If there is one bike accessory that absolutely defines the Goldilocks condition it’s the multi-tool. Too big and you don’t want to carry it. Too small and it doesn’t provide enough leverage. Finding a tool that balances size and functionality can be a real challenge. Crankbrothers hopes to snag that elusive just right ranking with the company’s new f-series of multi-tools.
Thanks to their sleek, folding design, Crankbrothers’ f-series tools fit easily in your backpack, pocket, or seat bag. All three f-series tools share the same basic design, but the f10+ and f15 feature magnetized outer shells designed to hold everything together and provide additional leverage. Prices range from $29.99 (f10) to $42.99 (f15), and all models come with a 5-year warranty. I spent the past several weeks testing the top-of-the-line f15 model at home and in the field.
With its extensive array of features, the f15 can tackle nearly any road or trailside repair. Fit and finish is very good, and I couldn’t detect excessive play using any of the bits. The f15’s spoke wrench is the biggest surprise, however, functioning better than many stand-alone units. And while I had no trouble using the chain tool on 9-, 10-, and 11-speed chains, I’d recommend adding a dab of grease to the pin’s threads for smoother operation. Weight weenies may balk at the 163 gram weight, but the f15 feels extremely solid in use.
|Chain Tool||8, 9, 10, 11, 12-speed compatible|
|Hey Keys||2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8mm|
|Screwdrivers||Phillips #1, Flat #1|
|Weight||163 grams (actual, 164 grams claimed)|
For many riders, a multi-tool is cheap insurance that only sees the light of day when things go pear-shaped in the middle of a ride. Because that often happens infrequently, I decided to take a different approach to my testing: I would use the Crankbrothers tool for all my bike-related work and repairs. And as luck would have it, my experiment coincided with the arrival of a Marin Four Corners demo bike, giving me ample opportunity to test the f15’s mettle.
Depending on the brand and model, the tools required to build up a complete bicycle can vary quite a bit. In the Marin’s case, Crankbrothers’ f15 had everything needed to get the bike rolling. Well, almost everything. The Four Corners’ stock pedals require a 15 mm spanner–which the f15 lacks–but my preferred platform pedals install via 8 mm hex key (which the Crankbrothers tool does have). How did the f15 fare? Very well. Installing the bar, stem, seatpost, and saddle didn’t require any weird contortions or gymnastics, and the f15’s outer shell provided the leverage needed for the aforementioned platform pedals.
Gravel and adventure riders will be well served by Crankbrothers’ f15 multi-tool. If you favor a more minimalist approach, the 94 gram f10 has most of the features needed to get you up and running. Whichever model you choose, Crankbrothers backs the f-series tools with a 5-year warranty.
Disclosure: Crankbrothers provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.