Weight-Weenie-Worthy Bike Toolkit
It seems a little crazy to spend hundreds if not thousands making your bike lighter, but then going on a ride and bringing a 100g+ multi-tool. Some folks don’t even suggest bringing a toolkit, but if you’re doing any kind of serious riding you’ll already know why one is necessary. Maybe you went over a pothole, hit a curb, brakes got misaligned, computer mount came loose, etc.
So I set out on a mission to find a weight-weenie-worthy a.k.a WWW toolkit. I wanted it to be light enough to bring on my rides, but functional enough to use even when I’m at home. Quickly I realized that this was going to be a very personal choice, as everyone sets up their rides differently, for example the choice between disc/rim brakes, clincher/tubular/tubeless wheels etc. With that caveat, I feel that this ultralight yet fully-functional setup gives me the most versatility down the road and can be easily adapted for almost any use case.
Below are the criteria I set to achieve:
- 50g or less
- Has all the sizes I need (including Torx T20, because I have an Extralite HyperStem)
- Versatile i.e. adaptable for riding road/MTB/TT
- Fully functional i.e. reach hard-to-access bolts, ability to apply real torque (>6Nm) when needed
- Don’t need a chain breaker on the road
It was quite interesting to see different creative ideas from various manufacturers:
|Stanley 12-in-1 folding screwdriver||Like a traditional bike multi-tool, but with a bitholder that holds standard screwdriver bits. A pity on the weight||N||Y||Y|
|VIM HBR3 Bit Rachet||Tiny ratchet that will fit all standard-size bits||Y||Y||Y|
|Spurcycle Tool||Titanium T-wrench is lightweight and looks cool. A little pricey||Y||Y||Y|
|Arundel Shameless Plugs||Cool idea to utilize the bar plugs, but heavy and only has capacity for 3 sizes on the road||N||Y||Y|
|Pedros Tulio||Another cool idea that utilizes the skewer, but imho quite ugly with limited bit sizes||N||N||Y|
|Fabric Chamber||Looks great and includes a ratchet. But wicked heavy||N||N||Y|
|Victorinox Swisstool replacement wrench||This is when I started thinking more creatively. This simple tool is actually part of a bigger toolkit and could work||Y||Y||Y|
|Victorinox Spirit multi-tool||Similar to the above, but not an L-shaped wrench & this comes with a ratchet and bit holder||Y||Y||Y|
|Fix It Sticks||Great idea, but the light version only has fixed bits. Replaceable version is heavy||N||Y||Y|
|Mineral Mini Bar||Great idea but heavy. Why did they machine it out of solid steel?||N||Y||Y|
|PB Swiss Tools Bike Tool||Includes all the bit sizes I actually need & a really neat 5mm-hex to 1/4″-hex adapter||Y||Y||Y|
|Blackburn Switch||Similar to the Spurcycle tool. Great idea but heavy||N||Y||Y|
|Park Tool MT-1||A classic, but sizes are limited||Y||N||Y|
|Craftsman Z-Driver||This thing is industrial. Probably not best-suited for cycling||N||Y||N|
|iFixit Precision Bit Driver||Bit size is the smaller (non-standard) 4mm, which could save some weight but this type of screwdriver is not easy to apply torque||Y||Y||N|
|Drill bit holder (+ 6mm wrench)||Low budget setup: This would be cheap and reasonably light, but 2 separate pieces||Y||Y||N|
As you’ll quickly notice, I didn’t include many traditional cycling multi-tools because they just did not satisfy the criteria I had. Previously I had looked at hordes of cycling specific multi-tools, from Topeak/Crankbrothers/Lezyne/etc, and eventually purchased one from Lezyne, but I no longer even use half the sizes on that tool. The list above contains tools that try to incorporate some more novel ideas, but many of them don’t quite satisfy my criteria either.
Finally, the list whittled down to: VIM, Spurcycle, Victorinox and PB Swiss Tools. Between these options, I think it comes down to personal preference. There is one functionality difference worth mentioning: the ability to reach deeper areas (e.g. inside your fork when installing rim brakes). Only the Victorinox Swisstool replacement wrench & PB Swiss Tools bike tool were able to do that. I actually have a T20 socket that goes inside my fork, so this functionality was important.
And then there were 2. To decide which one I was going to purchase, it came down to the most obvious thing: weight. The Victorinox wrench weighs 34g (with no bits), and while the PB Swiss Tools bike tool weighs 91g total, the wrench+adapter combo only weighs 27g… a tidy 7 grams lighter.
That 91g is indeed a little misleading, because it includes tire levers too (which none of the other options above do). I happen to run tubular tires, so I don’t really need the tire levers. With all the bit sizes I actually needed, the total weight came up to… 53.5g. A little off my target, but there are relatively easy areas to cut more weight i.e. swap the allen wrench for a titanium one (est’d 10g weight saving). Alas! My decision was made.
If you’re in America, you can actually acquire the Victorinox-branded version for cheaper. And that neat adapter they include? That will work on any 5mm-hex wrench you have, essentially converting the 5mm hex into any bolt size under the sun. Score!
If you want to trick it out further, you could acquire a 5mm titanium hex wrench for about $30. And if you actually need every bit under the sun, Harbor Freight sells a 32-piece kit for all of $6. You could do all of the above and still come in under the most expensive multi-tool in the above list. Nuff’ said.
Not much a weight weenie myself but damn thats a nice and light tool!