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8 best bike multi-tools for speedy roadside repairs

From chain breakers to bottle openers, these’ll help when you’re in a spin

Aaron Roe
Monday 07 February 2022 12:31
<p>Make sure your model is compatible with the needs of your bike </p>

Make sure your model is compatible with the needs of your bike

Whether you need to fix a slipping seat post or tighten a loose spoke, a quality multi-tool is an essential bit of kit that will get you out of sticky situations out on the roads or trails. A decent one is a smart investment that will last for years and give you peace of mind, especially when heading out on solo rides.

Multi-tools combine essentials such as hex or Allen keys, Torx keys for disc brakes, plus screwdrivers, in a pocket-sized package. Many include a chain breaker, allowing you to fix a broken one – a potential ride-saver that could save you having to phone for help or make the long walk of shame home. Other handy tools can include wedges to open disc brake callipers and even bottle openers for that essential post-ride beer.

A good multi-tool should be small and easy to carry so you’re more likely to bring it with you. You should also try and match the multi-tool to the needs of your bike – after all, there’s no point buying one with a full spread of Torx keys if you’re never going to use them.

Don’t forget, when buying a multi-tool with a chain breaker, do make sure it’s compatible with your drive-train – especially if running a Campagnolo or 12-speed set-up.

How we tested

We’ve tested each of these multi-tools on our bikes considering how easy they are to use and how easy they are to carry with you on a ride. We also looked at their functions to decide which type of rider they’re likely to suit, as well as their overall build quality and value for money.

Read more:

The best bike multi-tools for 2022 are:

  • Best overall  SKS tom 18 mini: £23.99, Tredz.co.uk
  • Best for innovation – Blackburn big switch: £20.99, Bikeinn.com
  • Best for mountain bikers – Park Tool MTB-5 rescue tool: £37.99, Freewheel.co.uk
  • Best for folding bike owners – Brompton toolkit: £65, Brompton.com
  • Best for looks – Crankbrothers 19 function: £27.99, Wiggle.co.uk
  • Best for Mavic users – Topeak mini 20 pro: £23.99, Wiggle.co.uk
  • Best value – Lifeline pro 18-in-1: £15, Wiggle.co.uk
  • Best budget option –  FWE tool: £4.99, Evanscycles.com

SKS tom 18 mini

Best: Overall

Rating: 9/10

  • Weight: 184g
  • Key features: Chain breaker, neoprene sleeve, chain pin storage space

One of the smaller tools in our test, the SKS feels great in the hand, and is obviously a quality item even at a first glance. There are 18 tools – the clue’s there in the name – including six sizes of Allen key, a chain breaker and a tyre lever. The tools themselves are made from tough chrome vanadium. They fit bolts and screws well and should give many years of service. Clever design means they fold down into a tiny package that you shouldn’t notice you’re carrying.

Blackburn big switch

Best: For innovation

Rating: 9/10

  • Weight: 134g
  • Key features: Tool handle with range of heads, carry case

If you often struggle for leverage with small multi-tools, this one has a long handle and uses separate bits to give you more torque on stuck bolts, and easier access to restricted areas of the frame. They can also be fitted, screwdriver-style, into the other end of the handle, giving you a huge range of options. There’s a range of different hex keys, a flat-head screwdriver, two Torx keys and a chain breaker that also lets you open disc brake pads if they become jammed shut while taking out your wheels. Each tool bit and the handle fit snugly into the soft carry case, which is secured with a broad rubber band. The case also has space for a credit card or cash, and there’s even a graphic that lets you work out how many minutes of daylight you’ll have until you need your lights.

Park Tool MTB-5 rescue tool

Best: For mountain bikers

Rating: 9/10

  • Weight: 195g
  • Key features: Chain breaker, spoke keys, valve core remover, disc rotor truing tool

Look behind the scenes in any bike shop and we bet you’ll find some Park Tools – the no-frills gadgets work well and can last for decades. This rugged multi-tool feels substantial, at nearly 200g, but the tools are quite short and easy to use in more restricted areas of your bike. It’s perfect for mountain bike users or bikes with disc brakes, as there’s a slot for truing disc rotors, plus a pad spreader for opening up callipers. The inclusion of a valve-core remover makes it a good choice for bikes with tubeless tyres, while the chain breaker is heavy-duty and includes two spoke keys.

Brompton toolkit

Best: For folding bike owners

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: 180g
  • Key features: Integrates with Brompton folding bikes, ratchet

As you’d expect from Brompton, this multi-tool is beautifully engineered and cleverly slots together in a protective cylinder that slips into the frame of any Brompton folding bike made after 2004. The main feature is a ratchet driver with a built-in 15mm ring spanner, plus four double-ended hex and screwdriver bits. Also slotting into the case is a pair of metal tyre levers which are held together with magnets and include 8mm and 10mm spanners. Brompton has even included some puncture repair patches and sandpaper for any roadside repairs – all you need to provide is a pump. It’s a pricey package, but it’s superbly engineered and would be a perfect gift for any Brompton user.

Crankbrothers 19 function

Best: For looks

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: 175g
  • Key features: Chain breaker, spoke keys, hard case

It’s a little longer than its rivals, but this offering from crankbrothers is well thought out and comes with its own hard carrying case. With six of the seven Allen keys at one end plus a range of screwdrivers and Torx at the other, you won’t find yourself fumbling around. The longer handle gives welcome extra leverage when removing bolts, but that extra bulk meant we did prefer to keep it in a seat pouch rather than a pocket.

Topeak mini 20 pro

Best: For Mavic users

Rating: 9/10

  • Weight: 150g
  • Key features: Soft pouch, chain tool, range of spoke keys including Mavic

Confusingly, the mini 20 pro has 23 different functions – astonishing in such a small package. There’s a removable chain-breaking device plus the usual spread of Allen/hex keys, screwdrivers and Torx drivers for your disc brakes. We liked the little built-in metal tyre lever – although you need to be careful not to damage your rims with it – and it’s good to see that there’s a Mavic-suitable spoke key included in there. Plus, the whole thing sits snugly in a soft pouch to prevent damage to other items in your pockets or bag.

Lifeline pro 18-in-1

Best: Value

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: 120g
  • Key features: Chain breaker, CO2 inflator

We loved the short, stubby length of the tools on this one from Lifeline. It’s really easy to tighten bolts in tight areas of your frame, such as bottle cage mounts. And, alongside the usual hex and Torx keys there’s a chain-breaker tool that also works as a spoke key and a 10mm spanner. There’s also a CO2 inflator built into the body, so you won’t have to carry a separate one. We’re really impressed with how many functions can fit into such a small tool, that’s also easy to carry in your pocket. Plus, it’s great value.

FWE tool

Best: Budget option

Rating: 7/10

  • Weight: 150g
  • Key features: Hex keys, Phillips screwdriver, flat-head screwdriver

If you’re after something for occasional use, this one has all the hex key sizes you’re likely to use, plus both a flathead and Phillips screwdriver. It’s perfect for tightening up any loose bolts and will easily slip into a pocket. There’s no chain breaker, but for less than a fiver you’re still getting a decent bit of kit that will enable most roadside fixes – and at this price, you won’t be too worried if you lose it.

The verdict: Multi-tools

We found it so hard to pick a winner – there were so many great multi-tools in our line-up. We settled on the SKS for its great range of tools, small size and the fact it comes with a neoprene pouch. The Topeak ran it really close, though, and if you’re a fan of Mavic wheels you may find it fits the bill perfectly. Brompton users will adore the toolkit, even if it spends most of its life hidden away in the frame of a folder.

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