Save your bike, and your ride, with these handy micro gadgets
The market is flooded with multi-tools for cyclists, and it can be tough to sort the reliable ones from the junk. After trying out nearly two dozen, the following six are our top picks.
Crank Brothers Y15 ($40)
Bucking the brick-shape standard, Crank Brothers has built a portable three-way tool, and it is absolute genius. Three-way tools ensure good reach and leverage, and the two on the Y15—which magnet together and stow inside the handy plastic frame—include #3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 hex wrenches, as well as a magnetized bit driver. In the first of the stow compartments, there are six bits (#2 and 2.5 hex, T-10 and T-25 torx, and flat head and Phillips screwdrivers) that fit the driver. There’s a patch kit in the second bay and a chain-breaker in the third, which means you have pretty much everything you need. And though I worried that the whole thing might rattle apart in my pack, it’s held up surprisingly well.
Bottom Line: Combines gorgeous design with ultimate practicality, though you pay a slight weight penalty for the good looks. My top pick.
Topeak Mini 18+ ($35)
This is a seriously durable tool—it’s never rusted, seized up, or fallen apart despite lots of wet-weather abuse—that comes in an extremely trim but heavy-duty form. For such a small profile, it packs a ton of functions: #2, 2.5, 3, 4 (x2), 5, 6, 8, and 10 hexes, 14 and 15g spoke wrenches, Phillips and flathead screw drivers, a chain-breaker with a leverage handle that doubles as a disc brake-spreader, and a bottle opener. The secondary #4 is an awesome inclusion as it means you can tighten the tool up should it loosen. Unfortunately, the metal tire lever is only useful in the most dire situations because it can damage your rims.
Bottom Line: There’s no better tool for everyday use. If you’re buying just one, this should be it.
Lezyne CRV 20 ($40)
This surprisingly lightweight tool has almost every function you need, even in the most remote breakdowns. It packs all the functions of the Topeak (minus the #10 hex), but adds #8 and #10 open-ended hex wrenches just in case. Unfortunately, the smallest hexes (#2 and 2.5) are only L-shaped, which limits their application, and there’s no T-10 or T-30 torx wrenches, which would seriously increase this tools versatility. I do like that the CRV 20 has a serrated blade, which is quite uncommon on bike tools but can come in handy when riding in the backcountry.
Bottom Line: It doesn’t have everything you would want, but thanks to the light weight and sharp blade, this would be my choice for expeditions and backcountry rides.
SKS Tom7 ($20)
Sometimes, when you’re headed out for a quick after-work ride or a road spin with the buddies, you don’t need the kitchen sink, and the diminutive Tom7 is the ideal tool. As its name suggests, it packs just seven tools (#2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 hex, plus flat head and Phillips screw drivers), which should be just enough to get you home in case of a small mechanical. It’s German engineered and full stainless steel, so it has stood up to every abuse. And it’s so tiny you won’t notice it in a rear jersey pocket. The drawbacks: you should probably throw in a tire lever, an air canister, and inflator if you really want to be covered.
Bottom Line: A high-quality mini-tool for days you only need the minimum.
Pro Torque Wrench ($140)
This isn’t a tool that you’re likely to pack along on a day ride, but if you have a carbon fiber frame or parts, it’s worth the investment. I’ve wrecked several pricey handlebars and a seat post by over-tightening until I heard the dreaded crack of breaking carbon. The Pro Torque Wrench lets you set the torque specs (from 3 to 15 newton meters, with a micro-tuning adjustment) so you don’t crush those precious parts. It’s an easy adjustment at the base of the handle, and the wrench comes with six bits (#3, 4, 5, and 6 hexes, plus T-25 and T-30 torx), plus an extension for hard-to-reach fixes.
Bottom Line: A tool that should be in the garage of every home mechanic with a modern bike.
Bontrager Preset Torque Wrench ($21)
Sometimes I want the precision of a torque wrench without the heft of the Pro home kit, and these individual tools are the perfect fit. They’re small enough to tuck in my daypack, and allow for quick tightening of stems, bars, and brakes. They come in two fittings, #4 Allen or T-25 Torx, and tighten to 5 newton meters, the setting for most cockpit parts. Just turn till you feel the wrench click, and you know you’ve reached 5nm. There are other similar products out there, including ones with interchangeable bits (which are nice), but I prefer the ergonomics and feel of the Bontragers.
Bottom Line: Great for field fixes and small enough to stuff in a pack. The leverage makes the