Best Bike Multi Tools: Don’t Get Sidelined When You Ride
Bicycle repairs are frustrating, but keep moving with one of these top bike multi tools
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Whether you need to tighten a chain, change a tire, or perform other routine or unexpected maintenance tasks on your bike, you need the right tools for the job. To get back to operational mode quickly, it's a good idea to purchase a bike multi tool. We’ve compiled a list of some of the top options on the market to consider when shopping for this essential piece in your bike kit.
Topeak Alien II Multi Tool
Crankbrothers M10 Multi-Tool
Park Tool Aluminum MT Multi-Tool
Benefits of Bike Multi Tools
- Convenience. Some multi tools are nearly a complete set of the tools you’ll need to build an entire bike. If you’re limited on space, there’s a great deal of convenience in owning a near-complete tool set that fits in your pocket.
- Quick fixes. A multi tool can be just the ticket when you’re on the side of the trail or road and your bike has loose nuts or bolts. Just pull out the multi tool, select the tool you need, tighten up the part, and you’re back on your way.
- You’ll be a hero. Even though everyone should have a multi tool, not everyone does. You’ll be a hero when your buddy’s seat starts slipping on his road bike or his handlebars start loosening up. With just a quick tweak with your multi tool, you can continue on your ride.
Types of Bike Multi Tools
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Minimalist multi tools are just that—minimal. They offer a few tools to get you down the road. This isn’t because these tools are cheap or less worthy of serious road bikes or trail riders. Minimalist style multi tools are designed to be light and go unnoticed until they’re needed.
Heavy-duty multi tools come equipped with enough tools to get you through almost an entire bike build. Clearly this causes them to be bulkier and heavier than a minimalist tool, but that’s a sacrifice made in the name of capability.
Topeak has been producing products for the cycling world since 1991. Their first product was actually a survival multi tool. Since then, they’ve created great products like pumps, saddle bags, and quality multi tools like this Topeak Hexus X Multi Tool, which includes a chain tool, chain hook, and spoke wrench.
This Laguna Beach, Calif. company has been around since 1997. Crankbrothers prides itself on reinvention and staying at the forefront of tool technology. That mindset can be seen in products like the Crankbrothers M10 Multi-Tool with multiple screwdrivers and hex wrenches between them.
Getting their start by selling a revolutionary bike stand more than 50 years ago, Park Tool is well-known in any pro bike shop. Based in St. Paul, Minn., Park Tool puts out quality products like the Park Tool I-Beam, a mini multi tool with screwdrivers, Allen keys, and Torx bits.
Bike Multi Tool Pricing
- $20 and under: Here you’ll find mostly minimalist style multi tools. They’ll have basic sets of hex keys and screwdrivers. They’ve got enough to keep you on the bike and not pushing it.
- $20 to $40: You’ll have your choice of minimalist in the lightest materials, or heavy-duty workhorses that can handle nearly any repair. Pedal wrenches, chain tools, and spoke wrenches are common.
- $40 and up: These tools are super capable. Tire levers, bottle openers, chain hooks, and Torx bits in stainless steel, aluminum, and other quality materials will be in this range.
You’ll want a capable tool if you’re going to be relying on it in a pinch. This can mean that the multi tool has a ton of bells and whistles to tackle any job, or it can mean that the tool is made well enough to reliably tackle the job it was intended for. A poorly made multi tool can make things worse when it strips a part or rounds over a hex head.
How many functions your multi tool should have depends on what you intend to use it for. If you have a full shop at home with ratchets, sockets, and wrenches, you probably don’t need a 45-in-1 multi tool to weigh you down. If you’re looking for this tool to be your entire tool kit, go the extra mile and get the Swiss Army knife of multi tools.
When you need a multi tool, you just need it. You don’t have time to be prying rusted functions apart, or trying to reassemble the pieces that rattled loose in your saddle bag from all the shredding you’ve been doing. You also don’t need a tool to break off in your hand on the side of a trail. Durable multi tools are meant for a high stress use and storage.
- Intended Use. As with most things bike related, consider your use. If you’re a light duty rider that only puts a few miles on your bike a year, look into a minimalist multi tool. If you’re always tinkering with things and like improving and modifying your bike, a more complete heavy-duty multi tool will suit you.
- Storage. How you store your multi tool might factor into which one you buy. A saddlebag can hold a hefty multi tool with all the fixings. A zippered shorts pocket might only be suitable for a minimalist set of tools. Modern mountain bikes with built-in storage compartments might necessitate some creative solutions or specific dimensions because nothing else will fit.
Best Bike Multi Tools Reviews & Recommendations 2020
The Topeak Alien II Multi Tool is our top pick because this 31-function multi tool has just about everything you need built in and ready to go. This is a heavy-duty multi tool best suited for the rider who wants full capability in a small package but would also be at home in a pro bike shop.
The Alien II is a two-piece design equipped with a ton of functions. We like the Torx, Allen keys, screwdrivers, and even the wrenches that this multi tool provides. It also comes with a chain tool, chain hook, and pedal wrench. Even with all those features, it’s still small enough to not be cumbersome. We also like the included nylon bag, which makes storage simple.
With all its options, the Topeak Alien II might be overkill for some riders. With 31 functions, you may find too many tools to sort through when your hands are cold and muddy. Also, some users have reported that when too much force is utilized, some of the tools can break.
A more affordable option is the Crankbrothers M10 Multi-Tool. We’re big fans of Crankbrothers, and this minimalist style multi tool comes with the 10 features you’ll need most in a small package that consists of an aluminum frame. We think the price should count for an 11th feature.
The M10 is ideal for budget shoppers and riders looking for a basic tool set. We like that it’s a no-fuss, quality multi tool. The M10 includes seven hex keys, a Phillips screwdriver, a flat screwdriver, and a T25 Torx wrench for disc brakes. A capable hand can achieve most small adjustments and repairs on the trail with these tools.
The biggest complain about this multi tool is the individual tools get rusty, sometimes after just a year of use. This can occur even if the tools aren't exposed to water or salt. While the multi tool may still function, it looks a little ugly. Also, it may not come with a carrying case even though it's advertised in the description. Another problem is it can feel a little clunky in tight spaces.
If you’re looking for a sleek and slim bike multitool that won’t add a ton of bulk to your kit, the Pro Bike Tool Bicycle Multitool 8 in 1 is the way to go. This is a rugged and reliable bike tool that is constructed with cold forged SUS420 stainless steel and is super durable, rust-resistant, and lightweight. It measures only 1.5 inches wide and 3.7 inches long, making it one of the slimmest multitools available.
This versatile tool is equipped with five differently sized metric hex keys and a star-shaped hex tool that is a T25/T30 and Phillips Tool PH1 cross driver. It allows for 360 degrees of tool bit movement, making it a very versatile and easy to use bike multitool. As an added bonus, it comes equipped with a slim and discreet protective carrying bag. A No-hassle money-back guarantee is a nice bonus. This tool can be a little more difficult to use in very tight spaces than some others on the market, but it is a reliable and dependable bike tool made by cyclists for cyclists.
When it comes to a compact, well-engineered bike multitool that can practically do it all, we like the Vibrelli Bike Multi Tool. This rugged multitool is built to last, meeting strict military-grade MIL-STD 810G standards, so you know it can withstand some serious wear and tear. The slimline design measures 3-inches long by 2-inches wide, and it weighs a mere 6.5 ounces, making it a compact, lightweight, and highly portable tool.
It comes equipped with an impressive 19 precision tools, including 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 mm hex keys, a universal chain breaker tool, four differently sized spoke wrenches, 8 and 10mm open wrenches, and Phillips 1, 2, flat, and T-25 screwdrivers to provide you with a tool that is ready to easily tackle almost any roadside equipment emergency. Our only beef with this awesome multitool is that it can be a little slippery and awkward to use at certain angles or in tight spaces.
Park Tool deserves our Honorable Mention spot with its Aluminum MT Multi Tool. This multi tool is a 10-in-1 set that is solidly constructed. The Aluminum MT Multi Tool is made of forged aluminum, while the tools are hardened steel.
In addition to being well crafted, the Park Tool Aluminum MT Multi Tool is capable of tackling a range of jobs. We like the variety and usefulness of the 10 tools, which include hex wrenches, a screwdriver, and a Torx driver. Park Tool also backs up this product with a limited lifetime warranty.
While this tool is good quality, it may be awkward to use. Although the MT is light, it’s not thin. It can take up some real estate in your pocket. The device is a little wider than we’d like, and some users state that they’re unable to get a good grip on it.
- Even if you’re focused on staying under-budget, be mindful of the quality of a bike multi tool. The last thing you want is for a tool to snap off mid-use because it’s not strong enough to handle the pressure or tension applied to it.
- Pay attention to the length of the tools on your bike multi tool. You want tools that are long enough to reach into difficult areas where your hands might not comfortably fit in order to turn a screw or bolt.
- A bike multi tool should be easy to use. Aspects like how easily you can access a tool, or having too many tools to keep track of, can impact how user-friendly your bike multi tool will be.
Q: What are some common tools that I should look for in a bike multi tool?
A: Depending on your budget, there are limitless combinations that you can find in a quality bike multi tool. In general, a bike multi tool should feature the following essential pieces: screwdrivers, an allen wrench (also known as a hex wrench), a chain tool, and a Torx.
Q: Should I get a case for my bike multi tool?
A: A case can protect your tool and increase the lifespan of its use, but it can also increase the bulk and weight of the gadget. If you’re trying to travel as light as possible, a case might not be a realistic option.
Q: I want a durable bike multi tool, so what should I look for?
Bike multi tools should last for several years. There are specific design features that can practically guarantee that you won’t need to frequently replace this essential tool. Choose a bike multi tool made from aluminum or corrosion-resistant steel—especially on the heads of the screwdriver or wrench components. Likewise, avoid bike multi tools that rely on plastic parts for the actual tools. These models will be less durable.
If the thought of not being prepared for even the most unlikely of emergency repairs keeps you up at night, then our best overall selection, the Topeak Alien II Multi Tool, should be at the top of your shopping list.
If you only need the essentials and aren’t looking to spend a fortune, then our best value pick, the CRANKBROTHERs M10 Multi-Tool, should cover your core needs.
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