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The Fabric Hex Key Set isn't going to win any prizes for being unique, but what it does offer is an attractive, useful and high-quality array of tools that will enhance any cycling workshop, without costing the earth. You get all the common hex sizes plus a T25 for those pesky star-shaped bolts, ball ends and a tough steel build.
If, like me, you're constantly tinkering with your bikes, a proper hex key set is a huge upgrade over a multi-tool. They come in many varieties, but I favour the simple type that attaches to a holster, allowing easy access in a rush.
You can easily pick up basic hex keys – and probably have a drawer full of mysterious 'free' ones – so what's Fabric offering for the money? A few things, actually.
While you get the common sizes – 1.5, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10mm – Fabric's set also includes a Torx 25 key. The T25 is one of those fasteners that's pretty common on bikes these days, so it's very useful to have to hand.
Then there's the colour coding, which I'm sure you didn't miss. While not exclusive to this particular set, it's so useful I'm surprised it isn't more common. Though it might seem like a gimmick, it really does make it easy to grab the one you need without constantly having to check its size. It takes a while to get used to, but really does work.
Other niceties include ball ends, which are a must-have when you can't access bolts at the perfect angle, and handles that are both grippy and extra long, so you can reach in past components, cables and frame tubes without blocking your hand. The extra length also gives you useful extra leverage on stubborn or highly torqued bolts.
The powder coating is holding up really well despite me regularly dropping them on my garage floor. The same can be said for the hardened vanadium finish on the ends, which still looks as good as new, even on the keys that see the most regular use (cheap keys round off in no time, and damage bolts while they're at it).
Keeping everything in place is a nylon holster, which is nicely finished with the Fabric logo. The only real gripe here is that each key sits quite tightly in the holster, and it's not until you've removed them a good few times that they slot in and out smoothly. This is not uncommon with plastic holders, though.
At £19.99 this isn't the cheapest set out there, but when you consider the performance, build quality and (usefully) eye-catching design, the price is competitive and the value is good. For example, the Pedros L Hex Wrench Set is £29.99, while the Silca HX-Three Travel Essentials is £35, despite both being regular nine-piece kits – and the Silca not even offering ball ends.
Multi-tools are great on the roads and trails, but for home maintenance a set of dedicated keys is an absolute boon. Fabric's well-priced Hex Key Set is a great option thanks to the strong build, handy colour-coding, leverage-boosting length and ball-ends for accessing fiddly bolts.
High-quality set of hex keys at a reasonable price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fabric Hex Key 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?
Fabric says, 'Bring your workshop to life with our new intuitive, colour-coded set of hex and Torx keys. Each tool is individually powder-coated in a unique colour to distinguish between sizes quickly and easily. The hex keys also feature ball ends to speed up essential repairs and adjustments. Engineered from hardened vanadium steel and supplied with a robust nylon holder, our durable tool kit is perfect for at home or on the move.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Colour-coded tool bits, CNC machined
Tough powder coated finish
Hardened vanadium steel bits
Ball and hex tool ends
Tough nylon holder
Functions: Hex 1.5, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, Torx 25
Strong, hard metal for reliable wrenching. The powder coating at the bottom of each hex key could have been slightly neater, though – it looks a little unfinished.
Getting the keys in and out the first few times is quite tough, leading to some minor hand scrapes.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The ball ends help by allowing you to work at slight angles in tight spots. The long handle makes it easy to hold each key and apply leverage.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The colour coded handles make it easy to find the right key.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
A little more expensive than Wiggle's own-brand Lifeline hex key set, but much cheaper than similar products, such as The Park Tool Professional Hex Wrench set (£24.99), the Pedros L Hex Wrench set (£29.99) and the Silca HX-Three Travel Essentials (£35). All of these only have 9 pieces versus the Fabric set's 10, and the Silca set doesn't have ball ends.
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
This is an excellent hex key set that does everything well at a price that's below its competitors, and the colour coding is a neat touch. The addition of a Torx T25 is the icing on the cake.
About the tester
I usually ride: Steel audax bike My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives,