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.
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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
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
- 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.