Review: Fix It Sticks Replaceable
article & images by Nick Salazar
Mar 18, 2014  hits 17,400

Last year, we reviewed the original Fix It Sticks, a project born from an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign. This year, the company is expanding their product line, with a brand new version of their signature product, this time made of stainless steel instead of aluminum, and with replaceable bits, held in place by magnets. The original version used aluminum wrench bodies, and the the bits were permanently epoxied in place, to prevent wear on the comparatively soft aluminum bodies. Along with the new Replaceable edition is a dedicated T-Way wrench. The new products are both available available direct from their website, as well as a new Kickstarter campaign, which closes on April 8, 2014. The campaign funded with amazing speed. As of this writing, it has almost triple its funding goal, with three weeks to go. So, without a doubt, if you want this product, you can have it.

I have several different sets of hex tools, and although they can't be totally replaced, I often choose to grab Fix It Sticks instead.

TriRig was lucky to get a set of these tools early, and I have to say they live up to the promise. The original Fix It Sticks have become a staple on the TriRig toolbench - I use them literally every day, because they are simply the most convenient tool to grab for small, quick jobs. They usually live on my desk, right next to my keyboard, because I'm often making little adjustments to bits of prototype hardware scattered around my office. I find that a pair of Sticks is quite often easier to use the a conventional 3-way wrench, or a handful of standard T-handle wrenches. They're certainly much smaller and lighter than other tools, and their compact size makes them a natural residet on the desk.

That doesn't mean the Sticks can totally replace the other tools in my workshop. But for lots of quick little jobs, they're often the first thing I go to. I'm still very happy to have a dedicated set of standard L-handle wrenches, T-handle wrenches, and extra-long T-handles, for the jobs that simply require those tools. I also like having hex-shaped power bits for my impact driver, when I have to make a large number of identical operations. That might be something like removing forty-eight M4 bolts from a dozen Sigma Stems while prepping them for a tunnel test, for example. Anyway, the point is that for someone doing a LOT of shop work, a wide variety of tools will always be ideal. But for MOST operations, the Fix It Sticks are awesome. The new replaceable version offers a twist on the original, neither replacing nor superceding it, but rather offering a different option.

Different, not better or worse

Again, the new Replaceable Sticks aren't meant to replace the originals (if you'll pardon the pun). They're a different option, with a slightly different set of features. The new characteristics are easy to describe: the steel bodies are heavier, the magnets allow you to swap out any 1/4" bit, and internal magnets allow the Sticks to stay in place while in the T configuration. But that doesn't tell you why you'd use one over the other.

For example, I still really like the originals for mobile use (in the saddle bag of my bike). I like keeping three Sticks, with bits ranging from 2mm to 5mm, plus the Phillips #2. That lets me do nearly every adjustment I need to do on the road, in a very lightweight package of just 72g. For home use, Replaceable Sticks let me make custom pairs to do exactly what I want. For me, that's not too different from the mobile set, but sometimes I just want a slightly different bit on there. For example, I have a set of bits from a German brand called Wiha, that makes bits with less rounding on the tips. See this picture to see what that means. In use, that helps to prevent unintentional cam-out (when your wrench comes out of the bolt head), and it can be crucial when you're dealing with a slightly rounded bolt head that may be on the verge of stripping.

The point is, it can be really nice to have a customizable wrench, capable of accepting any standard 1/4" bit. And the Fix It Sticks form factor is ideal for bicycle use. The new Replaceable edition's only potential drawback is the heavier weight, given the stainless steel bodies, and the internal magnets. For shop use, that's meaningless. For road use, it only means a difference of 30g or so per pair of Sticks. Which, for most purposes, is also pretty meaningless. It's simply another option, and an excellent one at that.

Pros
  • Even more versatile than the originals
  • Use ANY set of 1/4-inch bits you like
  • Great price for a precision tool
 
Cons
  • Heavier

An excellent addition to the product line.
Rating: 5.0


Tags » fixitsticks,  tools
  • The new Replaceable Fix It Sticks (left) with the original fixed aluminum version (right). The differences are, most obviously, that you can replace the bits, and also that the new edition is made of stainless steel, at twice the durability and twice the weight.
  • This is everything included with the new Replaceable Fix It Sticks: two sticks, plus hex bits in 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, Phillips #2, and Torx 25. There's also a nice rubber case made from a recycled tire tube, not pictured.
  • Just like the originals, the new Replaceable Fit It Sticks can be used in a T configuration. But the new feature is that there are internal magnets that keep the Sticks together, even when upside-down. The magnet strength is the perfect balance - it makes the tool easy to use, but the two parts won't fall apart accidentally.
  • Another shot of the Replaceable Fix It Sticks in the T-wrench configuration.
  • There is usually one perfect tool for every job. To that end, I have quite a few different sets of hex wrenches, and the 3mm, 4mm, and 5mm from each set is shown here. The Fit It Sticks don't replace ALl of these tools ALL the time, but they go a long way towards that end. They are VERY useful in a really wide variety of situations. The new Replaceable edition (in stainless steel, lower left) lets you customize your own most-used set of bits, from any of the countless 1/4-inch hex bits available worldwide.
  • Here are a couple of examples of third-party bit sets, from Wiha and Pedros. The Wiha set is identical to the default Fit It Sticks bit set, and the Pedros set just swaps the Phillips head for an M8 bit. Why would you ever want alternate sets? Check the next picture to find out.
  • A comparison of the Pedro bits (top) versus the Wiha bits (bottom). The sharper edges on the Wiha bits mean they have a lower potential to cam out (release during torque). That can be very useful for stuck bits, or other critical operations. The Fix It Sticks can accept ANY bit, meaning that you can tailor them to your particular needs.
  • Also new: the Fix It Sticks T-Way wrench (left). It offers a permanently-fixed T-wrench with three replaceable 1/4-inch bits. It can also be extended by another Replaceable Fix It Sticks single wrench for another several inches of reach in the long direction. It's a great addition to the line, but basically reserved for shop mechanics.
  • Here's a solo shot of the T-Way wrench from Fix It Sticks. The center portion is a free-floating cylinder, which allows you to grip a portion of the wrench, while the rest of the axis rotates to tighten or untighten a bolt.

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