Review of the best multi-tools

Is that a multi-tool in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? Sorry, couldn’t escape multi-tool related puns, it’s out of my system now!

Carrying around a load of tools on the bike is a pain. I often find myself thinking “I’ll just risk it, what are the odds of getting a puncture”. With my Marathon Schwalbe tyres pretty slim. However, it is still best practise to have the multi-tool with you in case you need to make adjustments. This is one of those bike purchases that you only have to make once in your life so it is worth considering your decision.

What things to look for in a multi-tool

Features – work out what things you actually need. Take a look at your bike or bikes and see what bolts and nuts are on there so you can decide what features the multi-tool will need to include.

Weight/size – this is something you should carry around with you on bike journeys so smaller and lighter is always better

Quality – spending a tiny bit more can often make a major difference in quality. Cheaper tools are likely to break or be pretty much useless when needed which adds massively to the frustration of an on the road repair.

Some of the best multi-tools

Here are some highly recommended multi-tools for your consideration.

Crank Brothers Multi-tool 10 Crank Brothers Multi 10

Available in 5, 17 and 19. The 10 is a good mid range to go for most cyclists. It weighs 124g and has a fairly compact design. The price is excellent and the only extra you will possibly need is a spoke key. The multi-tool comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Amazon: £16.49 | Wiggle: £13.50

Lezyne Stainless 12 - highly compact and well reviewed multi-tool Lezyne Stainless 12

One of the most compact multi-tools you can get. This can be seen as both an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage is obviously for carrying the thing around however if you need to use it then the short length of the tools will make your job a little tougher. Also includes a surprisingly effective spoke key. Weighs 115g.

Costs £27.99 everywhere: Amazon | Chain Reaction Cycles

Your multi-tool recommendations

Can you recommend any multi-tools that you use or have used?

See also:

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30 Responses to Review of the best multi-tools

  1. James 11/05/2010 at 10:19 am #

    I’m a big fan of the Park MTB-3 Rescue Tool: Amazon link

    Admittedly it weighs twice what the Lezyne weighs, but the fact you can split it apart, it includes two tyre levers and has a spoke key and pedal wrench means it’s usually the only tool I need to carry. The bottle opener comes in handy too ;)

  2. Phil 11/05/2010 at 10:43 am #

    I use a Topeak multitool, I forget which model. It has eleven tools ( nine ‘full’ tools plus a 5-8mm Allen adaptor and a Torx adaptor for disc rotors); one of these is a chain splitter with a spring hook to keep the chain together whilst you’re doing the repair- unfortunately, the splitter requires a separate 4mm Allen key to turn the rivet punch. The tough plastic side panels pop off as tyre levers, have metal spoke key inserts, and an Allen bolt to adjust the pivot resistance of the tool as it opens/closes and inevitably wears. Not cheap ( buy cheap buy twice ), worth the £20, fits my hand comfortably, covers most maintenance tasks and doesn’t take up much room in my toolbag. I also carry a bone spanner for my 15mm front wheel nuts and a 1974 Volkswagen short wheelbrace for the rear wheel nuts.

    • Duncan McGregor 20/06/2011 at 11:16 am #

      Assuming that’s the Hexus 16 – the splitter doesn’t need a separate allen-key – you can use the one built into the tyre lever.

      I haven’t had to use mine in anger yet, but it does seem to be the best around.

  3. Adam 11/05/2010 at 10:45 am #

    Toppeak Hexus 16. Compact and amazingly well designed making use of every bit of space to pack in lots of useful tools.

  4. Pete 11/05/2010 at 10:45 am #

    I’ve gone for the Sainsbury’s bicycle multi-tool. Easy to obtain and not too heavy at 140g, it covers all your basic allen key and screwdriver needs.

    For £1.99.

    See some pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/purpaboo/sets/72157624038644654/

  5. Greg Collins 11/05/2010 at 2:45 pm #

    I’m still using a Gerber Cool Tool from the early 90’s and a set of small Allen Keys I got off the front of a bike magazine way back.

    Works for me.

  6. Simon E 12/05/2010 at 10:43 pm #

    I have a Bikemate tool (140g) that came in a £5 Aldi seatpack with two ring spanners covering 8, 9, 10 & 13mm and 14/15g spoke keys, tyre levers and puncture kit. The multitool looks very much like the Sainsbury’s one above with 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6mm allen keys, flat & cross heads. I carry this plus the spanners & levers and sometimes a Park CT-5 chain tool.

  7. Paul 13/05/2010 at 1:55 pm #

    I love my Topeak Rocket Ratchet RX, it’s as versatile and light as an allen key to use, you can get a chain tool to go with it as well, which worked well when my garage chain tool broke. The ratchet tool is tough despite it’s minimalist size, but you can still get more than enough torque with it.

    • Andreas 17/05/2010 at 7:35 am #

      I’ve also heard good things about the topeak and they are good value

  8. Jeremy 16/05/2010 at 10:46 am #

    Sigma PT16 pocket tool. I think it’s brilliant.

  9. Gandalf 17/05/2010 at 7:23 pm #

    Topeak Alien II. Very compact, good range of tools and the chain splitter actually works very well.

  10. Jack 20/05/2010 at 10:40 pm #

    Hi,

    Love the blog but what multi-tool would you recommend for a Brompton M3L?
    Any suggestions would be most appreciated :)

    Many thanks!
    -Jack

    • AdrianM 24/01/2013 at 3:56 pm #

      Brompton has recently (early 2013) introduced their own multitool that neatly stores inside the frame tube. However, it is nearly £50. The equivalent tools can be assembled for much less though – A folding allen key set (inc 2/2.5/3/4/5/6mm /Philips/flat), pair of tyre levers , dumbbell spanner, and self-adhesive puncture patches . I assembled this lot for less than £10 from Wilkinsons. I’ve found this simple collection far more practical for a Brompton than an expensive mult-tool such as my Topeak Alien II. The problem with these general purpose multitools is that, if they actually include a 15mm spanner (essential for removing a Brompton wheel nut), they are so flimsy are likely to snap or shear the nut. The 15mm on a dumbbell is sturdy enough for the job.

      .

  11. Chris 02/07/2010 at 8:26 am #

    Regarding a multi-tool for the Brompton, some suggestions:

    a) Assuming you have the bike, just look at all the fasteners and functions – bolts & screws; hex-head; Torx; sloted & Phillips & etc. and work out the list of what you need. – Tiresome and tedious. You may want a multi-tool that includes other functions like: chain tool; tyre levers
    b) Contact the Brompton owners club and ask them
    c) Google Brompton M3L multi-tool
    d) Google multi-tool Brompton site:www.foldsoc.co.uk
    e) You could ask Brompton for suggestions & recommendations.

  12. Chris 02/07/2010 at 8:35 am #

    Re Brompton tools.

    This looks useful and relevant.

    http://www.foldsoc.co.uk/tools.html

  13. Chris 02/07/2010 at 10:25 am #

    Other useful items:
    Chain hook – use with chain tool
    Spanner for Brompton axles, rarely included in multi-tools – see http://www.foldsoc.co.uk/tools.html
    Tool for chain tensioner – see http://www.foldsoc.co.uk/tools.html

    See this for removing and replacing tyres without levers, by a professional velomobile [fully faired tricycle) manufacturer. His accent is because he’s Dutch.

  14. Chris 02/07/2010 at 10:38 am #

    The Cyclists Touring Club
    tools site:www.ctc.org.uk

  15. John 30/01/2011 at 5:05 pm #

    Hey, unless you don’t mind a tool that falls to pieces due to vibration on a long ride, and you enjoy hunting down little washers and stray parts in the bottom of your tool bag and spending more time putting your TOOL back together than you do actually working on your bike, you might want to consider looking for a more “low-maintenance” tool. What a joke!

    • John 30/01/2011 at 5:06 pm #

      referring to Crankbrothers multitool 17

  16. Amoeba 21/06/2011 at 3:15 pm #

    Beto Multi-Tool 22 Function SN17, available from David Hembrow.
    It’s well-made and reasonably priced. It’s my favourite multi-tool.

    http://www.dutchbikebits.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=42&product_id=133

  17. alex 26/06/2011 at 10:47 am #

    The best I have seen are the Topeak pro 9 multi tool (good little tyre levers and less than 80g). However a chain tool and take a spare split pin is a good option with the Topeak mulit 20 150g (take plastic tyre levers as well) job done. Crank Brothers very good to (168/175g) for 17-19 multi tool so a bit more weight.

  18. Duncan 11/02/2012 at 9:42 pm #

    For a Brompton you must have a 15mm spanner to remove the wheel nuts – which almost no multi-tool has. My old Cool-Tool was perfect as it had an adjustable spanner. I was gutted when I took my Brompton bag on a business trip via Heathrow and they confiscated it in case I tried to brain the pilot with it! I’m even more gutted to find you can no longer buy Cool-Tools! However it turns out that the Beto BT-332 multi-tool that David Hembrow sells has a 15mm spanner (as well as 8, 9, 10, 13 and 14mm ones!) so that might be the best multi-tool for a Brompton!
    http://www.dutchbikebits.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=42&product_id=133

    • Tom Allen 14/07/2013 at 9:27 am #

      15mm is also the standard diameter for a pedal spanner. The Topeak Alien II and the Tern Tool both have this.

  19. David 14/07/2013 at 8:00 am #

    For me riding a fixed gear bike, I have a Pedros Trixie multi tool. It has everything you need to make any major (or minor) adjustments to your bike.

    http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/tools/cycling-tools/product/review-pedros-trixie-tool-09-35100

  20. Tom Allen 14/07/2013 at 8:37 am #

    I’ve been using the Topeak Alien II for years. Very durable and covers an impressively broad range of tools without sacrificing effectiveness, which is why I take it touring, but it might be on the heavy side for some.

    Something a bit lighter and definitely less conventional is the Tern Tool, which is really cleverly designed, quite a bit more minimal and covers everything you’re likely to need on a day to day basis.

  21. MJ Ray 21/01/2014 at 1:44 pm #

    Anyone like the spanner-style ritchey cpr-9 or Park MT-1 as an alternative to those flimsy flick-knife tools?

  22. Nigel Andrews 30/05/2014 at 1:35 pm #

    I’m old school. I prefer a small tool roll with spanners and allen keys that I may need for that particular bike – some bikes need no spanners. Coupled with spare tubes and tyre levers.
    I’m never ceased to be amazed at how many experienced riders go out so unprepared for punctures. On club rides it’s mandatory to carry tools and tubes in order to maintain the ride.

    • Lis 30/05/2014 at 8:45 pm #

      +1 with Nigel… Even though I also have a topeak multitool I really like (don’t remember which: basic allen keys up to 8, 1 crux, 1 torx), which means in any case I carry with it 1 chain breaker (either the small topeak or the mini ct5 from Park) and a spare tube and puncture kit and a chain link on any given day.
      On longer all or multi-day rides that changes to whatever small allen/torx keys needed + a small screw-driver + tire levers + chain links + a few nuts and bolts and washers + electrical tape + plastic ties + spoke key + chain lubricant and of course a good RAG and a light… Even a tiny cassette remover.
      all loaded in a very practical and sturdy – but not very feminine – maxpedition whatever..

    • Amoeba 31/05/2014 at 11:03 am #

      I never leave home without a toolkit, unless it’s literally a short jaunt to the shops. Consequently, I can cope with most things that happen. One major advantage of a kit made of separate tools is that they’re likely much better quality and better than many multi-tools. Multi-tools are generally not cheap and if in the market for buying one, make sure to check the reviews. If your bike suffers a breakdown and it’s a case of self-rescue – walk miles or fix it and your multi-tool breaks (perhaps the first time it’s used in anger), you’re really going to regret not buying a better one.
      I recently had the need for a tyre-boot, together with a spare tube, it got me home. I recommend you carry one, or be prepared to walk home, otherwise consider a spare tyre.
      BTW: I’m still using my Beto tool mentioned previously.

  23. Dave 31/05/2014 at 12:43 pm #

    I carry nothing to maintain my Brompton. If I have a puncture or broken chain or whatever on my commute, I catch a bus or train home and deal with it there.

    Having said that I have a comprehensive set of bike tools which I carry on my hybrid or recumbent, spare tubes and tyres,Topeak multi tool,puncture kit, set spanner for each size nut, pliers and lube oil. So it’s all or nothing for me

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