Blog post made by our tour-guide, Sierra
As both a commuter and recreational cyclist in Portland, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a good multi-tool with you on just about every ride. Even if it is rarely used, there will always be the occasional moment in the field that it is needed. There are a variety of multi-tools out there, all with relatively similar features, so it can be hard to sort through the bunch. With multi-tools, it’s ultimately hard to find the balance between insufficient and excessive. You can never know for sure exactly what you’ll need in a crunch. At this point, I’ve had enough crises to know what is most useful in the field and what will end up collecting dust. In my opinion, the multi-tool with the absolute best design and most pragmatic collection of tools would be the Crank Brothers m17, one that is personally recommended by many of us here at Cycle PDX.
Crank Brothers has three mid-level multi-tools: the m10, m17, and m19. The m10 has ten tools, the m17 has seventeen, and so forth. While all three are, in my opinion, very useful, the m17 is the one that really hits the sweet spot. Goldilocks would be pleased. Each tool expands on the other, so the best way to explain why the m17 is preferable would be to compare it to the other tools in its family.
The m10 is the most basic of the group, with seven allen keys, two screwdrivers, and one torx. Essentially, everything on a bicycle can be tightened or adjusted with an allen key, which is why the m10 comes with seven different sizes. Allen keys help with adjusting seat height/angle, modifying rim-brakes, adjusting cable tension, installing or correcting front and rear racks, installing water bottle cages, and a variety of other things. Allen keys are the most useful part of a multi-tool, which is why the m10 is, at heart, just that: allen keys. The m10 is also capable of making emergency derailleur adjustments and modifying disc-brakes, which is why the screwdrivers and torx are included. All of these features are useful and calculated and, even for a basic model, the m10 can take care of a multitude of tasks. What really sets the m17 apart, though, is that it includes four spoke wrenches, a chain tool, and two open wrenches, making it well worth the extra $6.00.
When I was first contemplating whether to buy the m10 or the m17, I thought, “I’m never going to use a spoke wrench in the field”. I ultimately bought the m17, originally, for the added chain tool. However, there was a time that the spoke wrenches saved the day, and now I believe that they are worth their weight in gold on this multitool.
This past summer, I took part in a century ride with about 200 other women out to the Columbia Gorge. On the last leg of our ride (figure 10 miles away from Portland), two of the riders crashed into each other. Their wheels were so out of tru that their bikes were rendered unrideable. Of the assemblage of riders, I was the only one that had a spoke tool. If it hadn’t been for this handy little feature of the m17, neither of the women would have been able to continue the ride. The moral of the story is the spoke wrenches and the chain tool are not the least bit excessive, I think that having these tools in addition to the allen keys is a necessity if you do a considerable amount of riding.
Interestingly, the m19 jumps in price quite a bit ($34.00 compared to the $28.00 of the m17), but it only includes two additional tools: an extra phillips head and an extra torx. I believe the jump in price can actually be attributed to the sleek hard-case that comes with the m19, something that I believe is unnecessary. Multi-tools, on their own, are very tough. You could probably throw the m19 at a wall and not damage it. In fact, you would probably damage your wall. For this reason, I think the hard-case is excessive and mostly meant to be aesthetically pleasing. But, if protecting your tools in a really beautifully made case is your jam, the m19 might be a nice upgrade. I personally keep my tools in a tool roll, so my multi-tool already has its own little pouch and the hard-case would be useless to me for that reason.
If you have certain types of disc-brakes or road calipers, the extra #1 phillips head and t-10 torx of the m19 might be worth the upgrade. However, for most bicycles with most brake types(rim and disc alike), the m17 will certainly get the job done. It’s handy, it’s compact, and it’s easy to use; thus, I recommend it to all riders tenfold.
The most common problem riders face in the field is actually flat tires. So, on top of having a very useful multi-tool like the m17, I recommend carrying tire levers(Pedro’s are the best, in my opinion), an extra tube, and a small hand-pump. Patch kits are also very useful. If you have bolt-on wheels, you should also carry the appropriately sized wrench with you if your multi-tool doesn’t already have it. Flat tires are very easy to fix if you have the equipment with you, so I would suggest carrying these items with you in addition to the handy Crank Brothers m17.
All items mentioned are available for purchase in our shop, so drop on by and see if the m17 is right for you!
Blog post made by our tour-guide, Sierra.