Category: Cycling

3 Folding Star Bit and SAE/Metric Hex Keys

08/03/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hand Tools, Hot Buys, Cycling


Hex Keys
Item: Three Folding Star Bit and SAE/Metric Hex Keys
Item number: 94905
Retail price: $9.99
Frequent sale price: $6.99
Target price: $5.99 (with coupon)
Item Link

The one hex wrench that I need is always the one hex key misplaced. This set keeps them attached in a hard to loose package. Covering SAE-, metric-, and star-key sizes, this set is worth their target price just for the convenience. Those who are always organized and who invariably put their tools back in the right place can probably pass on this set, but the rest of us benefit greatly by keeping the set locked together. And having the keys mounted in order of size saves time by not having to 'dig' through the 'pack' of loose hex keys.

We have individual hex keys spread out throughout our home and shop for the various applications where they're frequently used (e.g., bicycle tool kit, scroll saw). This set attached pocket-knife-style insures that we'll always have the needed size back in our main tool supply.

This is a quality tool from Harbor Freight. Individual hex keys work best for some applications and simple sets can be purchased from a number of retailers at this price and even lower, but the convenience factor makes them well worth the target price for many of us.

Bottom line: This hex-key set is a great convenience, always having the right-sized hex key on-hand, and not a bad buy at the target price.


Stubby Hammer (Claw #95929; Ball Pein #95930)

07/25/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hand Tools, Hot Buys, Cycling, MoHo/RV


Stubby Claw Hammer
Item: Stubby Claw Hammer
Item number: 95929
Stubby Ball Pein Hammer
Item: Stubby Ball Pein Hammer
Item number: 95930

Retail price: $4.99 (each)
Frequent sale price: $2.99 (each)
Target price: $1.99 (each)

What can you say about a stubby hammer? Well, it's short and packs a punch :)). Now that I gotten that out of the way (the bad pun) and before I beat it to death (oops, another bad pun slipped out :P, even worse than you can imagine, see insert box :oops:), these hammers are a great value for that challenging job where you need to pack a punch in a small space.

Some might consider these the poor man's autohammer. Yes, the Craftsman™ autohammer does most of what these stubby hammers can do, does it faster, and with far less effort. But there are times when an old-fashioned, manual stubby hammer can come in handy and it won't ever let you down because of a dead battery. For many there's a certain satisfaction in accomplishing the same task with a $3 hammer that others need a $100 hammer to achieve (sounds like military spending).

A little dark humor (skip over this if you're British or easily offended: Did you know that hammers are often used as murder weapons in Great Britain? With guns being banned and knives too 'bloody awful,' the next weapon of choice seems to be the common hammer. When traveling in UK my wife and I have often noted a murder or two committed with this trusted household tool. And a number of years ago when we read about a murder in Thailand that was committed with a hammer, we both thought immediately, "ah, it must be a Brit. traveling with his or her trusty hammer for personal protection" And it was--a Brit. who killed the person in Thailand while on holiday. In the UK this mini-version might be considered a concealed weapon. Does it require a permit? I think not, but check with local authorities when traveling in the UK.

At 8oz. it can pack quite a wallop, and at only 6" long it can reach those tight spaces. This hammer can find a lot of uses around the home or on the road (for repairs only, please). It's compact size makes it not only suitable for tight spaces but as light addition to a travel toolbox. It's also good for use with small children--letting them hone their hammering skills, of course. Lastly, cyclists may find this useful on their urban rides. I've heard of one cyclist using it to give a gentle tap back on an automobile fender when they were first 'tapped' at a stoplight by a motorist squeezing them off the road. (Hum, anybody I know? :>) Gently, please, but it does get the point across. (FYI: In most states cyclists have the same rights and rules for road use as motorists, and many municipalities ban cycling on sidewalks!)

Bottom line: Buy them just because they're cute and pack a punch. Buy them to carry around in unusual places. Hell, buy them for personal protection in you live in the UK. A great value for the right job.


3.5" 9 LED Mini Flashlight (#65020)

07/14/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hand Tools, Hot Buys, Outdoor Living, Cycling, Lighting, MoHo/RV


LED mini  flashlight
Item: 3.5" 9-LED Mini Flashlight
Item number: 65020
Retail price: $7.99
Frequent price: $3.99
Target price: free with coupon!
Item Link

This compact aluminum flashlight boasts 9 super-bright LEDs. Other online reviewers (who have been able to find the item) give it uniformly high ratings. Presuming that it's from the same factories that produce similar compact LED flashlights selling for a few bucks (a number of which we have tested), it would be a great deal for a couple of bucks and even better for free, although the stated retail price is way off target. (Surely nobody pays $7.99 for this type of flashlight anymore.) We have many of these three-battery, LED flashlights located throughout our home and in our automobiles. I even carry one in a small pocket in my vest (yes, they really are compact). They can often be found locally for as little as a dollar, but the quality varies somewhat with a few models having poor switches that can become defective after only a few uses. The LED and aluminum-housing components seem uniform, while the more expensive part, the switch, varies from product-to-product; also, some flashlights do have more LEDs which can produce much more illumination. A 9-LED light is outright bright for most compact flashlights.

The question at hand is not whether this would be a good deal but whether it is really readily available--free is almost always good, especially if you're already in the store. (Please don't consume any gasoline driving to the store to pick-up this item; that would partially defeat the secondary objective of helping to save-the-planet through lower battery consumption by using LED lights.) The question is: Is this a loss leader or just always out-of-stock in our Buffalo area stores? We've tired over the course of several months to 'cash-in' our coupon for a free flashlight and each time we've visited the store they have been out-of-stock. Annoyingly, they usually have an LED flashlight with the exact same specifications on the shelf, but the part number is different so they don't have to honor the coupon for a free flashlight. What's your experience?

Well, the secret was finally revealed by a helpful clerk (sales associate?) after months of futile searching--they're kept in an unmarked brown paper bag behind the counter. You have to ask for them at the checkout! There's not even a place on the shelf where they 'should be' (i.e., allocated rack space). Several items with the exact same description (i.e., 9-LED mini lights) are easily found on the shelves, but they have different part numbers and thus don't qualify for use with the special coupon. How low can you get, Harbor Freight of Tonawanda, New York? That is really >:XX deceptive.

Bottom line: A great gift from Harbor Freight (with coupon) if you can find it, and probably not a bad purchase for a couple of bucks!


Tire Chuck with Clip (#42443/46788)

07/13/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Air Tools, Hot Buys, Cycling, MoHo/RV, Novel Uses


Clip-on Tire Chuck
Item: Tire Chuck with Clip
Item number: 46788/42443?)
Retail Price: $0.77 (hum, this is interesting!?)
Target price: $0.99
Item Link

Whenever I use to inflate my bicycle tires, I was constantly adding a bit of air, checking the pressure with a tire pressure gauge, and then adding a bit more until I finally reached the desired tire pressure. (I often found it more convenient to over-inflate the tire and let out a bit of pressure.) Sure, I could use one of those tire chucks with a built-in pressure gauge, but I've always found these to be inaccurate or unreliable at best. With most compressors, the air output pressure can be limited by a simple dial set with a built-in pressure gauge. This provides an easy method of making sure that your tires are inflated to the proper pressure each time without constantly removing the inflating chuck and manually checking the tire's pressure: simply preset the maximum air pressure output to the desired tire pressure. This is especially helpful with high-pressure, low volume bicycle tires which are easy to over inflate and possibly blow.

So why would you want a clip-on tire chuck for quickly inflating tires? Well, it's real simple: set your compressor pressure output to the desired inflating pressure and bingo, you have a quick and easy, fool-proof inflation to the high pressures used in bicycle tires. My road bike likes 70psi, while my winter bike uses 55 psi inflation pressure. I keep my small, hand-portable compressor near my bike stop at the front door and top up the tire pressure frequently during my rides to ensure easy pedaling. Turn on the compressor, attach the clip-on tire chuck, and come-back when it's inflated. (FYI: My small compressor slowly leaks air from the tank, so it usually requires a few minutes running time each day to reach the relatively high pressures used for inflating bicycle tires; hence, the "attach the clip-on chuck and come back" a few minutes later when the compressor has reached the proper pressure and inflated the first tire.)

Of course the output regulator on a compressor is not as accurate as a tire pressure gauge, so you might want to adjust the actual setting on the compressor to match the desired tire pressure measured by a hand-held gauge. And the pressure output on the compressor may vary by a few psi from day-to-day, but we're not talking about rocket science here, simply keeping the tires topped up to (around) the proper pressure. There is a big difference pedaling 10 or more psi under pressure, and this convenient, no-brainer for keeping the tires inflated makes a big difference in my daily compute to work.

FYI: I'm pretty much non-functional in the morning, so trying to read a tire pressure gauge while navigating my first cup of coffee is an arduous task, likely to blow the tire off the rim if I'm not careful. Presetting the compressor output to the desired tire pressure, turning on the compressor and attaching the clip-on tire chuck is easy enough for even me in the morning and it keeps my tires inflated to the proper pressure, thus minimizing the energy required for my morning commute.

Bottom line: A must have item for the cyclist and others frequently inflating tires to preset pressures. Provides a quick and easy method to reach preset tire inflation pressures without constantly checking with a pressure gauge!

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This review and discussion forum was created for those of us who love Harbor Freight(tm). It's well known to those who frequent the store that the prices are always cycling up and down, and most of us usually accept it as a personal challenge to get the lowest price possible. It's also well appreciated that some products at Harbor Freight are good, even very good, but that many others are also substandard, yes, even junk. This review and discussion forum is dedicated to the savvy Harbor Freight shopper and is intended to provide some guidance to the best and the worse buys. Similar products from other retailers will also be reviewed from time-to-time. Please be advised that everyone's experience is unique, and what works well (or doesn't work at all) for the reviewers here may or may not suit your personal needs. With this caveat and with notification that Harbor Freight Reviews assumes no liability for the accuracy of information provided here for educational purposes, enjoy the forum and good 'sa(i)ling' at Harbor Freight!


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