A good tool is worth its investment. A bad tool isn't worth the bin it will end up in. More importantly a bad tool is going to cost you more than you think. Let me ask you this. Would you rather save a few bucks on your tools now only to spend a lot more replacing stripped and ruined parts later? If you answered no to that question then you're a great potential customer for Abbey Bike Tools.
Based in Bend, Oregon and on a mission to build the best tools that last a lifetime, Abbey Bike Tools has a reputation that runs deeper than their small but lust worthy product line.
When I'd had enough of struggling with changing cassettes using cheap tools, I asked around and the same answer kept coming back. Buy Abbey Bike Tools and get over it. Well to be honest, each time I asked I got emailed proud pictures of everyones favourite tool. Of course it was always an Abbey Bike Tool. I think people were trying to tell me something.
The first positive impression I got with Abbey Bike Tools was actually for their customer service. When I placed my order, I quickly received a personal email from Jason at Abbey Bike Tools to say that the current batch of tools were at the engraver and would be on their way a few days behind schedule. I appreciate the quick heads up and personal attention. Jason was also quick to confirm I had ordered the right combo of tools. So that helped set my mind at ease.
Shipping was fast which isn't always the case when you're shipping to Canada. Things can get lost for no reason at all. It took about 1 week for the package to route through the US Postal Service system and to my door.
When I opened the package I was pleasantly surprised by the quality craftsmanship. These are really well made, solid tools. You can tell they are made by someone who cares. They are basic and effective. You're likely wondering how do they work? Short answer, so good! I was amazed at the difference between these and the not to be named big brand previous tools I was previously using. Removing a cassette with the Abbey Bike Tools is quick, easy, and doesn't feel like you're going to strip or rip anything. Honestly, quick and easy is the best compliment I can give these tools because that's exactly what they should be. Perfect!
According to their site, Abbey Bike Tools are lovingly made in Bend, Oregon. The Crombie Tool is a cassette lock ring removal tool and comes in four versions. The dual sided (shimano, campagnolo), dual sided super light (with a hollow handle), single sided (shimano or campagnolo), and the single sided Team Issue. These range in price from $40USD to $55USD. I opted for the Team Issue which is a single sided hollow handled version of the tool with a half inch diameter handle. They say that extra love and attention goes into the Team Issue Crombie but I suspect that same love and attention goes into all of their tools. So why did I select the Team Issue? Well I don't need the dual sided and the team issue has a better suited handle size while shaving some weight. Sounds good to me. The half inch diameter of the Crombie fits well in the hand and gives you a great surface to grip.
What's really cool about the all of the Crombie tools is the hollow lock ring remover. Why is this so cool? Because it means you don't have to take off your quick release skewer to swap cassettes. You still can but you don't have to. This will save you time and headaches. Especially if you've ever dropped a skewer spring only to watch it disappear somewhere under your work bench.
The available Whip-It Chain Whips are far less complex. You have the one for single sided Crombies and one for dual sided/Team Issue Crombies. Say what? Well you see here is a detail you'll love. The handle of the Whip-It is hollow and Abbey Bike Tools has designed it so that the shaft of the Crombie fits inside to help keep them stored neatly. That way they are always together and they take up less space in your tool drawer. Well done folks. Well done. The Whip-It includes a generously long KMC chain which is far too much for a road cassette but if you're working with larger commuter or MTB cassettes it may come in handy. The chain itself is held in place by rivets put in place by a pneumatic tool. (I've added an embedded video at the end of the post with a video on how these are done) At the end of the Whip-It there is a small hole for hanging the tool on a hook in your shop. Nice touch.
Both tools have a near perfect length for gaining leverage over stuck cassettes and lock rings. I only use the term near perfect because I don't know for sure if there is a better length but this seems to be just right.
The weight of the tools is quite impressive. They are light enough to be easy to work with while having enough weight to not feel flimsy or cheap. To be exact and for the weight weenies of the world, my Team Issue Crombie weights 117 grams. This is about 30 grams less than the quoted weight of the Dual Sided Crombie Super Light. There is no quoted spec on their site but my matching Whip-IT weighs 252 grams.
The finishing work on both tools is really nice. Each tool has been brushed, polished, and has their branding laser etched into the handle. Overall it's a tool that looks as good as it works and I'm sure anyone would be happy to have laying out.
One of the little details I was really looking forward to was how the Crombie fits into the Whip-It. It's such a smart idea that helps keep the tool drawers tidy. Hopefully it's just my Whip-It but the Crombie doesn't fit in more than about an inch. The end of the Whip-It has a plastic bushing which is there to help hold the Crombie snugly inside. On mine it's too snug and I can't get the tool in any further. It has zero affect on their intended use as tools but as a design feature it falls a bit short. It's too bad because I otherwise love them. When I get a chance I'm going to see if I can shave the plastic a bit and open it up.
After reading the blog, Jason sent me information on why the plastic grommet isn't working quite right with instructions on how to widen it myself and an offer to happily fix and return it to me. A quick and pleasant customer service response. This is why you buy great stuff from good people.
The overall fit and finish of the tools is really good as I mentioned in the design portion above. Examining the Crombie up close, the welds are a bit uneven. Maybe not the neatest stack of dimes technique in some spots but maybe this is because they put extra love into the potential weak points. So yes the welding could be cleaner, but again it has no negative affect on the tools function and unless you look close you'd never notice.
These are the best tools I've used and they will surely be with me for a lifetime. I'd like to continue to add more Abbey Bike Tools to the drawer as time, money, and needs allow. Come on, what mechanic doesn't want a Team Issue Titanium hammer? That sounds rad!
End of the day I have to echo the comments I heard when doing my research. From my experience Abbey Bike Tools are the best choice you can make. I'm sure I'll catch myself sending people proud pics of mine.. wait didn't I just to that with this blog?
Here's that video on how the Crombie is Whip-It is assembles