Best bike multi-tools 2023: Brilliant roadside repair

A close up to two hands using a Topeak multi-tool to split a chain on a bike
(Image credit: Topeak)

When it comes to addressing annoying issues like a rattling bottle cage, saddle adjustments, or fixing a broken chain, the best bike multi-tools can save you some frustration and those embarrassing "come rescue me" calls. Having the wrong multi-tool, on the other hand, can turn a simple fix into a disaster with stripped bolts and a few too many expletives uttered in a public space, followed by a humiliating ride home.  

The best bike multi-tools come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some of them are like mini workshops, packed with nearly every tool imaginable, while others take a more minimalist and lightweight approach, offering only the essentials. Striking the right balance between size and functionality is crucial, and making sure you always pack your multi-tool, alongside your best bike pump and a set of the best tyre levers will help you to remain self-sufficient on your rides.

The best bike multi-tools available today

They aren't meant to replace your toolbox, though. They're perfect for quick adjustments, testing out new components, or handling unexpected roadside repairs. Still, you don't want a poorly machined tool to strip the heads of your fixings, so the best bike multi-tools, while using lightweight materials for the body, are likely to use strengthened steel for the parts that interact with the bike.

That said, different cyclists have different needs – a commuter may want a simple tool that quickly and robustly adjusts a wheel nut, while a road cyclist with a high-end carbon frame will prioritise applying the correct torque to adjust their seat post. We've got you covered on both counts, and everything in between.

Read on for our pick of the best bike multi-tools our tech team reach for on the way out the door for a ride. Plus, if you're not sure which multi-tool is best for you, then scroll to the bottom of the page for our guide on how to choose the right one for you.

If you’ve taken a liking to fixing your bike yourself, be sure to also check out our roundup of the best torque wrenches and the best bike repair stands and, finally, don't miss out on our bike maintenance tips to reduce repair costs, which covers everything from tyre pressure to brake pad wear.

How to choose the best bike multi-tools

What is a bike multi-tool?

A bike multi-tool is a compact and versatile tool designed specifically for carrying out emergency roadside repairs or quick on-the-fly adjustments during your ride. They’re always portable, small enough to carry in a pocket or saddle bag, and combine various tools into a single unit, like a Swiss army knife. 

Typically, a multi-tool will come with a range of Allen key heads in different sizes, which are used for tightening and loosening bolts and screws. These make it possible to adjust your saddle height, or tighten a loose and rattling bottle cage or mudguard, for example. They also tend to feature Philips and flathead screwdrivers, as a minimum. 

Other tools included vary from model to model, making some better suited to certain uses than others. Whether or not you want a multi-tool that comes with tubeless tyre repair parts, a chain breaker tool, or Torx wrenches, is totally up to you and your individual needs.

What tools should I carry on my bike?

No one wants to be loaded down with a full tool kit while riding, so cyclists often carry a multi-tool that fulfils most of the duties that are likely to be required. More often than not these are small adjustments to seat posts or gear lever placements, but also you want cover for worst-case scenarios.

While many cyclists will also carry a puncture repair kit of sorts, some of the best bike multi-tools come with elements to help with this, such as tyre levers or even tubeless tyre repair kits. 

Regular home maintenance can help keep your bike running smoothly, and hopefully prevent some of the most common issues from happening in the first place. If there is a specific component you have been having trouble with, you could always bring out the particular tool you know will help you to adjust it, rather than attempting to cover for all eventualities.

What do you need in a bike multi-tool?

The majority of your bike can be disassembled with a 4mm and 5mm Allen key so, at the very least, the best bike multi-tools should have Allen keys with these two sizes. It’s also worth having a 6mm. While some tools may have an 8mm or 10mm bit, quite often they aren't much use because the tool doesn’t offer enough leverage to break a bolt that size loose. 

Some bikes also use Torx bolts, usually in a T25 and sometimes a T30, and a small Phillips head screwdriver also comes in handy for derailleurs. 

The other tool we prioritise on a bike multi-tool is a chain splitter. Even if you have a quick link in your spare tyre kit, you’ll need a chain tool to pop the old link off. Quite often the chain tool will also have spoke wrenches built into the lever.

And along with the rise of tubeless tyres comes the need for new tools. A valve core remover isn't something many will need to use at the roadside, but if you don't have one at home (or if you lost it again), then it's good to know there's one built into your multi-tool. 

A recent en-vogue tool is the tubeless tyre plug and, as such, more and more multi-tools are adding these to the list. If you run tubeless on a gravel bike, then this will be a worthwhile addition, but if you're a roadie running latex tubes, then it's just unnecessary extra weight in your pocket. 

Which bike multi-tool will last the longest?

A bike multi-tool might not be something you use all that often, especially if you have a tool kit at home, but it is probably going to spend a lot of time in your pocket or saddlebag exposed to the elements. The last thing you want is to pull your tool out to fix a roadside issue to find all the Allen keys have corroded into place, or have a cheaply made tool break when a little bit of pressure is applied.

It is a balance between convenience and durability, but it is wise to opt for a multi-tool with a strong build quality, using precision-machined, hardened steel for the tools, rather than solely making your choice based on weight or size.

Which extras should I look for?

Some more extensive bike multi-tools have extras such as tyre levers, torque wrenches and bottle-openers. While a torque wrench can be useful out on the road, primarily if you're dealing with carbon components, the rest is a matter of personal opinion – do you think it's worth carrying the extra grams? 

Ultimately, tyre levers only weigh a few grams, and even an expensive set doesn't cost all that much or take up much space in your pocket. When it comes to multi-tools with fun additions such as knives, pliers and bottle openers, they might be used once in a blue moon but are they really going to be useful for your Sunday club ride? Once again, it all comes back to considering your own specific needs.

Mildred Locke

Mildred joined as Reviews Writer for Cyclingnews and BikePerfect in December 2020. She loves all forms of cycling from long-distance audax to daily errand-running by bike, and does almost everything on two wheels, including moving house, and started out her cycling career working in a bike shop. For the past five years she's volunteered at The Bristol Bike Project as a mechanic and session coordinator, and now sits on its board of directors.

Since then she's gone on to write for a multitude of cycling publications, including Bikeradar, Cycling Plus, Singletrack, Red Bull, Cycling UK and Total Women's Cycling. She's dedicated to providing more coverage of women's specific cycling tech, elevating under-represented voices in the sport, and making cycling more accessible overall. 

Height: 156cm (5'2")

Weight: 75kg

Rides: Stayer Groadinger UG, Triban RC520 Women's Disc, Genesis Flyer, Marin Larkspur, Cotic BFe 26, Clandestine custom bike

With contributions from