Halfords Allen keys?

sidevalve

Über Member
Nothing wrong with them - nothing to recommend them. No better nor worse than lots of others. Just look out for a set in cro/van or cro/mol steel from any decent tool maker and you might find some cheaper. I've been using a set by Draper for years now.
 

zacklaws

Veteran
Location
Beverley
Just look out for a set in cro/van or cro/mol steel from any decent tool maker
As Sidevalve says. With hindsight, I have found cheap ones are useless, I have found that some allen keys are of such soft metal, that on occasions, especcially the smaller ones, the hex can become rounded and slip out of the bolt damaging it, especcially bolts that secure the saddle etc which need about 19 newtons to secure them. But I have also found it the other way round sometimes, the bolt is of poor quality or not deep enough for the allen key to fit and the head on that has just rounded off on the hex causing the allen key to slip out.
 
Location
Loch side.
Those seem fine, but immediately grind off the ball on the three smallest ones. At that size, the ball hasn't got enough grip in a bolt head and strips the bolt, which is then useless to the other side too. Then it becomes an exercise in surgery. By removing the ball, you prevent yourself from even trying. I frequently did this to all the allen key sets that came into our workshop for this very reason.
 

slowmotion

Quite dreadful
Location
lost somewhere
If they have Forge Steel written on the package, run away. They are made of cheese.
 
Those seem fine, but immediately grind off the ball on the three smallest ones. At that size, the ball hasn't got enough grip in a bolt head and strips the bolt, which is then useless to the other side too. Then it becomes an exercise in surgery. By removing the ball, you prevent yourself from even trying. I frequently did this to all the allen key sets that came into our workshop for this very reason.
Wise words spoken here
 
Cheap soft ball ended Allen keys are not durable, particularly in sizes below 4 mm
Whilst I fully agree with the anti-cheap tools point, it's worth remembering that the ball-end is for spinning them off once you've already cracked them loose. The l-shaped non-ball end is for cracking the fastener loose in the first place. (unless of course they are screwdriver handled ones).

Back to the OP, I'd be inclined to buy a proper make of allen keys, eg facom, gedore, eklind as allen keys are cheap enough even from good makes, not to be worth skimping, although some cheap ones can be perfectly OK. One of my better buys, albeit very extravagant was a set of t-handled ones (Facom) - which although a buttock-clenching £70 for the set are very nice to use and are one of those extravagances which you appreciate each time you use em. You still need a normal set as well of course.
 

adscrim

Veteran
Location
Perth
@anotherDave

I've been using a set of these http://www.halfords.com/cycling/tools-maintenance/tools/bikehut-ball-ended-hex-key-set since the early noughties and have a second set in my travelling tool box that goes with me when I travel. Never had a problem with using the ball ends on the smaller sizes either.
@anotherDave I've been using this same set for around ten years without problem. They're not showing any wear and have never shown any signs of bending/twisting under stress. Used on a fairly regular basis for home fettling.
 

compo

Veteran
Location
Harlow
As with all tools buy the very best you can afford then in 20 years time you can come on here and tell us how you bought and used your allen keys man and boy! Having said that I have a set of allen keys bought from Aldi several years ago and they are still in good condition. Let's face it though, bicycle work hardly stresses them.
 
Location
Loch side.
Whilst I fully agree with the anti-cheap tools point, it's worth remembering that the ball-end is for spinning them off once you've already cracked them loose. The l-shaped non-ball end is for cracking the fastener loose in the first place. (unless of course they are screwdriver handled ones).
I'm not talking about cheap tools which will then by implication have soft or inferior ball tips. Cheap (rubbish) tools just be avoided or destroyed should they come into your possession. They create the illusion that you have a tool to do XYZ but then at the last moment, drop you into trouble.

I'm talking about grinding them off to reduce workshop error. All of us are sometimes tempted to take shortcuts and these can be to use the ball end on an aluminium capscrew or to crack loose a smalls screw because the alternative of using the other end takes just a little bit longer. In small sizes, the six contact points on the balls are so small that they strip the inside of the capscrew's hex way before you would have thought possible. Then it becomes an extraction, rather than remove exercise.

In your DIY workshop the risk and consequences are small. However, in a profession workshop the risks are significant. I'll give you an example. A customer brought his fancy Cannondale mountain bike in to us for a waterbottle cage fitment. The workshop is very busy but as it is with retail, the customer is always right and the salesperson told him "sure, we can fit this for you?" The salesperson then brings the bike into the workshop and sees the queues. He graps a mechanic's allen key set and attempts to do the job himself. He strips the (stupid) aluminium bolt with his first try. In his defense, just about no allen key can get into that small triangle and his attempt to use the ball side is understandable. Now we are stuck with a customer on the floor, waiting for the 3 minute job, but the bolt is stripped. Now a mechanic is pulled off his current project and given an emergency project. Out comes the dremel. In his haste, the dremel does that zig-zag ricochet thing that dremels do and the chuck grinds a nice dome in the paintwork right into the frame aluminium. Whereto now? A sale of a waterbottle cage now becomes a major drama.

Another example from my workshop. Rock Shox forks have a cable that controls the lockout mechanism. This cable is anchored with a 1.5mm grub screw. I buy each mechanic a nice precision set of screwdriver allen keys but no, someone uses a ball tip in there, strips the screw and now calls on the boss to make a plan. Eventually I saved myself a lot of pain and removed all balls from all allen keys in that workshop. With 11 mechanics and several of them with more than one set including their private sets, it was quite a grinding fest. But I did manage to reduce the number of screws we had to extract by blood sweat and tears.

Yes, a workshop rule should have worked but in reality it doesn't. Off with those balls!
 
Top Bottom