Trailside Review: Crank Brothers’ B-Series Mini Tool – Easy Bit Based Service!
Crank Brother’s latest B-Series mini tools are a bit-based system, using firm rubber holsters to keep individual bits in storage while using the entire frame as a handle.
I’ve been testing the B14 all summer, from the Trans Sylvania Epic through my recent early fall ‘cross rides. Unlike fold out tools that can swivel the wrong way and occasionally pinch (or very painfully smash) fingers between the tool and the body, these use magnets to hold the bit securely in line with the axis of force.
The result is a tool that provides very good leverage and a design that makes most bolts easy to access. It’s also proven rather durable, likely thanks to a stainless steel body and bits. The downsides are few, mainly that the rubber section can flex a bit as you’re using the tool, causing one or two bits to wriggle loose, but all in all it’s very solid and one of the few mini tools that’s actually enjoyable to use. Click through for details…
Decent clearance around the ends lets it fit up against things like saddle adjustment bolts to provide a wide range of adjustment that traditional tools can sometimes limit.
The flipside is that the bits may not be long enough to wiggle between shifters or brake levers to get to hidden bolts. They are longer than your average ratchet bits, though…about half way between those and what’s found on most mini tools. On this bike with an XT shifter and lever it did just fine.
The body provides a solid handle against which I could put a lot of force. Even things like slightly overtightened pedals could usually be worked free.
The only issue was that bits could sometimes fall out. Pressing on the tool as a handle could deform the rubber just enough to occasionally let a bit slip out. Not as big a deal on the road, but trailside that could mean losing a bit in the leaves. Indeed, my 1.5 is no longer with me. Fortunately, standard bits from the hardware store can sub in, they’re just not quite as long.
Overall, I like the tool quite a bit. The method of use is just flat out easier and superior to standard flip out tools, even Crank Brother’s premium models in my opinion. Given the options to go bigger or smaller with the B17 or B8, there’s one to meet your needs. One final plus is the fairly smooth shape and rounded corners. Even though it’s a bit heavier than some other mini tools, it’s not uncomfortable in a jersey pocket. My only suggestion would be to put a small magnetic strip at the base of each rubber panel so the bits are more likely to stay put. That, and a ratchet mechanism on one side. That would be awesome.
- weight: 206g
- sidebars: stainless steel
- tool bits: stainless steel, 25mm long
- hex bits: 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8
- screwdrivers: 1-phillips, 2-phillips, 1-flat head, 2-flat head
- torx: t-10, t-25
- warranty: 5 years
- Retail: $27
The B17 with the chain breaker is $33 and the smaller B8 (which has just a 2.5/3/4/5/6/T25 and a single flat and philips screwdriver) is just $20.