As a cyclist, a good multitool can be a true ride-saver. From tightening bolts, to adjusting a loose headset, to an emergency seat height change, a mini-tool is a cyclist’s best friend for on-the-fly repairs. Even if you’re not the most mechanically inclined rider, you still should have a multi-tool tucked into your pocket or saddlebag at all times.

This Bikerumor editor has found herself Googling “how to repair brake lever” in the middle of the forest on one memorable ride and was able to tweak it with a phillips head screwdriver. I once used a T25 Torx key to move a bolt from a disc rotor and to re-attach a cleat that somehow lost a bolt in the middle of the Las Vegas desert. Without a minitool, I would still be stranded.

So, multitools are important. There’s a lot of variety and a huge range of price points. Some multitools only offer the bare essentials in order to keep the cost (and weight) down. Others have everything but the kitchen sink.

The best options typically fall somewhere in between the two extremes, and depending on the type of ride you’re doing, one multitool could be better than another. Having more than one is ideal. In a perfect world, you’d have one attached to every bike in a saddlebag (or in your hydration pack) so that you never leave home without it.

Here, we’re rounding up the best multitools for whatever type of ride you’re on.

2020 3T Exploro RaceMax aero gravel bike, aerodynamic carbon gravel bike review, Exploro Race GRX 2x complete

Table of Contents

 

 

 BEST OVERALL: Unior Euro17 

Unior-Bike-Tools_Euro-multi-tool_made-in-Europe-Slovenia-bike-tool_Euro17

Unior is a Slovenian bike tool brand that has become more popular in the US in recent years. Unior makes everything from the smallest multitool to modular tool benches, making them a favorite for bike mechanics. Bikerumor staff has found Unior’s multitools to be long lasting, easy to use, and very well made—especially for the price point ($40).

The Unior Euro17 has every tool you could possibly need, and possibly a few that you won’t. At 184 grams, it’s not the lightest on the list, but that’s partially because it has so many features, and because the tool spindles are chrome-plated while the tips are coated with a black oxide to increase durability and prevent rust.

  • Number of features: 17
  • Includes: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm hex wrenches; T10 and T25 torxes; 1.0 and 5.0 flat screwdrivers; a small phillips screwdriver; a chain breaker; Schrader and Presta valve tools; spoke wrenches for 3.3, 3.45 and DT nipples
  • Weight: 184 grams
  • Price: $40

PROS: Long-lasting, ergonomically friendly
CONS: Not the lightest, wide design can make it tough to reach tight places

 BEST BUDGET : Lezyne Rap II 18-Piece 

Lezyne Rap II Co2 tool

The Lezyne Rap II multitool comes in several size options ranging from a 6-tool to a 24-tool configuration. But we like the 18-piece because it has a chain breaker. (Check out the frequently asked questions below if you’re wondering why you need a chainbreaker.)

The real standout here is the disc brake wedge, which can be incredibly helpful if you’ve accidentally squeezed the disc brake lever without the wheel in place during a roadside repair. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but this Bikerumor editor has ended up with scratched pads and damaged discs from trying to pry pads apart with hex keys (and on one memorable occasion, a quarter… which did not work).

This multitool is a mere 148 grams—light for the amount of tools it contains—and it boasts an anti-corrosion black coating to avoid rust if sitting in a soggy saddlebag. We love that there’s even a custom magnetic spot where you could attach an emergency quick link for fixing a broken chain with your chain breaker.

  • Number of features: 18
  • Includes: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm hex wrenches; T10 and T25 torxes; a phillips head screwdriver; a chainbreaker; 8 and 10mm wrenches; four different-sized spoke wrenches; disc brake wedge; rotor turning tool
  • Weight: 148 grams
  • Price: $25

PROS: Disc brake wedge, inexpensive
CONS: Like the Unior, the wider design can make adjustments with limited space a challenge

 BEST MTB MULTI-TOOL: Crankbrothers M20 

crankbrothers multitool m20 with tubeless repair plugs for mtb

One Bikerumor staffer has been swearing by his Crankbrothers M19 for the last 20 years. But the recently-introduced Crankbrothers M20 is his new pick, since it has all the same benefits and adds a tire plugger for fixing a hole in a tubeless tire.

This is an all-around awesome tool for trailside fixes, whether you need to true a wheel and straighten a rotor, plug a tire that’s been compromised by a thorn, tighten loose headset bolts after a bumpy rock garden, or fix a broken chain after ratcheting awkwardly uphill.

The steel M20 minitool comes with a lifetime warranty, and while at 203 grams, it’s not the lightest tool you’ll find, it’s a great option for trail riders.

  • Number of features: 20
  • Includes: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm hex wrenches; T10 and T25 torxes; three spoke wrenches; two phillips head screwdrivers (in sizes 1 and 2); 8mm wrench; flathead screwdriver; chain breaker; tire plug tool and tire plugs; valve core removal tool; rotor straightener; storage case that mounts to the tool with a place to stash tire plugs and chain links
  • Weight: 203 grams
  • Price: $40

PROS: Tire plugs and mountain bike-specific repair tools
CONS: Heavy, tire plugs need to be replaced if used

 BEST ROAD MULTI-TOOL: Blackburn Big witch Ratchet Tool 

This mini ratchet set is the go-to that one Bikerumor editor perpetually keeps in his road bike’s saddle bag. Unlike most multitools that fold out, this one is in a wallet-sized pack and allows the user to switch in different bits onto a longer ratcheting handle for maximum ease of adjustment. The ratchet really helps to quickly loosen or tighten bolts in tight spaces, and the handle provides plenty of leverage.

The Big Switch Ratchet Tool features the same tool options as Blackburn’s Big Switch conventional multitool, but adds the small ratchet. Simply choose the tool you need—say, a 4mm hex key—pop it into the universal ratchet, and start loosening or tightening as needed.

Like the Lezyne Rap II, the inclusion of a disc pad spreader makes this kit ideal for travel—and the ratcheting capability makes this tool a great option to bring when flying with a disassembled bike.

  • Number of features: 16
  • Includes: T10, T25, and T30 Torxes; 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm hex keys; flathead screwdriver; disc pad spreader; chain tool; three spoke wrenches; and Presta valve core tool
  • Weight: 195 grams
  • Price: $45

PROS: Easy to use, especially for cyclists with weaker hands
CONS: Easy to lose small parts, short bits may have trouble reaching deeper bolts (like some SRAM MTB rear derailleurs mounting bolts)

 BEST FOR MINIMALISTS: Park Tool I-Beam Multitool 

park tool ibeam multitoolWant a tool that’s small enough to fit in the tiniest of saddlebags? The Park Tool I-Beam Multitool (also known as the IB-2) is your minimalist dream come true. We like the IB-2 for two reasons: First, the “IB” stands for I-Beam, the shape of its main carrier, which adds strength and stiffness while minimizing bulk since the tools sit outboard of the carrier.

This makes it one of the smallest full-featured tools, which is the second reason we love this. It’s tiny, yet has everything we’d need for quick fixes and adjustments, except maybe a Phillips head screwdriver. If you don’t mind leaving extras like a chain breaker at home, this one tucks in anywhere, leaving more room for tubes, CO2, etc. And it’s Park Tool, so it’s no surprise this one’s been on constant duty for years with zero issues. Did we mention it’s cheap?

  • Number of features: 10
  • Includes: 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm hex wrenches; T25 Torx; Flat blade screwdriver
  • Weight: 108 grams
  • Price: $18

PROS: Lightweight, small
CONS: No chainbreaker, no phillips head screwdriver

 BEST FOR WEIGHT WEENIES (or fans of T-Handles): Fix It Sticks Originals 

fixit sticks original

At 51 grams, the Fix It Sticks are nearly a quarter of the weight of all the other options on this list. The compact tool allows users to gain leverage by moving around the sticks into the optimal T-shape configuration depending on which hex key you need.

The other bonus? Fix It Sticks come with a small bracket that allows them to mount behind any standard water bottle cage, so you can attach a set to every bike you own. The tools themselves work fantastically: The T-shape provides leverage for even the stickiest of bolts and allows you to quickly spin out bolts – just like a shop grade t-handle hex wrench. There’s also something to be said for simplicity, especially when the tools can be stored on your bike and you don’t have to think about packing them for a ride.

The Fix It Sticks are available in multiple configurations, though the originals are shown here with fixed bits. Fix It Sticks also offers a replaceable version with extra bits, a ratcheting T-Way version, and many other accessories.

We’d also like to add an honorable mention to the Spurcycle Ti Tool titanium T-handle wrench and bits for similar reasons: This tool is tiny, light and can be customized to just what you want to carry. It’s currently unavailable online but if you stumble on one in a shop, grab it!

  • Number of features: 4
  • Includes: Road set includes 3, 4 and 5mm hex keys and a phillips head screwdriver. Mountain set includes 3, 4 and 5mm hex and a T25 torx wrench.
  • Weight: 51 grams
  • Price: $25

PROS: Lightweight
CONS: No chainbreaker, only 4 tool options (though the Replaceable Edition includes 8 tools for $34, and there is a chain breaker accessory that’s compatible with the Original and Replaceable Edition for another $20)

 BEST TRAVEL KIT: Syncros Guide Kit 

Syncros Guide Kit

Whether you’re flying with your bike, want a tool kit to keep stashed in your car at the trailhead, riding in the backcountry or guiding a tour group, having a full array of tools is incredibly helpful. The Syncros Guide Kit is just that, and it’s not as heavy as you might expect. At 215 grams, this tool roll-up is fully loaded and ready for pretty much anything.

It’s bulkier than a small multitool, yes, but it’s also easier to use: The ratchet allows better leverage, and having separate spoke keys makes trailside wheel truing much easier. There’s even a 5nm torque limiter which essentially turns the ratchet into a mini torque wrench with a preset value.

Since the pack holds all of your critical tire repair pieces, all you need to add is a minipump and you’re ready for anything. And yes, it is small enough to fit in a jersey pocket, though it will be bulky.

  • Number of features: 18 plus tube patches
  • Includes: 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm hex wrenches; T15, T25 and T30 torxes; phillips head screwdriver; chain breaker; three spoke keys; 5Nm Torque limiter; two tire levers; six tube patches; a chain link holder; and a ratchet attachment. (Roll-up includes little hanger if you want to hang it for easy access if you’re at a race.)
  • Weight: 215 grams
  • Price: $72

PROS: Durable, easy to use pieces, great for traveling
CONS: Expensive, easy to lose parts, like the Blackburn kit the short bits may have trouble with recessed bolts

 Best DIY Toolkit: Camelbak Bike Tool Roll or WTC B-RAD TekLite Roll-Top Bag 

All of the multitools listed here are great, especially for shorter rides where you’re looking for something to quickly throw in your pocket or saddle bag. But what about longer rides where you’re deep in the backcountry or way off-grid? For those instances, you’ll usually need something more than the typical multitool. You’ll want multiple tools to make sure you can get home, and they’re best stored in an organized roll or case. You can use these with any of the multi-tools listed above, and add additional tools they may be lacking to complete the kit.

Additional tools to complete the perfect tool kit:

When it comes to keeping all of those tools ready to go in one handy kit, we have two favorites: the Camelbak Bike Tool Organizer Roll, and the Wolf Tooth Components B-RAD TekLite Roll-Top Bag.

The Camelbak Bike Tool Organizer Roll is included with a number of their hydration packs, but you can also purchase it separately for $20. This roll allows you to pack it with multiple separate tools like individual hex wrenches, a mini chain tool with chain links, tubeless repair kit, money for an emergency, and even a CO2 inflator or micro-pump. Then, everything is in one place, ready to stash in your jersey pocket, frame bag, or strap to the frame. When you need it, everything unrolls for easy access.

 

It’s a similar story for the Wolf Tooth Components B-RAD TekLite Roll-Top Bag, but in a product that quickly straps to your frame or mount to one of their B-RAD bases. Available in a small (0.6L, $39.95) or large (1L, $44.95) bag, they’re big enough to include an inner tube and other repair essentials inside, and you can strap them low on your bike to keep the center of gravity as low as possible. The roll-top makes it quick and easy to access while remaining watertight, though it’s not as well organized as the Camelbak Tool Roll.

Most importantly, either of these products can be pre-loaded and ready to go at a moment’s notice. If you’re like us, that’s always one of the stumbling blocks to getting out on a ride: making sure you have everything you need for your ‘flat kit.’ But when it’s all prepackaged and ready to go, it becomes one less thing you have to worry about on your way out of the door.

 

m20 crankbrothers multitools available in gold black red colorways

How to choose a bike multitool

What’s the best multi-tool? If there is one, we haven’t found it yet. Why is that? Like the riders themselves, each bike has a unique set of requirements from the tools needed to service it. That means that while one multi-tool might be perfect for one bike, it could be nearly useless for the next.

So how do I find the one that’s best for my bike?

Before purchasing a tool, take a look at the hardware on your bike: Use an Allen key/hex wrench set and a Torx wrench to figure out what size bolts are on your bike and take notes of which sizes you need, and which parts seem the most likely to need in-ride adjustment.

Also, take note of any nuts, bolts, or screws that may need an extra long or skinny tool to reach. It’s fairly common to have the right tool on your multitool, only it won’t reach due to the shape of the tool and the position on the bike.

Find a tool that has the basics:

  • Hex Wrenches (at least 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm)
  • Phillips head screwdriver or flathead screwdriver, preferably both
  • Chain tool (unless you have a separate one)
  • Torx in T-25 (only if your bike uses Torx rather than Hex keys—some older or inexpensive bikes may not require this)
  • Other Torx sizes like T20, T30, etc. (this is not as common, but if you need a T20 for your stem bolts, and you don’t have one with you, you’ll be in trouble)

Ergonomics
You also want a tool that feels good in your hand: When tightening or loosening tricky bolts, having a tool that feels sturdy when pressure is applied is important. Tools like FixIt Sticks are great because they’re designed to provide better leverage so you have to work less for the same result. They’re also effectively skinnier, and fit better into tight places.

Also, if purchasing a multitool with a built-in chain tool, consider how easy it is to use. Does it come apart in two pieces for easy positioning? Or does is require twisting the whole tool in a way that makes it difficult to accurately guide the chain pin?

Ease of Use
When it comes to quality, look for tools that don’t fall open when you shake them, or accidentally open other tools when you’re using it. But you also want to be able to flip out any part of it easily. (There’s nothing worse than trying to make an adjustment to your handlebars in the middle of winter and struggling to get your 6mm Allen key pulled out.)

Price Point
Price point obviously plays a role, but most of our top picks fall into the $30-50 category. You can get cheap multitools for sub-$10 at Walmart or Amazon, but many of them will fall apart after a few uses, won’t have all the pieces you need, or will quickly rust. It’s better to buy a quality minitool for a bit more now and not worry about replacing it ever again. One Bikerumor staffer is still using a Crankbrothers tool from well over a decade ago and it’s going strong.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bike Mini-Tools

What do you use a multi tool for?

Among other things, you can use a minitool to:

  • Tighten your headset, seatpost, saddle, cleats, handlebars, water bottle cages
  • Adjust derailleur limit screw
  • Fix broken chain
  • Adjusting spokes for an out-of-true wheel
  • Build a bike after disassembling it for travel

tightening a loose pedal mid-ride with a multitool

Why do you need a chain tool?
A chain tool will help you reconnect a broken chain during a ride. It allows you to “break” the chain by pressing out a pin. It used to be that you could push the chain pin out part way, remove the damaged link, and then push the pin back in, reconnecting the two ends of the chain. However, modern drivetrains with more speeds (10, 11, 12, and up) often have chains that don’t really allow this technique.

For those, you’ll need to have a specific quick link or steel pin that you can use to reconnect the chain. Quick links are the best option, as they allow you to ‘cut out’ the broken link from your chain and add the quick link for a permanent repair that usually won’t end up shortening your chain.

Some multi-tools even provide storage locations for spare chain master links. These are a great addition to your tool kit, provided you get the right one for your chain (they vary based on specific chains).

Rapha+Outdoor Voices women's cycling collection, casual performance riding kit clothing collaboration, photo by Cait Oppermann

When do I need a multi tool?
You should always have a multi-tool on you when you’re riding. Even if you’re just running errand around town, you can end up stopped in your tracks by a seat post that loosens and starts to drop. The same is true for always having a mini-pump, spare tube, and tube patches on hand for every ride. Flat tires happen anytime—and usually when you’re least expecting them.

Even if you don’t have a firm grasp on how to use them, if you have one, you can usually figure things out. Whether that’s consulting YouTube while trail side, or being saved by a good Samaritan (who might not have the right tool for the job, but knows how to fix the issue), it’s always good to be prepared.

Does my multitool need maintenance?
Thankfully, they’re pretty set-it-and-forget it. Some, like the CrankBrothers one with a tire plug, will need replacement pieces if you use them in a ride. But for the most part, just keeping your multitool relatively dry and clean (especially if you used the chain breaker on a gnarly chain) should be enough to keep it from rusting.

The same goes for a multi-tool that hasn’t been used in a while. If it’s stashed in a saddle bag that is subject to any kind of moisture, you might find your multi-tool is rusted. We recommend periodically checking it, and wiping it down with a rust/corrosion inhibitor and lubricating the pivots with a light lubricant if needed (you don’t want the multi-tool to become slippery, so wipe away any excess).

silca t-handle folio tool set review

What’s the difference between hex wrenches and Allen keys? Is it Torque or Torx?
Hex wrenches and Allen keys are the same thing, and often used interchangeably (and you may also hear the term hex key or Allen wrench). ‘Allen’ is a registered trademark of the Allen Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut from way back in 1910. ‘Hex wrench or key’ is effectively the ’tissue’ to Allen’s ‘Kleenex.’

These bits have hexagonal cross sections and are generally measured in millimeters (Metric instead of SAE).

Torx, sometimes mistakenly referred to as ‘torque’ wrenches, have a six point star-shaped cross section—think of them as a cross between a Phillips head screwdriver and a hex key. They’re less likely to strip bolts that are being tightened or loosened, but require the wrench to be perfectly perpendicular to the bolt.

Note: Torx wrenches are numbered in units of five with a T, and most higher-end bikes will use some combination of T-10, T20, T-25, and T30 for various bolts from chainrings to stems. It’s worth spending time looking at all of the different bolts on all of your bikes, noting which ones use what and creating a master list, especially if you find this confusing!

What about Torque wrenches?
Because it’s pronounced similarly to Torx, there can be confusion between the two. Torque wrenches are any wrench that allows you to tighten a bolt, screw, or nut to a desired torque value. While not completely necessary for multi-tools, you can find compact multi-tools with built in torque wrenches (like the Syncros kit above). These can be particularly useful if you have ultra-light weight carbon components on your bike and don’t trust yourself not to over-tighten things.

Do I really need an 8mm?
That big hex key on your multitool might seem like overkill, but for some pedals and cranks, it could come in handy. Cranks can occasionally come loose (if they’re not initially torqued properly), and being able to tighten them on the fly may save your ride. There are many cranksets that don’t use 8mm crank bolts though, so again, check to see what your bike uses.

tightening a loose crank mid-ride with a multitool

(Note: If your crank does come loose on a ride, it’s because it wasn’t torqued properly. The 8mm on the multi-tool might be able to save the ride, but then you’ll want to retorque it properly once you get home, or get a mechanic to take a look.)

The same goes for pedals. Many have an 8mm hex fitting on the back of the spindle, but some use a 6mm hex, and some have no hex fitting at all. While traveling, being able to install and remove pedals can be very important, but often require leverage. One trick to increase the leverage from folding tools is to extend all of the tools on the opposite side of the multi-tool from the 6 or 8mm hex, and place your hand over the end to effectively increase the length of the tool so that you get a slightly longer lever to work with.

Why would I need a ratchet-style multitool?
While fold-out tools are great in a pinch and fit in your bag or pocket much better than a bigger tool wrap like the ones from Blackburn and Syncros, the ratchet can help you gain leverage and avoid stripping bolts when you’re trying to loosen or tighten harder-to-access bolts. And sometimes, having the extra length is critical: While having an 8mm can be a ride-saver, if you can’t get enough leverage or properly reach the bolt, you won’t have much luck tightening it. If you find yourself regularly struggling with stuck bolts or know you don’t have a lot of hand strength, a ratchet-style tool is a smart move.

13 comments

  1. Lyford on

    I recently purchased a multitool without realizing that it lacked a Phillips screwdriver. How else is one supposed to adjust things like derailleur limit stops? Harrumph.

    Moral of the story: Don’t assume that a tool has a feature because “Of course it does….”

    Reply
  2. Seraph on

    With a tool as stubby as the Park in the first photo, I’d be lucky to get 1/5 of the torque required to keep DUB cranks on.

    Reply
    • Seraph on

      Yeah I’m not using an alloy axle, the only means of holding my wheel on, to tighten my DUB cranks. Get the Silca T-Ratchet kit, it’s got a convertible ratchet with a leverage extension, and it rolls up quite small. I combine mine with the Topeak torque bits preset in 4/5/6 nm.

      Reply
  3. Greg Matyas on

    For me, Crank Brothers set the bar with the M19, and the only tool I place on par with it is the Topeak Mini 20. This is the only CB product I endorse. I avoid tools that don’t have a chain breaker, or that have pieces that will fall off. I found the Park tool to be cumbersome, and also it came completely apart in my pack.

    Reply
  4. mudrock on

    I’m a big Fix It Sticks fan, but the replaceable edition – all the bits you need, with an extra chain tool option. Long reach to fit any bolt, leverage, and very portable. The sticks are very slender when apart and will fit in any tool roll.

    Reply
  5. craigmedred on

    Tools with bits are nice on the road, in the shop or maybe at the bike park, but it’s a bitch to be down on your hands and knees searching for a dropped bit in a rock garden, tall grass, mud or, worst of all, a few inches of snow. Topeak Mini PT30 for me now. No bits to lose plus tubeless repair tools and a little knife in addition to everything in the Mini 20. It’s amazing how often a knife can prove useful.

    Reply
  6. Ivar Grape Arnesen on

    With all the emphasis on finding something that matches your own setup and direct-to-customer orders I’m amazed nobody sells customisable multi-tools. I’m thinking a box design or I-beam like the Park Tool: where you mark what tools you actually need, so that you can keep that tool with that particular bike. I for one has an old Look with old campy and a old 3T stem that requires T30. I’m never going to find that in a of-the-shelf product, but would really like to order on.
    If manufacturers want me to buy as much as possible (they do), they’ll be happy to sell me a multi-tool for each of my N bikes.

    Reply
  7. Patrick on

    The Crank Brothers M series multi tools are so legit. They are built incredibly strong. I wish they made a step down from the 20 because a Philips 1 and T10 are incredibly rare. The M17 with the tire plug tool and case would be perfect.

    Reply
  8. Andrew on

    None of them have a 7mm Allen key for the head stem and handlebar clamp on my early 70s Eroica bike. I’ll have to use separate tools – more of the period!

    Reply

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