Park Tool Single Speed Spanner, Nice Idea But Not Quite It
by Chikashi Miyamoto
When I started riding a fixed gear bike on longer rides, I carried a bog standard 15 mm spanner with one closed end to deal with the track nuts and one open end to deal with pedals. (Actually, the latter fulfills both requirements.) I bought one by Sencys from the local DIY shop. After a while, I wished for something that is slightly shorter so it would be easier to carry. Therefore, I bought the Park Tool Single Speed Spanner, but I now wonder why I bothered.
Park Tool generally make quality products. Additionally, there is always the appeal of something that was made, and is being marketed, for a specific purpose, bicycle maintenance in this instance. In comparison to the humble Sencys spanner, the Park Tool piece comes with 2 additional features. One is the tyre lever at one end that looks like it can cause considerable damage to the rim. The other is the bottle opener, which seems to be a de rigueur feature for any tool that is designed with a fixed gear rider in mind. But, can it perform its core duties?
Yes, but not as well as a generic spanner, and it is not more portable.
The Park Tool spanner weighs 156 g whereas the Sencys spanner weighs only 113 g. The difference is noticeable in my jersey pocket.
The Sencys one is 20 mm longer, but in hindsight the fact that it usually sticks out of the jersey pocket is nothing to fret about. The real problem I have is the fact that the body of the Park Tool spanner is only 3 mm thick and rounded off, making it very uncomfortable on the palm when trying to apply sufficient force to tighten or loosen things even when wearing a padded glove as one would when out for a ride. In contrast, the Sencys spanner has thicknesses of 9 mm at one end and 6.5 mm at the other end, making it very easy to apply enough force / torque for the job.
At about 1/3 of the cost of a Park Tool Single Speed Spanner, the Sencys spanner represents great value. Or, rather, the Park Tool Single Speed Spanner is a waste of steel.