06 June 2016

Is It Your Father's Tool Kit? Or Is It "Retro"?

When it was new, the Peugeot in yesterday's post more than likely came with a Mafac tool kit.

Mafac took kit

Back in those days, Raleigh bicycles came with what is still commonly known as the "Raleigh spanner". (It is English, after all, so it's a "spanner", not a "wrench".)

Raleigh spanner

If you have an old Raleigh or almost any bike with derailleurs and caliper brakes made before the 1980's, that spanner or tool kit are very useful.   And for "freebies", they were actually quite well-made.  However, they are not very useful on most of today's bikes or components.

I still have a soft spot for them, though.  Other companies made similar items.  For example, REG of Italy--which also made water bottle cages and other accessories--made a tool kit very similar to the Mafac.  The REG came in a cute red pouch, made of thicker but more brittle material than the black (or sometimes brown) pouches that held the Mafac tools and Dissoplast patches and glue.  

There was another tool kit that was, essentially, the Mafac minus the socket wrench and the wrench with the spoke keys.  It came in a pouch with a similar shape to the Mafac, but with thinner but more supple material:  like something you might find on a rather fashionable piece of luggage.  And it was embossed with the name of the bike maker that included them with their new machines:  Gitane.

Gitane tool kit

Just for its uniquess, that is my favorite set of retro-tools.  Now, as for Gitane bikes:  They could be the very epitome of Frenchness. Or not.  They could be wonderful or awful.  But they were known for not sticking to the specifications lists in their catalogues:  When I was working in bike shops, we used to joke that it was the reason why Gitane didn't make their catlogues very available!  Sometimes that worked for the better:  One or two of their models would come with Sugino Maxi or Takagi Tourney cotterless cranksets instead of the steel cottered models so common on European bikes of that time, or a SunTour derailleur for one from Simplex or Huret.  Other times, they just substituted something that was just as bad, or a little less bad, than the original specification.

But I digress.  I always thought their tool kit was neat, even if it wasn't different from Mafac's.  And, oh, while we're on the subject, you've surely seen "dogbone" or "dumbbell" wrenches.  I had one of those when that was about the only multi-tool available besides the Raleigh spanner or Campagnolo T-wrench.
Campagnolo T-Wrench

It seems that someone wanted to combine all of the "retro" tool kits into one--complete with tire irons. (Yes, we used to call them that because, well, they were made from iron, or cheap steel.)  And, because it's a "gift" item, the resulting kit comes in a faux-decorator box.

Gentlemen's Hardware Bicycle Puncture Repair Kit
"Gentlemen's" tool  kit

I'll admit, it is kinda cute.  But because it's a "gentlemen's" kit, I'm not qualified to own one.  Nor was I ever!


  1. The thing about the Raleigh spanner is that is Whitworth dimensioned. You probably know this but that Raleigh as well as English motor cycles and sports cars used bolts, nuts that were Whitworth standard. Some SAE and metric tools might work on some sizes but by no means all. For me this made the Raleigh Spanners have more value before I got Whitworth tools. Whitworth was adopted way back because it more threads per inch, so less angle to the threads, and nuts would resist backing off.

  2. Roger--You make a good point about why Whitworth was used. Back in the days before Loc-Tite, that would have made a lot of sense!

  3. Perhaps it may be time for you to invest in a new tool chest. Since there are such a huge variety, and such a huge difference in price range you really need and then you can start shopping around. on front page