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.
What tools are included?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
You could also store a Presta-Schrader valve adapter in here too.
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
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
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.
If you don’t want to store the tools in your bar, Wolf Tooth Components do offer a ToolCash from Revelate Designs for £47.