Multi tools tend to be roughly the same design – think Swiss army knife but for bikes rather than camping. This is what you generally see, from the freebie ones you get with a new bike through to the kind you're likely to find in the toolkits of the pro peloton. Fabric, though, has bucked the trend with its Chamber Multi-tool, creating a ratchet tool that functions as a multi tool – and does so very well.
The tool has 13 functions – 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm and 8mm hex keys, SL3, SL5, PH1 and PH2 flat and crosshead screwdrivers, and T10 and T25 Torx bits – all in the form of heads that sit inside the chamber of the tool. Imagine double-sided extended drill bits sat in a holder that roughly resembles a revolver barrel. These function through the ratchet element that sits at the top of the tool.
The ratchet element is perhaps the best part of this tool, allowing for ease of use in tight spaces and the ability to tighten more than with a regular simple hand tool. One of the key ways this works for getting into tight spaces is the ability to shorten or lengthen the bit in use. The only issue here is that the rest of the bit comes out on the other side of the ratchet, once or twice making things a bit awkward.
It works both ways, to tighten or loosen – you just use one side or the other, depending on which you want to do. It works well too, and much easier than with a traditional multi tool, because of the ratcheting element.
The tools sits well in a jersey pocket, with nothing to snag on material or poke you in the back, unlike traditional designs. At 160g, it weighs around the same as others in its price range.
So, what are the drawbacks compared with a regular multi tool design? One of the main worries is the potential to lose heads over time, which doesn't generally happen with a regular design as it is all integrated (bar some with larger hex key heads fitting over smaller ones). There is also a limit to the type of tool heads – there is no knife, tyre lever or chain breaker, because they wouldn't work with this design, so if you think you'll need them, you'll have to buy/bring them separately. Given the quality of this tool and the superior nature of the ratchet action, it's something I'm more than happy to forgive it for.
With an RRP of £34.99 it's expensive for a 13-piece tool, if taken in isolation, but this isn't your average multi tool. Sure, you can buy them cheaper, but they aren't likely to be as good. If you don't want the ratchet element, the fixed version costs £29.99.
Overall, I was very impressed with this reimagining of the traditional bike multi tool. The design is unconventional, but sleek and practical, something you cannot say for traditional multi tools. There are obvious drawbacks, like the potential to lose bits and the absence of some tools, but what is included works really well.
A fine reimagining of the traditional bike multi tool
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fabric Chamber Multi-tool
Size tested: Silver, 13 functions
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?
Fabric says: 'The Chamber multi-tool offers 13 functions from an efficient T-bar head. A smooth finish caddy protects the tools and ensures the tool doesn't snag jersey pockets or equipment. The T-Bar system increases functionality and ensures that hard to reach areas of the bike are easily accessed. A reversible ratchet model offers further functionality, providing a simple and elegant improvement upon a cyclist's essential.'
It manages to achieve what it sets out to do, it reimagines the standard multi tool and, in my opinion, improves on it and makes it more practical.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Sleek,snag free, lightweight design
- Easily reaches inaccessible places
- Fixed or ratchet options
- 13 functions
Very well made, the design has been well thought out and the tool feels solid, even when tightening really hard or loosening tight bolts.
Worked very well, the ratchet version really brings another element to a multi tool, making it a significant improvement on the traditional design.
Construction and quality are good, but if you are a bit absent minded you could easily lose one of the bits.
You can get lighter multi tools, but at the same time it isn't likely to stop a KOM up an Alpine peak.
Hard to say given the unique aspect of the multi tool. I would be happy to pay £35 for it, but others may not.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It worked very well, tightened well, sits in the pocket nicely and has all the heads you could want. I even found that I was using it in place of my regular ratchet tool at home, simply because it could get into the tight places well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The overall design, it is really sleek and well thought out.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Although the design is great, it does mean that additional tools like a chain breaker may also be needed.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Really well thought out multi tool that challenges conventional design. The fact that it lacks some elements you can find in other multi tools is almost inconsequential as it works so well.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Evo 6 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
George spends his days helping companies deal with their cycling commuting challenges with his company Cycling for Work. He has been writing for Road.cc since 2014.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.