If you’re the sort of person that gets excited about bike tools (not as much as you get excited about bikes, obviously, but almost) then you might know of tool manufacturer Birzman. Fairly new on the scene, Birzman claims to make tools with shapes inspired by nature, and the range is impressive, with all sorts of kit from slinky little mini-tools for emergency side-of-the-road repairs to hefty spanners for the workshop. Sorry, for the ‘StudioCycle’, as the Birzman website trendily has it.
So today we’re testing something from the workshop, er, StudioCycle end of the spectrum: a 7-piece ratchet set comprising the ratchet wrench itself plus six sockets. But not your run-of-the-mill sockets. Oh no. These are dedicated bike sockets.
You get two Shimano sockets - between them handling bottom brackets, cassettes and freewheels - and one for Campag cassettes, plus two hex sockets (8mm and 10mm) for BB bolts or pedal axles.
In their charcoal chrome, they look sexy, but do they work? Yes. The sockets slot nicely onto the cassettes in the road.cc test lab, with the splines just right - not too tight and no sloppiness. The sockets also fit snugly onto the wrench itself, and they won’t fall off thanks to a neat locking device.
The wrench handle itself is sturdy enough, reassuringly heavy in fact, although the little switch to change the ratchet direction seems a bit flimsy by comparison.
Full-time professional mechanics are very demanding on tool quality but we haven't seen anything to suggest that this kit is going to fall apart any time soon. For the rest of us, changing cassettes only a few times a year, rather than every day, these tools will definitely do the job.
Retailing at £45 for the set, this is good (though not stunning) value, and much cheaper than buying the items individually. Of course, if you had a socket wrench already and needed just one Shimano cassette remover for example, it would be cheaper to buy this single item on its own.
Birzman tools are distributed in the UK by Merida, and they're available in decent bike shops across the land.
Good value, well-made set of tools to grace the cyclist’s home workshop.
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Make and model: Birzman 7pc ratchet wrench set
Size tested: n/a
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?
The Birzman website says this: "Birzman tools are inspired by a desire to solve cyclist’s problems simply and effortlessly. Drawing inspiration from nature with their multi-award winning product designs, their aim is to develop only the finest tools, that are both Simple, Functional and Useful." While the shape of some Birzman tools may look like a praying mantis or another rainforest resident, I'm not so sure about this socket set. It looks like a, er, well, like a socket set. But the last bit of the blurb is fair enough; these tools are indeed simple, functional and useful.
Did you enjoy using the product? yes
Would you consider buying the product? yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? yes
Age: 50 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,