Park Tool SW-7 Triple Spoke Wrench
Park Tool Company has been making bicycle-specific tools Since 1963. They started with a bike stand. Whatever would have happened to us if they hadn't cut up a kitchen table, melded it somehow with an axle from a '37 ford and built their first repair stand? My back hurts just thinking about it. The Park stand, their TS-2 truing stand, and the familiar blue-hued hand tools have served us well over the years.
We've investigated a new product, the SW-7 Triple Spoke Wrench to see how it stands up compared to their standard SW series single size spoke wrenches, which is what many of us use on a daily basis for wheelbuilding and general wheel repair. In our shop, we use the black #0 and the red #2 Park spoke wrenches the most. The SW-7triple wrench incorporates both of those in addition to the in-between #1 nipple slot which would correspond to their green spoke wrench. The SW-7 makes use of a generally triangular shape to layout the three sizes. At first glance it resembles the shape of the standard wrenches.
When compared side-by-side to the standard Park wrenches, the SW-7 is a bit wider and a bit shorter. While the general shape is fine, it would be tough to use on BMX/trials wheels with 36 or more spokes. Not that we build those types of wheels here, or at least very often, but it looks like a sure-fire knuckle rubber on those types of builds. The wrench is made of steel, and it feels of quality -- it's got a heft to it. We'll guess that it's investment cast and then nickel plated. For sure, it will last a lifetime, and for $9.00, you can be sure that it's a meager investment. It does the job of three tools, each costing within a dollar of the triple wrench.
So is it a good deal? Yes, if you consider that purchasing the three wrenches separately will total at $24.00. If you have a number of bikes at home, especially kids bikes, the chances are high that you'll need to use all three of these most common spoke wrench sizes found on the SW-7 triple wrench. It functions just as well as the pro-style wrenches we use, if we limit the use of the word function to the physical act of turning the spoke nipple. In reality it doesn't function as well because of the ergonomic shortcomings of its shape. The Park SW-7 has edges that are quite sharp. As stated before, it's very high quality, but the shape could be refined. We used this tool to rebuild a 32 hole wheel for a dirt jumper -- nothing special, just a rim replacement, respoking, and tensioning to final specs. The SW-7 is a thumb and forefinger shredder. Yes it turns the nipples, and the slots are very square and are sized appropriately for the job, but it turned our digits into tenderized meat sticks. Building wheels with it all day long would be an exercise in pain management. But it's not a pro wheelbuilding tool.
The Park SW-7 Triple Spoke Wrench is designed for home use, or more appropriately for use on the side of the trail. Wheel blowouts aren't an everyday occurance, but it happens and we've been there, retensioning an entire wheel in the mud before. The SW-7 would work just fine for that. You could jam it into an off-road repair kit and forget about it until you have an emergency and for just a split second you freak out and explode with a few choice words, only to instantly remember that you have it. Then you dig it out of the pack, and get to work knowing that one of the three sizes #0, #1, or #2 will be the one you most likely need. It's not comfortable, and we think that the Park guys should put a bevel on the edges to make it a bit more user friendly, but it will get you out of a jam. Is it the best wheelbuilding spoke wrench in the world? Not even close. Is it the best $9.00 spoke wrench? Perhaps. If you asked us that question after we ride out of the woods a bit late, we'd tell you yes.