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Trying to buy a multi-tool

Owlie2010-04-28 14:47:04 +0000 #1
I'm looking for a multi-tool. First things first: how do you go about determining what allen keys (and whatever else) your bike needs?

Second: Any recommendations?
malkin2010-04-28 15:02:40 +0000 #2
We just found some of these gizmos at TJMaxx!
MDHillSlug2010-04-28 14:57:52 +0000 #3
I think the most common hex sizes are 3, 4, and 5; they are pretty much a must at a minimum. 2, 2.5, and 6 are the next most common.

You will very rarely ever need a chain tool and there's very little reason to have one if you don't know how to use it.

The flat head and phillips head screwdrivers are sometimes useful.
lph2010-04-28 16:02:14 +0000 #4
Take your bike to the store and check. I use slightly different allen keys on my road bike and mtb, but I think multitools usually have all the standard ones. I need a small phillips screwdriver to adjust the brakes on my mtb, and for my rear light.
OakLeaf2010-04-28 16:33:56 +0000 #5
+1 on checking your bike (e.g., my old computer needed a #1 Phillips screwdriver, and when it started slipping on the handlebars there was nothing I could do about it because the tool I had at the time had only Allen keys).

Part of it is what you need, and part of it is where you ride. If you only ride around town, then you only need tools to make minor adjustments and fix a flat. But if you start getting out into the boonies, then it's a good idea to be prepared for bigger repairs.

I definitely wouldn't be without a chain tool and a couple of spare links, in Ohio. I've never broken a chain (yet, touch wood), but I've been on plenty of rides where other people have, and the thing about it is, if your chain breaks, you're walking, and if you're 30 miles from nowhere with no cell reception, that's kind of a big deal. Break a derailleur cable and you can limp it home in top gear rear or bottom gear front, and walk uphill if you need to. Break a brake cable and you can ride home slowly and carefully, and walk downhill if you need to. Break the chain, and you've got to fix it.

Repairing a broken chain is basically the same procedure as removing the old one and installing a new one, which you'll probably wind up learning to do when your current one wears out anyhow - it's a bit of a PITA but not an enormous deal.

Then there's the weight of the tool to consider. This: is the one my DH bought for me - it's got everything, and I carry it when I'm in Ohio, but it weighs a TON. (And the tire levers are really hard to use - they're so crammed in with the other tools - I still carry the lightweight levers I had before he got me that tool).

And don't forget the fasteners your cleats use. Those can and do come loose, and might be something different from anything on your bike proper. That's definitely something you want in a minimal setup.

There are a lot of options, but it really comes down to three things:

(1) Is "cell phone and credit card" an option where you ride, and if so, is it the option you want to choose?

(2) If you've decided on a stripped-down tool, does your particular setup make you want to carry anything other than those three Allen keys plus tire levers?

(3) If you've decided on a full-service tool, how much weight do you want to carry and how much space do you have in your seat pack?



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