I have one Blackburn multi tool from some years back. It is a big thing and even includes a tiny shock pump on it (never tried to use that). As full function as it is, it is a big thing, heavy to carry and basically pretty awful to use. The tool bits are ridiculously short and they do not stay ‘in place’, not having enough friction to keep the tool bit, such as an allen head, from flopping around as you try to use it. Compare this to something like, oh, say a Lezyne multitool, and the difference is apparent.
These two new multis from Blackburn are not, to paraphrase from an ad jingle, ‘your father’s multitool’. They feel like and look like real tools, something that feels good in the hand and functions well.
- 1.5mm, 3mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm straight Allen bits.
- 2mm, 2.5mm, 4mm bent Allen bits
- T25, T30 Torx
- Flathead screwdriver bit
- Disc pad spreader/presta valve core tool/bottle opener (beers to you!)
For $19.99 MSRP, this is the basic multi tool that would meet the needs of pretty much every bit and bobbin out there on the majority of decent bike shop bikes. It folds up small and looks good. ALl the edges are rounded and it is all metal. The length of the bits seem to be about right too. It might be a bit big for the minimalist roadie, but I doubt many MTB riders would have any issue stowing this tool away.
The disc brake pad spreader comes into play when you get to trailhead and find you grabbed your front brake level with the front wheel out for transport and now the brake rotor will not insert into the caliper. Voila….pad spreader. As well, the Presta valve remover can be soooo helpful when you need it. Case in point. I am out with the road group on a 60 mile loop, but we are still in town. I pull over with a flat. No biggy. Deal with that and the quickfill does the trick, but I am just a bit low…maybe 10psi or so. So at the next stop, I grab my mini pump and put some air in. The pump is one that has a threaded hose for the Presta valve, and when I unscrew it, the valve core comes out. WHoosh! No mo’ air. Pumping frantically as the group pedals away up the next 10 miles of climbing, I repeat this tragic drama 3 more times…pump like a monkey on crack….whoosh. So I grab my multi tool and find one of the tiny slots in the chain breaker that sort of fits the Presta valve and snug it down so I can do this one more time.
Having that on the multitool on purpose is nice. However the one on the Grid 13 is a bit flawed.I used it to take a valve core out of a Presta stem. It loosened it fine, allowing me to tale it our by hand. Putting it back in by hand, then using the Grid 13 to snug it down, I ran into an issue. This was a high spoke count wheel (MTB) so there was not enough room alongside the valve stem to maneuver the tool and get it to hit the flats on the valve core. Nada. 90% tight. What I did was use the Wayside which has a removable chain tool with the Presta valve tool/slot cut into it. Since I could separate that section of the tool from the rest, I was able to get the core 100% snug. So the Grid 13 has one, but it might not be the best application for it.
- Individual Hex Keys: “L” bend with ball end to get into funky places: 2, 2.5, 3, 4 & 5mm sizes
- Knife Blade: Locking and serrated for your pleasure
- Chain Tool: 7–11 speed compatible
- Chain Assembly Hook: To assist in chain repair
- Disc Brake Pad Spreader: Easily resets disc brake pads
- 8mm Hex: With hollow core that will accept loose hex keys to provide additional leverage
- Torx Keys: Essential for modern bikes: T25, T30 sizes
- Spoke Wrenches: Located on the chain tool handle: #0, #1 & #2 sizes
- Presta Valve Core Tool: Reinstalls or tightens tube valve core
- Flat Head Screwdriver
Well right away the thing that makes this tool almost a forehead slapper is the way you can break-out 5 of the common sized Allens into separate wrenches just like you would use them out of the garage tool box. Bravo. Bravo! Held there in the plastic nest and wrapped with the rubber band, that makes so much sense. The rest of the tool has two things I have never had in a multi tool before…a serrated, locking knife blade and a chain holder-wire thingy that is darn helpful when you are trying to reassemble a chain when it is on the bike.
It is a bit big and bulky so this would be for a bigger saddle pack or a hydration pack. This is the type of tool that would be more for bigger days or touring/bikepacking anyway IMO.
Like the Grid 13, it feels significant and tool-like. Both have good fitting keys into the Allen bolt heads I tried them on.
Blackburn seems to have stepped up the game, both in quality and features since I last visited their products. Both of these tools would be welcome on anything I ride.
Note: The products shown here were provided at no cost to Twenty Nine Inches for test and review. We are not being paid, nor bribed for these reviews and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.