They’re your crucial ride companion for on-the-fly repairs. We test four multi-tools that should keep you rolling no matter what happens…
Price: £36 from www.upgradebikes.co.uk
Lezyne makes possibly the best-looking multi-tools on the market. The polished metal finish of the SV range gives them a feeling of real quality. As the name suggests, you get 11 tools on the SV11: seven different hex wrenches, two torx tools, one flat-head screwdriver and a chain-breaker.
On our bike, the only thing we couldn’t adjust with the SV11 was the Phillips-head limiter screws on our derailleurs, although these shouldn’t be something you need to adjust mid-ride anyway.
The chain-breaker is a neat little design and works well enough for any vital repairs to be carried out on the fly. The SV11 is compact and light too (just 100g) and folds up neatly to slide into a jersey pocket without snagging.
Verdict: More expensive but compact, light and great-looking with a good array of tools, 85%
Xlab Tri Tool Kit
Price: £19 from www.multisportdistribution.co.uk
Xlab’s offering is a compact bit of kit with 10 tools in a nicely presented, easily storable package. There are seven hex wrenches, a flat-head screwdriver, one torx wrench and a tyre lever. There’s also a silicone band which is ostensibly to protect the kit, but in practice is more useful at keeping the tyre lever in place with the rest of the set.
It tends to slip off on its own otherwise, which can be a little irritating. We can’t knock the range of tools on offer, but the lone tyre lever is, on its own, of little use for those tough-to-budge tyres, and the fact that it’s metal will put some off from using it with carbon rims. In any case, we’d still carry our own set of tyre levers on a ride, rendering Xlab’s lever rather pointless.
Verdict: Wonderfully compact, but the band/tyre lever combo is irritating, 74%
Park Tool IB-3C
Price: £19 from www.madison.co.uk
Park’s IB-3C is a curious tool, packed with features for a good price, but some are just a bit too fiddly. It has eight allen wrenches, a star wrench, flat-bed screwdriver, chain tool and tyre lever with two integrated spoke wrenches.
It’s enough to sort out pretty much any issue you might have with the bike, but in use we found the chain tool too awkward to be practical.
The tyre lever has an attachment to connect it to the chain tool so you can get more leverage, but the fit isn’t quite good enough so it slips off with any slight change in orientation.
Not ideal for the intricate job of repairing a broken chain. The IB-3C’s also a little heavy and bulky at 180g – good for a saddle pack, but not ideal for a jersey pocket.
Verdict: Great tool selection, but size and clunky chain tool lower the score, 70%
M-Part 13 Function Multi-tool
Price: £24 from www.madison.co.uk
With a slick all-matt-black look, M-Part’s tool looks like the Lezyne’s evil nemesis (although there’s a silver option too).
It has a similar design too, but manages to pack two extra functions into its neat shape: in addition to the seven allen wrenches, chain tool, T25 star key, and flat/cross-head screwdrivers, there’s a splined sprocket to pre-load Shimano cranks and a brake piston press.
It all comes with a sleeve cover, but we found it slipped off too easily and we discarded it almost immediately. The chain tool is basic but easy to use and the whole thing’s compact enough to fit in a pocket, but big enough that you don’t find it fiddly to use. The lack of a tyre lever looks like an omission, but we’d always carry a set anyway.
Verdict: Smart, compact tool with a couple of unique functions. The sleeve is pointless, 78%