Is the WTC EnCase system just another compact multitool rendered nigh-on useless by its size? Such were our thoughts when Wolf Tooth Components sent the product out for review. As part of a pack-less setup for riding and racing enduro, I’ve been running the EnCase multitool for the last six months inside various mountain bike bars. Here’s how I got on.

Review: WTC EnCase Bar Kit One

We were supplied with the EnCase Bar Kit One. It’s a £125 package comprising the Hex Bit Wrench Multitool, a chain tool and tire plug applicator, and two rubber storage sleeves. The svelte dimensions of the EnCase system are designed for storage in mountain bike handlebars and drop bars – we tested the system with MTB bars only.

cross section drop bar containing wtc encase multitool every day carry
I lost the elastic security bands you can see in this image very quickly

What tools are included?

wtc encase tool included hex keys torx t10 t25 t30 philips spoke tensioner flat head valve core
The EnCase tool is made of 7075-T6 aluminum and CrV steel – the tool bits did start to rust after I left them in cold wet conditions after the Zermatt EWS

On the multitool side, you get the following bits:

  • Hex Keys: 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, and 8mm
  • Philips Screwdriver: #2
  • Flat head: #3.5
  • Spoke wrench for 0.127″ (3.23mm) nipples
  • Valve Core Tool
  • Torx: T10, T25 and T30

That’s a total of 14 functions, stowed at the tips of your fingers, quite literally. The bits themselves are held in place by a magnet that is recessed into the body of the tool. Two elastic bands provide additional security.

wtc encase tire plug applicator tubeless repair chain breaker

On the other side you get a chain tool and a tire plug with five plugs. You need to use the multitool to drive the pin of the chain tool.

Rubber storage sleeves encase each tool. These comes with over-sized rubber flaps that can be cut down to suit your bar’s internal diameter. I cut mine down to fit inside the alloy Cannondale Three riser bar.

WTC EnCase: Is it properly functional?

Multitool

Yes. I’m happy to say that the WTC EnCase is one of the most usable compact multitools I’ve used yet. I have to commend Wolf Tooth on the swivel head design of this multitool. It makes access to areas traditionally difficult to work on much simpler – the bolts on the SRAM Code RSC caliper, for example.

wtc encase multitool easy to use very intuitive well functioning design
The hinging of the integrated 8mm hex wrench is key to the WTC EnCase tool’s ease of use – it’s a really intuitive design

The hinging lets you use the tool at a wide range of angles so you can work around tight spots with ease. The narrow body of the tool means it’s less likely to be affected by stuff around the component you’re working on. The length is also decent, so there’s good leverage to apply sufficient torque to most bolts you’ll find on your frame and components.

wtc encase spoke key valve core tool in action

The tool bits and the 8mm hex that is integrated into the EnCase multitool body are all magnetic. So, the bits snap into place with a satisfying click, and don’t slip out under gravity. 

wolf tooth components handlebar storage tool integrated 8mm key key snaps into place at 90 degree increments in space

At the hinge, wee divots in the 8mm hex body snap the tool into place via a spring-loaded pin recessed into the body of the tool. It’s the small design details like this that make the WTC EnCase tool feel like a high quality piece.

On first glance, my initial thought was that the hex bits would be practically too short. I’ve actually found their small size to be an advantage in a lot of situations. I only found them to be too short in one situation, and there was a work-around.

wtc encase 8mm hex interfaced with 5mm hex key short usable length
There is only around 12mm of usable tool – which means it can be hard to reach recessed bolt heads such as that on SRAM rear derailleurs

The 5mm bolt head that attaches a SRAM XO1 derailleur to a mech hanger is recessed. If you insert the 5mm hex wrench into the EnCase tool fully, as is recommended to ensure a proper connection between all the parts, the tool bit is effectually too short to reach the bolt head. You can work around this limitation by inserting the hex key into the recessed bolt first, then sliding the EnCase tool onto the other end of the hex key second. You’ll get decent enough purchase on the hex key to apply enough torque to the bolt to tighten the mech – as always, take care not to round the bolt head.

Chain Tool and Tire Plug Applicator

wtc encase chain tool

On the other side, the chain tool works a treat with SRAM 12 speed chains. I didn’t try any others but I wouldn’t expect to encounter any issue with other speeds or manufacturer’s chains. No dramas there – just take care to line the pin up dead straight to avoid bending the tool pin, as you would with any chain breaker. 

wtc encase tools store handlebar every day carry

The WTC EnCase comes with five 2mm thick tire plugs, sufficient for plugging small holes when your tire sealant isn’t up to the task. You can pre-load the plug applicator to speed up the repair process. The plugs are stored in the body of the tool so stay fresh and sticky for long periods.

Does the WTC EnCase rattle in the handlebar?

hunting for speed stage 2 zermatt ews 2020
I ran the Wolf Tooth EnCase system at EWS Zermatt – I was never aware of any rattling from the handlebar-stored tools. Photo by Brian Gerow.

Not a bit. I’ve successfully fitted the Wolf Tooth Components EnCase system in both aluminium and carbon bars. I’ve never been aware of the presence of the tools stowed in the bar when riding. There’s no vibration, and no noise. They disappear until you need them.

wolf tooth encase system mtb bar

WTC go further and state that the rubber sleeves actually offer a degree of vibration damping.

Complications with EnCase

My experience with the WTC EnCase tools hasn’t been entirely problem free. I encountered an issue with the rubber sleeves coming away from the bar ends.

Having had trouble pulling to tool sleeves out of some tight-fitting carbon bars, I greased the ends of the rubber sleeves to add some lubrication. This solved the immediate problem – it was now much easier to pull the tools out of the bar, but still sufficient friction to stop them falling out while riding.

rubber storage sleeve swells grease heat

It hadn’t occurred to me that the grease might compromise the structural integrity of the rubber sleeve. The grease combined with riding in hot conditions (30°C) caused the rubber to swell, irreversibly. This meant that the connection between the rubber sleeve and the Wolf Tooth Components bar end plug became loose to the point where i’d pull the bar end to remove the tool and it would separate from the sleeve, leaving the tool-containing sleeve stuck in the bar.

Thus, I wouldn’t recommend you lubricate the rubber sleeves with grease. I spoke to WTC about this. They had this to say:

“Our engineers tested various types of grease and oil-based lubricants on the rubber of the Storage Sleeves. We recommend Vaseline, bar soap, and talcum powder. The other lubricants we tested – chain lube, grease, and mineral oil – caused the rubber to swell and break down.” – Kurt Stafki, WTC

epdm rubber storage sleeve deterioration
The EPDM rubber storage sleeves did not take kindly to grease, heat and the rough inner surface of my carbon handlebar

On closer inspection of the rubber sleeve, I could see that the rubber had begun to break at the neck region. Kurt says that the rough internal surface of a carbon bar creates extra resistance while removing the storage sleeves, adding extra stress to the rubber that holds the bar end plug.

Other notes

wolf tooth components bar end stored tool dimensions
The rubber sleeves of the EnCase system are 131mm long

The WTC EnCase system doesn’t offer a dedicated space for quick link storage. That said, there is just about enough surplus space in the storage sleeves to squeeze them in.

store quick link master in surplus space storage sleeve

You could also store a Presta-Schrader valve adapter in here too.

wtc encase bar kit one actual weight 132g with trimmed sleeves
The WTC EnCase Bar Kit One (with no elastic security bands) with trimmed rubber sleeves and one tire plug weighs 132g

I can confirm that the WTC EnCase system fits snugly into the aluminium Cannondale Three bar, and the OneUp Components Oval carbon bar. It did not fit the Fasst Flexx Enduro Bar that I tested recently. WTC say the minimum internal bar diameter is 17.5mm. Other known incompatible handlebars include the Syntace Vector, Deity Skywire, Jones H-Bar Loop SG 2.5, Chromag BZA, BMC RCB01 and S-Works Hover Carbon.

WTC EnCase: The bottom line

wtc encase handlebar stored multitool wolf tooth components

The WTC EnCase offers a high-quality selection of tools cleverly stowed in the handlebar for quick trail-side fixes. It’s a great option for riders who want to go pack-less – highly recommended, by the way. I was a little disappointed with the rubber sleeve degradation but, if you avoid the use of grease-based lubricants, you shouldn’t encounter the same issue I did. 

I am happy to recommend the WTC EnCase system to those who are happy to part with £125 – though, it is a little on the expensive side I grant you. Just make sure you measure the internal diameter of your handlebar before parting with your hard earned cash!

Pricing & Availability

wtc encase bar kit one

You can purchase the constituent parts of the £125 Bar Kit One package individually. The Chain Tool and Tire Plug system, and multitool are each priced at £52. You can buy replacement storage sleeves for £36 a pair.

toolcash revelate designs

If you don’t want to store the tools in your bar, Wolf Tooth Components do offer a ToolCash from Revelate Designs for £47.

WolfToothComponents.com

5 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t understand this drive to compromise the form and functionality of these tools just to stick in a random spot like this. A small seat bag will easily hold a normal set of bike tools with out all this compromise. I still don’t see the benefit of having these small, expensive tools stuck in my bars when I can just get one of those seat bags. seems like a solution in search of an already solved problem.

    • Not every set up will work for every rider and bike. Saddle bags don’t work on many bikes with dropper posts since the bag will hit the tire. I’ve also been using these tools for a while now, but I’ve never used them in the handlebar – all of my favorite grips have a closed end which makes it impractical to use that way.

      However, I do have the ToolCash, and I really like the set up for a few reasons. The fact that these tools are fairly small in diameter means that when stored in the ToolCash, they remain relatively flat. It fits nicely into a jersey pocket or bib pocket, and doesn’t seem to sag or bounce around as much (also, seems like keeping them flat in a padded case will be better in the event of a crash). The tools are also easier to get into tight spots compared with the usual “Swiss Army style” multi tool. And compared to others, these pack a LOT into a small space. Honestly, I forgot there was a tubeless tire plugger inside since it’s so compact and I was carrying an extra one by mistake.

      Really, my only criticism would be that the magnets should be stronger. I nearly lost one of the bits on the trail which would have ended my ride that day. But compared to many tools, these are very ergonomically pleasing, work well, and pack a lot into a very compact form with multiple options for carrying them. They might not be for everyone, but they bring something to the table that is different and hasn’t been already solved.

  2. @Jeff. I somewhat agree with you. I always have either a seat bag, a handlebar bag, a fanny pack, a hydration pack or a jersey pocket that I can throw tools in. With that said, i did pony-up for these WT tools (sans the bar inserts). I really loathe typical multi tools. I find them cumbersome and frustrating in use. I was looking at bit-based systems when WT introduced theirs. The other bit-based tools I was considering lacked a chaintool and tire plugger so I would need to add those separately (more space/weight/complexity). These are not tools that I use often but I wouldn’t want to be without either. When combined with the bit-based tool, these tools paired together cover all of the bases for me. They are ultra compact, lightweight and not dreadful to use. I have an old Timbuk2 ipod sleeve that I keep these in along with a micro multi-tool, a master link, a spare tubeless valve and a tire boot and I feel like I am covered for whatever misfortune I encounter.

  3. I’m no weight weenie, but I always thought the flaw with this setup would be the bars feeling funny with weight added to the ends of the bars. With bars so wide anymore, I thought it might make the steering feel different/off. Is that not noticeable when riding?

  4. Bought these, then they didn’t fit my bars (Easton EC70 AX), so I stuck them into a sleeve I made from an old MTB tube. That fits nicely in a very small case. The ergonomics of this tool are way better than a standard multifunction tool, and quality is good.

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