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The Knipex Mini Wrench Pliers (with Steel Handle) are a tiny, lightweight answer to pretty much any nut-tightening ask on your bike, up to 21mm. Being able to act as a crimper, plier and adjustable spanner makes the high price somewhat easier to swallow – though to be honest, Knipex itself sells these direct for half the price.
These may be called pliers, but really this is a 21mm adjustable spanner – with plier-type handles – that weighs far less than your phone and, at just 100mm long, is able to slip into a tight jeans pocket. And while they're expensive and don't seem all that necessary, they really are a justifiable investment covering a multitude of uses on your bike.
You may think that these days there are very few nuts on bicycles (make your own World Naked Bike Ride joke here), but during the review I racked up a long list of applicable uses for bikes new and old:
And in addition to all that, they're brilliant for crimping cable ends.
Probably the easiest way to describe how the pliers work is to say they are like a tiny set of vice grips, except they don't lock closed, and they adjust at the pivot point in ten steps. As you move the jaw's pivot point you change how close the handles are when gripped, so you can have a wider or narrower grip to suit how much force you want to apply. A critical point is that the jaw surfaces remain perfectly parallel, so force is applied evenly, reducing the chance of slipping or marking the edges.
Knipex says these are good for up to 21mm, but at that point the handles are a fair distance apart and you may feel them hard to lever against. If you want to be able to wrap your fingers around the two handles clamped as close as possible, you're limited to 15mm.
Obviously with 10 different locking positions but a range of 21mm, you can see how by going smaller or larger in starting jaw width, you can then decide how closed or open the handles are when applying force. Wearing gloves improves your ability to apply pressure without the bare steel handles digging into your palm.
I tried this version on a number of traditional 15mm axle nuts, a width that also matches the flats on most pedals. As 15mm is the distance at which you can have the handles fully closed, it's possible to apply a fair amount of welly to an axle nut or pedal – certainly enough to get you home, and close to a serious spanner or 6-8mm hex key (I know because I tested it on an e-road bike with a rear hub motor that had 15mm nuts inset with 8mm hex sockets; I tried both methods on the same fastener). I was comfortably able to apply around 15-20Nm of torque, more than enough to secure the wheel in place.
The cycling utility of the Knipex Mini Wrench Pliers comes in the combination of the 0-21mm range, low weight and small size, plus the narrow (2.5mm wide) jaws. They're narrow enough to deal with fiddly applications like cup-and-cone hubs, threaded pedal nuts (where you remove the endcap from a pedal and tighten the nut) and shifter pod nuts.
If you need to grab the end of an inner cable to pull it taut before tightening a pinch bolt, there's more than enough force to do so. You can also pair the pliers with an assortment of hex bits, and use it as a bit holder to tighten or loosen cap screws. Again, the force with which you can hold a hex bit is quite sufficient for most tasks, meaning you don't need a separate tool.
Which brings us to the alternatives. For the size, weight and utility, I'm hard pressed to think of anything that can replicate the exact function. Yes I could quote any number of adjustable spanners as alternatives, but they really aren't the same.
Really the only comparison is with Knipex's own alternatives, such as the longer (150mm), chunkier 'M-Grip' handled version of the same tool, for £12 more. if you suffer from grip challenges and weight/space is less of an issue, this might be the version to go for.
Alternatively, the plastic-dipped-handle version of the 150mm tool is £39.95 on Knipex's Amazon store, and offers a bit more comfort without any meaningful extra bulk. This bare metal 100mm option is £35 in the same place.
No, I don't think it's a tool for a commuter, or couple-of-hours-ride-from-home cyclist. But if you're planning a trip or expedition where self-sufficiency is critical, or have a bike well-festooned with racks and whatnot that get shaken loose from time to time, this might well be one to suggest goes under the Christmas tree or on that Significant Birthday list.
If your bike's covered in nuts and you need to repair on the road, this may be the tool for you
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Knipex Mini Wrench Pliers Steel Handle
Size tested: 100mm
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 to be able to tighten nuts or parts up to 21mm in width, and a tiny, lightweight tool.
"Pliers and a wrench in a single tool: Plier wrench's combine many functions, they replace an entire set of wrenches in metric and imperial sizes, and can be adjusted very quickly at the touch of a button. With an enormous gripping, the parallel jaw opening grips up to 21mm width across flats. Brilliant for confined spaces with optimum accessibility."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Optimum accessibility, even in confined spaces: particularly compact design, very slim head
One-handed fine adjustment by pushing for the simplest adjustment to different workpiece sizes
Enormous gripping capacity with a tool length of only 100 mm; parallel jaw opening grips continuously up to 21 mm width across flats
Robust sliding joint offers high stability and resilience
Smooth jaws for the gentle assembly of sensitive fittings and parts with delicate surface finishes: can be used directly on chrome due to the smooth full-surface contact
Versatile areas of application: precision engineering, plumbing, an essential part of any bicycle or motorcycle toolkit, EDC (Every Day Carry), model making
Pinch guard prevents operators' fingers from being pinched
Fine adjustment with 10 adjustment positions
Article No: 86 04 100
EAN Code: 4003773087281
Pliers: Chrome plated
Head: Chrome plated
Handles: Embossed, rough surface
Dimensions: 100 x 31 x 10mm
REACH compliant: Does not contain SVHC
RoHS compliant: Not applicable
Adjustment positions: 10
Capacities for nuts: 3/4 inches or 21mm
Knipex's quality is a thing to behold.
It would be great if the 'lock' was more positive, but for the weight and size it's more than good enough.
Still looks like new, but I wouldn't be using a cheat bar with it.
Amazingly light for the function.
With gloves on, not an issue. Otherwise the narrow handles can dig into your palms under force.
If you need to be able to tighten any nut on your bike without carrying a large number of spanners, or a heavy adjustable, this could be the thing for you. Comes at a price mind.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Works really well for odd jobs around the bike, and as a disaster recovery tool for pedals and wheel nuts.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The weight and size. So tiny, so many uses.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The lack of padding, and increasing width of the grips when working on fasteners over 15mm.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There's no real comparison except with other Knipex products - and yes, it costs a fortune compared to individual tools. In reality, the most basic of the two padded-handle options can be had for £40, however.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes-ish
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but with caveats
Use this box to explain your overall score
These are really well made and very cleverly designed. If you've ever been caught out with a loose pedal, wheel nut or pannier, then the value of the Knipex pliers is high - especially if you buy them via Knipex's own Amazon store.
About the tester
I usually ride: Sonder Camino Gravelaxe My best bike is: Nah bro that's it
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, general fitness riding, mtb, G-R-A-V-E-L
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.