Autonomous Motion

Park Tool AWS-1


Handiest bike tool

Peer behind the service counter at most bike shops and you’ll see a Park Tool workstand. There’ll be a waist-level tool tray on the stand, and unless it’s already in the hands of a mechanic, the triangle-shaped AWS-1, which features a 4-, 5- and 6mm hex wrench, will likely be one of a handful of tools resting in the tray.

While many general tools are too general, this one is specific and functional enough for excellence. It’s useful enough to be taken for granted, one of my hallmarks for a real Cool Tool. So many maintenance and repair jobs on bicycles involve these three hex wrench sizes that it’s easily the most used tool in the shop.

Details that make this tool great include a grip-friendly ball in the center (I own an older version without the ball, and it’s not as comfortable to hold and also provides less leverage) and color-coded rings at the base of each wrench, so the user can quickly choose the correct size.

I still use my Craftsman T-wrenches when I need a hex with more leverage, and particularly on an 8mm crank bolt, which the AWS-1 doesn’t cover. I also use a great set of Pedro’s L-wrenches with a ball end on one side for offset access. But the convenient Park Tool AWS-1 is so much my mainstay that it doesn’t ever get put away. The company’s website also hosts an array of helpful repair how-tos.

-- Elon Schoenholz 06/5/09