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Ok — have some pity on a relatively new cyclist, if you will. I’ve been writing about tools here for many years, but I just recently got into running, swimming, and (yep) biking. But I quickly realized that while I can easily work on my bike in the garage, I don’t have the garage with me when I’m out riding, and I’m getting to the point where I’d like to ride at times when I can’t easily call someone to come get me if things break. So I’ve begun kitting out the bike with the tools necessary to get it back on the road after basic breakdowns.

Besides tubes and the means to inflate them, my next choice is something that’ll let me deal with other minor adjustments — specifically a multi-tool. What you see above is the ParkTool IB-2, the first tool I’m trying out. It’s small enough to fit in my road bike’s little saddle pouch, but it’s packed with a variety of tools, including 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, and 6mm hex wrenches — damn, there are a lot of hex nuts on bikes — as well as a T25 and straight-blade screwdriver. Conspicuously missing is any kind of Phillips head driver. I paid $17 for the tool, which seems a buck or two higher than the average street pricing.

As I mentioned, this is just my first try in terms of finding a multi-tool that’ll do the job well. I’m concerned about the lack of Phillips, and I wonder, too, what else isn’t covered on my bike. I just picked this one up today, so I’ll report back when I get a chance to try it out a bit, but I’m really interested in hearing from any Toolmongers who also ride. What do you use, and why? I’ve seen a pretty wide selection of these tools, both locally and via mail order.

The IB-2 Bike Multitool [ParkTool]
Street Pricing [Google]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


25 Responses to Reader Question: What’s The Best Bike Multitool?

  1. Bryan says:

    I don’t know if it exists, but it seems like it would be pretty easy for someone to offer a customizable version of this tool. You could make a list of each of the drivers needed for your model, and they would have a build-your-own type set-up on the website.

    Not that you couldn’t do this yourself. just figure out which of those hex pieces you aren’t going to use and tack on a phillips driver on the end.

  2. Chris says:

    Any of the tools of this form work fine. Really all you need on the road are a few Allen keys to make minor adjustments of seat and handlebar position, or change a flat.

    If you really want to be covered, make sure you have a spare tube, pump or co2 inflator, and a spoke wrench for re-truing your wheel good enough to get home when a spoke breaks.

    Or just carry a cell phone and credit card and call a friend or cab.

  3. Matt Hartman says:

    I ride between 5000-6000 a year, and have gone through several different tools. The one I have settled on is the Lezyne Rap-13 multitool. It has all of of the hex sizes, screw drivers, you will need, but it also has a nicely designed chain breaker/spokewrench/tire spoon built in.
    There are others that are equivalent, but it’s the extra functions you’ll be looking for.

    I would also recommend you buy a quick master link (or 2) and put it in your saddle bag. If you break a chain, you can easily repair it. Weighs nothing and it’s good insurance.

    Another “cool tool” to carry with you is a single dollar bill. I always carry one in my bag. It is extremely useful if you get a sidewall tear in your tire. You put the bill in your tire at the tear to keep the tube from popping through. The fibers of the bill are extremely strong and durable, and in an emergency, you can use it to buy a drink… a good multitasker.

  4. Joe says:

    Hey Chuck – That park tool pictured is a nice tool. The only thing it is missing is a chain breaker as Matt above noted. You will break a chain far from home some day.

    I like this crank brothers multi tool that includes a chain tool: http://robonza.blogspot.com/2011/08/review-crank-brothers-m19-multi-tool.html

    But the Park Tools Mini Chain Brute is a nice cheap addition to your saddle bag that is just a small very nice chain tool.

    Happy riding!

    • Matt says:

      I have the M19, I like it. It has everything I want (including the chain breaker, which does not seem terribly difficult to use – I’ve used it to push a stubborn pin back into alignment). It’s reasonably small – smaller than my old Topeak Alien anyway. My only complaint is that after a while the top of the carry case likes to come loose. It also doesn’t have a knife as some do… but a separate knife would probably be a better idea anyway.

  5. Dan says:

    If you have any standard nuts/bolts on your bike (ie that don’t use allen keys), you probably want a Topeak Alien XS; 8/9/10mm box wrenches on one half, allen keys on the other.

    Also has 14/15ga spoke wrenches, screwdrivers, and a knife, which isn’t great but has been very handy at times in a pinch.

  6. Andre says:

    That park tool you linked to is nice and small but has the most often used wrenches. The only think I don’t like is the 8mm bit has the potential for getting lost, just a small nit pick but I’d stay with it.

    Most bikes produced in the last 10 years only have allen head bolts(4 and 5mm will see the most action). The places you might need a Phillips would be some brake tension adjuster, derailure limit screws, and possibly light/computer mounting brackets.

    It’s good to distinguish between a roadside repair tool kit and between bike maintenance. Maintenance is what you want to be doing with the full sized proper tools i the comfort of your garage/shop/basement. Road side repair kits don’t need every tool. I think a pump, tire levers, tube patch kit, and a spare tube are the most important repair accessories.

    My favorite tire levers are these Pedro’s ones.

    The compound is stronger than most plastic levers in my experience. I’ve broken many other types. I prefer the Pedro’s over the Soma steel core ones as well since I’s had the plastic break off the Soma ones exposing the steel core.

    I nice compact pump is this the Quicker Pro
    It telescopes so it has a long stroke but folts up small. It’s designed to pump air into tire each stroke direction. Plus it has a built in gage.

  7. Fong says:

    The one you got is a good one. It does lack a chain break as many have mentioned but really, you don’t want to use one built into a multi-tool. They tend to be more difficult to use. I always carry a dedicated chain tool and some plastic tire levers. I’ll also second Matt’s recommendation of carrying master links.

    I ride less than 1000 miles a year but it’s all off-road. The most common problems I run into are flats and broken chains. I’ve never once had to make an adjustment. Proper maintenance should make field adjustments unnecessary.

  8. Flabby Boohoo says:

    I’ve been using the Leatherman Skeletool for 3 years and highly recommend it. I’m in IT and use it for cabling, working in data cabinets, etc. Very useful, the knife is razor sharp and it’s light and slim (important because I use the pocket clip). I lost it last summer (riding in a dune buggy), and purchased another the next day (at Cabela’s).

  9. Kevin says:

    Crank Brothers Multi-17 (or 19). Don’t spend money on tools you don’t know how to use. Don’t do anything with a multi-tool if you have the right tool available. When I worked in a shop, we all carried one of those tools.

  10. Slow Joe Crow says:

    For minimalism I like the Park MT-1 which combines every tool you need for minor road bike adjustments into one slim hunk of metal. For longer rides and offroad I have an E3 that is a slighly flatter, slightly cheaper equivalent to a Crank Brother Multi-17.
    If you have disc brakes, make sure your tool has a T-25 to deal with loose rotor bolts, and if you are big guy on a road bike bring along a Fiber-fix emergency spoke kit. This is a piece of Kevlar string with a trick clamp that allows to you ride home with a broken spoke. I did most of a century ride with one on my rear wheel once.

  11. Jeremy says:

    You won’t miss the Phillips. The only Philips screws on a modern bike are the limit adjusters on the derailures. But they are also cut for straight and generally due to the head design you get better bite on the screw with a straight.

  12. David says:

    Lezyne SV10
    The thing is small and light (101gm). A little spendy but IMHO worth it over stuff from Park and Crank Bros etc. Center pivot bits are nice and the chain breaker is well engineered. My only compaint is the chain breaker doesn’t quite sit flat.

  13. Jeff says:

    I like the E3 tool for the chain breaker. I’ve busted a few chains and never so perfectly that I could just toss on a master link so I like the chain breaker! Plus that tool is nice and flat. I also like the Topeak rescue box which is basically a glueless patch kit in a cool box that has a built-in master link holder.

    Both of these flat items plus aforementioned cash (I’d recommend more than a single though just in case you need it for something besides a sidewall) all fits nicely in my tailbag with plenty of room for phone, snacks, spare tube or CO2 inflator depending on the ride I’m taking/bike I’m on.

    All that being said Park makes good stuff and if you stick with this pedaling thing you’ll certainly wind up with a dedicated box of bike tools!

  14. Toolfreak says:

    The Park tool is a good choice, you could try to find a philips end with a hex/allen base like the 8mm to keep with the tool, or make one.

    If a bike has any hex nuts, I prefer to just carry a small 6″ adjustable wrench, the multi-tools just don’t have the leverage to loosen or tighten enough to be useful.

    The mini chain tool is a good addition as well, I also like to include the extra few links if any were taken off the chain to shorten it, in case you need to repair a few links to have a useable chain.

    You might also consider carrying a Leatherman or some other regular multitool, generally the knives on them are much better, and they can be handy for us tool guys to have for other various things that come up during a ride, especially if you’re on a trail for a few hours or out for an entire day.

    The Park GP-2 Super Patch kit is a great thing to have, too. It’s a fast, thin patch that is perfect for minor punctures like thorns and the like, so you can just take the tire off some, pull the tube out, stick it on and pump up the tire without even having to take the wheel off. It’s also great for around town so you can just carry the pump and the patch kit (taped under the seat if need be) without having to have the whole tool pack on there.

  15. xTXxCAxNEbackinTX says:

    +1 on the crank bros multi-tool and on the pedros levers. I’ve broken 10+ bike levers over the last 8 years but never the pedros which i’ve had for 8 years.

    i also recommend the crank bros Power Pump – it’s tiny, works and has lasted me 6+ years.

  16. area_educator says:

    Agreed with much of the above.

    It’s hard to imagine going wrong with anything from Park. I happen to have a Crank Bros multitool similar to the Park you’ve picked up– if they were side by side, I’d just go with the more affordable of the 2. Just make sure your tool can adjust the derailers. The flathead driver on yours will likely do the trick.

    Add a chain tool– they can be had very small. Potentially very very useful. My chain includes an openable link, the the chain tool is all I need for that. You may need to get a master link to go with it.

    I’m with backinTX in liking the Crank Bros pump– I’ve got the Power Pump Ultra which includes a gauge while still fitting in my wedge pack.

    And, Harman is right– put some cash into your pack. It doesn’t take up a lot of space, it can help reinforce a tire that’s been punctured, and $20 just-in-case cash can provide a bit of peace of mind.

  17. kumotaki says:

    By far, my favorite is the PB Swisstool Biketool. Here: http://www.pbswisstools.com/en/quality-hand-tools-qht/precision-bits/biketool.html Leverage is better with a dedicated hex wrench and adapter for the various bits than with an all-in-one foldable multi-tool. I really think that when the need for a chain breaker arises, a dedicated one is more suited to the task too.
    The PB Swisstool is really low profile, and the tyre levers are definitely more handy than a chain breaker anyway, because punctures are a way bigger issue than a broken chain. Oh, those levers are tough enough. You wont break them.
    The only risk here is to loose a bit or two if you’re careless, but I had mine for 2 years now and it still is complete. And I use it for far more than working on my bike, which says a lot about the quality of the little beast! Hope you’ll find your perfect tool too.

  18. As an aside to the discussion when I put stuff like multi-tools, chain breaker, or phone/keys in my saddle pack I put them in tube socks to keep things from bouncing around. Less important in road biking perhaps but a necessity for me every time I hit the trails.

  19. Keith says:

    I’ve got a Pedro’s ICM which contains just about every tool I find myself needing for roadside repairs:

    I think the Pedro’s has all the tools of the Park you have, plus it adds a chain tool, spoke tool and even tire levers.

  20. Charles Anderson says:

    I carry a Topeak Alien II, it’s $30 at Amazon, and has 4.5 star average. It has all the hex wrenches I need and a chain break, I’ve never needed to use the knife that it has, but I have had to use the screwdrivers to adjust derailleur stops. I use separate tire levers instead of the ones on this tool.

  21. Captured Shadow says:

    In a pinch I have used the lever portion of quick release skewers as tire irons. you have to be careful not to pinch the tube, but it can be work. The more you ride the more you will know what tools are worth carrying. For instance I have never broken a chain so I don’t carry chain tools, but a I do carry a spare tube- AND a patch kit for those longer rides.

  22. Peter says:

    Probably a recoil pad angle finder jig. As already stated from Detachment 2 possibly Regiment 2871

  23. Kevin says:

    I’m an avid cyclist, and I race Road Mountain and Cyclocross. This what I use http://www.pbswisstools.com/quality-hand-tools-qht/schraubenzieher/pockettools/biketool.html, it has all the bits for common fasteners used on bikes and they attach to an L-wrench with a magnetic holder…. far more functional than trying to use the folding Park Mulitools I had in the past. The only thing missing is a chain-break, so I also carry one of these in my saddle bag: http://www.parktool.com/product/mini-chain-brute-chain-tool-ct-5

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