Get yourself equipped with a decent trail tool
We test mountain bike multi-tools. Light enough to put in your pack and carry all day, useful enough to fix a multitude of sins if your bike breaks.
The best mountain bike multi-tools in 2020
- Topeak Mini Pro 20, £31.99
- Leatherman Crunch, £149.95
- BBB Maxifold L, £17.95
- Blackburn Wayside 19, £32.99
- Park Tool MT40, £49.99
- Pedros ICM, £29.99
- Full Windsor The Breaker, £44.99
- Fabric Chamber, £34.99
- Fix It Sticks Mountain Tool, £49.99
- Topeak Survival Gear Box, £27.99
One of the cornerstones of mountain biking is self-sufficiency; specifically the ability to get out of a fix and carry out emergency repairs on the trail.
To make repairs and adjustments you’ll need a trail tool. Most of based around old-fashioned Allen key clusters, improved by the addition of screwdrivers, Torx keys and spoke wrenches. Ideally they will include 16-22 items, with the most essential being a chain splitter, so you can break and join the chain if it has snapped, or you have to untangle a busted mech. Most tool companies make this type of tool – we have these on test here too.
There are also many alternative options and we’ve reviewed those too. They range from a multi-plier (popularly known as a Leatherman or Gerber) to a fold-up chain tool. The former is perfect for those ugly jobs, like bending a mech hanger straight, and we’ve included the latter simply because most of the trail tools’ built-in miniature chain splitters are difficult to use.
Fix It Sticks Mountain Tool
Fix It holds the bits in a barrel magnetically and the best thing is sticks can’t waggle loose at the pivot points like practically every flip-open multi tool we’ve ever owned has over time. Just about the only complaint then is the whole package comes up a little heavy and expensive compared to a folding tool.
Topeak Survival Gear Box
Aside from a lack of claimed seatpost compatibility (because everyone runs dropper posts these days), this is a neat bit of kit just to sling in your pack that will resist rusting and getting gunked up with crud way more than a ‘standard’ multi-tool.
BBB Maxifold L multi-tool
Tools: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm, T25 Torx, Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, tyre lever, spoke wrenches, chain tool
To ensure maximum leverage when joining a chain, the chain splitter on the Maxifold L has a sturdy fold-out handle, making it a pleasure to use. The tool has a slim profile, so sits nicely in the hand, and features long Allen keys to access those hard-to-reach areas. Once folded out, these also improve the leverage, which is handy when trying to remove a pedal or tighten a crank arm. A tyre lever in included, but it’s too sharp, and while you get five spoke keys, they’re formed into a long arm, so if you want to true a wheel it’s going to be a long-winded, stop/start process. It’s a great value multi-tool, though, and has one of the best chain splitter – fully recommended.
Blackburn Wayside 19
Tools: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm Hex keys, T25 and T30 Torx, flat-head screwdriver, spoke keys, chain tool, chain hook, pad separator, Presta valve core tool, serrated knife.
Attached to one side of the Blackburn Wayfarer is a set of ball-end Allen keys. These are perfect for working in confined spaces, and make adjusting brake lever-reach a doddle. The chain splitter features the important secondary position for loosening stiff links, but unfortunately the handle is too small, making it uncomfortable to use. Also included on this part are the spoke keys, Presta valve core remover, and a handy disc splitter wedge. The serrated blade is super-sharp and there’s a decent-sized hook for holding the chain together. A great tool, but just misses out on the top spot due to the undersized chain splitter.
Park Tool MT40
Tools: 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm Hex keys, T25 and T30 Torx, combo screwdriver, chain tool and CO2 chuck
With its contoured sides, Park Tool’s new MT40 is one of the most comfortable tools to use. It’s also pretty burly, which means there’s zero flex when you have to put a lot of flex through it. Most of the rival multi-tools tested here have a wider range (the lack of a 2mm Allen key is a real oversight) but the ones on the MT40 are all superb quality. The chain breaker is actually a mini version of the CT6, reviewed lower down this page, and just as effective, although you will have to loosen stiff links by hand as it lacks a secondary shelf. There’s also a CO2 chuck supplied for emergency inflation.
Tools: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm Hex keys, T25 Torx, flat and Phillips screwdrivers, chain tool, bottle opener, two tyre levers, spoke wrenches
Unfortunately, the tyre levers clipped to either edge of the ICM, spring off when trying to tighten anything with the Allen jkeys. That said, compared to the miniature levers elsewhere, they work and can actually get a tyre off without scuffing a rim. Also slipped into the body of the tool is spoke key, which actually feels like a proper workshop item. There’s a third, Mavic-specific spoke key on a long arm but truing is a chore as you can’t turn it very far between the spokes without having to remove it. All the Allen keys are a good length, so you can access those tight spots, and the chain splitter has the second gate for stiff links, but the short handle means we had to grip hard to break a chain.
Topeak Mini Pro 20
Tools: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10mm Hex keys, T25 Torx, flat and Phillips screwdrivers, chain tool, spoke wrenches, chain hook, bottle opener, chain pin tool
With its chrome finish, this tool has real bling factor, and should stay that way protected by its own neoprene pouch. The tools are all quite stubby, but there are plenty of them, including a neat chain breaker, which sports four spoke keys, a chain hook and a 3mm Hex. All the Allen sizes needed for repairs and adjustments are included, even a 10mm for crank bolts and L-shaped 2mm for adjusting the reach on your brake levers. The only redundant tool is the tyre lever – it’s too short and sharp, and wouldn’t want it anywhere near carbon rim. That’s our only criticism though, because the Mini Pro 20 is a great tool and easily the best on test.
Full Windsor The Breaker
Tools: 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm Hex bits, T25 Torx, Phillips screwdriver, chain tool, spoke key, bottle opener, recycled inner tube pouch
If you add them up, The Breaker from Full Windsor has a lot of the same tools as the normal multi-tools reviewed above; the difference is it’s based around a really long aluminium tyre lever. The amount of leverage this generates is unreal; it’s one of the only multi-tools that can remove a crank arm. There’s a chain tool on the other end, and again there’s a ton of leverage for splitting a chain. It also features a secondary gate for loosening stiff links and the fins are some of the deepest we’ve seen, so there’s little chance of the chain slipping out. The Breaker may be pricey but it’s a superb bit of kit.
Tools: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm Hex bits, flat and Phillips screwdrivers, T10 and T25 Torx.
Hidden inside the Chamber are 13 tools: six extra-long bits with a tool on either end and a hollow 6mm tool that slides over the 5mm Allen key. The bits slot into the T-Bart head and allow you to ratchet tight disc rotors, stem bolts… you name it. The Chamber is the perfect tool for adjusting the reach on brake levers and accessing the angled bolts on a seat post clamp. The best bit is, you just reverse the tools to back the bolts out the other way. It’s not a cheap tool, but it looks futuristic and we think it’s actually a shame to keep it hidden in your pack.
Tools: regular and locking pliers, wire cutters, wire stripper, knife, ruler, pin vice bottle opener, file, three flat-heads and one Phillips screwdriver
Instead of the needle-nosed ends you find on regular Leatherman tools, the Crunch effectively has a pair of mole grips stuck to the top and, as we know, they’re great for workshop bodges, never mind trailside repairs. If you break, bend or bust something, this is the tool that will sort it out. In addition, it has a ton of other features, including a knife, a couple of screwdriver and a nail file. Also, if you remove the threaded bolt from the handle, you’ll see a 1/4in bit holder, making the Crunch one of the most versatile tools here and easily a test winner.
The best mountain bike multi-tools in 2020: verdict
There are two reasons to carry a multi-tool – to carry out repairs and make adjustments. For the latter you only need a very basic tool with a couple of Allen keys, screwdrivers and maybe a Torx key. If, however, things go pear-shaped and you mangle something, you’re going to need a bigger selection. How many tools is hard to say, but one of the mechanicals that can put an end to your ride in an instant is a snapped chain. This is why a chain splitter is essential, and why we’ve put so much emphasis on this component when testing the eight primary tools. Having along handle is definitely a benefit when breaking a chain, because it gives you something to brace against when trying to push the chain rivet out. If the tool is too small, it’s just going to hurt your, hand, or not work at all.
Vying for top spot in our multi-tool test is the Blackburn Wayside 19 and Topeak Mini Pro 20. Both are excellent multi-tools, with everything you need to get yourself out of a hole, The chain tool on the mini Pro 20 isn’t as useable as the one on the Park or BBB too, but it’s better than the Wayside 19, and is basically why this tool takes top honours.
There’s a lot of choice in amongst the alternative tools, with real standout products, but the tool we’d take with us on every ride is the Leatherman Crunch. Yes, it is the most expensive tool on test, but it’s the absolute best quality, truly versatile, and really can bend stuff straight. A couple of mbr testers have these in their trail packs and they swear by them – if you really want to be self-sufficient this tool is essential.
Know your multi-tool
The multi-tool will be rattling around in your pack getting scuffed and wet, so some form of holder or case is handy.
These are great for straightening a buckled wheel, but if they’re too fat you won’t be able to get them between the spokes and it’ll make truing a laborious chore – the narrower this tool, the better.
A chain splitter is essential, but once you have joined a chain, the link will be stiff, so you need to work it loose. A second gate, or position on the bed of the tool, allows you to do this easily, but many of the tools in this test don’t have them. Also very few have replaceable pins, co once this is bent, the splitter is next to useless.
Short tools are compact, but a long tool offer greater leverage for stubborn bolts, and car reach into areas without the body of the tool fouling on the component or frame.
If these are included, they are usually tiny and won’t have enough leverage to release the bead. Our advice is to always carry a separate lever, like Topeak’s excellent Shuttle 1.2 lever.
This is a star-shaped tool, and the common size used on mountain bikes is a T25.Most disc rotors use this size, and SRAM also uses it for the derailleur mounting bolt and the brake lever clamps.
These can be long, short, L-bend and, in some cases, separate. the most important thing is you have all the sizes, including a 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5 and 6mm. Some tools have an 8mm or 10mm, but it’s often too short to remove a pedal or tighten a crank – the two components the commonly require this size.