Birzman Travel Tool Box

Vital Rating: (Very Good)
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Tested: Birzman Travel Tool Box

Rating: Vital Review

Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Nils Hjord and Johan Hjord

Tools can literally make or break your wrenching experience. Having the right tool for the job at hand can easily mean the difference between heading out on your next ride and heading to the shop with stripped bolts, leaking brake lines, and a red face. Most serious riders probably have a decent collection of essential tools in their garage/man cave/backseat, but more often than not, it will be a hodgepodge selection of tools acquired over the years as and when the need arose. Birzman knows the pain of not having the right selection available at the right time, and have put together two different packages intended to provide a portable yet complete solution for the workshop or the road. Following our earlier review of the

Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Nils Hjord and Johan Hjord

Tools can literally make or break your wrenching experience. Having the right tool for the job at hand can easily mean the difference between heading out on your next ride and heading to the shop with stripped bolts, leaking brake lines, and a red face. Most serious riders probably have a decent collection of essential tools in their garage/man cave/backseat, but more often than not, it will be a hodgepodge selection of tools acquired over the years as and when the need arose. Birzman knows the pain of not having the right selection available at the right time, and have put together two different packages intended to provide a portable yet complete solution for the workshop or the road. Following our earlier review of the extensive Studio Kit, we laid our hands on the more streamlined Travel Tool Box, to see if it would prove enough to satisfy our mobile wrenching needs.

Birzman Travel Tool Box Highlights

Includes 20 pieces selected from the Birzman portfolio of high performance tools in a heavy-duty, PE plastic case featuring a blow molded tool pallet to protect and organize tools.

Tools included:

  • Torx® Key Set, T10/ T15/ T20/ T25/ T27/ T30/ T40/ T45/ T50
  • Hex Key Set, 1.5/2/2.5/3/4/5/6/8/10mm
  • Chain Wear Indicator, 0.75% to 1%
  • Patch Kit 
  • Tire Lever Set 
  • Shimano® Cartridge B.B. Tool 
  • Shimano® HG Cassette  
  • Shimano® MF Freewheel 
  • Universal Crank Puller, For ISIS® Drive and Octalink® crank arms
  • Cable Cutter 
  • Hollowtech® II B.B. Tool 
  • Socket Wrench, For 1/2" drive hex bit sockets
  • Crank Arm Installation Tool 
  • Spoke Wrench, 12G/13G/14G/15G /Shimano® 4.3/4.4
  • Chain Rivet Extractor, 1/8", 3/32", 9,10 and 11 speed
  • Pedal Wrench, 15mm pedal wrench
  • Chain Whip, 8/9/10/11 speed
  • Flathead 5.5 
  • Crosshead #2 
  • Combination Wrench, 8/10mm
  • MSRP: $243.00

Initial Impressions

Upon pulling the box out of the box, we were met with a neatly organized set of tools that looked like they mean business. The sturdy travel box is divided into 2 halves, each with a blow molded insert that provides a specific place for each tool. A removable neoprene divider provides extra padding between the 2 sides when the box is closed. The overall dimensions are very sleek, think mini-sized briefcase and you’re in the ballpark.

The tool selection is meant to ensure you are equipped to work on most areas of the bike when out and about. There is a full complement of individual hex/Allen and Torx wrenches, held in 2 separate organizers, as well as tools for working on your transmission, your cranks, your wheels, tires, and cables. Notably absent are a pliers and some form of dead blow hammer – more on that later.

Individual inspection revealed all the tools to have a quality feel to them, in addition to being nicely finished off in terms of aesthetics. What would the story be in the shop and on the trail?

In The Shop/On The Trail

The idea behind a travel tool box is mobility, and on this point, Birzman delivers. The sleek case will fit under many car seats, and it is also sturdy enough to survive banging around in a trunk or being strapped to the side of your truck bed. The tools are held in place securely for transport, but are easy to access and remove when you need them.

Individually, most of the tools are pleasant to work with. When given a choice in a workshop environment, we always prefer big, comfortable T-handle wrenches, but for field work, the more compact versions included in this travel box kit work well. The ball end of the hex wrenches is very rounded, which is great for awkward angles but can make it difficult to get good grip on stubborn bolts. The square side features a set of grooves cut into the material, which provides a little extra grip and prevents the wrench from slipping out and potentially damaging the bolt head. These grooves also help when the bolt head is filled with dirt.

In no particular order, here are our observations on some of the other tools:

  • The chain breaker tool large and very comfortable to use, and the clever spring loaded retention plate helps hold the chain in place when pressing a link back together.
  • The big wrenches (socket, pedal wrench, chain whip) feature comfortable handles and sturdy construction. The chain whip will only work on the largest sprocket on an 11-speed cassette, not an issue per se just something worth pointing out (due to the thickness of the chainlinks used).
  • The tire levers work well, although the wide and shallow tip sometimes makes it a bit harder to find purchase on a tight casing. It’s good for avoiding pinching the inner tube though.
  • The included patch kit works well, and has ended up in our riding pack for trailside emergencies during rides.
  • Cranks and freehub tools are provided for Shimano standards. It’s a fair enough choice given the penetration of these standards in the market place, but a lot of bikes these days will feature other brands of cranks and wheels, which can make some of the included options redundant (cough cartridge BB cough).

Things That Could Be Improved

Our main gripe with the Birzman Travel Box has to do with the selection of tools included. A travel box should focus on essentials, but still offer peace of mind when chucking it in the back of your car. Without wanting to appear greedy, in our opinion Birzman missed a couple of tricks here:

  • There are no pliers. A pair of radio pliers (cutting, crimping) can come in handy for many emergency repairs, and it should be considered an absolutely essential item. Birzman could easily make room for it in the kit by for example including a reversible screwdriver instead of the 2 big ones currently featured (they are both nice to work with BTW, just not needed very often on actual bikes…).
  • An adjustable wrench is a fairly hefty item, but since it can be used for anything from opening a fork to truing a brake rotor, it fits in the “essential” category in our opinion.
  • There is no hammer. We’re not suggesting a full-blown shop item be included, but there are smart ways to provide this essential piece of equipment: for example, a screw-on head for one of the big wrench handles would be a great solution. It could be stored where that cartridge BB tool is now…
  • The spoke wrench can present issues with worn nipples, because the grip area of each slot is not very tall. The tool is reasonably comfortable to work with, but less sharp edges and a bigger purchase area would make it better.
  • We’d like to see a small space be provided in the box for extra tools or spares. We realize this tool kit was built to be small, but at the same time, some of the tools included take up a lot of space. For example, the socket wrench and pedal wrench could be combined, by putting one tool on each side of a common handle. It might not be quite as elegant as the stand-alone tool, but that would be an acceptable compromise for a travel kit since it would free up a lot of space in the box. Some of the BB tools could be stored more efficiently as well, all of which could free up some real estate for a “personal area”. Somewhere big enough to hold a spare cable, some brake pads, a few nuts and bolts, and one or two specific extra tools of the user’s choosing – proprietary pedal or crank tools, for example.
  • Price is always a touchy subject, and $240 may seem like a lot for a minimalist travel tool kit. $12 per tool is reasonable however (that’s not counting the Allen/Torx wrenches individually but each complete set as one tool), especially for bike-specific quality tools like these.

Long Term Durability

The case has put up with a couple of months of abuse just fine, as have the tools themselves. Whilst we have not subjected the wrenches to full-time workshop duty, some of the tools have seen a lot of action and they are none the worse for wear. Based on what we’ve seen so far, we have no reason to believe that you won’t get years of loyal service out of this kit.

What’s The Bottom Line?

The Birzman Travel Tool Box provides a good answer for those looking for a minimalist kit that can deal with many types of repairs in a DIY workshop environment or on the road. You will need to complete it with a few more items, which may leave some grumbling about the $240 price tag, but overall, the Travel Tool Box offers good value for money and quality tools that are easy to work with.

More information at www.birzman.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Specifications

Product Birzman Travel Tool Box
Tool Type For the Garage
Features 20 pieces in a Heavy-Duty PE plastic case
Miscellaneous • Torx® Key Set, T10/ T15/ T20/ T25/ T27/ T30/ T40/ T45/ T50
• Hex Key Set, 1.5/2/2.5/3/4/5/6/8/10mm
• Chain Wear Indicator, 0.75% to 1%
• Patch Kit  
• Tire Lever Set  
• Shimano® Cartridge B.B. Tool  
• Shimano® HG Cassette  
• Shimano® MF Freewheel  
• Universal Crank Puller, For ISIS® Drive and Octalink® crank arms
• Cable Cutter  
• Hollowtech® II B.B. Tool  
• Socket Wrench, For 1/2" drive hex bit sockets
• Crank Arm Installation Tool  
• Spoke Wrench, 12G/13G/14G/15G /Shimano® 4.3/4.4
• Chain Rivet Extractor, 1/8", 3/32", 9,10 and 11 speed
• Pedal Wrench, 15mm pedal wrench
• Chain Whip, 8/9/10/11 speed
• Flathead 5.5  
• Crosshead #2  
• Combination Wrench, 8/10mm
Price $243
More Info

Birzman Website

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