Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Gear Review: Crank Brothers Multi 19 tool

Jarrett Morgan | |

A Gear Review on the Crank Brothers Multi 19 tool (M 19)

After travel days, a long weekend trip, and a little recovery, we finally have a new post.  Today I will be reviewing the Crank Brothers Multi 19 tool (M 19).  I bought this tool shortly after buying my mountain bike and have been using it on rides ever since.  I have used smaller multi tools as well, but decided the M 19 had all the tools I needed and more.  You can find the M 19 at  REI.com.    

The M 19 Multi tool and the carrying flask
The M 19 Multi tool and the carrying flask

The Background and Design

It seems like every outdoor activity has a unique multi tool, just think of the iconic Leatherman or Gerber, and mountain biking is no different.  The M 19 weighs just under 8 ounces and is 3.5 inches in length.  The M 19 is made from stainless steel, so it won’t rust or corrode.  Furthermore, it is a flip design that has all the hex wrenches on one side and all the other tools on the other side.  The M 19 includes the following tools:
chain tool: 8/9/10 speed compatible (used to remove the chain)
spoke wrench: #0, 1, 2, 3 (used to adjust spoke tension)
hex wrenches: #2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8
screwdrivers: Philips #1, Philips #2, flat #2
open wrench: 8mm, 10mm
Torx: t-25, t-10

How I use it

This is my go to tool for quick fixes out on the trail when I am mountain biking.  I mostly use the hex and Torx wrenches to adjust my gears and brakes on the fly.  This mostly happens after a decent fall and everything gets moved out of alignment.  However, I have never has a reason to use the chain tool or the spoke wrenches in the field.  I have fortunately never had any chain issues to use the chain tool.  Moreover, I would not recommend using the spoke wrenches on the trail unless you have some practice truing a wheel. 

the chain tool and spoke wrenches
The chain tool and spoke wrenches

Performance

The M 19 has always worked well when I needed it to, like after a fall or when I have to take a wheel off and everything gets unaligned.  After a particularly rough fall, it always seems like my gears shift rough afterwards.  Therefore, I will have to pull over and use the hex wrenches to adjust the tension on the shifting cable.  If that doesn’t fix it, the screwdrivers can be used to adjust the limit screws (practice at home because this can be tricky).  Also, if I remove a wheel or both wheels for travel, it never fails that my brakes aren’t properly aligned between the brake pads when everything is reassembled.  This is when I use the Torx wrench to adjust each brake pad to ensure I have enough stopping power.    

Issues

While the M 19 is a solid tool, it does have a few issues.  The first issue is its weight.  Because the M 19 is made entirely from steel and comes in a steel flask, the tool is relatively heavy for its size.  I am not much of a gram counter, but there are lighter tools with equivalent tools; however, being steel provides an added level of durability.  Another issue with the M 19 is its bulky size.  Having 19 tools is great, but all those tools have to go somewhere, which results in the M 19 being very wide.  As a result, I always have to align my spokes perfectly to get a Torx wrench in position to adjust my inner brake pad.  The final issue is that the tools don’t have a locking mechanism and cannot lock into the extended position.  It is not uncommon for me to be turning the tool and the specific wrench I’m using will shift out of the extended position.

It can be difficult to get between the spokes
The M 19 in action: adjusting brake pads.  It can be difficult to get between the spokes

Final Thoughts

Overall, I highly recommend the M19 despite its issues.  It is a durable tool that will last for years under rough conditions and is backed by a lifetime warranty.  I always take this tool biking and it has served me well over the years.

If you have a favorite multi tool go ahead and tell us about it.  Also, if you like the blog, please follow us on Facebook.

Jarrett Morgan

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