Commanding the lion's share of £50, the Brooks M21 multi tool isn't cheap, won't tackle every emergency and at 290g, it's not something you'd want bouncing around in a jersey pocket. However, its sensible, rugged design and all steel construction suit it handsomely for back of beyond touring.
In common with tyre sections, manufacturers all appear to have their own unique interpretation of what constitutes a function, which is sometimes at odds with our own. Twenty-one bits might not enjoy the same wow factor as they did just a few seasons' back but let's take a look at what you get here.
For starters there are 7 Allen keys (2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm), catering for everything from balance screws, cleat mechanisms, seat binder and stem bolts through to square taper cranks.
Then come two Phillips screwdrivers, plus, a flat screwdriver and three Torx drivers, while the obligatory chain breaker (it fits 7, 8 and 9-speed chains) also hosts spoke wrenches, bottle opener and Brooks' specific saddle spanner. There's even a knife, precluding sale to younger riders but invaluable for camping and adventurous trail riding.
Compact multitools are great for general riding and minor contingencies, where you might just need to nip a mudguard stay or saddle cradle tight. But touring calls for more oomph, whether it's replacing weathered cleat fittings or a broken mech or overhauling an Aheadset.
Aside from the 8mm crank bolt spanner, all the bits of the Brooks MT-21 are 6.5cm long, so they have the reach to get to the job and the leverage offered by the 14cm body certainly helped when chomping through chains. That said, the length proved unwieldy in tight spaces such as installing bottle cage screws on smaller compact geometry framesets.
I was a little disappointed that there were no 8, 9 and 10mm spanners, necessitating more tools in the pack for mudguard bolts or some cantilever straddle wires and barrel adjusters. The spoke keys here are in last resort territory but would spare blushes were a proper, standalone unit unavailable.
Objectively, while I'm very fond of the M21 for its sheer Brooksness, it favours the latest generation of long haul, derailleur and disc equipped touring bikes. Those with an older fleet or hub transmissions with bolted axles may find something like Crank Brothers 17 coupled with model specific stuff a more suitable, cost-effective package.
Nicely made and extremely refined multi tool, though pricey and best suited to contemporary mountain bikes or touring bikes.
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Make and model: Brooks England MT21 Multitool
Size tested: Black
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"Over 700 members of the Brooks Community collaborated on the MT21, the multi-tool for travellers. This practical set includes a plentiful assortment of 21 tools including: 7 allen keys, 3 screwdrivers, 3 torx wrenches, '�4 spoke keys, a chain tool, a handy bottle opener, the Brooks Saddle spanner and a knife. Available with a leather cover in three colours".
Very refined and comprehensive tool well suited to touring.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
7 Allen Keys / Hex Wrenches: #2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8
-Small Flat Head Screwdriver
-Phillips Screwdriver #2 (Medium Head)
-Phillips Screwdriver #1 (Small Head)
3 Torx Wrenches: T10, T20, T25
4 Spoke Wrenches: #0, 1, 2, 3
1 Chain Tool
1 Bottle Opener
1 Spanner for Brooks Saddles
276g without Sleeve
296g with Leather Sleeve
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the M21 is an extremely comprehensive multi tool with suitable leverage for tackling stubborn fasteners and chains in the back of beyond. However, there are more suitable, cost effective options for those riders favouring older bikes or hub transmissions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Refinement, decent tool length/quality.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? For touring on contemporary bikes, yes.
Age: 40 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)