Monday, October 20, 2014

Topeak Universal Chain Tool and Topeak Mini 9 Multi Tool

What tools and spares do you carry on your bike? Most people will say to carry a spare tube, as a puncture is the most frequent malfunction that we are likely to encounter while riding a bike. Together with a decent hand pump and tire levers, these 3 items are the minimum spares and tools that we should carry on every ride.

For the more paranoid (or better equipped), they will have at least a multi tool. The multi tool will have the common Allen key sizes and a Philips screwdriver head. This will allow adjustment or tightening of almost all the bolts and screws on the bike.

On certain unlucky days, the chain of the bike may give way and break or get damaged. Although this is a rare event, it is a major malfunction, as a broken chain basically reduces the bike to a push bike as you cannot pedal any more. If you are far away from a repair shop or transport, this will mean a long long walk.

In my portable tool kits, I will have a portable chain tool to remove a broken chain link. With the chain tool, I will be able to remove a broken chain link and join up the broken ends. This shortens the chain a little bit, which means that I will not be able to use the front top (53T) and rear low (28T) combination. However it will repair the chain and enable me to continue cycling.

The smallest and yet effective chain tool that I have come across is the Topeak Universal Chain Tool. Not only is it powerful enough to actually be able to break and join chains, it can also be disassembled for even more compact storage.

Simple packaging of the Topeak Universal Chain Tool

Small chain tool but packs many features!

Small size but with good length on the metal handles for sufficient leverage.

Metal clip to hold on to the chain, in order to reduce tension at the chain link which you are trying to join or break.

Hollow metal handle can be used to store extra chain pins

Can be disassembled into 3 parts for more compact storage

An example of how to store the separated chain tool compactly

The chain tool shown on the left is the older version of the chain tool, which has a longer handle. However, the older version does not have a compartment for spare chain pins or a metal clip.

Weight of the new chain tool

Weight of the older chain tool. Just a bit heavier due to the longer handle.

With the chain tool, I can rest assured that even if there is a problem with my bicycle chain, I will be able to repair it and continue on my way. I have tested it in actual conditions while out cycling, and it works nicely to break and rejoin a chain. Highly recommended for those who are prone to breaking chains or for those who want to be well prepared. Very useful for overseas trips where there is no transport and you need to be fully self sufficient.

I noted that the chain tool is not recommended for use on 11 speed chains. From what I understand, it is OK to break an 11 speed chain with this chain tool, but it may not be able to join an 11 speed chain properly. This is OK for me as I will be joining the chain with a KMC Missing Link for 11 speeds and not a chain pin.


Topeak Mini 9 Multi Tool

Another useful tool for the bike is the multi tool. This is necessary if you want to tighten loose bolts on the bike or adjust stuff on the bike. For example, you may need to adjust your brakes while out riding, and the Allen key and screwdriver on the multi tool will allow you to do that.

I chose a very basic one that has only a few Allen keys and Philips screwdriver. There are larger multi tools with many more functions, such as chain tool, tire levers and such. However I have tried and found that integrated tire levers or chain tools are difficult to use and are often much less effective than dedicated chain tools or individual tire levers.

The Topeak Mini 9 Multi Tool is one of the smallest available, and weighs only 92 grams. Another thing I like about Topeak multi tools is that most of them come with a nice neoprene pouch to protect the tool and also protect other items in your saddle bag from the multi tool.

Topeak Mini 9 Multi Tool. Comes with Allen keys sized 2 to 8mm, A Torx T25 bit and a Philips head screwdriver. Sufficient for 95% of all bolts and nuts on the bike.

Nice pouch for the multi tool

Small but strong tool bits. The size 8mm allen key comes as a hollow bit that goes onto the 6mm Allen key.

I have used the Topeak Mini 9 multi tool before on my other bikes, and it can get the job done reliably. Small and simple, but effective. One downside that I noticed is that it tends to get rust spots if you handle it with sweaty hands, which is likely if you use it while out riding. However, this does not actually affect the function of the multi tool at all, just the appearance.

These 2 new tools, the Topeak Universal Chain Tool and Topeak Mini 9 Multi Tool were bought for the new road bike, as the road bike will require its own tool kit. They are tried and proven tools that I had good experience with previously, which is why I bought them again. Also, they are small and lightweight which will minimise the weight of the tool kit on the road bike.

In the next few posts I will be reviewing and showing the new tools that will be carried on my Merida Scultura 5000 road bike.

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