Last week we asked what multi-tools you rely on to get you out of trouble if you had a mechanical problem out on the road. We got a wide variety of answers, including one that's surprisingly retro. The envelope please …
We’ve grouped together the Alien II and III as they’re conceptually so similar: a multi tool that separates into two parts so the bulk of the body doesn’t get into the way of using the tool bits. The Alien II has 26 bits, the Alien III 25, but the mix is different so if you’re going for the Alien’s comprehensive coverage, check the tool lists carefully.
Here’s reader whizzzz singing the tool’s praises: “I like my old Topeak Alien. It’s well built and its split nature means you can use a spanner with a screwdriver etc. The bits seem well made and I haven’t rounded any allen keys like some tools I have and out on my bike it hasn’t let me or my ride chums down yet.”
Lezyne’s nicely-finished multi-tools are popular for their shininess and for the firm attachment of the bits to the handle, which makes it easy to get plenty of oomph on when needed.
The SV 10 gets reader monty dog’s vote for its “tiny size and weight but works when you need it”.
A blast from the past here: third place for a tool originally made in 1990 and unavailable for many years now. The appeal of the Cool Tool was an excellent adjustable spanner with narrow jaws that made it usable on pedals and hub cones and a chain tool that did the job extremely well.
Nominating the Cool Tool, alexb wrote: “The original CoolTool was pretty much perfect for its time – three allen keys, cross-headed screwdriver, chain breaker (which worked), slimmed down monkey wrench which would do axle cones as well as other nuts, an adaptor for 1in headsets and a crank bolt socket – all in a compact package which fit easily into a pocket. I still have mine and use it from time to time.”
This simple but highly functional multi boasts, as you’d expect from the name, 19 tool bits.
medic_ollie likes the gold version which, he says: “Looks great. Feels like it's going to last for years. The chain tool made short work of my brother's rusty broken chain. Plus comes with a metal case to keep it looking pristine.”
Topeak tops the ranking with this folding multi-tool that includes 16 tool tips, covering everything a road cyclist is likely to need.
Reader jthef says: “I have 2 of these, older models though, one on each bike; one over 10 years old now and still going strong. No breakages and the chain tools have been used and work well. I really like the clip for holding the chain together while you fit the missing link.”
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.