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  1. #1
    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    Best Touring Multi Tool?

    My friend recently managed to lose my 4 year old Topeak Alien II on a train ride in Vietnam. I ended up buying a cheap Vietnamese tool but its not great and I need something more substancial. Here are my criteria:

    Reasonably light and compact- The Alien II was a tank and had lots of flex because the body was plastic....

    Chain tool- I have broken a chain while on tour and this saved my bacon

    Pedal wrench- This one is tough.... The pedal wrench on my Alien II was an absolute joke. Piece of crap! It worked but just barely. I would like something better but its hard to find a tool that has a usable wrench. I travel with the bike on airplanes, trains, and buses a LOT! Maybe I should just find a pedal that I like that have a hex key on the back? Any ideas?

    Should have lots of tools!- I am not that mechanically inclined but I often tour in the developing world where bike specific tools are hard to come by so the one I carry should have 90% of what I need on it.

    What do you all think? I imagine that the pedal wrench requirement is the hardest to fulfill. Should I search for new pedals that dont require a wrench, or maybe I could carry a separate, travel size pedal wrench?

    I was looking at this new Knog 20 tool which seems to fit a lot of my requirements but the reviews are not so great. They say its hard to use because of its small size. What do you all think?

    http://road.cc/content/review/15305-...ion-multi-tool

  2. #2
    Senior Member Clarabelle's Avatar
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    The Knog 20 looks terribly clumsy to use. Haven't used one, though.

  3. #3
    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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  4. #4
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    I had the chain tool on my Topeak Alien break once so I wasn't a fan obviously but normally on tour, I carry small separate tools that are more versatile.

  5. #5
    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robow View Post
    I had the chain tool on my Topeak Alien break once so I wasn't a fan obviously but normally on tour, I carry small separate tools that are more versatile.
    What tools do you take with you? Maybe I could find some kind of a small adjustable wrench, a separate set of allen keys, and a chain tool and call it good? I dont think I would need much else.

  6. #6
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppinger View Post
    What tools do you take with you? Maybe I could find some kind of a small adjustable wrench, a separate set of allen keys, and a chain tool and call it good? I dont think I would need much else.
    Some bike shop mechanics told me that the multi tools are not as good or as versatile as the separate tools. I tried both, and they were right.

    The allen keys can be light, and they come in different lengths. You can find very small wrenches that fit 8 and 10mm, or 6 and 8mm, etc. They are light and effective. I found them at a place that sells a mix of new and used tools. They had a bin of these wrenches, and they are by far the best I've found. They are tiny, yet some of them are very well made. They look like miniature versions of the Craftsman wrenches.

    I just put all these small tools together in a small pouch -- it's light and small, and I like this arrangement better than the multi tools.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 03-09-13 at 02:11 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
    Some bike shop mechanics told me that the multi tools are not as good or as versatile as the separate tools. I tried both, and they were right.

    The allen keys can be light, and they come in different lengths. You can find very small wrenches that fit 8 and 10mm, or 6 and 8mm, etc. They are light and effective. I found them at a place that sells a mix of new and used tools. They had a bin of these wrenches, and they are by far the best I've found. They are tiny, yet some of them are very well made. They look like miniature versions of the Craftsman wrenches.

    I just put all these small tools together in a small pouch -- it's light and small, and I like this arrangement better than the multi tools.
    This sounds like a good way to go for me. What tools do you take with you on tour?

  8. #8
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    I have a Crank Brothers tool which is decent: http://www.amazon.com/Crank-Brothers...cmu_pg__header

    But I also carry individual tools for the most common size allen wrenches (4, 5, and 6) and a small adjustable wrench. You might consider an adjustable wrench large enough for pedals as an option to a traditional pedal wrench. The small adjustable wrench will work as a spoke wrench in a pinch as well.

    I also carry an older leatherman (don't know which model) which gives me a knife blade, pliers, and most IMPORTANTLY a cork screw!

    For long distance travel in remote areas I'd also suggest carrying spare spokes which will also probably require carrying a freewheel tool and some sort of wrench large enough to grab onto the freewheel tool. If you break a spoke it is inevitably on the rear drive side which is the side that requires pulling the freewheel to replace.

  9. #9
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robow View Post
    I had the chain tool on my Topeak Alien break once so I wasn't a fan obviously but normally on tour, I carry small separate tools that are more versatile.
    I have this tool too and I love it.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

    Albert Einstein

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppinger View Post
    What tools do you take with you? Maybe I could find some kind of a small adjustable wrench, a separate set of allen keys, and a chain tool and call it good? I dont think I would need much else.
    Inspect your bike. 8 and 10 mm hex bolts were pretty common at one time on bikes but seem to be increasingly replaced by allen screws. But are still sometimes used for rack and fender attachments

    Also you'll probably need a flat or phillips screwdriver for derailleur adjustments

    For tours in remote areas also consider replacement spokes which will require a spoke wrench or small adjustable wrench and a freewheel tool and wrench large enough to use it.

  11. #11
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    Around town, I carry a multi-tool (Crank Brothers Multi-17?) and a cell phone.

    On tour, where I want to be as self-sufficient as possible, I carry real tools. The Park CT-5 chain tool works well and is relatively light-weight. Their SW-7 triple spoke wrench is also small and light. If I didn't care about being able to help other tourists, I'd carry one of their four-sided spoke wrenches in the size I need (SW-40). I carry full-sized metric Allen wrenches in the sizes I need: 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, and 8mm. I also have a magnetic bit screwdriver that stores a bunch of bits in the handle. My Leatherman tool serves as pliers and wire cutters. That plus a few spares (tubes, tire boot, patch kit, brake cable, derailleur cable, chain lube, FiberFix spoke repair kit, master link) should get you through most problems you're likely to encounter.

  12. #12
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I'm in the separate tool camp, Bondhus (ball End) Allen wrenches, in plastic holder..
    My 8 and 9 are Snap on, as is the 10, short version . combo open and box end .
    & other stuff .. the Multi tools are too short for decent leverage.

    I have Kept my old Park short 32 / 15mm wrench to remove and replace pedals , packing.

    and have a threaded 1" headset so the big end has already come in handy, too.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 03-09-13 at 03:16 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    Which ever multi tool you might decide on, make sure that the allen wrenches separate from the tool individually because there are times when you might need to get into a small area and the multi tool won't allow you to get the wrench into tight spots. I was at a bikers camp one night when I overheard more than a few choice expletives. I asked the fellow if I could help and he showed me where he had broken a piece on his rear rack but he couldn't get at the bolt in order to get it out with his multi tool. That was one occasion when a traditional L shaped wrench came in handy.

  14. #14
    Senior Member juggleaddict's Avatar
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  15. #15
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppinger View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by juggleaddict View Post
    My multi tool of choice.

    I also have carried full size tools in the past, and on my Raleigh bikes carry a Leatherman and an adjustable wrench. The multi tool is supposed to be for emergency repairs to get you home. I do regular maintenance checks on my bikes and seldom have problems along the roads, most of the time the tool is used to bail someone else out. YMMV.

    Aaron
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  16. #16
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    For touring I only use pedals that can be installed and removed with a separate long armed 6mm Allen wrench. Sometimes I put my foot on the wrench to remove pedals, I do not want to stress a multi-tool that way and a multi-tool that folds is harder to use for that purpose.

    Thank you for reminding me that the Alien has a pedal wrench, I had forgotten why they included that wrench.

    Several years ago I bought a Blackburn multi-tool that had almost exactly the same features of the Alien II, but no pedal wrench. I already had the Alien II, but the Blackburn had a clearance price that was screaming take-me-home so I got it as a spare. The Blackburn also has a tiny pliers and a little piece of wire that could be used to hold the ends of the chain together while you used the chain breaker or removed a master link. For the last couple tours I carried the Blackburn because of the pliers instead of the Alien II. I just looked at Blackburn website, no longer available, sorry.

    Since the big multi-tool (Alien, Blackburn) is usually in the bottom of a pannier, I carry a small tool with 5 or 6 tools in a pocket for minor derailleur adjustments, brake adjustments, etc. Something like the Toppeak mini 6 can come in handy for those 15 second adjustments.

    Also carry a few other tools, the list varies over time. And my two touring bikes have slightly different tool needs.

  17. #17
    Goes to 11. striknein's Avatar
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    Why would I need to remove a pedal in the field?
    Quote Originally Posted by Nagrom_ View Post
    I actually just run calipers. Levers are for scrubs.

  18. #18
    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by striknein View Post
    Why would I need to remove a pedal in the field?
    Many reasons. Such as to pack the bicycle for transport on an airplane, train, or bus. To assemble the bike once you reach your destination on an airplane, train, or bus. To put a pedal that has fallen off back on, which is admittedly rare but it happens.

  19. #19
    Goes to 11. striknein's Avatar
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    In that case, I'd recommend a sacrificial 15mm cone wrench, such as Park's cheaper DCW-2. If you have a threaded headset, Park also sells a combination 32mm/15mm open-ended wrench in a compact size (though I can't find the model).

    Many pedals also have a hex socket on the inboard end of the spindle, which negates the need for a pedal wrench altogether.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nagrom_ View Post
    I actually just run calipers. Levers are for scrubs.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    My multi tool of choice.

    I also have carried full size tools in the past, and on my Raleigh bikes carry a Leatherman and an adjustable wrench. The multi tool is supposed to be for emergency repairs to get you home. I do regular maintenance checks on my bikes and seldom have problems along the roads, most of the time the tool is used to bail someone else out. YMMV.
    Aaron
    I have the Park MT-1 tool mentioned above. I'm picturing it below so people know what we're talking about. The only problem I see with this tool is that it is cast steel rather than forged (which is how individual allen wrenches are made) and doesn't seem to be manufactured to the same tolerances of individual allen wrenchs or even the individual wrenches on a more traditional multi-tool. When I insert it into 4 or 5 mm allen wrench bolts on my bike it doesn't seem to fit as well as a forged single allen wrench. It is looser and there is more play. So I would be somewhat afraid of stripping out any allen bolt that required any amount of force to loosen. Like a chain ring or pedal for example. The 8 and 10 mm box end wrenches seem good but I would not use the allen wrenches unless no other option was available. If you are only going to carry one tool I think it would be safer to carry one of the multi-tools with forged allen wrench pieces (as all the good ones are). They just seem to fit more securely and will stand a lower chance of stripping out a bolt head and leave you very screwed so to speak.

  21. #21
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppinger View Post
    Many reasons. Such as to pack the bicycle for transport on an airplane, train, or bus. To assemble the bike once you reach your destination on an airplane, train, or bus. To put a pedal that has fallen off back on, which is admittedly rare but it happens.
    Or if the dang thing is just creaking and you don't want to listen to it click and creak for another 500 miles.

  22. #22
    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by striknein View Post
    In that case, I'd recommend a sacrificial 15mm cone wrench, such as Park's cheaper DCW-2. If you have a threaded headset, Park also sells a combination 32mm/15mm open-ended wrench in a compact size (though I can't find the model).

    Many pedals also have a hex socket on the inboard end of the spindle, which negates the need for a pedal wrench altogether.
    What kind of pedals are these? I love my MKS Touring pedals but would trade them for something similiar with a hex socket on the back.

  23. #23
    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by texasdiver View Post
    Or if the dang thing is just creaking and you don't want to listen to it click and creak for another 500 miles.
    Yup, this happend to me in Tibet, of all places, where it was dead silent except for the sound of my damned pedal! I got it tightened down once I reach Kathmandu and 1,000 miles later >

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppinger View Post
    What kind of pedals are these? I love my MKS Touring pedals but would trade them for something similiar with a hex socket on the back.
    I'm riding the Shimano XT M-785 pedals which are SPD cleated. They require an 8 mm allen to remove as I suspect do most of the new Shimano pedals:

    http://bike.shimano.com/publish/cont..._mountain.html

  25. #25
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    I personally don't like to carry more than my bike requires. Aside from large multi tools being lower quality overall, they carry a lot of excess bulk that you don't need. I tour on an 80s steel road bike, and carry a small Slime multi tool (park makes one nearly identical) that has 3.5, 4, 5, 6 hexes and a flat and Phillips screwdriver. I also pack a small chain tool (Park ct-5, far nicer than most multi tool chain tools), a spoke wrench, an adjustable wrench, a small vice grip, and 8 and 10mm box wrenches since my older bike has them everywhere. Add in tire tools, some spare parts, and a backpacking knife, and that's my set up. This set up might change depending on the bike and what specific tools it requires.

    As far as pedals; find a pair with a 6mm socket on the back. Many clipless are like this, and flat pedals with them aren't too hard to find. This will greatly simplify your tools and save a good bit of weight. Trying to take off pedals with a small adjustable wrench or a cone wrench can be a nightmare if they're really locked down.
    Last edited by nebuer16; 03-10-13 at 12:57 PM.

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