Multi Tool Top Picks | Selecta - Dirt

Mountain Biking Magazine



Multi Tool Top Picks | Selecta

‘A good mechanic knows where and when to take short cuts…’ Wise words spoken by our experienced ‘Assistant Editor’ Ed on observing a fellow rider attempting a bodge on a chainset pre–ride a few years back. Did he fix it? I’m not so sure, but was he prepared and suitably equipped should matters get worse out on the group ride that followed? …

From Dirt Issue 118 – December 2011

Words by Sean White. Photos by Mike Rose.

And we have all been there. Even with the most well maintained and up to date bike the worst can strike at any time. A puncture, rubbing disc brakes, a broken or twisted chain, a buckled wheel or gears that are struggling to stay quiet…there is only so long you go before a mechanical will bring you to a halt and the tools are out. It may be at the trail centre car park before a pedal has turned, or at the furthest point from home. Are you prepared to put things right?

You may be very well equipped back home with a well stocked tool box, a workstand and a track pump, but have you got all you need to get you and your bike back working quickly and effectively when out on the trail?

A quick ask around the office causes various opinions as usual. And I guess you and your mates will be no different. There are those who want a selection of their favourite ‘workshop’ tools stuffed in a pocket of their pack and others prefer a simple ‘get you home’ multi tool. And that is what we are looking at here, a simple all–in–one unit that promises to help you out of all known bike ‘mechanicals’. Safely tucked away ready to spring to life as and when called.

So just what do I need? Bikes have become more complicated and it goes without saying that needless tinkering out on the trail is best avoided. Have a good look over your bike (or bikes if you have more than one in regular use) and make a note of what tools will be needed to make adjustments and tweaks.

Allen/hex tools:

It is a given that you will have these on your bike and your multi tool will have at least three on it. Check for the smaller sizes. Lock–on grips, reach adjusters, etc., all use small fiddly sizes. Older cranksets will need an 8mm. Some multi tools now have angled tools to help reach awkward places.

Torx tools:

Relatively new on bikes (they have been all over cars for years), you will need one or maybe two sizes. Rotor bolts, chainring bolts and recent SRAM parts are the main areas to check.


A small Phillips will be required on most rear mechs, but you should find one (along with a flat bladed one) on all but the most basic multi tools.


Now this usually splits opinion. Most qualified mechanics I know prefer to carry a separate quality chainbreaker. They feel the all–in–one units on the multi tools are a compromise especially when the job in hand requires some precision. Just check that your multi tool is of quality and that your chain tool will work on the chain you use. Nine speed? Ten speed? Worth carrying a spare chain joining pin or split link to get you up and running quickly.

Tyre levers:

Like the chaintool many riders prefer to carry one or two tough, chunky levers that they know won’t break. I agree with this, but many tools now carry a tyre lever for those who want the minimalist approach. Just check the lever is up to the job before you are caught out on a wet hillside. Snap!

Other tools:

You may find one or more spoke keys on these tools. If you have a specialist set of wheels then check they fit or throw the correct tool in your bag for when disaster strikes. You will not regret it.

Oh, and you may find a bottle opener on there too! Just make sure, if you have held your mates up with a bike problem then you are the one to get the beers in at the end of the ride.


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