Just another Y wrench?
Geeking out on some bike tools this week. As with many of Silca’s products which catch my eye, their latest tool called Ypsilon – a y wrench I could not resist.
(In case you were wondering, Ypsilon is from the 16th century and means the 20th letter of the greek alphabet – Y)
The Ypsilon (pronounced ip.si.lon) is SILCA’s take on the unassuming Y-wrench. Pro mechanics, bike shops, and avid home mechanics have long preferred the layout of this tool due to the ergonomic benefits that make it more convenient and more enjoyable to use. Most tools in this layout feature 4mm, 5mm and 6mm keys; meaning that the wrenches for some of the most common use cases in cycling are readily available in one tool. The shape of the Y-wrench also offers superior control and stability over traditional hex keys, especially in tighter work spaces.
Ypsilon was designed by a team of engineers and mechanics who obsess over the details. Unlike traditional Y-wrench designs, Ypsilon is customizable and adaptable to the mechanic’s preferences. Ypsilon has a red ¼” bit collet with magnetic attachment in place of where a 6mm hex wrench would sit. This departure from the traditional Y-wrench design was inspired by the versatility of other tools and means that Ypsilon can easily transform into any tool simply by swapping out the bit. The other two ends of the tool are 4mm and 5mm hex keys.
- 18 Tools total
- High strength CrV steel spine leading to 4mm and 5mm hex
- Lightweight composite body with ergonomic grips
- ¼” bit collet with magnetic attachment
- S2 steel Hex bits: 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, and 6mm
- S2 steel Torx® bits: T8, T10, T15, T20, T25 and T30
- S2 steel Screw bits: PH1, PH2, SL4 and SL5
- Birch case with magnetic closure (Home Essentials kit only)
For those who have never used a Y wrench or as I call them “3 – ways”, it’s a fast tool when working on multiple aspects of the bike. Flip the tool around quickly for another size tool to adjust a different fastener. Mechanics have seen the advantages of Y wrenches for years.
A key engineering benefit of Ypsilon is the tight tolerances of the keys and bits. Tighter tolerances mean a better tool-to-part fit which drastically decreases the likelihood of rounding out fastener heads or damaging screw slots. We have all done it in our past and ultimately having to deal with removing a stripped bolt from your high end gear – not pleasant. These tight tolerances, combined with the CrV steel spine of the tool make Ypsilon incredibly durable.
The Ypsilon Home Kit comes in a custom Birchwood box with a range of hex, Torx and driver bits that sit in a foam holder. The Ypsilon Travel Kit comes with everything that the Home Kit comes with minus the box, and they offer the y-wrench entirely on its own.
Hand tools have an self evident way of highlighting poor ergonomics and with Y wrenches you might already know they are not all ergonomically equal. Some are too heavy, some too slippy and others just too large for your palm. Silca’s shape and size has been optimized and the over-molded TPE grips provides a soft spot for the pressure points on your hand. The lightweight composite body with ergonomic grips provide good comfort and control.
The Ypsilon feels great in the hand, the addition of the lighter grey softer plastic areas are a welcome design that provide grip and comfort that is not present on many tools of this type. As for durability, the construction of these softer areas is a deep molding and is not a thin plastic over mold.
This design feels very precise to use, a positive engagement with fasters that makes you feel in control to a much finer degree than a less well engineered tools.
The grip is well design, the shape and weight are just right, a presence in the hand, while not being too heavy or slippy.
The tool bits are interchangeable and easy to use, they quickly snap in and out (the magnet sits at the bottom of the red collar). The collar doesn’t turn, it feels like it should but its a fixed design to accommodate various bits and the knurling is more of a decorative feature.
The tool bits have a higher polish than inexpensive counterparts, and are wrapped with a nice plastic identification band which makes them quicker to identify. Normal identification is stamped into bits, and can be harder / less obvious to read.
Quality well designed tools definitely have a place, look at the likes of Snap On and Craftman. The Silca Ypsilon doesn’t come cheap, but why should it, its not indended to be a $20 tool. Even the smaller things with Silica are done well like the bits that look, feel and perform 5x that of regular less precise forged bit – this comes at a higher manufacturing cost.
Can you put a price on the confidence this tool inspires? or the reduction in likelihood that you will damage an expensive faster on your expensive bike? or that the tool looks cool and is presented really well?
Yes, no doubt it’s an expensive tool. But for those that would love this, yet would not spend- would it make a great gift? you betcha ya.
- Home Edition – $108
- Travel Edition (no wood box) – $74
- Just the Handle, no bits – $36
The Home Edition comes in a custom birch box with magnetic latches is a nice touch for a nice tool. Any bike enthusiast would be stoked to get one of these.
A couple of steps for improvement.
A few times I found some tight spaces in which to adjust where I had to resort to a traditional hex wrench, like behind a brake bridge. It would be great to include a flex or a 90 degree connector or a modifier flat handle for those moments where you don’t quite have the space.
A nice touch in the home edition would be to provide a small bit holder or travel baggie on the circumstances that the toll might be used away from home.