Of the many tools that have become available in recent times, y-wrenches rank among the most useful basic tools. Originally offered by County Cycles’ Minnesota neighbor, Park Tool, this collection of three common hex wrench sizes spaced equally around a plastic handle proved so popular that many other versions soon followed.
One essential part of a well-appointed cyclist’s workbench is a good selection of hex wrenches. Having several configurations makes repairs fast and efficient. Y-wrenches do not eliminate the need for other single wrenches but they are an excellent supplement.
Y-wrenches have unique advantages in certain situations. They can make many fasteners more accessible. Combination wrenches offer the advantage of comfortable handle placement when adjusting a stem faceplate where the length of the wrench allows greater clearance around shift levers. A standard t-handle wrench is not nearly as useful for those adjustments. With three head sizes, switching to a new size is as simple as rotating it in your hand.
Many Y-wrench variations are available but a good starter set includes 4mm, 5mm, and 6mm hex wrenches. These head sizes are found on most modern bicycles and are found on everything from shifter clamp bolts to rack bolts.
A complimentary wrench set is the 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm combination. These sizes are common on fasteners found on hub parts, set screws on brakes and pads as well as locking grips.
Socket wrench sets are available in Y configurations too. A common version includes 8mm, 9mm, and 10mm sockets. These sizes are regularly used on brake assemblies, cable anchor bolts and some derailleur parts.
Several other versions are available. One is for wheel truing. Some wheels have recessed spoke nipples set deep in the rim and reaching them can be difficult. Fortunately a Y tool is available for this exact occasion. It features three sockets; a 3.2mm, 5mm, and 5.5mm. The sockets are each situated on the end of a long rod that allows for easy access to deeper rims.
A y-wrench makes an excellent shop companion and a cost effective way to combine several tools in one. We recommend keeping a full compliment around the workbench.