Sunday, September 12, 2010

Its The Little Things - Multi-tool Simplification

Multi-tools offered in the cycling industry are trash. Its a rule like gravity or that the guy that you're riding with for the first time will tell you he used to ride semi-pro only AFTER making you break your lungs trying to keep up with him. (I still enjoyed the ride, Kelly) To add insult to injury, they're also expensive. I recently cobbled together an upgrade to my Crank Brothers Multi-17 so I thought I'd share...

The Crank Brothers tool weighs in at 6 1/8 oz (172g). This widget includes 6 hex keys, 2 Torx bits, a flat bladed screwdriver and a chain tool that has features that look like spoke wrenches and box end wrenches included. The tools in general are low end junk. The chain tool in particular stands out to me. It is clearly designed by some sadist that hates cyclists and takes delight in destroying their gear. The chain tool itself is almost impossible to use since its semi-permanently attached to the multi-tool. You feel like you are working without the benefit of thumbs when you try to repair a busted chain on the trail. Just to add a little sizzle to the whole thing, the designer also threw in spoke mangler wrenches that are expertly toleranced to guarantee rounding out your nipples. There are also two box end openings to destroy various nuts on your bike if you're still not quite on the verge of having an aneurysm on the trail. So, in summary, bike multi-tools are:

  1. Heavy.
  2. They're cheaply made.
  3. They include things you don't need.
  4. They feel the need to add features like the spoke wrench & box end wrench openings that are so poorly made they only serve to destroy your gear.
  5. The ergonomics are so bad you can hardly use things like the chain tool.
  6. They rust ... immediately.

I replaced them with a simple, reversible ratchet driver, specific bits that I need for my particular gear & a Park chain tool. The ratchet, and the five bits (5mm hex, 4mm hex, 2.5mm hex, T10 & T25) weigh 2 3/8 oz (67g). I got the ratchet in the photo from my contacts in the Taiwan / China sourcing work that I do with my job. If your job doesn't require that you take the 1,000 hour flight (coach) to Asia, Amazon carries a few like this for cheap. I'm using Apex brand bits because I can get them easily from work and they're really good stuff. If you go this route, do yourself the favor of contacting an industrial supply house and get high quality tools. Nothing sucks more than cheap tools. Add a Park Tool CT5 chain tool and you have all of the same functionality, significantly higher quality tools, better ergonomics & less weight.

Go ride!


  1. I obviously haven't had to use my Crank Bros 19 nearly enough since it has not yet broken, rusted, hurt me, nor failed. Perhaps in time?

  2. To be fair, I've heard that the newer generation CB tools were improved to address the rust problem. Maybe overall quality was fixed as well. My CB17 is more than 5 years old. Beware the spoke wrench!!!

  3. I agree about bike multi tools being crap at what they are meant to be for! Mine fell to pieces within a couple of weeks. lesson learned! since then I have started using my Leatherman Wave Multi tool. its much stronger and as I already had it from bushcraft work, hasn't cost me any extra!

  4. This Mult itool, is powered by a Trade Tough Engine, trialed and tested for hours on end to handle your work load at any level, complying with all indian standard This multi tool finished in magnificent work with any job with the best multi tool, you can buy on the market..