How To Choose A Multi-tool For Cycling

How To Choose A Multi-tool For Cycling

– A multi tool should be a
staple item for any cyclist to take with them on a ride,
no matter how well-tuned and fettled your bike, mechanical
problems can still happen, ones that can be easily fixed if you’ve got the right tool with you. The question is though, what
is the right multi tool? Well, let’s go over some of the different types available, shall we? Now, we’ll start off with
the really simple ones that have just got a
few allen keys on them. They can be either really light weight and compact like that, or slightly larger, therefore, easy to use,
but perhaps more suited to having knocking around at home for those simple adjustments. Next step on, ones that have
got chain tools attached to them, now I think that
is essential for any ride that you can’t walk home from. Chains do break, even the most expensive, newest chains can still snap, the only way to fix it really, is with a chain tool. Even if you’ve got a
quick link tucked away in your saddle bag, but it
may be that you don’t want all your tools in one place,
and actually it would be better to have them separate,
so something like this, which is the Survival
Gear Box from TOPEAK, would be a prime example. There is an awful lot going on in there. Which one is right for you then? Well, for me, there are
two things to consider. Firstly, it has to have tools
to cover everything I need. And secondly, it needs to
be packaged up in something super light weight, after
all, it’s going on my bike, so I don’t want to take
anything unnecessary. But what are the tools that I need then? Well, first of all, a 4
mil alan key or hex key, and a 5 mil, are the two things
that I probably use most. Anything from adjusting saddle heights to tightening head sets, I
also occasionally use 6 mil as well for either attaching
pedals, or for seat clamps. Some pedals need an 8
mil, but you can find that most multi tools will
probably have a little adapter on there to convert
your 6 mil into an 8 mil. And then if you’ve got
pedals that need tightening with a spanner, just make
sure they’re on tight before you set off, I
wouldn’t ride with a spanner in my pocket, it has to be said. A cross head or a phillips
screw driver also comes in really handy for when
dealing with your mechs. Now, you can either just need
to make a small adjustment out in the road, which is
fine, but if you have anything catastrophic happen,
then having one of these is worth it’s weight in gold. Now, some bikes also use
torques keys everywhere, now those are the little star
shaped headed ones like these, most multi tools will have a T25 on them, which is the most common
size, but then some bikes also use T30s and T15s, so you need to pay really close attention
to make sure the tools you’ve got on your multi tool match up to the bolts you’ve got on your bike. Or, maybe change the bolts on your bike, which I may or may not have done. Now, I also said that a
chain tool is absolutely essential for any ride
that you’re going to be self-sufficient on, and I
maintain that that is the case. You can ride home with a loose head set, you can ride home with a
slipped seat post even, but a bike with no chain is not much good. Unless you happen to break
your chain at the top of a really long descent maybe, and the end of your ride is at the bottom, that would be a real stroke of luck. Now, something like this TOPEAK mini 20, which comes with me on my rides, fixes pretty much everything
that is going to happen on my bike, and it’s also
nice and light weight. All I need to do is to
take a tube, a pump, and maybe some patches,
and I’m good to go. So this ticks all the boxes for me then, but I rarely ride for
more than a few hours now, and never in the wilderness. So what happens if you’re
going out for longer, self-supported rides,
or even multi day epics? Well, I think, in that case,
you need something more along the lines of this, where you’ve got individual tools, going
to be easier to use, and are also slightly more robust. Now the only reason I wouldn’t take this on a normal ride with me is just because, although light weight,
it’s still slightly bigger, so it’s not going to fit in
all of my jersey pockets, or my saddle bag, but then I imagine if you’re riding around the world, then you’re probably not
just going to have stuff in your jersey pockets and a saddle bag. Although, that would be quite cool, and probably someone one day will do that. When you’re buying a multi tool, do try and make sure
there’s a little pouch for it to go into, if you’re
putting something metal inside your saddle bag,
it’s quite likely that that multi tool can end up rubbing a hole in your spare intertube,
and this little pouch will stop that happening, likewise, if you throw it in your jersey pocket, and you happen to forget that that’s next to your phone, you could end
up scratching the screen. So how should you choose
a multi tool then? Well, I think you need to
make sure that you’ve got all the tools that you need,
and nothing that you don’t. So make sure all the
bolt sizes are covered, and always take a chain
tool with you on a ride. That’s if you don’t want to walk home. Now, do let us know what
the stickiest situation you’ve ever got out of on
a ride using a multi tool. For me, it was four hours
into a six hour ride in the middle of winter, and
I ripped my rear derailer clean off, but I got
home without frostbite, and without walking, so let us
know what’s happened to you. Now, there are loads of videos on GCN where we will help you get
out of roadside situations using just a multi tool. And for two of them, click up
there and you can watch one about how to fix your
chain, which is arguably one of the most common,
or, even more common, how to fix a puncture, you
can do it in record time if you click and watch that one. Finally, if you want to subscribe to GCN, just, just click on your favorite tool, just don’t include me in that, yeah, no, no, don’t click on me. Okay, are my knees in shot by
the way ’cause I need a shave. – [Camera Man] Uh, yes they are. – Both of them? – [Camera Man] Yeah.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. worst thing I ever broke on my bike was my ego during my first cycling race, I got lapped and I didn't had a multi-tool with me to fix it. Lucky I still got home safe.

  2. The stickiest thing that i managed to pull trough was on my mtb trials bike .I snaped the chain while doing this pedal gap .
    I managed to find a steel wire and put the chain "togather" and managed to get home by doing just half cranks

  3. I got hypoglycemc during a 100km ride with my mates. Got home thanks to my glucose meter stuffed in my saddle bag and pastries bought with the 20 eiro note I had in the bag in which i keep the multitool.
    Multitool, glucose monitor and saddlebag, never leave home without them 🙂

  4. I can only confirm about the chain breaker. It proved to be very useful to me at least in one case when I broke my chain and was on a trip for several days. Then, another time, I broke my rear dérailleur and I managed to shorten my chain with it and have a quick temporary fix for the next 40km. I have the Alien II Multi-Tool which I use all the time.

  5. When descending from my climb on my MTB, the rear mech got tangled up in the spokes and got ripped off and broke the chain. Of course i didn't carry ANYTHING with me. Waited 30 mins for a cyclist to pass me to borrow a tool, but no one came. So i put in the chain and mech in my pockets and descended the rest of the climb and had to walk back about 12km back home. A 2hr ride grow uo to a massive 4 hrs "epic" ride

  6. im not shure if i should but this topeak mini 20 pro or the hexus X(newer version coming from the hexus 2)

  7. Link to the products shown would have been useful. I have a topeak multi tool which weighs a ton and rusts. Are Topeaks progressed?

  8. about 11 years ago, 6 blocks from my house my bike chain slipped off and jammed so tight into my gears that i couldnt just pull it out. this was the first time i had ever used a chain tool but it was pretty self intuitive, so it only took a few mistakes to figure it out. i unhooked the chain, pulled it out and put it back together and i was on my way for my ride.

    considering your subject in your video it was quite odd, but yes, it was a topeak chain tool. and i had just recently bought it. now i carry the original alien multitool everywhere i go. it came with a pouch with a green alien spreading its fingers…. like a multitool, get it?!

  9. broken chain on my MTB very near the start of the ride . I had a chain bteaker on the multi tool. I had never used one before this day, I thought I was going to have to walk out. But with some help from my mate , fixed the chain and carried on .

  10. I found out the bad way that even some good multitool are not robust enough, so, now I carry some normal tools in their smaller version, it's a bit more heavy but never let you down. Also, a knife comes handy

  11. I broke down at the top of a hill in a van once…. just coasted all the way down, blew across every give way line and red light… I live at the bottom 😏…

  12. My chain was jumping around, got stuck and I fell hard. HArd. I didn’t know what to do. So I used my phone to search on google and physically used the phone to fix the screws and as it was after midnight, I was 50kms away from my home. I put bandages in between the cover and the phone itself, yes, I am weird. It doubled as torch.
    Multi-iPhone 5.

  13. Adjustable wrench
    Allen key set
    Wire cutters
    Puncture repair kit
    12V air compressor

    That's all I need to fix just about any mechanical problem I have had

    The most catastrophic mechanical failure I have had was a blown tire and badly dented front wheel (hit a pothole at 70kph)

    Bashed the wheel back into shape with a brick I found on the side of the road and rode it home on the rim (nothing to lose and I didn't want to ruin my tire)

    About an hour of ass numbing riding at 15kph and I was at a train station and took the train the other 40km back home, only to have my limp home cut short on the ride from the train station to my house when the rim broke in half and speared my leg, ended up bandaging myself (one reason why I always carry a first aid kit on my bike) and calling a mate to come and pick me up

    Though since that day I have replaced that wheel with a second motorised wheel (which uses one of those extremely strong steel rims) and I am more careful about potholes now

  14. Topeak survival gear box is worst idea ever conceived by a human being , so hard to use , so hard to access , so much fiddle diddle around, , nothing makes sense there and tyre leavers BROKE the very first time I used them – I bought it with your advice – THANKS VERY MUCH , HAHAHAHA !

    But seriously, its a rubbish this set ….

  15. This is great, I prefer that name "cross head screwdriver" compared to Phillips head.I'm going to use it.

  16. Picked up a mini multi tool with a magnet bit holder and tire levers. I customized the bits for each bike. Tacx T4880. Brake pad screws are now hex and the bike is now all hex. Done.

  17. To save space I carry loose Allen keys taped together. I also carry the following 8mm spanner for my mudguards, chain tool, two inner tubes and a couple of patches and glue.
    I find multi tools clumsy.

  18. Agree with the comment that a chain tool is a must. I've had to fix a broken chain on one ride, and bypass a broken rear derailleur on another ride.

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