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Topeak Alien X Multitool

8
£54.99

VERDICT:

8
10
It's a chunky tool covering pretty much every option you'll need
All the latest bits and use cases covered
Quite large
Square profile can be hurty to grasp
Weight: 
202g

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The Topeak Alien X Multitool is the latest update to a venerable classic kitchen-sink of a tool that's been keeping cyclists going for 25 years. Bang up to date with Torx, quicklink and disc brake features, its two-piece design makes working on your bike easy.

Topeak's Alien tools have been a go-to choice for serious adventurers for over two decades. I own one from the mid-90s that reflects the ancient bike tech back then – not a single Torx, but 8, 9 and 10mm ring spanners and a 15mm pedal flats wrench.

> Find your nearest dealer here

Topeak has kept pace with improvements to bike-tweaking tech, and probably the most notable change here is that there's no dedicated Phillips screwdriver – rather, a PH2 magnetised head that fits onto the 4mm hex. Chances are your modern bike doesn't actually have a single Phillips head screw on it, so all is well here. There's also a Torx T30 magnetic bit; T30 has appeared recently on some Shimano chainrings but I'd expect to see it more often as it replaces 6mm hex bolts in high-torque applications.

You also get T10, 15, 20 and 25 dedicated tools, which should cover everything else. A few older bikes might have T27 fittings, in which case your best bet is to just replace the screw with a T25.

2021 Topeak Alien X Multitool - tools 3.jpg

You get a full range of hexes, starting with a teensy 1.5, then not one but two 2mm – one at a right angle for getting into tight spaces, one straight. Then there's 2.5, 3, 4, 5 and 6mm just as you'd expect, followed by a stumpy 8mm for pedals and finally a 10mm cap on the 6mm hex, retained with a spring-loaded ball.

The cap also includes a valve core remover slot – handy, because if the core remover was on the tool itself it could make for many on-off-on rotations where the tool couldn't pass through the spokes.

2021 Topeak Alien X Multitool - tools 2.jpg

The straight 2mm is on the end of a fold-out with cutouts for 14 and 15G spokes nipples, plus Mavic's 7mm and Shimano's 4.5 nipples.

Next to that is a pretty sharp 3.5cm serrated blade, which should make short work of fencepost-as-chopping-board for salami or shoelaces, should creativity be needed to solve a problem. The blade comes with a plastic safety cover – nice. My 20-year-old Alien had an actual lock for the blade that required a press on a lever to close up – the blade and tubeless plug tool on the Mini PT-30 tool has a locking mechanism also – but on the Alien X an actual lock is replaced with a detent that is pretty easy to overcome, so not quite as safe/solid as previous.

2021 Topeak Alien X Multitool - tools 1.jpg

Also on this side of the tool is the chain breaker, good for all chains from single speed up to and including 12 speed but not Campy's 11-speed hollow pins. The chain tool pin screw is driven by the 4mm hex that's in your other hand when separated, so you can get plenty of leverage in. The tool's 4mm hex head doubles as the chain pin snapper-offer. You also get a chain retaining hook, so you can put a loop in a tensioned chain for easier working.

The fact that it splits in half makes for a few other bonuses. Firstly, with the 5 and 6mm hexes on different sides you can tighten chainring bolts without having to find another tool. Secondly, the tool pivots can be tightened by the opposing tool – 2.5mm and T20 to be specific – so you'll never be left with floppy or hard-to-fold tools.

There's storage for two quicklinks in the body, held in place by little retaining clips. There's also a disc rotor spacer, for if you need to remove a wheel but are paranoid about compressing the lever. This isn't capable of spreading pads that have been compressed too far – the metal tyre lever would be a good shout for doing that, as it's really too short to be of serious use as a tyre lever itself except in dire emergency.

> How to replace a chain

The standout feature of the Alien X (and I believe the inspiration for the 'X' moniker) is the quicklink plier tool. Comprising two arms that fold out and then fit together to pivot like pliers, you get loads of leverage to quickly separate even the toughest quicklink.

2021 Topeak Alien X Multitool pliers.JPG

Topeak advises in the manual that the quicklink pliers are not compatible with Shimano 11/12-speed quicklinks, but this was a hangover from an early batch of links that were mega-stiff. Shimano has sorted it now, so they work just fine with them.

2021 Topeak Alien X Multitool pliers in action.JPG

On the side of one of the quicklink arms there's an indent measuring 2.1mm or thereabouts, identified as a 'spoke holder'. Topeak advises this is to prevent spoke wind-up when tensioning bladed spokes, but 2.1mm is way too fat for every bladed spoke I've ever encountered.

When assembled the Alien X is pretty chunky – roughly a 4 x 4 x 7cm cube, it's considerably fatter than most tools. Of course packing in 34 functions is going to take up space, but it's the split design that necessitates the bulk. The edges are pretty square, especially when split in half, so gripping tightly for high-torque use can be a tad hurty if not wearing gloves. You can add leverage by folding out and locking all the tools on the opposite side to effectively make the tool longer – this is the 'extendable' mentioned in Topeak's marketing blurb.

2021 Topeak Alien X Multitool - folded.jpg

The Alien X comes in a tough nylon pouch secured by Velcro. Unlike my older pouch it doesn't have a belt loop to facilitate quick-draw trailside fettling, so you'll still have to rummage for it. There's a thin pocket under the flap that you can slip a spare few tyre patches into.

> 12 of the best cycling multi-tools — get the right bits to fix your bike’s bits

Although it's not cheap, with a two-year warranty and made of premium materials, the Alien X will likely last you decades, the same as my original has. Compared with the Topeak Mini PT30, for your extra £10 and 34g you're getting a T20 and T30 Torx, a tyre lever, and the split-in-half functionality that enables dual-sided tool use. The PT30 includes a tubeless tyre plug reamer and locking insertion fork, and overall is about half the thickness of the Alien X. The 2mm on the Alien is straight as opposed to the PT30 where it's a right-angle – meaning the Alien X would be a much better tool for tweaking a mech that used 2mm hex screws. Of course you could just cut the J-end off the PT-30 tool and grind it flat to make a straight 2mm, were you so inclined.

It compares well with Silca's 20-function Venti multi-tool, too, which has gone up to £50 since Stu tested it back in 2018.

Ultimately, whether the Alien X suits your needs is down to the bikes you need to fettle. If this ticks the boxes, you won't be disappointed.

Verdict

It's a chunky tool covering pretty much every option you'll need

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Topeak Alien X Multitool

Size tested: 7.8x4.5x4cm

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 pretty much everytihng to be covered on a modern bike.

Topeak says: 'The evolution of the world famous ALiEN tool transforms the X into the ultimate 34 function pro quality folding tool. The ALiEN X features T10 / T15 / T20 / T25 / T30 Torx® tools and adds a master link pliers for use on master link equipped single/multi-speed chains. Two piece design allows easy access and full use of all tools and adds leverage when tightening bolts. Includes self-tightening tools and a nylon bag.'

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Topeak lists:

FUNCTIONS

34

TOOLS

1.5-L / 2-L / 2.5 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 8 mm Allen wrenches, 10 hex socket

T10 / T15 / T20 / T25 Torx® wrenches, T30 Torx® socket

14G / 15G / Mavic M7 / Shimano® 4.5mm spoke wrenches

CrMo steel chain tool*, chain hook, CrMo steel master link pliers**

Super hard anodized tire lever***

#2 Phillips sockets, serrated knife / saw

Presta valve core tool, engineering grade polymer disc spacer

TOOL MATERIAL

Chrome vanadium steel

BODY

Engineering grade polymer

BAG

1800 denier HD Nylon (TRK-T025)

ADDED FEATURES

Secondary chain link fence, chain pin breaker, chain pin compartment, master link storage compartment, two piece design, extendable for leverage, self-tightening tools, and protective knife cover

SIZE

7.8 x 4.5 x 4 cm / 3.1' x 1.8' x 1.6'

WEIGHT

204 g / 7.2 oz

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

High build quality.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

The mechanisms and tolerances are all good.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

Still looks like new.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
7/10

It's a hefty wee thing.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
6/10

Can be a bit sore when tightening hard.

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

It's not a cheap tool, but all this functionality for £55 is a good deal, backed by warranty and Topeak's quality. Silca's Venti tool is £50 but features 20 tools.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It does loads of things, most of them very well indeed.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The chain tool is lovely to use. Effortless.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The squareness of the edges.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

At a £10 premium over the Mini PT-30 it is pricey, but Topeak makes really good tools. Stu tested Silca's Venti tool a few years ago – that's now £50 and features 20 tools.

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 overall score

It's very good. It's a bit chunky and lacks a proper locking mechanism, but it covers all the bases. The tyre lever is maybe a gimmick, but if I really needed it one day I would appreciate it.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 47  Height: 183cm  Weight: 77kg

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

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