Best Cycling Multi Tools Buyers Guide 2018
How To Choose A Multi-tool – A Complete Guide For Cyclist
A multi tool should be a staple item for any cyclist to take with them on a ride, no matter how well-tuned and fettled your bike, mechanical problems can still happen, ones that can be easily fixed if you’ve got the right tool with you. The question is though, what is the right multi tool? Well, let’s go over some of the different types available, shall we? Now, we’ll start off with the really simple ones that have just got a few allen keys on them.
They can be either really light weight and compact like that, or slightly larger, therefore, easy to use, but perhaps more suited to having knocking around at home for those simple adjustments. Next step on, ones that have got chain tools attached to them, now I think that is essential for any ride that you can’t walk home from Chains do break, even the most expensive, newest chains can still snap, the only way to fix it really, is with a chain tool. Even if you’ve got a quick link tucked away in your saddle bag, but it may be that you don’t want all your tools in one place, and actually it would be better to have them separate, so something like this, which is the Survival Gear Box from TOPEAK, would be a prime example. There is an awful lot going on in there.
Which one is right for you then? Well, for me, there are two things to consider. Firstly, it has to have tools to cover everything I need. And secondly, it needs to be packaged up in something super light weight, after all, it’s going on my bike, so I don’t want to take anything unnecessary. But what are the tools that I need then? Well, first of all, a 4 mil alan key or hex key, and a 5 mil, are the two things that I probably use most. Anything from adjusting saddle heights to tightening head sets, I also occasionally use 6 mil as well for either attaching pedals, or for seat clamps.
Some pedals need an 8 mil, but you can find that most multi tools will probably have a little adapter on there to convert your 6 mil into an 8 mil. And then if you’ve got pedals that need tightening with a spanner, just make sure they’re on tight before you set off, I wouldn’t ride with a spanner in my pocket, it has to be said. A cross head or a phillips screw driver also comes in really handy for when dealing with your mechs. Now, you can either just need to make a small adjustment out in the road, which is fine, but if you have anything catastrophic happen, then having one of these is worth it’s weight in gold. Now, some bikes also use torques keys everywhere, now those are the little star shaped headed ones like these, most multi tools will have a T25 on them, which is the most common size, but then some bikes also use T30s and T15s, so you need to pay really close attention to make sure the tools you’ve got on your multi tool match up to the bolts you’ve got on your bike.
Or, maybe change the bolts on your bike, which I may or may not have done. Now, I also said that a chain tool is absolutely essential for any ride that you’re going to be self-sufficient on, and I maintain that that is the case. You can ride home with a loose head set, you can ride home with a slipped seat post even, but a bike with no chain is not much good. Unless you happen to break your chain at the top of a really long descent maybe, and the end of your ride is at the bottom, that would be a real stroke of luck. Now, something like this TOPEAK mini 20, which comes with me on my rides, fixes pretty much everything that is going to happen on my bike, and it’s also nice and light weight.
All I need to do is to take a tube, a pump, and maybe some patches, and I’m good to go. So this ticks all the boxes for me then, but I rarely ride for more than a few hours now, and never in the wilderness. So what happens if you’re going out for longer, self-supported rides, or even multi day epics? Well, I think, in that case, you need something more along the lines of this, where you’ve got individual tools, going to be easier to use, and are also slightly more robust. Now the only reason I wouldn’t take this on a normal ride with me is just because, although light weight, it’s still slightly bigger, so it’s not going to fit in all of my jersey pockets, or my saddle bag, but then I imagine if you’re riding around the world, then you’re probably not just going to have stuff in your jersey pockets and a saddle bag. Although, that would be quite cool, and probably someone one day will do that.
When you’re buying a multi tool, do try and make sure there’s a little pouch for it to go into, if you’re putting something metal inside your saddle bag, it’s quite likely that that multi tool can end up rubbing a hole in your spare intertube, and this little pouch will stop that happening, likewise, if you throw it in your jersey pocket, and you happen to forget that that’s next to your phone, you could end up scratching the screen. So how should you choose a multi tool then? Well, I think you need to make sure that you’ve got all the tools that you need, and nothing that you don’t. So make sure all the bolt sizes are covered, and always take a chain tool with you on a ride. That’s if you don’t want to walk home. Now, do let us know what the stickiest situation you’ve ever got out of on a ride using a multi tool.
Tyler Corlis is a 25-year old Cyclist from Italy. He enjoys cycling and biking on a weekly basis, and has extensive experience in cycling for 100’s KMs across Europe.