Having the right kit at the right time is really important. Amongst the stuff that I reckon you should always have is a multi-tool. It’s one of those things that I find I’m using most regularly. A slightly wonky bar after a crash, a slipped brake lever after a crash, a loose grip after a crash. You get the idea.
The thing is, it’s also one of those things that, when I’m not carrying my bag, is so easily left behind in the car. I never notice until it’s too late either. I can guarantee that I’ll be halfway round the trails, at the furthest point from the car, and then suddenly realise that I need my tools. I have one of those Crankbrother F10 tools which is so small that I usually just chuck it in my pocket and forget about it. Inevitably, that sometimes means that it goes through the washing machine and then ends up being put down somewhere. Long story shorter: it gets lost.
When Cyclorise sent me a bunch of their products to photograph a while back they happened to include something I wasn’t expecting. The Fix multi-tools. At first, they looked just like any other small tool and I initially wrote them off as just another alternative for the F10, which was already serving its purpose.
I could go into detail here about all the tools they have and all the differences there are between the two models. I’m not going to though. Long term readers of this corner of the internet will know that’s not my jam; I don’t do technical specs. If you’re interested in that, you’re better off heading straight to the UK distributor, Cylorise’s website and checking them out for yourself. What I will do though, is tell you a little bit about what I like and dislike. It’s a review in the real-world. Just like you’ve come to expect.
Of the two models, I prefer the silver one. It’s proper name is the Wheelie Wrench. I actually like that one more than the Wheelie Wrench Pro (the black one). Why? Well, it comes mostly down to feel in the hand. The slightly shorter and chunkier nature of the tools feels comparable to the Crankbrothers F10. I think it’s probably a comfort thing, and a feeling of similarity, that makes me pick that one up more. The Pro version, of course, offers some additional tools which do get the leg up when I think I might need them. A chain breaker and storage for a quick link, give it the edge for longer rides where I can’t just nip back to the car and sort it there. The tools on the Pro are generally longer too which I guess could be useful, although I’ve not found a time where the basic version has been too short yet.
The real draw of these tools isn’t the tools themselves though. That might sound strange for a review of a multi-tool but stay with me. Only a moment ago I was writing about how smaller tools like this, for me at least, are so easily lost. Well, Fix have that sorted. Their ‘Payload Pocket’, which is just their fancy name for holder, is the real win here. There’s two options that I’ve had a play with and found instant use for both.
Leaving the sheath attached to the shoulder strap of my camera bag has meant that I can have that multi-tool ready to go whenever I pick up the bag. It also means that I don’t have to go rummaging through expensive camera gear to find a tool when it’s raining. My kit stays dry and I’ve got handy access to the tools I need. I imagine this would be an even better win for those of you who offer guided rides. After all, getting your clients back on their bikes as soon as possible is part of what you do, right?
Even better than the strap holder, in my opinion, is the belt. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “My bike shorts don’t have belt loops.” Neither do mine. It’s doesn’t seem to be designed to actually hold up your shorts – it’s elasticated – but the fact it’s easily thrown on makes it a win for me. The belt is too big to not notice it disappearing into the washing machine drum and means that I have the tools right there when I need them.
Does the multi-tool do much that other don’t do? Not really. Sure, it’s got some interesting features but, at least to me, it’s a multi-tool. It’s the carrying options which interest me most. That peace of mind that I’ve not left the blummin’ thing at home when I need it most. That’s what makes it worth getting for me.