i have my reservations. Its not relly pro tools, its "do it yourself" tools for stockbokers and bankers. Nice to look at quality products, but i seriously doubt its a durable as true shop tools. One of the few  boutique shop tool manufactures i can see usefull is Wolftooth  components who acttually makes very usefull lightweight & low volume tools for the traveling/bikepacking/expedition/touring comunity

when said a derailure hanger allignment tool is seriously usefull - im still using the same as i did in high school - though its my dads and im 47ynow ( just borrowed it again for infinite time).

On a bikepacking tour a few years ago my bike arrived in Bolonga before a 3 week tour with a hanger that was almost 40 degrres off in every posible direction. Took me a day to find a shop with a deraillure hanger tool. Dusty shop, dirty repair shop near the main staion i wouldnt have been able to find on by own. I thought a 3 week vacation was gone up in the air. The small shop saved my vacation.