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Initial Review: Crank Brothers’ sleek Pixl, Pica, and Pica+ mini tools

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Few companies do as good a job as Crank Brothers at creating products that not only fulfill needs, but meet (or create) desires as well. Crank Brothers’ new Pixl, Pica, and Pica+ premium multi-tools have been desired by everyone that we’ve shared them with- but how do the sleek design and cool features translate into on-trail performance? And do they justify the added cost? Hit the jump to find out…

With polished aluminum bodies and investment cast stainless steel bits, the Pixl, Pica, and Pica+ are fundamentally similar to many folding tools on the market. The large-diameter pivots lend a sense of solidity that is reinforced by the tools’ density (the tools weigh in at 135g, 166g, and 181g respectively). When deploying the tools’ bits, the bodies’ halves spring apart ever so slightly, snapping back together when the bits are at 90-degree intervals. The smallest of the series, the Pixl, provides 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm Allen keys, T10 and T25 drivers, and one flat and two Phillips screwdrivers. The Pica loses the flat and one Phillips screwdrivers and adds a chain tool and four spoke wrenches, while the Pica+ adds 8- and 10mm sockets (driven by the 8mm Allen key) to that tool. All of the Allen and Torx drivers are nicely labeled and tuck cleanly into their storage positions.

The tools do work well- only the cleat-adjusting 4mm Allen key is showing any sign of wear on either the Pixl or Pica+ after several months’ use. The bits’ broad bases should make the tools feel extra-solid, but the indexing mechanism means that the tools seem no more solid than more pedestrian tools in use. Once the initial slop has been overcome, the tools’ only limitation (especially Pixl’s) comes from limited torque that can be delivered through their short bodies.

The Pica/Pica+’s chain tool is not going to convince anyone to replace their workshop tool, but works perfectly well and is one of those things that isn’t needed often- but can’t be faked when it is. I do have to wonder why (if they were worth including in the first place), the arguably more comprehensive Pica and Pica+ have done away with the bladed and one of the Phillips screwdrivers. If they’re really not needed, the tiny Pixl would benefit from their removal and make that tool even more compact.

At $60, $65, and $70 for the Pixl, Pica, and Pica+, Crank Brothers’ premium tools ask more than twice the price of Crank Brothers’ also-lifetime-warrantied non-premium equivalents.  While I could make a point about the streamlined tools’ reduced likelihood of puncturing a spare tube inside a saddle bag or snagging an expensive rain jacket’s fabric, the reality is that any of these choices will be an emotional one.  The Crank Brothers premium are all beautifully made and a pleasure to use.  Looking for a gift for the cyclist that has just about everything?  I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t want one.



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