Choose to know what to do with an allen key

Let’s gain some knowledge that will help when you are reaching for this particular bike tool under a little bit of time pressure and you need it to work the first time. All you want is for everything to go smoothly so you can get on your way, how hard could that be?

To ‘get ready’ you need to invest a little bit of time to understand your bike tools. Choose to know what to do then you can goRide with a SMILE.

What is it?

A small, light and versatile L-shaped or Z-shaped spanner that is designed to fit into and turn an allen screw/hex bolt (6-sided bolt). They come in a range of sizes.

These days most bikes are built with allen screws holding them together so the allen key is an essential tool for maintenance and repairs. You should always carry at least one allen key with you as we suggest in the goRide essential bike kit. You need to do a bit of investigation here as every bike is slightly different so go and look at your bike get out some allen keys or borrow some from someone then work out which size allen key is the one you would use the most. Often it is the 5 or 6mm long handled one.

Those with a bit more bike repair knowledge will need a multi-tool with 3 to 4 allen key sizes to carry with them and perhaps an even larger range for their at home bike maintenance and repair.  This is a great idea if you have to deal with a range of different bikes at home &/or kids bikes.

pre ride essentail bike cycle safety check allen key goRide

Single long handled Allen Key

5 and 6 mm allen key

Allen key with 5 & 6mm on each end – portable

The blue Allen key is 6mm

9 piece Allen key set – home use

Where do you use it?

Anywhere there is an allen screw for example seatpost clamps, seat clamps, handlebar stem, brake callipers, pedals, water bottle cages…

How do you use it?

Repeat after me “Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey”. To tighten or loosen an allen screw you have to find the matching size allen key. A word here about unleashing your she beast. If a screw is not moving don’t force it. Check you’re turning it the correct way. Turning the handle to the right (clockwise) will tighten the screw, to the left (anticlockwise) will loosen it. Spray a little lubricant on the screw, let it soak in and try again. The opposite also applies don’t over tighten a screw so that next time you want to deal with it, you can’t move it.

Allen keys with long levers are ideal for the muscularly challenged among us. The point of the long lever is to create greater power (greater torque) with less effort. The shorter handled allen keys are perfect for using in the more awkward spaces that are created by the frame and components on your bike. All multi-tools are light weight and easy to carry therefore the allen keys and screwdrivers are all short handled.

That’s the basics of an Allen Key covered.  I hope it helped you gain a little more understanding of the mechanics of your bike.

Bike tools

Multi-tool with several Allen keys – portable

Bike tool allen key adjustment bike seat goRide

Allen keys are really handy for any kind of seat adjustments

get Ready and goRide –  Bike Tools, The Allen Key

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Related Resources:

Bike Tool Terms

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