Got the bike. What tool should I get?
February 2, 2015 4:06 PM   Subscribe

I just bought a bike, and now I need a killer multitool.

After a few medical and financial setbacks, I finally took y'all's great advice and got a Norco Indie Drop. So far, after two days, it rules. However! it does not have QR hubs, so I will need to carry some tools with me.

My typical part/tool haul consists of a couple tubes, tire levers, and a few random allen wrenches - not the most compact of setups, particularly when the wrenches end up scattered along the bottom of my bag. So I'm in the market for a multitool.

It doesn't have to be tiny or minimalist; I'm kind of a big dude and shaving grams isn't that important to me. I just want a good, solid, useful multi tool that I can use to remove my wheels when I flat and make brake/derailleur adjustments and other basic stuff on the fly, and that's about it. My commute's about six miles each way, and I'm never that far from a bike shop on my route, so I don't need a MacGyver gizmo with everything that will get my broken bike to work again.

So, simple question: Which multitool should I throw in my messenger bag every morning?
posted by pdb to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I've owned the Topeak Alien 2 and the Topeak Hexus 2 tools. Both were good- they have pretty much everything you need to get back on the road if something small breaks. I did have the Alien 2 confiscated by a TSA agent because it has a tiny blade on it, hence why I got the Hexus 2. They're not amazing quality but they should work in a pinch or until you get home to a better set of tools.

I'd just go on Amazon and see whether either of them works for you, or if not, there are plenty of other options to look at.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 4:19 PM on February 2, 2015

I carry something that's probably the ancestor of the Crank Brother's m17. Basic set of Allen wrenches and screwdriver plus chain tool. Add tire irons, a small adjustable (for your non-QR wheels) and you should be good to rock.
posted by straw at 4:20 PM on February 2, 2015

I've never needed more than the Park MT-1 and a couple random tire levers, but without QRs you'd likely get a single wrench from the hardware store to go with it.
posted by rhizome at 4:36 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

You are highly unlikely to need a chain tool on the road, FWIW.
posted by rhizome at 4:38 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Crank Bros M10, Park CT-5 (I don't like any of the chain tools that come with multi-tools), and I'd throw in a SRAM PowerLock link. To remove the wheels, if you have 15mm bolt on wheels, I am a big fan of the PDW 3wrencho (not a huge fan of the tire lever that's on it, I still use Pedros, but that thing is indestructible; stand on it to loosen your wheel).
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 4:38 PM on February 2, 2015

Ditto the MT-1 and the CT-5. Both have stood me for years and many long trips. The MT-1 is a good enough tool to get stuff done at the roadside. A chain tool is a lifesaver on the road when you need one. I'd rather have one than not, but if you're not far from your LBS you can probably get away without one.

I wrap a couple of meters of duct tape around the handle of the MT-1 for tire boots etc... and tie the whole kit up in a shop rag to keep my hands clean. A couple of zip ties are handy too.
posted by bonehead at 5:12 PM on February 2, 2015

I carry a Topeak Alien II on my rides. I also carry a 6" adjustable (crescent) wrench and a Leatherman Squirt PS2 mini-tool, to have a small pair of needlenose pliers (for pulling radial wires out of tires) and a few other useful things. I also bring along a Crank Bros. speed lever for quick tire removal and mounting, on bikes whose tires are hard to remove or mount. (On my regular ride, I can remove and mount tires with my thumbs.)

Frankly I'm not sure that a multitool is any lighter than a set of Allen wrenches, an adjustable wrench, and a small Leatherman-style tool. If you put them in a Ziploc bag they're easy to keep organized. I like the Alien II because it's only 2 pieces and therefore easy to find even if I use it to adjust something and then just toss it back in my handlebar bag without bothering to hook the 2 pieces together and put them back in the case.

I'd also suggest carrying a bunch of zip ties, of different lengths (get the black ones that are UV-resistant). They weigh almost nothing, and they've saved my bacon on a few occasions when I was in the middle of nowhere and a bolt or stay failed.
posted by brianogilvie at 5:25 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I also like the Park MT-1 a lot.

(I can get the tires on my bikes off without levers, but, if you need levers, be sure to carry some. Besides a spare tube, I also carry a CO2 cartridge and a PDW Shiny Object If you need a 15mm wrench, Paragon Machine Works has a few that are pretty nice. And if I were you, I'd also get a tool roll (there are many, many others, I just like RR). I also usually carry a Leatherman Micra.)
posted by box at 5:32 PM on February 2, 2015

I love the Indie Drop. We stock it with quick releases, but they come with allen skewers too. Unless you ended up with a very different build, there's very little need for an adjustable wrench.

I like having a chain tool and a quick link with me, so I favor tools like the M17 above. I also like to carry separate tire levers. I like the Park Tool ones.
posted by advicepig at 6:05 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Crank Brothers M17; two ancient metal tire levers; tube in a ziploc with a bunch of baby powder; couple of Slime Skabs; small piece of shop rag; latex glove; CO2 cartridge and a minimal inflator.
posted by kovacs at 6:20 PM on February 2, 2015

For commuting and general transportation riding I carry the Park mt-1, a rema patch kit, an appropriate tube and a pump. I don't need tire levers to get my tires off but you might. I think C02 cartridges are wasteful and a bit lazy, get a pump so you don't end up walking home when you get that 2nd or 3rd flat.
posted by miles at 10:14 PM on February 2, 2015

+1 on the Alien 2; I rode across Canada with pretty much just one of those, and a swiss army knife (mostly for opening food) as my tools (unless you also count my tire pump--or the numerous non-tool items I carried, like my tent). Definitely also nth the zip ties, and would also like to point out that a (dead) AA battery is as long as a roll of duct tape is wide, so transferring a couple dozen feet from a standard roll to a battery is a handy way to have the ultimate tool ;), without it taking a pile of space or getting awkward to unroll after getting smooshed by the other things in your bag.
posted by kiwano at 12:17 AM on February 3, 2015

Oh, box's mention of CO2 cartridges reminds me: I carry a Topeak Road Morph G pump. People put away their CO2 cartridges when I pull it out. Got a gauge, a flexible tube so you don't shear the tips off your valves, reasonable ergonomics.
posted by straw at 9:21 AM on February 3, 2015

I had a Road Morph once. Seemed like a good solution to ground-down knuckles. Broke the first time I used it. Now I carry both CO2 and a little Lezyne hand pump in case I run out of CO2 (has never happened, I only got three flats once in the last 10 years before I bought CO2).
posted by rhizome at 10:37 AM on February 3, 2015

You are highly unlikely to need a chain tool on the road, FWIW.

Not true, I have broken a chain plenty of times and so have my riding partners. I've never regretted carrying a chain tool.

I ride a lot longer distances than most people though.
posted by bradbane at 4:08 PM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

I just looked in my tool roll, and, what do you know, I also have a chain tool (it's an old Park, but if I were buying a new one I might shell out for one of these), a small rotor truing fork that I don't think I've ever used and a spoke wrench that I don't think I've ever used outside my garage. Those, plus a headset wrench for old-school types, might be additions worth considering.
posted by box at 5:31 PM on February 3, 2015

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