Trailside Review: Crank Brothers’ B-Series Mini Tool – Easy Bit Based Service!

crank brothers b14 bit based bicycle mini multitool

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…

crank brothers b14 bit based bicycle mini multitool

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.

crank brothers b14 bit based bicycle mini multitool

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.

crank brothers b14 bit based bicycle mini multitool

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.

crank brothers b14 bit based bicycle mini multitool

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.

crank brothers b14 bit based bicycle mini multitool

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.

CrankBrothers.com

Comments

robert - 10/06/13 - 9:56pm

this is the ONLY category where i can endorse crank brothers.

ACMI - 10/06/13 - 10:02pm

I still prefer the Topeak Ratchet Rocket.

Gravity - 10/06/13 - 10:40pm

Crank Brothers multi-tools are indeed their only worthwhile product.

yogibimbi - 10/07/13 - 2:27am

@ACMI: how does the Ratchet Rocket hold up if something is really stuck? I have already destroyed one ratchet trying to loosen the screws on a pedal. Granted, that one was a ratchet that I got on the cheap in one of these ratchet-and-bit sets for 10 euros or so, but still, the tiny lever mechanism to change the tightening direction on the ratchets can be a true achilles heal of the whole thing….

dan - 10/07/13 - 3:27am

While I love my multi 17 tool there is no way I would have a multi tool that didn’t have a chain breaker built in to it.

NASH - 10/07/13 - 6:16am

Do you have to wear gloves due to the poor ergonomical shape?

ACMI - 10/07/13 - 6:56am

@yogibimbi: I actually haven’t tried the Ratchet Rocket on anything really stuck. If a pedal is really stuck at home, I use a standard allen wrench or my big torque wrench. Granted, the RaRocket is for medium duty trail repairs, but then that’s what I got it for. I believe that most small multi-tools aren’t built for heavy duty use anyway, so I use the most ergonomic one in my experience. It’s very light too. I haven’t had any problems in 4 years so far.

Tyler Benedict - 10/07/13 - 9:08am

All – I’ve also used the Ratchet Rocket and it’s fantastic…but the CB’s bits are longer, making it easier to use when you’ve got to get into deeper spaces (like in between shifter/brake levers). I haven’t tried it on really stuck parts either, where a lot of force is needed, but it’s held up for a couple years of normal, frequent use now.
http://www.bikerumor.com/2011/11/16/midweek-mini-reviews-goods-from-topeak-chrome-and-giro/

The CB tool does have a chain breaker on the 17, and I wish I had that one, too.

Nash – funny, but no. I always wear full fingers when mountain biking.

Ck - 10/07/13 - 9:48am

I too support CB’s tools. Except this one. I lose bits like this in my garage and house all the time. Last thing I need is to lose on on the trail. I have one of their tools without this gimmick and aside from some surface rust due to my neglect, it’s been perfect.

Star - 10/07/13 - 10:33am

Lezyne 10 anything

Sevo - 10/07/13 - 11:33am

They best product Crank Brothers makes. Only good product. I’ve had mine for years and really want for nothing else.

Crank Brothers: Can you let the tool engineers at the pedals please? I want to love the pedals. But they last a season at best. Kinda like everything else.

Mindless - 10/07/13 - 6:26pm

Topeak Ratchet is better, lighter, and the few missing bits can easily be added.

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