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Old 12-23-06, 08:42 PM   #1
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Multifunction bike tools

What's the best multifunction bike tool to take on rides? Thanks.
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Old 12-23-06, 10:12 PM   #2
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One that fits the fastener that needs to be turned.

There are many good multitools out there. Pick one that has the tools you need.
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Old 12-23-06, 10:16 PM   #3
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It depends on how large you want it to be. I have the Park MTB-3 I use with my road and MTB bike but it's more for MTB's; but I have the MTB3 because it seemed to be better built then the others I saw. But the MTB3's tire levers are too wide for road bikes so you have to carry a seperate set if your using it on a road bike; they also don't come with pliers so I bought a cheap pair of small folding pliers by Eddie Baur (sp?) from Target. The only other tool I carry is something called the QuikStik that makes removing tires off rims very quick.

You'll get all kinds of different opinions on this, but just check them out for yourself and get the one you like.
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Old 12-23-06, 10:16 PM   #4
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This is my favorite tool.
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Old 12-24-06, 07:39 AM   #5
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For yourself or for somebody else?

If it's for somebody else, I take the gadget approach. I think that my current favorite is the Topeak Hexus 16. It doesn't have the most functions but it's relatively compact (important) and contains the tools that you're most likely to need but are often overlooked like an 8mm allen for crank bolts and a torx bit for brake rotors.

If it's for myself, I much prefer individual tools. There's nothing more frustrating than to have a relatively simple problem, like a loose water bottle cage and not be able to orient a bulky multi tool to tighten it. Actually, for road biking I prefer to do my maintenance at home and carry only enough tools to fix a flat tire.
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Old 12-24-06, 09:39 AM   #6
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The neglected jewel of multi-tools is Park Tool's MT-1 "Dogbone". It has 3,4,5,6 and 8 mm Allen bits, 8,9 and 10 mm boxes and a small flat-blade screwdrive. The larger hexes (4,5,6 and 8) are oriented so you can get real leverage on them and, in fact, I once tightened another rider's crank bolts adequately using the 8 mm hex. It's also very light (~ 50 gms) and cheap at $10 or so. I also carry a Ritchey CT-5 chaintool (~25 grams) and use the Park's 4 mm hex as the driver for it. Finally, I carry a set of plastic tire levers.

With these three items I can do nearly any road bike field repair.
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Old 12-24-06, 09:35 PM   #7
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Here's the Park site for their multi tools, you can see and read about both the MTB-3 and the MT-1 as well as all the others they sell: http://www.parktool.com/products/category.asp?cat=11
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Old 12-24-06, 09:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
...and a torx bit for brake rotors.
...and some FSA crank bolts.

It pays to check that whatever tool you have will fit every fitting on your bike, including little things like the adjusting screws on canti brakes.
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Old 12-24-06, 10:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch

If it's for myself, I much prefer individual tools. There's nothing more frustrating than to have a relatively simple problem, like a loose water bottle cage and not be able to orient a bulky multi tool to tighten it. Actually, for road biking I prefer to do my maintenance at home and carry only enough tools to fix a flat tire.
+1 (Sort of)

Multi-tools are stupid; bulky, expensive and not enough leverage to do any job well.

I have allen wrenches for all fasteners and a cheater tube for leverage, all rubber-banded together (as well as a patch kit and a pump). It takes up less space, weighs less and it works.
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Old 12-24-06, 10:33 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by rmfnla
+1 (Sort of)

Multi-tools are stupid; bulky, expensive and not enough leverage to do any job well.

I have allen wrenches for all fasteners and a cheater tube for leverage, all rubber-banded together (as well as a patch kit and a pump). It takes up less space, weighs less and it works.
I think it's a case of each to his/her own. And... frankly, the savings in weight really are irrelevant.

I carry a Topeak similar to what Retro was suggesting as a gimmicky tool for a present to another person, and it includes the tyre levers and chain breaker (the exception is a tiny 8/10mm Topeak wrench). It has served me extremely well for nearly four years on all sorts of tours and randonnees, including replacement of a pivot bolt in a front derailleur that dropped out in the middle of nowhere (if you want difficult roadside repair in freezing cold, try that one!). And I use it a lot in the workshop.

Access to all fasteners on my bikes is not necessarily easy, but the most problems I would have would be bidon cage bolts that have Loctite on them. I have used the tool to undo pedals at the airport, although I would still prefer a shifting wrench for that. And if you want THAT much leverage to do up an item, you are way, way over the top.

I prefer to have all my tools in one like this rather than run the risk of leaving a loose tool or two lying on the ground in pitch blackness. In the end, it works for me... as your collection of loose tools does for you.

The advice early on about picking tools that you *need*, and to ensure your bike is properly maintained and adjusted, is the best yet.

Last edited by Rowan; 12-24-06 at 11:33 PM.
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Old 12-24-06, 10:55 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmfnla
+1 (Sort of)

Multi-tools are stupid; bulky, expensive and not enough leverage to do any job well.

I have allen wrenches for all fasteners and a cheater tube for leverage, all rubber-banded together (as well as a patch kit and a pump). It takes up less space, weighs less and it works.
That's the most obsurd statement I've ever heard! Well except for maybe the expensive part, but the Park MTB-3 only cost me $25 so how expensive is that?

Anyway multi-tools being bulky and not having any leverage at least doesn't apply to the Park tools (I haven't tried other brands for leverage but have noticed that others I've seen seemed wimper then the Park). I've even used the "silly" Park MTB-3 to even repair things around the office where I work that took more force then anything I found on my bike without breaking the tool...of course I wouldn't want to work on my car with it-duh!

Actually before I discovered the convenience of a multi tool, I use to have a bunch of tools all rubber banded together to prevent rattling, and those individual tools took up MORE space not less and weighed MORE not less as you stated, plus I still didn't have all the tools the MTB3 has! Granted some tools included on multi-tools you may never use due to not having any fittings for that particular tool but that's the only downfall, but some of the tools I carried seperately I never used either while on the road, but not due to being unuseable but rather never got used, but it's comforting to know they were there if you need them.

The MTB-3 is intended more for MTB bikes then road bikes, but since I have both types of bikes I simply transfer the tool from one bike to the other; so while a particular tool may not fit anything on the road bike it will fit something on the MTB. With the separate tool way I had to transfer some of the tools from the road bike to mix with those for the MTB, a silly waste of time.
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Old 12-24-06, 11:20 PM   #12
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I have the crankbros tool, the largest number, don't use it much as I ride a singlespeed but no complaints.
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Old 12-25-06, 12:21 AM   #13
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If you actually want tools you can use to make repairs, get a small tool kit that has hand tools.

When you have a break down on the road, you don't want to be fooling around with some tiny gadget stuck to a big clunky glob of other tools.

Instead, get real tools in a nice tidy pouch and put it in your saddle bag.
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Old 12-25-06, 12:26 AM   #14
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Brooks versus other saddles, bike lanes versus vehicular cycling, helmets versus none, Shimano versus Campy, FG versus geared, clips versus clipless, STIs versus bar-end, multitools versus separate tools.

The my-way-is-so-right-and-yours-doesn't-count list gets longer.
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Old 12-25-06, 12:34 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowan
Brooks versus other saddles, bike lanes versus vehicular cycling, helmets versus none, Shimano versus Campy, FG versus geared, clips versus clipless, STIs versus bar-end, multitools versus separate tools.

The my-way-is-so-right-and-yours-doesn't-count list gets longer.



You forgot ... leg warmers over your shorts vs leg warmers under your shorts!!


Personally, I go both ways with the tools. I've got a Topeak Alien which I like (although it tends to be a bit of a puzzle-box), but I also carry a few independent tools too.
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Old 12-25-06, 01:02 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmfnla
+1 (Sort of)

Multi-tools are stupid; bulky, expensive and not enough leverage to do any job well.

I have allen wrenches for all fasteners and a cheater tube for leverage, all rubber-banded together (as well as a patch kit and a pump). It takes up less space, weighs less and it works.
-1
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Old 12-25-06, 01:17 AM   #17
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The difficulty I've noticed with a bag of individual tools is the sort of situation I encountered on my Australian tour ...

I travelled with my Topeak Alien and a few extra tools which I kept tucked in one pocket of my Carradice ... always together in the same pocket. My cycling partner travelled with a cloth bag of various tools which he would drop into his Carradice (they wouldn't fit into a side pocket), or his handlebar bag, or one of his panniers.

Something would go wrong, and he would have the contents of his Carradice and a pannier or two all over the road while hunting for that cloth bag of tools. Meanwhile I'd be standing there with my Topeak Alien in hand. Once he did find it, it was an elaborate process of undoing the bag, selecting the tool, and then carefully putting everything away. Using the multitool would have taken about half the time to fix the problem ... mainly because it was so much more convenient.

Also, the tools on a multitool aren't necessarily stuck to a big clunky glob of other tools. The Topeak Alien splits in two, creating a managable handle for the tools that do remain attached ... some even lock in place for better leverage. The only thing I don't really like about the Topeak Alien are the tire levers, so I carry separate tire levers.
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Old 12-28-06, 11:39 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by froze
That's the most obsurd statement I've ever heard! Well except for maybe the expensive part, but the Park MTB-3 only cost me $25 so how expensive is that?

Anyway multi-tools being bulky and not having any leverage at least doesn't apply to the Park tools (I haven't tried other brands for leverage but have noticed that others I've seen seemed wimper then the Park). I've even used the "silly" Park MTB-3 to even repair things around the office where I work that took more force then anything I found on my bike without breaking the tool...of course I wouldn't want to work on my car with it-duh!

Actually before I discovered the convenience of a multi tool, I use to have a bunch of tools all rubber banded together to prevent rattling, and those individual tools took up MORE space not less and weighed MORE not less as you stated, plus I still didn't have all the tools the MTB3 has! Granted some tools included on multi-tools you may never use due to not having any fittings for that particular tool but that's the only downfall, but some of the tools I carried seperately I never used either while on the road, but not due to being unuseable but rather never got used, but it's comforting to know they were there if you need them.

The MTB-3 is intended more for MTB bikes then road bikes, but since I have both types of bikes I simply transfer the tool from one bike to the other; so while a particular tool may not fit anything on the road bike it will fit something on the MTB. With the separate tool way I had to transfer some of the tools from the road bike to mix with those for the MTB, a silly waste of time.
Oh come on; I'm sure you've heard something more obsurd [sic].

Carry what you want; I know what works for me.
One thing I did not mention is in my experience multi-tools don't have the same quality of steel as indifvidual allen wrenches, leading to rounded edges and stripped out bolt heads.

FWIW, on my rides I'm the guy the other riders come to for repairs because I do them right the first time.
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Old 12-28-06, 11:55 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by rmfnla
FWIW, on my rides I'm the guy the other riders come to for repairs because I do them right the first time.
This statement is almost as obsurd as your first one

It's *knowledge* that gets the repair job done right the first time, not necessarily having a kit full of the "right" tools.
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Old 12-29-06, 07:07 AM   #20
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I tend to carry a pretty big tool load, a holdover from my teenage years when I did more roadside repairs than riding.
In the podbag are a cheap Bell combo too (the one with the 8,9,and 10mm sockets inside), 4 tire levers and a patch kit, tire gauge, 5" adjustable wrench, and a Leatherman tool. In my jersey pockets are a Swiss Army knife and a cell phone (tool of last resort).
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Old 12-29-06, 08:41 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowan
It's *knowledge* that gets the repair job done right the first time, not necessarily having a kit full of the "right" tools.
I defy you to repair a broken chain with "knowledge" but no chain tool.
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Old 12-29-06, 08:54 AM   #22
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Best multi function tool is a cell phone. It will fix anything thats broken.

Humor (and sarcasm) aside, the only tools I carry are a spare tube(s), tire levers and a manual pump. As others have said, the most important thing is the pre-flight check. If your bike is set up properly, there should not be any major calamities on the road.

I guess maybe take a chain breaking tool along, because if that breaks you will go nowhere fast, but I have never broken a chain on the road nor have I ever seen anyone break a chain.

And I guess a spoke wrench in case you break a spoke and want to straighten the rim enough to get home, although usually just actuating the quick release on the brake gives enough clearance.

If you need to use a multi-tool, with sockets, allen keys, etc., you are probably fiddling with things on the road that should have been sorted out on the repair stand.
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Old 12-29-06, 09:20 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by San Rensho
[snip] If your bike is set up properly, there should not be any major calamities on the road. [snip]

If you need to use a multi-tool, with sockets, allen keys, etc., you are probably fiddling with things on the road that should have been sorted out on the repair stand.
As to the first statement above: true, but things happen unexpectedly. Then what do you do?

As to the second: not necessarily, and not just because people have different comfort levels. I carry a multi-tool (1) for unexpected problems and (2) in case I can help another cyclist who might be less prepared, knowledgeable or "compulsive" than I am. On one ride, an experienced rider, whose bikes are typically well-maintained, suddenly lost one pedal, and he only managed to ride, not walk, home because he could tighten it as necessary, using my multi-tool. As he had no reason to anticipate this problem or to "sort it out" beforehand, he was very appreciative of my having the tool he needed.
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Old 12-29-06, 10:14 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by San Rensho
Best multi function tool is a cell phone. It will fix anything thats broken.
I've heard the comment that; "a cell phone makes your problem someone else's problem."

Quote:
I guess maybe take a chain breaking tool along, because if that breaks you will go nowhere fast, but I have never broken a chain on the road nor have I ever seen anyone break a chain.
I'm much more an advocate of portable chain tools since I've been involved with three broken chain incidents on road rides. None of them were my bike but the victims were certainly glad to have the help. Two were the result of poor maintenance/installation but the third was from a stick picked up by the front wheel and jammed into the chain. You can't anticipate or do preventive maintenance to avoid that kind of problem.
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Old 12-29-06, 10:22 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmfnla
+1 (Sort of)

Multi-tools are stupid; bulky, expensive and not enough leverage to do any job well.

I have allen wrenches for all fasteners and a cheater tube for leverage, all rubber-banded together (as well as a patch kit and a pump). It takes up less space, weighs less and it works.
+1

That's the exact same setup I have. It works just fine.
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