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The Crankbrothers F15 multi-toool is a stylish, neatly-executed 15 function unit that caters to most emergency tune ups and repairs. However, despite the obvious charm and some nice touches, there's a sense you're paying as much for form as function.
The SCM435 stainless steel tools are flanked by machined, 6063-T5 aluminium plates, and the whole thing secures within its brushed aluminium case via magnets. You can leave the case at home if you're looking to save weight and space, but the bits are relatively short and the alloy casing works as a useful handle for better grip and torque.
At 164g it feels reassuringly solid and, though the chain tool/spoke key component detaches, the strong magnets mean it's less likely to get lost than the usual slip-on designs. Nevertheless, it's good to see a proper 8mm bit instead of the common 8mm cap that slips over the 6mm hex.
For the record, the tool list includes the common hexes (2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm), a T25 Torx, Philips & flat head screwdrivers, four spoke wrenches (sizes 0-3) and a bottle opener.
The F15 is surprisingly pleasant to use, given its small dimensions, and the slender design means you're able to slide it into tight spaces – such as around bottle cages – pretty effectively. The bits are very accurately machined and fit snugly in the fasteners.
Recessed bolts, such as those found in brake lever clamps, can be literally beyond its reach, though. The bits are simply too stubby to get in. By contrast the spoke keys, positioned as they are in the (effective) detachable chain tool, are more useable than on many multi-tools.
The five year warranty instils confidence, and the plating and general quality feel reassuringly good. It hasn't suffered even after a few nights out in damp, coastal air, and cranking hard on stubborn fasteners fails to create any flex or sense of vulnerability.
The FR15 is made to a high standard, but there is a lot of choice at this end of the market. For a large, eclectic fleet the Passport C-D-W Fold-Up Tool is arguably better, and that's a two-piece, 20 function Topeak Alien Homage for £25.
The Topeak Alien II itself has 25 functions for the same price as the F15, though to be fair, both these tools are aimed more towards tourers and bike packers.
We recently reviewed Topeak's Mini PT30 as well, which is also £39.99 and offers no fewer than 30 functions.
Accusing the Crankbrothers FR15 of offering form over function would be harsh and inaccurate – it offers both to a high degree. Nevertheless, you can get the same function (and good enough quality) for significantly less from other tools, so there's no doubt you're paying a premium for that lovely form.
Pretty, well-built and effective tool, but pricey
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Crankbrothers F15 multitool
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?
Crankbrothers says: "The F15 multitool is a minimalist yet fully capable device ready for a variety of riding disciplines."
My feelings: It's well built, effective and good looking, but pricey against equally competent designs.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
-Magnetic case secures tool and provides larger handle and extra leverage
-Hex wrenches: #2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8
-Screwdrivers: phillips #2, flat #1
-Spoke wrenches: #0, 1, 2, 3
-Chain tool 8/9/10/11/12 speed compatible
-Warranty: 5 years
Nicely made with good quality materials.
Solid tool quality and quite nimble in confined spaces, while casing offers some additional torque.
Seems very solid, and five year warranty inspires confidence.
164g feels solid but not hefty.
Surprisingly pleasant to use, given the size, which I attribute to solid materials and build quality.
By no means poor, given the materials and build, but pricey compared to others offering similar functions.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The F15 is well engineered and solidly made, though short bits are not ideal for recessed fasteners.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Strong engineering, solid tooling and great aesthetics.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Short tool bits.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's expensive. The Passport CDW Fold Up Tool is a two-piece, 20 function Topeak Alien Homage that's only £25, while the Topeak Alien II itself has 25 functions for the same price as the F15. To be fair, both these tools are aimed more towards tourers and bike packers.
The Topeak PT 30, though, is also level pegging on price, and offers no fewer than 30 functions.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No (my bikes are generally very old)
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes (if their bikes were new)
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is a decent tool with some nice touches. With longer bits and a lower price it would be an eight, but as it is it's good and a seven.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)