The Fix It Sticks Commuter Kit has the ability to turn into a T-bar for extra torque, but an old-school multi-tool is quicker and simpler to use, and much, much cheaper.
Pros: Very well made, T-bar function adds ability, interesting design
Cons: Expensive, not as quick to use as a multi-tool, potential for lost bits
I once found a Leatherman tool discarded in the back of a hire van and I instantly knew I had unearthed (or passively stolen, depending on your personal morality) something special. Why? Because it was in a pouch. Any tool that comes in a pouch is officially 'special'.
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And so it proves with the be-pouched Commuter Kit from Fix It Sticks: an alternative to the traditional multi-tool, which uses two metal 'sticks' with magnetised pockets at each end that will accept 1/4in bits. The Commuter Kit comes with eight bits - 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5 and 6mm hex key heads, a Torx 25 head, and a Phillips screwdriver head – all housed in a smart plastic Sticks holder. It also comes with two tyre lever attachments and a 15mm pedal spanner attachment.
So plenty, if not all, bases are covered (call me old-fashioned, but I always find a flat-head screwdriver comes in way more useful than it has any right to these days). But the real magic of the Fix It Sticks system is that all the different bits have 6mm hex key shafts, which fit beautifully into 6mm hex key-shaped holes in the middle of each Stick. You find the bit you want. Fit it to one end of one Stick, then slide the other Stick either into or over the other and you've got either an L-shape or T-bar for extra tightening strength.
You can use a single Stick without the T-bar function to twiddle a bolt up to finger strength very quickly, then getting it tight is far more assured than the general yanking that goes on with most pocket tools. Certainly you can summon enough power to do some damage to torque-restricted carbon components.
It's quite clever really. However, for every question the Fix It Sticks system answers, two more tend to be posed. For example, in practice, I found the L-shape or T-bar arms to be too long in certain situations – such as when doing up a stem's steerer tube bolts. Then you have to place all your faith in magnetism stopping the end of your impromptu T-bar falling off – there's no physical lock keeping the two Sticks together. Being relatively cack-handed, I was constantly worried the contraption would disintegrate and dink my beautifully painted frame.
As for some other downsides, well, the tyre lever attachments are excellent quality but there are obviously no hooks on the other end to hold them in place on a spoke, so a £2 plastic pair would arguably be more useful. Then there's that pouch and a question of accessibility. When time is pressing and you need something in a hurry, do you really want to be delving into your seatpack only to retrieve another pouch and open that too? This isn't pass the parcel. Then you have to build the tool itself to suit your specific needs.
What's the alternative? An old fashioned multi-tool where you can find the key you need in seconds and quickly flick it out of the housing, ready for action.
Finally, this might sound slightly counterintuitive but it's important nonetheless: the Fix It Sticks is almost too well made. The gadget you stash away for emergencies and quick jobs shouldn't cost more and be of higher build quality than the 'proper' items of serious workshop kit that you use for the really important duties. I'd rather spend the £50 on a cheaper multi-tool and some specific workshop equipment.
Essentially, multi-tool quality can be summed up in three simple criteria. 1: It should have the ends you need at that given moment. 2. It shouldn't fall apart. 3. The ends shouldn't round off. As for the Fix It Sticks Commuter Kit, there's certainly no rounding off here. But it's designed to fall apart. And the choice of ends included could be more extensive. Add in the high price and 'faff factor', and the clever idea starts to look less enticing.
> Buyer's Guide: 10 of the best multi-tools
I'm sorry to be such a stick in the mud. I love so much about the Fix It Sticks system: it's beautifully made; it's a nice alternative to the typical boring multi-tool design; and it does have a couple of genuine benefits. But in the kinds of situations where most riders will resort to using it, it can't beat a – far cheaper and simpler – old-school multi-tool.
Beautifully made and clever alternative to a traditional multi-tool, but it's too much of an expensive faff
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Make and model: Fix It Sticks Commuter Kit
Tell us what the product is for
It's a multi-tool for various jobs on the bike.
Fix It Sticks says, "Perfect for the Commuter. Our Replaceable Edition Fix It Sticks with bits, set of tire levers, and 15mm Axle Nut Wrench all in one small carrying case (with room to spare to add any other essentials you want)."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Includes two tyre lever attachments and a pedal spanner attachment.
From Fix It Sticks:
Commuter Kit Includes:
Replaceble Edition Fix It Sticks w/ Bracket
2, 2.5, 3,4, 5, 6 mm hex, T-25, and P2 Bits
Two Fix It SticksTire Levers
Fix It Sticks 15mm Axle Nut Wrench
Black Carrying Case
Size: 5.5"(L) x 3.5"(W)
Weight (with all products inside): 9 ounces
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Beautifully made, comes in a pouch.
Rate the product for performance:
Excellent for tightening bolts to high torque, but has some fundamental problems.
Rate the product for durability:
Looks like it will provide long service.
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
Fairly heavy for a multi-tool.
Rate the product for value:
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Pretty well, but it takes a little time to set up and is a tad unwieldy at times.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Excellent build quality, nice design.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Too much of a faff to use regularly.
Did you enjoy using the product? Only until the novelty wore off.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
Very nicely made and a very clever idea, but it's neither good enough to be a workshop tool, nor simple and easy enough to use to be an effective multi-tool. It's also heavy and expensive.
Age: 39 Height: 6'0 Weight: 16 stone
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
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: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, leisure
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