Park Tool: the Benchmark to Beat. Some Do.
Having worked as a bike store a while ago and then having bought a couple of bikes in the past decade, I needed not only to upgrade my mechanic knowledge but also the bike tools.
Three bikes (2004, 2012, 2013) have three different bottom brackets, for example.
Park Tool has always been the benchmark brand in bike shops. There is now a lot of competition with store brands from REI and Performance Bike and such companies as Topeak. Still, Park Tool makes great tools, a bit pricier than other companies' but worth the price sometimes.
Some stands and tools from other companies are better, especially for a lower price. Park Tool has to keep up with the new Joneses on the block and vice-versa but manages to be the go-to tool company for professional mechanics through good tools or marketing and rates for bike shops or all of the above.
This AK-38 has everything you need to update your tools and then add new ones as bikes seem to have new and improved parts each year just a laptops do!
The tool box itself is just a bit better than REI's Super B comparable version that was too thin for all the tools and little room for the old ones that still do the job.
It could be a lot sturdier, spacious, and have two locking clasps and even handles molded on the sides. The tool box is the weakest aspect of this kit. The "manual" offers some good instructions for those who are new to fixing bikes or those who are refreshing. Of course, getting tips from local bike mechanics and YouTube will help even more.
When ordering, be sure to order the AK-38 and not the 37 as that is last year's model but available at a great price. They should have included the Park pizza cutter instead of the bottle opener as the 38th part ;). In addition, one company from which I ordered this AK-38 had used tools or damaged packaging. It looks like each store hand picks the tools and Park doesn't send each kit in a bundle of shiny, shrink-wrapped packaging or hanging cards from their shelves. I also had to check each part against the ones listed in the "manual" and found at least one missing.
Mountain Plus sent this one quickly after I returned the other one to the company from which I ordered it. Perhaps after getting a sub-par tool kit from REI/Super B, I decided to spend quite a bit more and expected more with Park.
As with everything, buyer beware and beware of brand names that rest on their branding laurels and "birthright"/established date and beware of brand loyalty even.
Too many choices in OJ and bike tools but it creates competition, one of the few good qualities about capitalism ;). In several decades of working with bikes, I have watched customer-service become second to selling bikes as with any business from your local bike shop to British Petroleum ;)! Usually, it is the indiviudal at any business that makes the corporate aspect of selling more personal and human.
Selling bikes and service is no different at most shops, large or small, than selling pharmaceuticals or "Whole" Foods: corporate promises that are left to the stores and workers to keep "as best as they can with what they have" (Atticus Finch to Scout, his daughter, on true "class" vs. birthright class in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD) :).
Park may be benchmark but many companies now offer solid tools and try to out do Park simply because Park's status as Avis still "tries harder" to beat industry-standard Hertz and store-brand vitamins (eg Walgreen's) have to be better than such established brands as Centrum.
As with everything, check Park out and others and figure it for yourself with educated comparison shopping, not easy when ordering online with expensive products and fees sometimes fees. As with anything on Google, conflicting reviews on the same product may be confusing but some reviewers offer some gems of intel while admitting this one is pretty general.