Buyer's Guide to multitools
There’s little worse than being stopped in your tyre tracks by a minor mechanical problem that you could have sorted out if only you’d brought along the right tool. With a view to helping you avoid precisely this scenario, here are 18 multitools designed to get you fixed up and on the move again.
One thing that must be emphasised, however, is that the majority of multitools tested are for emergency repairs only. Don’t buy one and expect it to live up to workshop standards – it won’t. Multi-tools simply aren’t made to the same standard as dedicated workshop tools. Save the multitools for roadside repairs and the odd quick tweak. Regular workshop use will at best damage the tool or at worst damage your bike. Here are the basic tools you need to get road and trailside repairs done, any extra features on a multitool are a bonus:
||Look for a full array, in order to be covered for most eventualities. Most Multi-tools come with 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8mm sizes. If you have any imperial sized bolts you’ll need a separate set of Allen keys as they don’t come as standard on multi-tools. A big 8mm Allen key is enough to nip tight crank bolts but don’t expect them to do the job of a big workshop 8mm. Chamfered tips are a sign of quality and also prevent rounding of bolts and the keys.
||The evolution of the multi-tool and its function has a lot to do with the mountain bike. The Torx T25 key found on some tools is for brake disc/rotor bolts. You may also find disc pad separator tools on some tools as well.
||Their small size can make them awkward to use, with a few exceptions, but they do get the job done. We found that a lot struggle on thin nine- and ten-speed chains, especially ones with hollow pins. If you run a top end speed chain it may be worth investing in a separate quality chain too. Another good idea it to use quick links for repairing a chain. SRAM PowerLinks are readily available and don’t require any tools. Make sure you buy the right one for the chain, they come in 9 and 10 speed versions.
||They can be a bit fiddly to use as they’re often squeezed onto another tool. They do get the job done though and most tools include various sizes to cover the majority of nipple/spoke combinations.
||Not as common as Allen keys and most of the smaller multi-tools will miss out spanners. If they are included the common sizes are 8, 9, 10mm. If you have track nuts or nuts of other sizes then you may need to carry separate spanner, usually a 14 or 15mm.
||Most tools include a flat-nosed screwdriver – also useful for prising things apart. A Phillips cross-head screwdriver may also be included and is used to adjust derailleur stop screws and brake tension springs.
Sometimes less is actually more and there’s a lot to be said for carrying the most simple multitool, housing only the essential tools. At the end of the day when you’re stuck on the trail or roadside simplicity and function is all you want.
Worth a look
Choosing between the Park I-Beam and the Crank Brothers Multi 19 is hard but the Crank Brothers just edges it. We’d be happy to use both, though. They both pack more functions than we’d originally considered necessary, but they do it so neatly that it’s worth carrying the extra few grams.
We’re big fans of tiny units to slip in a jacket pocket and carry around all the time, and the Topeak Mini 9 micro tool was judged superb by everyone.
Finally, the Ice Toolz Folding 10 was so no-nonsense and get-the-job-done that we couldn’t quite believe the very reasonable price, so it gets our best-for-value title.
The Gerber Suspension would make an outstanding addition to anyone’s tool kit.
Check out the links below for full reviews of our favourites: