Triathlete’s 2020 Design Awards: Best Tool Design

The winner of the Best Tool Design award is…

While other sports wait for trends to come to them, triathlon has a long, rich history of living at the cutting edge of technology and design. Multisport has led the pack in breaking trends, and while not every tri design is a home run, our sport is a petri dish for exciting innovation. We sat down with our editors and a team of gear experts to whittle through the most exciting and impactful people, products, and more from the last year to see who is truly deserving of Triathlete’s designs of the year. We’ll be announcing the winners one by one here on Pick up the March/April issue for a complete list of winners (and don’t forget to enter to win the bike featured on the cover). The winner of the Best Tool Design award is…

best tool design

Best Tool Design: Park Tool THH-1 Sliding T-Handle Hex Wrench Set

For the triathlete who works on his or her bike, there is no design more important than a good set of tools. For anyone who even owns a bike, there’s no tool more important and in heavy use than a good set of hex wrenches. In the past, Wisconsin-based Park Tool’s PH-1.2 P-Handle hex wrench set has been a nearly ubiquitous fixture on any pro mechanic’s tool wall. It would be hard to find a bike shop in the U.S. that didn’t have a set of these wrenches in their mechanic’s pit. A tried-and-true design, made super well, these simple wrenches have stood the test of time. If you only have $75 dollars to spend on tools, spend your money on a set of PH-1.2s.

But times change, and technology and tools march on. It’s been a long time coming, but Park has finally topped themselves with the introduction of  the THH-1 Sliding T-Handle hex wrench set. Not only do each of these t-handle hex wrenches have a super unique sliding barrel that helps you spin in and out long bolts (we’re looking at you aero bar and stem bolts!), a sliding short end to access hard-to-reach areas—hello, bottle cage bolts—but they also feature an entirely ingenious “Strip-Gripper” that helps remove nearly stripped bolts (crank arm bolts, we’re looking at you). Though not exactly cheap at $130 for a set that includes 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10mm hex wrenches, this could be the new mechanic’s favorite. The only thing that could make the THH-1 more perfect-er would be adding a ball end on the long hex side, like the PH-1.2—but either way, this set of wrenches is an absolute game changer. Bonus design feature: a very very Euro-looking wall-mounted wrench holder.

Honorable Mention: Silca Viaggio Travel Pump

best tool design

While a pump may seem like a surprising choice as honorable mention for the tool design awards, it’s no surprise that Italian brand Silca is the one making it. Steeped in old-world charm mixed with timelessly clean designs, Silca has made cool stuff that ranges from clothing to bags to tools to pumps. And while they don’t make a ton of different products in each category, the ones they do make, they make very well, and they’re not afraid to mix a little modern with their old-world vibe. Enter the Viaggio Travel Pump.

On one hand, Silca keeps it old-school cool with a lightweight barrel and stand/handle that folds down into a sleek canvas tote. On the other hand, Silca uses some high-tech wizardry to transmit your tire’s pressure via Bluetooth to their app. By leaning on the modern—in this case the Bluetooth-app-as-a-pressure-gauge—Silca is able to make something so sleek that it looks timelessly simple. Though it’s not exactly cheap at $275, this combination of old lines and construction with new tech uses the best of both worlds to create a compact-yet-durable pump solution.