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Review: The Silca Ypsilon “Y” wrench

Posted by on November 7th, 2018 at 1:15 pm

Quality tools encourage you to do learn about your bike and work on it yourself more often.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

As with many of Silca’s products, their latest tool called Ypsilon Wrench caught my eye and I could not resist. This is a quality tool that looks the part.


For those who have never used a Y-wrench or as I call them “3 – ways”, it’s a fast tool when working on multiple aspects of the bike. Flip the tool around quickly for another size tool to adjust a different fastener. Mechanics have seen the advantages of Y wrenches for years.

Here’s what comes with the Home Edition ($108, with a birch box and Travel Edition ($74, without the box):

– 18 Tools total
– High strength CrV steel spine leading to 4mm and 5mm hex
– Lightweight composite body with ergonomic grips
– ¼” bit collet with magnetic attachment
– S2 steel Hex bits: 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, and 6mm
– S2 steel Torx® bits: T8, T10, T15, T20, T25 and T30
– S2 steel Screw bits: PH1, PH2, SL4 and SL5
– Birch case with magnetic closure (Home Essentials kit only)

Engineering

A key engineering benefit of Ypsilon is the tight tolerances of the keys and bits. Tighter tolerances mean a better tool-to-part fit which drastically decreases the likelihood of rounding out fastener heads or damaging screw slots. We have all done it in our past and ultimately having to deal with removing a stripped bolt from your high end gear – not pleasant. These tight tolerances, combined with the CrV steel spine of the tool make Ypsilon incredibly durable.

The Ypsilon Home Kit comes in a custom Birchwood box with a range of hex, Torx and driver bits that sit in a foam holder. The Ypsilon Travel Kit comes with everything that the Home Kit comes with minus the box, and they offer the y-wrench entirely on its own.

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Ergonomics

Hand tools have an self-evident way of highlighting poor ergonomics and with Y-wrenches you might already know they are not all ergonomically equal. Some are too heavy, some too slippy and others just too large for your palm. Silca’s shape and size has been optimized and the over-molded TPE grips provides a soft spot for the pressure points on your hand. The lightweight composite body with ergonomic grips provide good comfort and control. For those who have never used a Y-wrench or as I call them “3 -ways,” it’s a fast tool when working on multiple aspects of the bike. Flip the tool around quickly for another size tool to adjust a different fastener.

In Use

The Ypsilon feels great in the hand, the addition of the lighter grey softer plastic areas are a welcome design that provide grip and comfort that is not present on many tools of this type. As for durability, the construction of these softer areas is a deep molding and is not a thin plastic over-mold.

This design feels very precise to use, a positive engagement with fasters that makes you feel in control to a much finer degree than a less well engineered tools. The grip is well designed, the shape and weight are just right, a presence in the hand, while not being too heavy or slippy.

The tool bits are interchangeable and easy to use, they quickly snap in and out (the magnet sits at the bottom of the red collar). The collar doesn’t turn, it feels like it should but it’s a fixed design to accommodate various bits and the knurling is more of a decorative feature.

The tool bits have a higher polish than inexpensive counterparts, and are wrapped with a nice plastic identification band which makes them quicker to identify. Normal identification is stamped into bits, and can be harder/less obvious to read.

Overall

Quality, well designed tools definitely have a place and offer different levels of value to each. The Silca Ypsilon doesn’t come cheap, but why should it? It looks, feels and performs five times better than less precise tools with lower-quality bits – and this comes at a manufacturing cost.

Can you put a price on the confidence this tool inspires? Or the reduction in likelihood that you will damage an expensive fastener on your expensive bike? Or that the tool looks cool and is presented really well? Yes and no. The choice is yours, but this is a quality tool worth your attention if it fits your budget.

More at www.silca.com.

— James Buckroyd, @jbucky1 on Twitter and Instagram, and BuckyRides.com

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24 Comments
  • Glenn November 7, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    would like to see a lot more bits in the box..seems room for more…

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    • James Buckroyd (Contributor) November 7, 2018 at 3:04 pm

      That’s a really good point. Also I did think that having them include a bit holder would be great for if you happen to occasionally travel with it.

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    • Chris I November 8, 2018 at 12:54 pm

      And a plywood box? I’d expect solid Oak at $108…

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  • Q November 7, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    Over a hundo for a chinese bit driver, sounds perfect for the wannabe roadie racer set.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 7, 2018 at 2:54 pm

      i’ll definitely consider it then Q. I’m a total wannabe roadie racer! (I also appreciate quality stuff and have a Silca frame pump that is AMAZING).

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    • Bay Area Rider November 7, 2018 at 6:37 pm

      Chinese bit driver?

      From the SILCA web site
      “In 2014, SILCA headquarters and manufacturing moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, USA where we still are today. “

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    • jered November 8, 2018 at 9:08 am

      I totally thought the obligatory “complain about the price” comment would have been the first one. Bike Portland commenters are slipping.

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      • Toby Keith November 8, 2018 at 5:16 pm

        They don’t like buying nice things and neither should you! ; )

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        • Middle of The Road Guy November 9, 2018 at 9:07 am

          I like the comments about how a $7000 custom bike has no more utility than a $400. That’s not the point 🙂

          It’s nice to have quality.

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          • Toby Keith November 10, 2018 at 7:12 am

            Personally I find a string and two cans allows me to communicate just as well as an overpriced mobile phone.

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  • Q November 7, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Fortunately for the rest of us, zefal frame pumps and standard multitools do the job just as well. Most people put their money places where there’s actually a difference.

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    • jered November 8, 2018 at 9:16 am

      Actually a serious comment now.

      A quality tool does make a HUGE difference if you do a lot of wrenching! The difference in fit between a Harbor Freight allen key, a Park Tools allen key, and an uber-spendy PB Swiss set of allen keys is staggering, the PB Swiss tools fit flawlessly and are much easier to get to fit into the heads. Same is true with spoke wrenches. I’ve worked my way up to that fancy DT Swiss spoke wrench and good lord it makes a huge difference in the speed and accuracy of my work. If you wrench a lot then spending $$$ on tools is worth it. I’ve got ample places where I’m happy with the Harbor Freight version, but equal number where I’ve found the best. (I still don’t own the PB Swiss allen keys though I’ve given them as gifts and used them – they are sweet, but my Park Tools T-handle keys are 90%)

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    • PS November 8, 2018 at 12:10 pm

      The rest of us? Is there really a contingent out there filling their tires with frame pumps and doing consistent maintenance with the leverage provided by a 3″ long multitool?

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  • joel domries November 7, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    hmm, we used to have a few standard Y wrenches, but they are the emergency back ups that dont see use. never remembered them not being snug in the screw heads….. but i guess.

    the box looks good. bands are ok, but i hope underneath the metal is also stamped in case the print wears off. Y’s are cool because the most needed three are kept together, but i find ball end allen wrenches lighter, more compact, and easier to get started and to keep turning say on a seat, or brake shoe or housing.

    VIM Tools mini ratchet kind of changed the game for us, since we change seats out daily, and remove our disc brake calipers often for maintenance. also they store on a magnetic rail holder and come with 20 very well machined bits ( but its ball end allens in the bike bag). super for a shop, great in tight places. VIM Tools is a taiwanese tool company. Taiwan is kind of quietly emerging on the tool front these days from what ive heard.

    its cool more thought is going into Y’s though. Y’s advantage is to put pressure on the head while turning using one hand i believe. used to be super hard to buy them in Portland bike shops. I remember the shops telling me they were for professionals only – ha. Glad the market is continuing to grow. nice to hear about new tools! thanks for the review.

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  • Paul Murphy November 7, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    Way too much $ for a blingy, but limited, tool. You can get a set of metric hex bits from McMaster Carr for about $20. That, plus a decent 1/4″ drive ratchet wrench, 6″ extension, and some screwdriver bits should cover just about all your bike fastener needs, for 1/2 the price…if not less.

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    • David Hampsten November 7, 2018 at 11:32 pm

      I use a cheap old Black & Decker rechargeable electric screwdriver with most of the same bits as this overpriced Silca Y-wrench, including metric hex, T-25, and various sockets. A real time-saver, not to mention better for my old arthritic wrists.

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  • hotrodder November 7, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    I’ve always had good luck with Wiha tools, made in Germany. I’ve had a set of tee-handle allen wrenches for over 25 years and they all still fit the fasteners with precision, and the handle and feel of the tool is just right to my hands.

    I probably paid $20 in 1990’s dollars for them.

    (I take good care of my tools, but seriously, you can’t see any wear in the tips in 25 years of maintaining my own bikes. Perfect for a home workshop)

    When I saw the wood-boxed set of Silca ball end allen wrenches for well over a hundred at a bike shop a few years ago, my first thought was that these are the tools that cyclists like Robin Williams buy. Beautiful tools. Not for me.

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  • Pietro November 7, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    I got great advice when I was getting tools as an apprentice plumber. A cheap tool makes you happy once, when you buy it. But a great tool makes you happy every time you use it. You just have to decide…

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  • Buzz November 7, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    Can be achieved for a fraction of the cost without all the unnecessary trappings of exclusiveness and luxury.

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    • Middle of The Road Guy November 9, 2018 at 9:09 am

      We can all wear burlap sacks, also.

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  • Stephen J Sanow November 8, 2018 at 9:57 am

    A nice gift item for the upcoming holidays of consumption.

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  • Jay November 8, 2018 at 11:46 am

    I have always enjoyed the Silca tools and other products. Not only do they look great and come well organized, I have always been impressed with the quality. I have a set of their standard Allen wrenches with rubberized grips. The Ypsilon is a nice looking wrench.

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  • headfirst November 9, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    Ahh… Y wrenches… They’re for stems and seatpost collars(I’ll add thru axle since 6mm is beginning to replace qr), where they wont scratch paint and sit nicely in your back pocket for convenience to adjust fit quickly. Always follow up with a torque wrench after those changes have been made. ANY L Torx andAllen wrench sets(long end ball/short end flat) will be what you want for maintenance. Spend $5 or $500 but they’ll require replacement as they wear, which all do. Bits and sockets are for torque wrenches.
    Silca is certainly catering to a specific crowd. Just not bicycle mechanics.

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  • PeaDub
    PeaDub November 10, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Wadsworth mini ratchet set is the best!

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