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Our favourite multi tools for emergency fettling, from just £7

With a good multi tool, you're ready for anything that goes wrong with your bike. Here's what to look for and a selection of some of the best you can buy.

Multi tools vary from simple folding hex key sets, to all-singing, all-dancing widgets that'll do everything but the washing up.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to multi tools. You either go for one that has the absolute minimum of bits to fix things that are likely to go wrong with your own bike, or you carry as versatile a tool as possible so you can help out others too. But what bits are available?

Browse the road.cc multi tool review archive.

Hex keys

Hex (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Heartlover1717:Flickr)

Hex (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Heartlover1717:Flickr)

Hex (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Heartlover1717:Flickr)

Also known as Allen keys, these hexagonal tools are the core of most multi tools. You usually need a minimum of 6, 5 and 4mm sizes, but it's worth carefully inspecting your bike for smaller ones in hard-to-find spots like brake lever and spring tension adjusters.

You may have an 8mm hex head lurking somewhere too, like the back of your pedals or the bolts holding your cranks on. Because an 8mm hex tool is large and heavy, multi tools usually have a sleeve round a smaller bit to fit the larger size.

Screwdrivers

Check your derailleur adjustment screws and make sure your multi tool has the right screwdriver bit, usually a small flat-head or cross-head driver.

Torx drivers

Once only found holding disc brake rotors in place on mountain bikes, Torx screws are becoming more common on road bikes because they are harder to round out than Hex heads. The most common application is chainring bolts, which usually need a T30 tool, while brake rotor bolts are T25.

Chain splitter

CN-7900

CN-7900

Few things can stop you dead in your tracks like a broken chain, rare though it is. We wouldn't try and repair a 10- or 11-speed chain in the field; it's a fiddly job that needs care and a good quality chain tool. Better to carry a joining link for field repairs, but you'll still need a chain tool to dismantle the old link.

Tyre levers

Some multi tools include tyre levers, either moulded into the body of the tool or as separate parts that clip together in your bag. These tend to be a bit shorter than standard levers, so make sure you can remove your tyres with them. It'd be a bit embarrassing to find they're not up to the job in the middle of nowhere.

Spoke keys

If you ding a wheel or break a spoke you'll need a spoke key to set things right, especially with low-spoke-count wheels where a broken spoke can distort the wheel so much it won't pass through the frame. If you've got wheels with non-standard spokes like Mavic's or Shimano's, look for a tool with a matching spoke key

Blades

If you're taking off into the wilds for multiple days, then a knife is a handy thing to have, so some multi tools come with short blades.

What follows is a selection of the best-reviewed multi tools from road.cc but we're sure you'll have your own favourites — tell us about them in the comments.

Birzman E-Version Mini Tool 5 Function — £6.78

Birzman Feemax E Version Mini Tool 5 Function

Birzman Feemax E Version Mini Tool 5 Function

You get five essential tools here in a simple fold-out tool. It's nicely made, very easy to use and cheap enough that you won't get too upset if you lose it or it doesn't come back from being loaned to a friend.

Tools: 4, 5, 6mm hex keys, T25 Torx, cross-head screwdriver

Find a Birzman dealer
Read our review of the Birzman E-Version Mini Tool 5 Function

VC Gooj multi tool — £11.95

gooj 010

gooj 010

Gooj stands for Get Out Of Jail, and while you might not want to find this multi tool in a cake, it's got a great selection of bits for dealing with on-road mechanical mishaps, and the price is a bargain.

Tools: Chain tool, spoke wrench sizes 1, 2, 4, 3 Shimano and Mavic, T25 Torx, Philips screwdriver, flat screwdriver, two tyre levers, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8mm hex.

Read our review of the Gooj

Topeak Hexus 16 — £18.49

Topeak Hexus 16 multi tool

Topeak Hexus 16 multi tool

This tidy, light tool incorporates a pair of tyre levers into its body, includes enough tools to cover most jobs and even has a hook to help hold a chain together as you join it.

Tools: Allen keys 2/2.5/3/4-2/5/6/8mm, Torx Bit T25, Phillips & Flat Head Screwdrivers, Spoke keys 15g/14g, Chain Tool, Chain Hook, Tyre Levers

Read our review of the Topeak Hexus 16
Find a Topeak dealer

The Topeak Hexus was the clear winner in our recent People's Choice survey

Fabric Sixteen — £22.49
Fabric Eight — £16.19

Fabric Sixteen Tool 16 function multi-tool - open.jpg

Fabric Sixteen Tool 16 function multi-tool - open.jpg

Fabric Eight Tool 8 function multi-tool - open.jpg

Fabric Eight Tool 8 function multi-tool - open.jpg

We like these tools from Fabric. They're compact, well-made and tough, withstanding even our tester, who confesses "I break things". Even the Sixteen's chain tool proved resistant to Gander abuse, and the selection of tools in each unit is sensible.

Read our review of the Fabric Sixteen
Read our review of the Fabric Eight

Crank Brothers M17 — £22.99

Crank Bros M17 multitool

Crank Bros M17 multitool

The Crank Brothers M17 comes with the standard range of tools that you would expect. All of the tool bits are hi-ten steel, so they should last. They're fairly short too, which should reduce the chance of a tool bit twisting and snapping off. The downside is that they might be a little short for some fiddly operations but we've had no trouble.

Tools: chain tool; spoke wrench sizes #0, 1, 2, 3; 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8mm hex; Phillips #2 screwdrivers; flat #2 screwdriver; 8mm & 10mm spanner, T25 Torx

Find a Crank Brothers dealer
Read our review of the Crank Brothers M17

Cube RFR 19 — £26.99

Cube RFR Multitool 19 - open

Cube RFR Multitool 19 - open

A top quality multi tool that packs a lot of features into a very small space, leaving more room in your pack or pocket for gels and energy bars. Good value too.

Tools: chain tool; tyre lever; 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6mm hex keys; T25 Torx; Phillips #1 screwdriver; flat screwdriver; 8, 9, 10mm box spanners; 3.2, 3.3, 3.5mm spoke keys

Read our review of the Cube RFR 19
Find a Cube dealer

Unich Stepless Tool — £24.99

UNICH STEPLESS TOOL.jpg

UNICH STEPLESS TOOL.jpg

The Unich Stepless Rachet Multi Tool Wrench is a multi-tool that looks a bit like a CO2 inflator – compact enough to carry for beside-the-road adjustments, with an unusual ratchet giving instant engagement. It houses a good selection of durable bits, providing most of the tools you're likely to need while out on a ride. It's a pleasure to use, although its design means there's no chain tool.

Unich says that the patented design of the ratchet mechanism is a key advantage for when you're working on hard-to-access parts of your bike.

A conventional ratchet has a certain number of engagement points (just like a freehub), and this means you can have a few degrees of rotation before you start to loosen or tighten the fastener you're working on. Here, a miniature clutch mechanism means there are effectively infinite starting positions. Compared with using a fold-out multi-tool, this makes it much less fiddly to access bottle cage bolts, for example. For any bolt where you've got a very limited space and hence less than 60 degrees of rotation, it's a real benefit.

Find a Unich dealer
Read our review of the Unich Stepless Tool

Lezyne SV10 — £27.99

Lezyne SV10 tool.jpg

Lezyne SV10 tool.jpg

If you're worried about Torx bolts coming loose, the Lezyne SV10 has you covered with both T30 and T25 bits for chainring bolts and disc rotors respectively, and comes in a stretch leatherette pouch to protect it.

Tools: chain tool; 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8mm hex keys; T25 and T30 Torx; Philips screwdriver.

Read our review of the Lezyne SV10
Find a Lezyne dealer

Fabric Chamber — £27.99

Fabric Chamber Ratchet Multi-tool - open.jpg

Fabric Chamber Ratchet Multi-tool - open.jpg

Multi tools tend to be roughly the same design – think Swiss army knife but for bikes rather than camping. Fabric, though, has bucked the trend with its Chamber Multi-tool, creating a ratchet tool that functions as a multi tool – and does so very well. The heads sit inside the chamber of the tool. Imagine double-sided extended drill bits sat in a holder that roughly resembles a revolver barrel. These function through the ratchet element that sits at the top of the tool.

Tools: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 8mm hex keys; SL3, SL5, PH1, PH2 screwdriver; T10 & T25 Torx

Read our review of the Fabric Chamber
Find a Fabric dealer

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You can also find further guides on our sister sites off.road.cc and ebiketips.

Road.cc buyer's guides are maintained and updated by John Stevenson. Email John with comments, corrections or queries.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

20 comments

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huntswheelers [132 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

As there are many Multi tools out there and like tyres the preference is yer pays yer money choice.... I like the https://www.sks-germany.com/en/products/tom-18/ Tom18 which is similar to a couple in the test...

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ktache [787 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Does anyone know of a multitool that uses a JIS, for adjustment of the limit screws out in the boonies? 

I must get a few for my workshop collection, was one of those fascinating oddbits I got for The Reassembler.  James May is quite good without the other 2 idiots.  The show could be a bit longer though, I could have watched him putting the gearbox of the Kenwood Chef back together for hours, especially the frustration of the many failed attempts that must have been cut out.

I have good Phillipses that almost fit, and had always wondered why they never quite worked, or the flatheads.  Now that I think about it the spring tensioners on my XTR Vs have the weird screwheads too, but the modern bicycle doesn't have many screwheads.  The world of MTBs is moving over to the Torx standard now, away from the Allen/Hex.

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Woldsman [251 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
ktache wrote:

Does anyone know of a multitool that uses a JIS, for adjustment of the limit screws out in the boonies? 

I must get a few for my workshop collection, was one of those fascinating oddbits I got for The Reassembler...

Yes, I wondered about that, too. I bought a few Phillips #2 bits to file the tips off (I usually take a tiny 1/4" ratchet on longer rides) as I'd read about the bodge/workaround to get a slightly better fit in the head of a JIS limit screw head. When I've had a play with those I might have a go at the cross head driver on my multitool...

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muffies [82 posts] 11 months ago
2 likes

i got plenty of multitools - the latest of which is the pbs/victorinox multi and its just the best.

great design, weight, very very practical

i added the lezyne chain breaker to it (just ripped it off the lezyne multi) and the set is <100gr and really good in actual use.

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franta [7 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
ktache wrote:

Does anyone know of a multitool that uses a JIS, for adjustment of the limit screws out in the boonies? 

 

If it for use on your own bike, you are better off replacing the screws with standard M3 hex head (at least that's what fits in my old Shimano). Cheaper and more effective.

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Geraldaut [59 posts] 11 months ago
4 likes

After different multitools I came back using 2 seperate Allen Keys. For my discbrakes the ones in the Multitools are too short / difficult to access. I have a seperate chain tool and tire levers. I do not see the advantage to bring a multitool with things I never need along...

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LastBoyScout [441 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

For mountain biking, the Topeak mini 18+ does it for me and I usually carry a Leatherman aswell.

For most road rides, I just carry 4mm and 5mm Hex keys and a chain breaker, although I've just added a smaller one for tweaking Campag hubs.

Can't remember the last time I used tyre levers on one of my bikes, but I carry a couple with a tube anyway.

Edit - actually, I can, but it's my very old lunchtime hack bike, so doesn't count.

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asdfqwerty [40 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

Having used my multitool for little other than loosening 4 and 5mm bolts over the past 8 years, my most recent purchase was a £2.50 multitool from Wiggle that still had a good variety of heads on it. I'm not sure I could justify spending ten times that price for something that sits tucked away in my seat-pack awaiting a rare roadside adjustment. I do carry a separate chain tool though, since it's compact (Park Tools CT5, best I've used).

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Duncann [1320 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

Like others, I find separate 4 and 5mm allen keys are better for fettling than those attached to a multitool so I carry those too. And tyre levers. And a proper Park spoke key.

And I hardly ever use any of them!

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jamtartman [64 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

Topeak RatchetRocket sees service on road and in shed.

 

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kieren_lon [45 posts] 10 months ago
1 like

I bought a sealy mini-ratchet for £6 and carry the heax bits I need.  Compact, cheap, specific

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RoubaixCube [72 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

I got a Crank Bro's M19. I think i bought it off wiggle when it was on sale. Its all the multi-tool i'll ever need.

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hawkinspeter [1868 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

Another vote for Topeak Ratchet Rocket. Combine it with a Topeak Nano 5Nm torque head and you've got a tiny little very capable toolkit. Doesn't have a chain tool though so I've got a Topeak Ninja chain tool that goes into my handlebar.

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StraelGuy [1408 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

Amongst other things I carry a Topeak Mini 9. Only time I can recall having to use it was when a brifter came loose and I had to tighten it back up.

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paulrattew [263 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

I'm a big fan of the topeak hexus. It has almost all the bits you could possibly want for road side repairs and they are good quality. In 6 years or so of regular use none of the bits are looking worse for wear. I also really like the chain tool it has - it's easy to use and reliable (plus I much prefer the type where you advance to tool into a stationary chain rather than push the chain onto the tool, if that makes sense).  Another advantage is that it's easy to dismantle for cleaning when necessary (if you have a tendancy like me to drop your multitool it in all sorts of muck while out, then just shoved it back in the saddle bag, being easy to thoroughly clean is definitely an advantage).

I also carry a Ritchey 5nm torque key with interchangeable heads which is useful for more careful adjustments of carbon parts

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brooksby [3225 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

My toolroll contains a pair of orange plastic Continental tyre levers, an old Leatherman multitool with a slightly illegal lockable blade (I've had it nearly twenty years), and a Park Tools I-Beam hex-and-screwdriver set.

(At the moment I also have a precision philips head screwdriver and a 5mm allen key in my bag, as I did some work on my brakes and am still fiddling with them...).

(edit: I've got a full set of allen keys, a chain tool, a spoke key, and one of those Park Tools tools for lazy people to open a chain 'quick release link', but they all live at home and don't come out with me...).

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ConcordeCX [811 posts] 3 months ago
7 likes
brooksby wrote:

My toolroll contains a pair of orange plastic Continental tyre levers, an old Leatherman multitool with a slightly illegal lockable blade (I've had it nearly twenty years), and a Park Tools I-Beam hex-and-screwdriver set.

I have a Swiss Army cheese knife which has an illegally long lockable blade for cutting crusty baguettes. I long for the day when I’m stopped by the police and have to explain that I’m not part of a violent youth drugs gang but simply an elderly bicycle tourist having a picnic.

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brooksby [3225 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes
ConcordeCX wrote:
brooksby wrote:

My toolroll contains a pair of orange plastic Continental tyre levers, an old Leatherman multitool with a slightly illegal lockable blade (I've had it nearly twenty years), and a Park Tools I-Beam hex-and-screwdriver set.

I have a Swiss Army cheese knife which has an illegally long lockable blade for cutting crusty baguettes. I long for the day when I’m stopped by the police and have to explain that I’m not part of a violent youth drugs gang but simply an elderly bicycle tourist having a picnic.

My Leatherman has two lockable blades (one smooth, one ridged - oo-er, missus!), and a saw blade, as well the usual screwdriver heads etc.  I use the saw blade all the time for cutting branches out of the way (I figure if it hits my head or face then its dangerous and I cut it off, if I'm not in a hurry to get anywhere).

I only recently discovered that having a lockable blade is actually illegal and they're all supposed to be the ones that fold back as soon as you actually try to use them to cut anything...

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Eton Rifle [82 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
brooksby wrote:

My Leatherman has two lockable blades (one smooth, one ridged - oo-er, missus!), and a saw blade, as well the usual screwdriver heads etc.  I use the saw blade all the time for cutting branches out of the way (I figure if it hits my head or face then its dangerous and I cut it off, if I'm not in a hurry to get anywhere).

I only recently discovered that having a lockable blade is actually illegal and they're all supposed to be the ones that fold back as soon as you actually try to use them to cut anything...

Agreed.  It's an absolutely daft rule.  I have a couple of knives with locking blades and the additional safety of  them to me, the user, more than offsets the remote risk of getting prosecuted.   

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ConcordeCX [811 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
Eton Rifle wrote:
brooksby wrote:

My Leatherman has two lockable blades (one smooth, one ridged - oo-er, missus!), and a saw blade, as well the usual screwdriver heads etc.  I use the saw blade all the time for cutting branches out of the way (I figure if it hits my head or face then its dangerous and I cut it off, if I'm not in a hurry to get anywhere).

I only recently discovered that having a lockable blade is actually illegal and they're all supposed to be the ones that fold back as soon as you actually try to use them to cut anything...

Agreed.  It's an absolutely daft rule.  I have a couple of knives with locking blades and the additional safety of  them to me, the user, more than offsets the remote risk of getting prosecuted.   

I think it's precisely the safety to you that makes them illegal. If you have to worry about the blade closing on your fingers you're less likely to stab someone with it.

I have a perfectly legal, but utterly brutal, knife called a Douk-Douk, a type which was widely used by both sides in the Algerian War for various unpleasant purposes. Part of its popularity was due to the ease with which you can turn them into fixed blade knives with a single well-placed hammer blow. Without that you could do yourself some serious damage in a knife fight if it closed on you.

https://www.insidehook.com/nation/best-handmade-pocket-knife-douk-douk-m...