We spent two months and logged a total of 1,609km putting 15 bike tools through dozens of en route and at-home repairs, and found the Topeak Mini 9 to be the best multi-tool for casual cyclists. If you're willing to pay more for a lighter tool, check out the Specialised EMT Pro Road. If you're a mountain biker, the Crank Brothers m19 has the additional tools you need. And for you single-speed/fixed-gear folks, the Park Tool MT-30 has a wrench for removing bolted wheels.
AU Editor's Note: Some of these products might not be available in Australia, but most or all should ship internationally via Amazon or other online stores. -- Cam
If you ride a bike, ideally you should be able to perform basic maintenance and fixes on your own. Not only will this save you money, it can be personally rewarding as well. Minor things go wrong on a ride sometimes, and most of them are fixable. That's why multi-tools are so wonderful -- they are small and inexpensive and fit in your pocket but they can solve so many problems (though they're not for flat tires -- our guide for the tools you need for that common repair is here.)
As the former editor-in-chief of Bicycling magazine and an avid cyclist for three decades, our reviewer Peter Flax has been fixing bikes for a long time. Along the way, he's bought, used, and tested scores of multi-tools. In addition to Flax's own expertise and hours of field testing, we read hundreds of Amazon reviews from regular people who have purchased and used these products out in the field, as well as scores of product reviews of every tool in this guide from cycling magazines and websites.
Compact and (mostly) complete: Topeak Mini 9
A great bike multi-tool should be light and compact and have all the tools you need to address common issues on your bike. That means the best for you varies based on what bike you ride. But for most folks who are just biking on paved roads to and from work or for fun on weekends, the Topeak Mini 9 fits the bill.
The Topeak Mini 9 is super compact, but includes nine tools (seven hex bolts, one Torx bolt, and a Phillips screwdriver), all arranged so that you can actually use them (a lot of mini-tools try to cram too much into a small space, making it difficult to actually use the tool on your bike or gain enough leverage to turn a stubborn bolt). All of the Mini 9's tool bits are of high quality, made of hardened steel, and long enough to give you enough leverage to do common repairs. We used the Topeak Mini 9 for adjusting saddle height in the rain, replacing bolts on cleats, and loosening a tight stem. You won't find a chain tool for taking off and installing your chain in a pinch (we have a pick that does have one below), but this shouldn't be an issue if you stick to paved roads.
For a compact tool, the Topeak's bits are easier to access than those found on competitive products because it is a little longer. Even so, the Topeak is also super light -- just 92 grams compared with the similar Park Tool IB-2, which weighs 108 grams. But it wasn't the lightest tool we tested.
Less is more (expensive): Specialised EMT Pro Road
The lightest tool we tested was the 65-gram Specialised EMT Pro Road, and it's also looks the coolest. At its current price of around $US30 ($40), it's not cheap, and it lacks the 8mm and 2.5mm Allen wrenches from the Topeak. But these are less-used sizes anyway. It's a great splurge if you already own a set of Allen wrenches at home and want something to only take on rides, but the Topeak is better for most cyclists.
When the going gets rough: Crank Brothers m19
If you ride mountain bikes, not having the right tool on hand can lead to a very long walk to a trailhead parking lot (or a desperate mobile phone call if you're out for a long road ride). In a category filled with quality choices, the Crank Brothers m19 stands out, with superb construction backed up by a lifetime warranty. Highlights include a chain tool that's plenty good enough for home repairs, four spoke wrenches, two Torx and Phillips head bits, six hex bits with the sizes etched on, and textured side grips that give the m19 a nice, secure feel, even while wearing gloves. (The m19 lacks a disc brake pad separator; if that tool is critical to you, consider the Lezyne Stainless 20.)
For bolted wheels: Park Tool MT-30
Though most modern bicycles have a quick-release mechanism that allows cyclists to remove wheels without any tools, some bikes' wheels -- including fixed-gear bikes, some single speeds, and Brompton folding bikes -- can't be removed without a 15mm wrench. And although there are a number of clever multi-tools or stand-alone wrenches made with the fixed-gear rider in mind, the Park Tool MT-30 is the best choice to tackle the roadside repairs a typical rider might encounter. Unlike most alternatives, the MT-30 has the right mix of hex, screwdriver, and Torx bits to handle most everything short of a broken chain. Unfortunately, the MT-30's stubby 15mm box wrench can't quite match the leverage of a full-size wrench, but we had no issues while testing it on four different fixed-gear bikes.
These picks may have been updated. To see the current recommendations, please read Sweethome's guide.