Tool Review: The Birzman Damselfly

Birzman wants you to be boundless. At first, this may not make sense coming from a bicycle tool company. Then you lay eyes on the Birzman Damselfly, and it a light bulb lights up. This is no ordinary chain tool, at least in the conventional sense when it comes to greasy, nicked, and worn bicycle tools. The Damselfly is an exercise in form and function, blended together artfully by the mad scientists at Birzman into a tool that not only looks good, but also works well.

I just ruined the surprise for this review.

First, some images:

It does function quite well as a chain tool. The Damselfly is smaller than most “pro” chain tools shop mechanics are used to. I don’t think this tool was meant for day-in day-out operations, but for a home mechanic, it does just fine. I use quick links on all my chains, so I only use this when sizing a chain. Don’t you worry your little Brooklyn cycling capped head, Birzman does make some more robust chain tools for the sadistic shop wrench. This particular chain tool is for 9 and 10 speed chains.

The design is the most obvious feature: Glistening, polished aluminum, and angular lines. It forces you to keep it clean, then sends you into a near nervous breakdown on how to store it. Remember? Clean tools are happy tools. If the ethereal, polished aluminum makes you nervous, Birzman makes an anodized black version. Philistine.

As you can see, its handle makes for a handy tripod set up to where this could probably fit right into a curio cabinet. Word of caution: Your wife might kill you for placing it too close to her Precious Moments figurines.

To sum it up, you could go with the tried and true chain breakers from other companies that stay comfortably within the bounds of bike tool convention. But I dare you, and Birzman dares you, to be boundless.

One Wrench to Rule Them All? The Smart Wrench

Thanks to the powerful social media site that is Twitter, I was sent this video on the Smart Wrench. As a mechanic, I am typically wary of gimmicky tools that purport to “save time and money” because they usually end up costing more in both. However, one tool actually worked out previously, and that was the Metrinch. I don’t know if any of you remember the late night infomercials on that product, but it was gimmicky in presentation, but actually practical in use. It’s downfall was the crappy tool metal it used. Funny thing is that Craftsman made their own version with a varying degree of success. Maybe Sears needs to invest in infomercials hosted by washed up B-list actors.

Then comes the Smart Wrench from Allwrencher. Not sure what to think about this one yet. I might have to get my hands on one to play with it. The whole metric/standard compatibility isn’t a big deal as the majority of bikes are metric, but being able to use one wrench on multiple sizes would be nice since a mechanic wouldn’t have to fish through his pile of wrenches on the bench top. Check out the video.

Tool Review: Brizman Rotor Truing Fork

Birzman Rotor Truing Fork
copyright 2014 quiet bicycle mechanic

A coworker of mine found Birzman Tools while perusing a supplier’s online catalog during work. It was work related obviously. Being a purchaser of the “blue tool” company’s products for a long time, it’s nice to see another competitor on the market. It wasn’t until I left the full time bicycle job and went to part time that I got to put my greasy mitts on a Birzman tool. More specifically, the Birzman Rotor Truing Fork.

I haven’t seen these in stores yet, at least the local dives. Blue tool is pretty entrenched as you can imagine. If you aren’t sure what I am talking about when I refer to the “blue tool,” just check in to your local LBS, they’ll clear it up for you. I’m not mentioning them by name just to keep you focused on this tool. Read my thoughts after the break.

I’m not going to do an unboxing video. I think those are kind of lame. Really? Do you want to watch someone unbox a product? Reminds you of those Christmases at your cousin’s where they unbox their vastly superior present. Don’t worry, I got over that a long time ago. Besides, this tool doesn’t come in a box.

The tool itself is made out of quality, cast steel. Seems to be the same material most others are made of. It’s been plated to make it shiny and corrosion resistant. As you can see by the picture, it has a vinyl handle cover in a neat two tone black and green motif that is Birzman’s look.

Upon using the tool, it works. What can I say? Most tools tend to when made by companies that specialize in tools and not eBay sales. So I’ll list the pros and cons for you.

Pros

  • Perfect size in terms of the handle. There are truing forks out there that have skinny little handles. I like some heft to my tools. Quit snickering.
  • Good looking. I like good looking tools. I’m vain.
  • Hole for a peg hook/nail/rope. Gotta hang your fork somewhere. Proper tool care.

Cons

  • There are two slots. The long one is generally used for one-piece rotors, i.e. the ones stamped out of a sheet of steel. The short one is usually used for the two-piece rotors where there is an aluminum spider with a steel brake rotor riveted to its arms. The short slot when used has the long end poking into the spoke. Though I found it rare, you have to find a spot where you don’t hit spokes to use it.
  • It performs marginally well as a fork.
So the takeaway from this is that the Birzman Rotor Truing Fork is a decent tool. That con is really a nitpick and doesn’t have me flinging the tool across the shop in ergonomic outrage. If I didn’t already have the blue tool version, I would most definitely pick this one up for my personal toolbox. Also, check out the other Birzman products while you’re at it. Very nice tools, again, quit with the snickering. I hope to use more of them in the future.