Harbor Freight T Handle Ball End Hex Key Set
by "Mad Dog" Earle for webBikeWorld.com
This one will be short and sweet, folks.
After that review was published, several webBikeWorlders emailed us with suggested "equivalents".
Several readers suggested a set from Harbor Freight for $11.99; less than half the cost of the Sears tools.
The Harbor Freight "Pittsburgh" hex key set includes 18 different SAE and Metric sized wrenches.
They're supposedly made from "strong heat-treated, chrome plated steel".
webBikeWorld visitors suggested that we got taken when we spent 50 bucks on the Craftsman brand.
Well, I'm sorry to disappoint, but our feeling is that this "Pittsburgh" set is nowhere near the equivalent. Not even close.
The handles are made from a cheap-feeling plastic with flashing oozing from the mold lines.
The handle molds must be so worn that the size markings that are pressed into the handles are almost illegible on our set.
Also, the 3 mm wrench was missing from our set when we opened the box.
As I was inserting the wrenches into the holes in the steel holder, I noticed that the shaft on the thinner wrenches seemed to have quite a bit of flex.
I picked up a 3/32" and started to bend the metal to gauge its flexibility and "SNAP!" -- it broke off in my hand without much effort.
My guess is that the metal is molded into hex-key form, because the ball ends seem worn, possibly from a worn-out mold. The straight ends aren't cut correctly so there's a bit of metal hanging off the ends.
I tried the 5 mm wrench on the fuel tank bolt during our Ducati GT1000 fuel line recall fix and the ball end never even gripped the bolt, it spins around as if it was made from round stock, rather than hex.
We like precision, high-quality tools because we think that in the long run, they'll more than pay for themselves. And there's something quite satisfying about holding and using a good tool.
Unfortunately, this Pittsburgh set doesn't come close to our expectations or requirements for quality.
It makes no sense to me to buy something just because it's cheap. I've seen, tried and broke enough Cheap Charlie tools in my life and I'm not interesting in using any more.
This set comes with 18 tools, SAE sizes: 1/16'' , 5/64'', 3/32'', 1/8'', 5/32'', 3/16'', 7/32'', 5/16'', and 3/8''; Metric sizes: 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10 mm.
You like your bike? My advice is to spend a few bucks and buy the highest quality tools you can find. You won't regret it. 'Nuff said.
Harbor Freight offers some interesting products and if you pick and choose carefully, you may end up with a bargain. For example, we found an incredible LED flashlight that I'll be reporting on soon.
But just because something's cheap doesn't mean it's an equivalent to the higher priced version.
In this case, even if they were giving away the product for free, I wouldn't pay for the shipping to get it home.
From "M.O.": "I got these (Black Rhino T-handle hex wrench set) at Fleet Farm about $12 and love them. Nice set to carry on bike."