Blackburn Toolmanator 16 review

Comprehensive and compact multi-tool

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Multi-tool buyers perusing the specs of the Blackburn Toolmanator 16 will inevitably be drawn to its comprehensive list of features. However, numerous features still need to be usable, and the big beast falls short when it comes time to put bit to bolt.

Indeed, the list of tools is remarkable for such a small and compact package: 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm hex keys, T25 and T30 Torx bits, two screwdrivers, a Schrader valve core remover, two spoke wrenches, a 10-speed compatible chain tool, and even a teeny tiny shock pump that works well enough for minor trailside adjustments. Heck, the pump even has a no-bleed head built in.

The hardened and forged steel bits have also been impressively durable, with few wear marks and no deformation after several months of regular use. Plus, with a clever one-piece aluminum body (standard practice is to use two separate plates at the sides), the Toolmanator 16 feels reassuringly sturdy and surprisingly reasonable in weight at 144g.

Unfortunately, though, Blackburn has sacrificed some practicality in order to make the Toolmanator 16 so compact. First off, it's nearly as wide as it is long (63x71mm), making for an awkward fit in your hands and annoyingly frequent interference with the components you're trying to adjust. Further complicating matters is the shock pump, which is perched outboard of the aluminum casing – you have to swing it out of the way to get a good grip.

Secondly, Blackburn was able to make the tool just 10mm thick by cutting the length of the bits in half, so that they rest edge-to-edge when folded. While this makes for a gloriously slimline form, many of the bits end up too short to be useful. For example, the 5mm hex wrench sticks out only 19mm, which isn't even long enough to reach into many recessed seatpost head bolts.

Surely such a tiny shock pump can't possibly work? surprisingly, it does, although you'll certainly want to limit its use to minor trailside tweaks and emergencies:
Surely such a tiny shock pump can't possibly work? surprisingly, it does, although you'll certainly want to limit its use to minor trailside tweaks and emergencies:

Surely such a tiny shock pump can't possibly work? It can

Overall, the Toolmanator 16 is well made, cleverly packaged, and comprehensive in terms of its functional library. But we'd reserve it exclusively for emergency use. Otherwise, it's simply too frustrating in its current form.

James Huang

Technical Editor, US
James started as a roadie in 1990 with his high school team but switched to dirt in 1994 and has enjoyed both ever since. Anything that comes through his hands is bound to be taken apart, and those hands still sometimes smell like fork oil even though he retired from shop life in 2007. He prefers manual over automatic, fizzy over still, and the right way over the easy way.
  • Age: 40
  • Height: 173cm / 5'8"
  • Weight: 70kg / 154lb
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA

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