The Multi-Tool: A Quick Review of Three

The Multi-Tool: A Quick Review of Three – by Grannygear

I have a good selection of multi-tools spread across a lot of bikes as I have to outfit not only my steeds, but Mrs. Grannygear’s bikes as well. It’s a lot of tool bags to stuff.

Image of three multi-tools
Multi-tools three: Clockwise from right- Gerber mini-pliers, Blackburn Wayside, and the Topeak Tubi 18.

The other day, while on an MTB ride, my buddy popped a spoke and when that happened, the spoke nipple went up into the rim and pierced the sealing tape which was followed by the air and sealant all hiding in the rim cavity. Well, time for a tube.

Just as he was getting ready to stuff the tube into the once tubeless tire, I mentioned that he should check for embedded thorns before sacrificing the tube to the gods of hidden pokey things. Well there were a lot of small, embedded thorns in the tire that were happy to be living there in a tubeless world.

Gerber mini-pliers
The Gerber mini-pliers may be a bit much for the minimalist.

But getting a hold of those little dears was not easy. From out of my pack came a small multi-tool pliers that I carry on mountain bike rides, and those little nippers were very good for excising those thorn tips out of the tire casing without harming the tire. It got me thinking about three unique multi-tools that I either bought or have received for review that take a slightly different tack on the normal multi-tool.

The Gerber mini pliers with all kinds of hidden tools in the handles, like knife blades and what not, is one of them. Ever struggle with getting that Presta nut off the stem so you can remove the valve from the rim? Dried sealant clogs the threads and that little nut can simply defy any attempt to unscrew it. Those little mini pliers will get it done. Also, I have used them to bend a broken spoke around a neighbor spoke out in the field. It might be a bit much to carry on a road bike in a tiny saddle pouch, but for gravel or MTB, these are simply useful, even it is only once and a while.

The Blackburn Wayside multi-tool
The Wayside features individual Bondhus end hex keys.

The next multi-tool that has proven to be useful in ways that most multi-tools are not, is this Blackburn, now on the website as the Wayside. It’s a big fella and has most all the options you would need including a chain breaker, etc. What sets it apart though is the way that the five ball-nosed Allen keys remove from the multi-tool so they can be used like a normal Allen key. If you have ever struggled with a stubby Allen key that is part of a multi-tool and because of that, will not fit into the Allen bolt you need to work with…well, these individual keys make that so much easier.  I like.

The Topeak Tubi 18
The Topeak Tubi 18 has flat repair tools as well as basic tools.

Now here is something that came along recently, and while I have not needed to use it and I did not want to kill a tire to test it, I have used this type of thing on truck tires before. The Topeak Tubi 18 not only gives you 18 bits and bobbins packed into a pretty slim multi tool, but adds something unique. It has a tire plug kit built into the tool. You get three of the waxy, brown, ‘threads’ and the small insertion tools to make a repair to a tire that has a hole too big for sealant to handle. What good thinking!

When Jeeping, I have repaired 4×4 tires out on trail with the bigger cousin to this application. My only concern might be that the plug could be a bit ‘bumpy’ on a smoother tire after the repair where on a knobby MTB tire you would never feel it. Still, even if that is true, it would only be on smooth pavement where it could be noticed. It still beats walking.

At The Finish: All of these are not the ‘typical’ multi-tool that you would carry for three different reasons, but all of them serve a useful purpose. Outside the box can be a good thing.

Note: The three multi-tools featured n this post were sent to Riding Gravel for test and review at no charge. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.


Author: Grannygear

Grannygear hails from SoCal and spent most of his cycling days as a mountain biker from the formative years of mountain biking all the way up to the present day. His day job is in the tech sector, but he has spent time writing about off road 4X4’s, 29″ mountain bikes, and cycling in general. Grannygear and Guitar Ted have worked off and on together since 2009 after a chance meeting at Interbike. With gravel cycling on the rise, Grannygear has been exploring how this genre’ works in SoCal and now does guest pieces for in his spare time.

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3 thoughts on “The Multi-Tool: A Quick Review of Three

  1. After a few drive train mishaps where I have had to remove the chain, the chain breaker is a must have in the toolkit for me. Alternatively, would love it if some of these kits had a small tool for removing quick links.

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