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The Vel Slim 17 multi-tool measures just 10mm at its thickest point, and at just over 4 x 7cm, it disappears into pretty much any space within a seatpack, pocket or toolroll. At £35 it's not cheap, but the tools provided, CNC machining and little pouch add up to a quality buy – IF your spokes suit the size of spoke keys on offer.
The Vel Slim 17 hails from Cooke Components, a Hampshire-based distributor that develops the Vel range of cycling accessories and parts in-house. The attention to detail and finish on the Vel 17 tool is a good reflection of its effort to deliver high-quality gear.
The Vel 17 covers pretty much every base for a long day ride: all the hex keys including an 8mm add-on for pedals, four spoke keys including a Mavic M7 star-shaped, and a bottle opener for that late-afternoon bevvy. There's a T25 for your brake mounts, but no T30 for chainring bolts, but they should be nice and tight before you set off, shouldn't they?
Aside from the usual tools that work perfectly well, the chain tool is actually good enough to not only remove a dead link, but re-install a Shimano pin – no mean feat given the precision needed.
With the chain tool completely unscrewed it makes for a workable spoke key, albeit one with a very odd choice of 4.3, 4.4 and 4.6mm square-faced spoke sizes, along with a Mavic M7 hex-star one. This baffling choice means that if your wheels have 3.3, 3.4 or 3.96mm nipples then you're out of luck. That'll be all my wheels, then. I have fixed hundreds of bikes over the last five years, and have yet to require a 4.3, 4.4 or 4.6mm spoke key. Maybe Shimano wheels that use 4.4mm nipples at the hub don't go out of true, or my customers just can't afford the spec they get built onto... Regardless, it's a decidedly weird choice to miss out completely the common-as-muck sub-4mm sizes most bikes in the world use.
The provided faux-leather pouch is good at keeping sharp edges away from tubes inside your seatbag, tool roll or pocket, and holds the tool firmly while being easily extracted with gloves on.
You may find the stubby keys and drivers struggle to access areas such as bottle cage mounts, but that's common across all tools of this sort of design.
Neil really liked the Fabric 16 tool and all that the Vel 17 adds (it's in the name, folks) is a small crosshead screwdriver that is small enough to do the covers on shift lever pods. That said, the larger one is perfect for derailleur limit screws, as is the flat screwdriver blade if needed. The Fabric 16 is also, for me, 4/16ths more useful than the Vel 17, with the Fabric's four spoke keys being of common sizes.
Unless you rock Shimano wheels in the aforementioned spoke sizes, for £10 less the Fabric 16 is, for my money, the better option here.
A nicely made tool, very slim but also pretty pricey, and check your spoke key needs...
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Vel Slim 17 Multi-tool
Size tested: One
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?
It's for people wanting the backup of a little toolkit in their pocket, who run certain Shimano wheels...
Vel says: "17 Function super slim multi-tool with storage pouch. Fits easily in your jersey pocket or even the smallest saddle pack."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
2 / 2.5 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 8mm Hex Keys
2 x Cross head screwdriver
Flat head screwdriver
Multi spoke wrench (Shimano 4.3 / 4.4 / 4.6 + Mavic M7)
Chain Tool (9/10/11 speed)
Very nicely done. Feels premium.
For a tool that small, it works a treat.
CNC'd and alloy, it hasn't rusted or worn over a few months.
Not bad at all. It needs some strength, so is always going to weigh something.
There are cheaper, if slightly thicker, options (with more universally useful size spoke keys).
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Well indeed – but I didn't need to true a wheel or remove a spoke.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The slimness. It's soooo slim.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The spoke keys. Weird choices.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Only if they rocked Shimano wheels of that spoke key size.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a hefty premium Vel is asking here, for a multi-tool that includes four rather obscure spoke key sizes. If you have those sizes, great – because it's a really nice tool – but it ain't cheap.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is: Velocite Selene
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling.
Living in the Highlands, Mike is constantly finding innovative and usually cold/wet ways to accelerate the degradation of cycling kit. At his happiest in a warm workshop holding an anodised tool of high repute, Mike's been taking bikes apart and (mostly) putting them back together for forty years. With a day job in global IT (he's not completely sure what that means either) and having run a boutique cycle service business on the side for a decade, bikes are his escape into the practical and life-changing for his customers.