European manufactured Unior Bike Tools has added several new specialized shop-level tools to their catalog. From a tiny 1/4″ nipple driver to speed up wheel builds, to a sturdy & well-organized tool kit for the travelling mechanic, the new additions hit pretty much every price range. And in between there are helpful and affordable solutions for common home & shop problems like a simple disc brake pad spreader than does double duty as rotor truing fork and an easy-to-use expander that makes swapping out stubborn thru-axle end caps a breeze.
The new Hub Genie was in fact my own idea. Talking with Unior’s pro team mechanics and the head of their Bicycle Tools Department at World Cup mountain bike races, I was curious if they already had a tool that would make swapping press-on end caps & servicing thru-axle hubs easier.
Frustrated with needing to break out an axle vise or resort to marring the outside of the caps with a pair of pliers in order to swap from 12mm to 15mm axle setups, Unior said they could adapt a similar expansion puller concept derived from their general tool catalog.
The resulting Hub Genie comes in two versions – a larger one to pull 20mm axles and a smaller expander that can cover 12 & 15mm axles with a single tool – each available separately or as a pair.
The Hub Genie is simple – slide it in far enough to engage the end cap, spin to expand & grab hold of the end cap from the inside, and pull to pop the cap off. It is a specialized tool that not everyone needs in their tool box. But for mechanics who regularly service thru-axle hubs, or anyone regularly swapping wheels from bike to bike it can eliminate a lot of frustration.
Pro Kit Tool Case travel case or full tool set
The Pro Kit Tool Case is a new light and durable travel toolbox that Unior is having made in Italy (a rarity as almost everything else they sell comes out of their Slovenian factories) for pro mechanics who travel to events, or even for serious amateur mechanics looking for a more secure and sorted way to keep their tools organized. The waterproof, lockable case features a pair of swing out wings (that velcro the tools securely in place when closed) and a flat panel with hooks to hang over the side of a work top, each with pockets designed to secure a wide range of tools. Then in the bottom of the case are a set of aluminum dividers that you can move around to fit larger tools.
The Pro Kit Tool Case is a much lighter and more compact setup than the previous wheeled Unior pro case. It is available on its own as an empty case to fill with your preferred selection of tools, or as a Pro Kit Set including a premium 48 piece tool setup suited for a pro race mechanic, with extra room for personal, specialized tools.
Crank Saver pedal thread repair kit
The Crank Saver pedal thread repair kit isn’t really a new product, but is an interesting one that pretty much every bike shop could benefit from. (And it makes for a good example of the red tool option that has allowed Unior to move to more availability in the USA.)
The kit is essentially a set of reamer taps and inserts that let a shop overbore a damaged crank arm, insert a new fixed threaded insert (which is often then filed down to match the crank thickness), and what was a destroyed crankset is ready to ride again.
Just this weekend at the brutal Dirty Boar gravel race in Belgium, we tried mid-race to help a rider with a stripped alloy crankarm force a XT pedal back in, only to see him abandon for good about 40km later. Here’s to hoping his local bike shop has this Crank Saver kit.
2 for 1 Disc Brake tool, combo spreader & truing fork
The 2 for 1 Disc Brake Tool is a simple combination of the two most common disc brake tools. A tapered/stepped spreader to push the brake pads apart after an unintended lever pull or just to remove & replace worn pads; and a slotted rotor truing fork to get the hop out of a bent rotor. It is nothing revolutionary, but goes in the same vein as the new Pro Kit case of simplifying the number of tools needed to lighten the load of your toolbox.
Pro Socket Handle 1/2″ & Crank Cap Tool
Among the other small bike tool updates, the 1/2″ Pro Socket Handle is actually a nice addition, and a completely new bike-specific tool, even amongst the huge Unior general hand tool offerings. Another nod toward simplicity and combining tools, it is intended to be paired with BB & cassette lockring tools and flat suspension sockets. It gives the security of a fixed long handle (and not the added weight or complexity of a ratchet) with socket set-like modularity.
The new Cranks Cap Tool is a plastic adjusting cap that makes it easier to take Shimano Hollowtech II cranks on & off. Switching to plastic and to a longer insert (see photo at the top) from Unior’s current steel version means less marred crank arms, plus a new 8mm hex interface that will make it easier to use with a standard allen key.
Mini Chain Tool & Speed Nipple Bit
Rounding out the small bits, the new Mini Chain Tool is built to go with you on the bike. The removable lower arm (which also can remove Schrader & Presta valves) keeps it small, but it still gets the same precision forged head to break any 5-11 speed chain out on the road or trail.
The Speed Nipple Bit is a standard 1/4″ hexagonal bit that you can pop into a cordless driver to speed up lacing wheels. (Because of that little pin it pops off before the spokes get tensioned, at the same nipple depth, so it won’t impact the wheel build if your spoke length calculation is correct.) It comes in 1.5 & 2.5mm options to accelerate various wheel build needs.
Pro Shop Clamp quick release work stand head
The new Pro Shop Clamp is a big update over the current auto or manually adjustable repair stand clamp heads. While most of the other tools should be available this autumn 2017, this looks like it might be more like the start of 2018.
The key update here is a quick lock & release setup that lets a mechanic dial in the exact tension on the clamp making it well suited for more fragile modern carbon bikes (and carbon seatposts & droppers.) Squeeze the head together and the spring loaded lever hooks on the threads, then spin the silver handle to dial in the tension you need. To open it, loosen the silver handle and push back that spring loaded lever and the jaws open wide.
The clamp gets slightly shorter rubber-covered jaws (down to 7cm) to fit more frames & posts, but can still clamp tubing up to 60mm in diameter. The new clamp is compatible with all Unior work stands, so can be retrofitted as an upgrade or ordered with new stands from 2018.