Bike multi tools or bike tool kits as they're sometimes known, are something that every commuter should carry in their bag for emergency situations whether it's tightening an allen/hex key on your brakes, making a quick adjustment to the seat or helping with changing a punctured tyre.
We recommend that everyone commuter purchases a bike tool kit. Sure, you probably won't use it much but it becomes a life saver when you need it in an emergency situation.
This article explores what to look for when buying a bike multi tool and some of our preferred options. If you're time poor, we recommend the Topeak Alien 3 available at Amazon for $64.95.
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What to Consider When Buying a Cycling Multi Tool
With the relatively low cost of bike multi tools, we believe there's no point going too cheap when it comes to a multi tool. Generally when you go down the path of using cheaper bike tool kits you experience a range of problems including:
- Tool might break due to low quality metals
- Ends of the tools will wear down quicker
- May wear out bolt head on the part itself quickly
You can avoid quality issues by buying a quality brand to begin with. We recommend Topeak, Park Tool, Lezyne, Crank Brothers and SKS.
Weight ultimately comes down to how much maintenance and repair you see yourself doing with your multi tool.
Generally the more lightweight multi tools will have allen keys and screwdrivers with limited range. This is to help save on weight. While the more heavier bike multi tool options will have a much broader range of allen keys and screwdrivers available at your disposal.
Should you buy a cycling multi tool that's lightweight but with a limited range or look for a more heavier option with a broader range? This ultimately depends how you are commuting to work. Do you travel with a backpack? Choose the lightweight option. Do you travel with panniers or a saddlebag? Go the heavy option where you can get away with more weight.
With multi tools being relatively inexpensive compared to other cycling related accessories, we recommend buying something from a reputable brand which will use a quality metal and have a range of tools available.
Ask yourself though, will you be using this tool for everything other than big shops at the local bike shop? Invest in a quality multi tool. Do you see yourself just keeping the tool in your bag for emergency situations? Possibly look at cheaper options from reputable brands.
The Best on the Market
Topeak Alien 3
This is the best bike tool kit to buy for anyone that wants to do a lot of work on their bike while saving the big jobs to their local bike shop. Coming with 25 different tools means you'll struggle to be missing a tool.
One thing we loved about the Topeak Alien 3 Multi Tool is the chain hook which helps keep both ends of the chain close together while you're connecting it.
Although one down side of the Topeak Alien 3 is that it's quite heavy... Coming in at 272 grams makes this a bit bulky and heavy. We'd recommend this one as better suited for someone putting it in your bike panniers.
Middle of the Market
Park Tool I-Beam 3
The Park Tool I-Beam 3 is one of the better mid tier bike tool kits that we came across. Coming with 14 different tools including a chain tool and spoke wrench, you're bound to have all the tools you need to get you home in emergencies. While you might find it lacking for bigger jobs at home compared to the Topeak Alien 3 we previously reviewed.
One thing we really liked about the Park Tool I-Beam 3 is how compact and weight of the bar. Weighing in at 170 grams and using a single bar design rather than the double bar design you see with others, this makes it a great multi tool to put in your backpack, panniers or even pocket!
Cheap and Cheerful
Crank Brothers Multi Mini Tool
The Crank Brothers Multi Mini Tool is ideal for anyone that is looking for a super lightweight multi tool best suited for emergency situations. Weighing just 85 grams, the Crank Brothers multi tool easily fits in your pocket.
Included with the Crank Brothers Multi Mini Tool is 4 Allen Keys and a Phillips screwdriver.