Multi tools that are genuinely capable of fettling the entire fleet are as rare as rocking horse droppings. Cue the Tern Tool. Originally conceived for the brand's own range of bikes, it's comprehensive enough for road, tourer, mountain bike, tandem - the list goes on.
A neoprene carry sack serves two functions - most obviously protecting the rider from puncture wounds in a spill, but also giving additional comfort when using the tool.
Let's get the price out of the way early on, as you might well be baulking. It's at the absolute upper limit of what I'd pay for a multi tool, but it's good enough that I would pay it.
Measuring 75x40/10mm, its slimline double decker profile lacks obvious machismo, but quality of construction is excellent.
The frame this looks resin but is in fact coated steel for rigidity. A beefy chain tool chomps through 7/8/9 speeds for breakfast and track types for lunch while two nickel plated wrenches stow away beneath the base, connecting securely via two stubby Allen keys.
Focusing on the bed of Allen keys, Tern has optimised space by tapering the larger 4, 6, torx and Philips functions so flat, 2, 2.5 and 3mm sections shelter inside. This doesn't present much of a compromise either, since those sorts of fixings belong to brake pivots and similarly low stress applications.
Bottom line - they all fit snugly and even stubborn stem/seat bolts submit without much fuss , due to the leverage the tough frame provides.
So then, to those sensibly configured wrenches - these fit inside two corresponding cut outs and needed cajoling free with an engineer's mallet to begin with. Both wrenches are designed to be flipped and refitted.
A well-machined 15mm end made short work of stubborn track nuts - pedals too, although it's too beefy for adjusting hub cones. Likewise the 10mm sibling is perfectly situated for administering TLC to old school cantilever/centre pull hardware. The eight glue-less patches and sculpted tyre lever are novel get out of jail cards but not ones I'd be comfortable using too regularly since the latter's steel.
One of the best-designed and comprehensive multi tools I've used in ages.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Tern Tool
Size tested: n/a
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?
"The Tern Tool is your bike buddy whose job is to ensure you stay on your bike riding and not on stuck on the roadside with a problem. Specially designed to service your Tern bicycle, the Tern Tool features 20 integrated tools, including a 15 mm crescent wrench for tightening axle nuts and pedals and a 6 mm wrench for adjusting joint levers on Tern bikes. The included neoprene cover can be slipped onto the body handle for a more comfortable grip. The tool folds into a flat, compact size and can be easily slipped into pant pockets or a ride jersey". True to its blurb.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
15 mm crescent wrench for axle nuts and pedals
Patented StuckNut™ design securely locks wrenches in place
20 integrated tools
Neoprene tool cozy
Includes tire patch kit
Dimensions: 90 – 54 – 28 mm (3.5' x 2.1' x 1.1')
Weight: 175 g (11 oz)
Nickle plated high tensile tooling.
Performs most tasks exceptionally well.
Tool materials seem very rugged and should last a very long time with basic care.
Offers surprising amounts of torque wihout digging painfully into the palms, or feeling remotely whippy.
Good value in the sense it is very well made but pretty much my limit for a pocket tool nonetheless.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The tern is a very unique design which could prove that one tool can fettle an entire fleet. Obviously there's an element of compromise-some might bemoan a disc brake pad spreader but nothing I couldn't live with.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Unusual and very well designed.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 38 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)