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Nebo Tools

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Motorcyclists are often on the lookout for compact tools that have multiple uses.  Adventure-touring riders and long-distance Iron Butt types pride themselves on having the minimal number of tools that can perform the maximum number of tasks. 

Part of the fun of outfitting a motorcycle for a trip is in the careful selection of just the right equipment.  This task is made easier now that we have such an incredible array of niche motorcycle products for just about any use imaginable.  Actually, the huge number of choices in consumer products today takes some of the fun out of the hunt for the perfect accessory!

Way back in the days of skinny bias ply tires, drum brakes and right-side shifters, my Dad, who was (and still is) the original cheapskate, had a matryoshka-style screwdriver with a big hollow brass handle.  Unscrew the cap and out came another screwdriver.  Unscrew the cap on that one and out came another, smaller screwdriver.  So it went until the last, tiny little screwdriver was revealed.  I used to love playing with that thing, taking it apart and putting it back together just to see the cute baby screwdriver come out at the end.

Whoever invented Nebo tools must have had the same experiences when they were young.  Nebo Tools' specialty is in designing and manufacturing a variety of compact multi-use tools which are ingenious, useful and interesting.  I come from the "one tool, one use" school, but I can't help my attraction to these little gems, which come in very handy for carrying on a motorcycle for travel or emergency repairs.

I came across the Nebo tools shown here while perusing the displays at Bob's BMW, which is one of the largest BMW motorcycle dealers in the U.S.A.  The Nebo "13-in1" screwdriver has been a popular item on Bob's countertops for many years, and hundreds, if not thousands of them have found a home in the toolkit of a big GS.  The 13-in-1 screwdriver was recently joined by the sleek Nebo "7-in-1" socket wrench, and I'll wager that it too will be a huge success for both Bob and Nebo.

Nebo is a name that is found in ancient literature, and I'm told that in the Christian Bible, Nebo was the name of the mountain in Moab where Moses first saw the Promised Land.  I'm not sure what that has to do with multi-use tools, but that's the name they chose for the company.  Nebo Tools is apparently owned by an organization called the Alliance Sports Group, but that's about all the information I could get.  Their website lists 6 different subsidiary companies, but the hyperlinks don't seem to work.  If anyone can provide more information on the history of Nebo Tools or where these products are made, I'd be happy to post it here for others to enjoy.

Nebo 13-in-1 ScrewdriverThe Nebo 13-in1 Screwdriver
You could say that this Nebo tool is a 21st (20th, actually) Century update on my Dad's classic nesting screwdriver that gave me so much fun when I was a kid.

Modern design means heavy use of plastics, of course, and the 13-in-1's yellow handle is made from a relatively thick plastic material that seems hefty enough to take a fair amount of abuse. 

I'm not quite as sure about the black cap that covers the end of the handle and keeps the screwdriver bits inside.  It's thick enough, but I'm not sure how well it might hold up if the tool was dropped on concrete more than once.  But at only $9.95, it's not that much of a gamble.

Unscrew the cap (2.5 turns) and out slides an ingeniously designed "carousel" that holds 12 screwdriver bits.  This carousel is reminiscent of a miniature rocket launcher from the set of the Star Wars movie, so maybe your kids will have as much fun with it as I did with my Dad's screwdriver.  That is, if they don't swallow the bits first!

Speaking of bits, I don't suppose there's too much difference in bit quality, and there are probably zillions of them pumped out of some nameless factory somewhere every minute of every day.  But the bits used in the Nebo 13-in-1 tool seem almost identical to the high-quality Wiha bits (see the wBW review of the Wiha bit driver), so I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that Nebo sources the bits from Wiha.  In any case, the bits seem like they're pretty good quality, and they seem to be holding up well for my various repair projects.

The 12 bits are mounted six each on two carousels, and each carousel spins individually.  The carousels, similar in design to a "Lazy Susan", are mounted on a steel shaft with a 6 mm socket on one end and a 6 mm male hex on the other end.  Slide the male end of the shaft into the 6 mm socket on the end of the handgrip, and you're in business. 

The 6 mm socket on the opposite end then becomes the 13th tool on this unique design.  The ability of the carousels to spin on the shaft is a nice touch that helps to quickly locate the tool that you're looking for.  The bits include:

Carousel 1 Carousel 2
 S1 square  Torx T15
 S2 square  Torx T20
 S3 square  Torx T25
 6-8 flat blade  Phillips #1
 10-12 flat blade  Phillips #2
 Male 1/4" drive  Phillips #3

The Nebo screwdriver offers a good selection that provides just about everything you'd need for a minor roadside repair.  It also works nicely in the garage when used for routine maintenance jobs, because all the tools are right there in the handle, which can save some time from digging around in the toolbox looking for the right tool for the job at hand.

I've found that bits can get a better purchase on screws than most of the cheap screwdrivers that are commonly found in toolboxes, and this helps prevent stripping the head of a stubborn screw.  Both the flat-bladed and Phillips screwdriver bits have grooves cut in the ends, which is a nice feature that theoretically helps to prevent the bit from slipping and allows a better "bite" on the fastener.  The selection of bits can be easily replaced with your favorite selection if so desired, via a trip to the local hardware store, or through the interesting and voluminous Wiha Tools website

If the Nebo 13-in-1 screwdriver only offered 13 bits packed in the handle, it would still be a useful device.  But the tool is also a two-way ratcheting screwdriver!  Turn the black collar to the position marked "L", and the screwdriver ratchets to the left and turns the screw to the right, or in.  Move the collar to the "R" position to use the ratchet to unscrew.  Leave it in the "S" position to lock the head and use the tool as a normal screwdriver.

The 13-in-1 weighs in at 210 grams (7-3/8 oz.).  It's 155 mm long (about 6-1/8") without a bit mounted and its handle measures 33 mm wide (~ 1-1/4") at its widest point.

Of course, tools like this aren't designed to take loads of torque, so a bit of caution is advised.  I'm not sure just how much force is too much, and I'm not willing to break the tool to find out!  There is a slight amount of noticeable play in the head, so just be forewarned that this screwdriver shouldn't be considered as a complete replacement for a good quality screwdriver set.  But it's a cool little device and cheap enough for every bike's toolkit.

Nebo Tools 7-in-1 Socket Wrench

The Nebo 7-in-1 Socket Wrench
The 7-in-1 Socket Wrench is a relatively new Nebo tool, and it's unique enough to have earned U.S. Patent # 6,634,262.  It's also a very nice looking design that's much sleeker and more modern looking than the older 13-in-1 screwdriver.

The body of the tool is made from some type of non-ferrous alloy.  Machining artifacts are visible, so I'd guess that it's a precision casting that's partly machined.  The handle is covered in a firm blue rubber-type material that provides excellent grip when wet or dry.

Unscrew the end cap 2.5 turns (it's hard to tell because of the coating, but the end cap also appears to be made from metal) and out slides an attached cradle that holds 6 different sockets.  The seventh socket, the commonly used 10 mm, is stored on the 1/4" drive on the business end of the tool.  The black plastic cradle has molded-in numbers that indicate where each socket should be placed.  The sockets provided with the tool include:

  Inside Socket Outside Socket
Pair 1  9  14
Pair 2  8  13
Pair 3  6  11

Each pair of sockets is removed from the cradle for use by pushing from behind on the back of the cradle.  An opening for each socket has been molded in to the plastic for this purpose

The sockets are chrome plated and seem to be very good quality.  The socket size numbers are clearly stamped on to the outside of the socket bodies.  The sockets were specifically designed for nesting in this tool, because the smaller sockets have two different outside diameters, which allows the smaller diameter to be slipped inside of the larger socket to fit in the cradle.

The head of the 7-in-1 tool can be tilted to 45 degrees and 90 degrees by first pressing on a metal spring-loaded plunger on the side of the tool.  The head also ratchets; it has a left and right pointing arrow and a central position that locks the head in place.

There seems to be slightly more play and side-to-side movement in the ratcheting head than I'd like to see, which makes me wonder about how much torque the 7-in-1 can sustain.  But for average repairs to remove nuts or bolts in the 6 mm to 13 mm range, it should be adequate if some care is taken.

The Nebo 7-in-1 ratchet weighs 467 grams (1 lb., 1/2 oz.) and it measures 192 mm long (~7-9/16") and it's 36 mm thick (~27/64") at its widest point over the handle.

The 7-in-1 Socket Wrench is a relative bargain at $19.95, and the combination of this Nebo tool and the 13-in-1 screwdriver would make for a very nice motorcycle emergency toolkit.

Note:  For informational use only.  All material and photographs are Copyright © webWorld International, LLC - 2000-2011.  All rights reserved.  See the webBikeWorld® Site Info page.  NOTE:  Product specifications, features and details may change or differ from our descriptions.  Always check before purchasing.  Read the Terms and Conditions!

Product Review:  Nebo 13-in-1 Screwdriver & 7-in-1 Socket Wrench
Available From:  Nebo Tools  Also available from Bob's BMW Suggested Retail Price:  13-in-1 Screwdriver - $9.95. 7-in-1 Socket Wrench - $19.95
Product Comments:  Multi-use tools for motorcycle emergency repair or travel.  The 13-in-1 Screwdriver has 12 bits plus a 6 mm hex driver in the handle, and the tool has a ratcheting head.  The 7-in-1 Socket Wrench has 1/4" drive sockets in the handle, which also ratchets.  Nebo's website doesn't seem to work, and the tools can be hard to find.  Made in:  Unknown
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