The Birzman Feexman 12-function Mini Tool is an ideal piece of kit to carry on longer rides. It has everything you need for most road-side repairs, and is surprisingly light for the number of functions provided, thanks to aluminium parts and some other skilful weight-shaving, though this pushes up the price a bit.
There's a wide range of bike tools and accessories in the Birzman range, most displaying the company's signature combination of ingenious design and excellent build quality. The Feexman 12-function Mini Tool is no different. Each individual allen (or 'hex') key swings out smoothly, and when you tighten a bolt there's little sign of flexing, even at the pivot point. This is thanks to a manufacturing process by which the base of each allen key is drilled and completely surrounds the main connecting bolt, rather than being simply wrapped around the connecting bolt as on some other brands of multi-tool.
The tools you get on the Feexman 12-function Mini Tool are: allen keys at 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm and 8mm; a T25 torx key; two screwdrivers (cross-head and flat-head); and a chain rivet extractor. Unusually for a multi-tool of this size there's no spoke key, which may be seen by some cyclists as a serious omission.
The 12th function is a tyre lever. It's surprisingly small, with a couple of sharp edges that looked like they might damage tyre or rim, but tests in the road.cc lab revealed that it did work, but only in conjunction with other tyre levers. So if you normally carry three levers, you can now take just two and use the one on this multi-tool. This may not be seen as much of an advantage.
To save weight, the Feexman has aluminium side panels and chain tool plate, and some of the larger allen keys are hollowed out. This shaving results in a weight of just 120g, which is pretty impressive for a tool with this many functions. Other tools in the Birzman range have steel side panels and are cheaper than aluminium equivalents, or have carbon side panels and are more expensive.
The chain tool functions very well when removing rivets. The idea is that you'll completely remove a broken link and fix the chain with that spare quick-link you carry with you at all times. However, loosening a stiff link proved harder; the plates in the tool seemed too small to hold the chain in place, so when pressure was applied to the rivet extractor, the chain lifted out of the tool.
The recommended retail price for the Feexman is £29.99, although you can find it nearer £25 at various on-line stores. This is not a bargain, but it's about on a par with similar tools with aluminium parts from other brands. Leyzene, for example, make a 10-function tool with some aluminium parts which sells for about the same price and weighs just over 100g, and a 20-function tool with some aluminium parts which sells for about the same price but weighs 180g. There's a Crank Brothers 17-function tool that goes for a few quid less than the Birzman and weighs a bit more, while Brooks offer a 21-function tool that goes for almost £50 and weighs 300g. If you want to stick with Birzman, but save a few more quid (and add a few grams), get the steel version of the Feexman. You can also find even cheaper models from other manufacturers, but many of these don't have the same build quality.
Overall, if you want something well-made, light-weight and fair-priced, that does pretty much everything you're likely need when you're out on the road, the Birzman Feexman 12-function tool is certainly well worth considering.
Lightweight multi-tool suitable for most road-side repairs; high-quality build and fair price tag
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Make and model: Birzman Feexman 12 Function Multi tool
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
This product is a multi-tool designed for road-side repairs rather than everyday workshop use. The manufacturer's website says "The Feexman multi-tool combination design idea comes from the feathers of a bird. Light-weight and engineered for maximum performance, this tool is an ideal quick repair kit to take along with you."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The Birzman website goes on to say: "All Birzman multi-tool bits are forged and CNC machined. This technology provides benefits including weight saving by using less material, increased strength, a centre tool pivot and a neater finish over the extruded wrapped tool bits usually seen on multi-tools. This tool has alloy side plates and bolts with a heat treated alloy chain rivet tool. Hollowed centres on the larger hex keys to save weight."
Construction is excellent, and lives up to Birzman's reputation for top-notch build-quality and ingenious design (much of which is – according to the Birzman website – inspired by nature). The manufacturing process by which the base of each allen key is drilled and completely surrounds the main connecting bolt (rather than being simply wrapped around the connecting bolt as on some other brands of multi-tool) means much less flex and a much more positive action.
Performance is excellent. Some multi-tools feel like they're going to snap or bend if you swing too hard, especially if you're tightening or adjusting a bigger allen key such as saddle, pedal or crank, but not this baby. The lack of spoke key will be an issue for some cyclists.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
This tool performs very well. It's ideal for most repairs you may need to carry out at the roadside, apart from re-true a buckled wheel due to lack of spoke-key.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Excellent build quality, neat design, light weight.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'd like to see a spoke key. And personally I wouldn't miss the little tyre leaver, though that's not a massive deal-breaker.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Overall, this is a really nice piece of kit. On performance, design, build-quality and durability it would get a 10, but the lack of spoke-key (and questionable tyre lever) and the price (fair, but not bargain) together mean a couple of points knocked off, giving a final score of 8.
Age: 53 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp, an old steel classic My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex (can you see a theme here?)
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Trail riding and rough-stuff (off road on a road bike)