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The Topeak Ratchet Stick is a handy, cleverly-designed bit-driver that's much nicer to use than a multitool and almost as portable. The long handle means it can struggle near cables and tubes, and at 150g it's an unnecessary luxury for short journeys, but it's a great way of making home maintenance easier if space is at a premium. You're paying a premium too, though.
The Ratchet Stick comes with ten bits – five hex, four Torx and a Phillips screwdriver – but accepts any 1/4in bits. The supplied tools are decently cut from S2 hardened steel, have useful knurled sections for greasy-fingered grip, and show no signs of rounding either the bolts or themselves.
The four and five millimetre hex bits are longer than the rest to reach in awkward places, but at 30mm they're only 5mm longer and you still find yourself wishing for an extension bar at times.
Press the big button on the handle and the aluminium sleeve slides off to reveal the five hex bits, neatly held in by magnets – tool selection is quick and easy. They're retained in the tool head by a steel ring, so you just click them in and they're secure. It takes a particularly chewed-up and unfriendly bolt head to pull it out accidentally.
The ratchet mechanism feels lovely, with tiny gaps between clicks allowing you to work even when room to swing the handle is limited. It reverses direction at the flick of the switch below the (very useful) knurled dial, but while the switch is metal and robust, it could be longer and perhaps taller. It can be fiddly to work with your thumb, especially once there's grease everywhere.
There's a magnet-secured socket in the end of the handle too, which is handy for twiddling bolts screwdriver-style. Less handy is the plastic section that clips on the side – it looks like a mount, but what I took to be screw holes are actually just windows for showing the Torx and screwdriver bits inside.
The whole thing is just a large case for five small bits, and it doesn't even clip to the Ratchet Stick very well... I kept picking it up only to have the ratchet slide out and clatter to the floor. It tends to fall off if stuffed in a bag, too.
The mechanism and its steel handle can take a good bit of force – it's rated to 65Nm, which takes a fair effort. Typical stem bolts, for instance, are rated at 5-6Nm, While Shimano's Octalink crank bolts are around 49Nm and Race Face's are under 60Nm.
I had two or three instances early on where the switch jammed and the ratchet wouldn't turn, but with a bit of jiggling it quickly freed. I can't make it do it anymore – possibly some small imperfection or piece of swarf has been smoothed away by initial use.
If you did have an actual problem, Topeak covers its tools with a two-year warranty.
At £39.99 the Ratchet Stick costs considerably more than a multitool with the same bits, but it's far nicer to use and far easier to apply high torque with. More problematically it's costlier than the Pro Bike Tool Mini Ratchet Tool Set, which is slightly heavier but packs down smaller and is £22.79.
It's also more than the Giant Quick Fix Kit Road, which offers a ratchet and nine bits – plus tyre levers, a CO2 inflator and two 16g canisters – for £34.99.
The Ratchet Stick is strong, the quality is great and you can extend its uses with 1/4in bits from anywhere (Topeak does its own Bitkits – reviews to come). It falls slightly uncomfortably between a workshop and seatpack tool and is not entirely necessary, and it's rather expensive too... but it is a very useful, and pleasing, luxury.
Strong and well made ratchet, but expensive and essentially a luxury
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Topeak Ratchet Stick
Size tested: 10 Tools
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?
Topeak says: "A compact, easy to use and carry ratchet wrench with built-in compartment letting you store five of your most commonly used bits. The separate bit storage pen features a visible window to find the correct bit quickly, while the 4 / 5mm Allen bits with 30mm length makes it easy to reach tough bolt locations."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
S2 hardened steel
Aluminum / Engineering grade polymer
14.2 x ø 1.85 cm / 5.6' x 0.73' (Ratchet tool)
148 g / 5.22 oz (Ratchet tool w/ storage pen)
2 / 3 / 6 mm Allen bits
4 / 5 mm Allen bits (30 mm bit length)
T10 / T15 / T20 / T25 Torx® bits
#2 Phillips screw driver bit
Ratchet tool, bit screwdriver, Ratchet wrench integrated compartment for five bits, 5 bit storage pen
Neat and strong.
A pleasure to use.
Feels very solid.
Rivals offer more features for less.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Quality build, high-resolution ratchet and easy bit changes.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The clip-on bit holder design is weak.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's fairly expensive: costlier than the Pro Bike Tool Mini Ratchet Tool Set, which is slightly heavier but packs down smaller and is £22.79, and more than the Giant Quick Fix Kit Road, which offers a ratchet and nine bits – plus tyre levers, a CO2 inflator and two 16g canisters – for £34.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your overall score
There's little wrong with the Ratchet Stick itself – the clip-on storage is poor, by contrast – but with no extension bar it's not always the easiest tool to use. While it's compact it's a bit heavy for riding with, too, which rather undercuts the compactness. It's good, then, but given these things and the price, it's no more than a seven.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,