At some point, on your way down the seemingly never-ending rabbit hole of bikes and gear, you’ll come across tools. Tools are great, because not only do they keep your bikes working, their yet another category of gear to pore over and fetishize, collect and upgrade and spend your hard-earned cash on.

There are certain basics that every home mechanic should own – a good quality set of allen keys being a prime example – but home workshop tools aren’t the sort of thing you can easily take out on a ride with you. That’s why multitools came to be, a single solution for all your on-the-go maintenance needs.

One tool doesn’t rule them all

The first thing to know about multitools is that they’re a last resort. You don’t (or shouldn’t) buy a multitool thinking that it’ll be the only tool you’ll ever need as they’re almost universally not the best tool for the job. They’re made to get the job done, but not necessarily optimally (try using a multitool chain breaker and then a purpose-built one and you’ll see what we mean).

What to look for

The single most important thing to think about when buying a multitool is whether it has all the tools you need on it. If you have a stem with Torx bolts and you buy a tool without one, then you’re stuffed if your stem works loose on a ride.

Similarly, more functions don’t necessarily mean the tool is better. Sure, you may have gone for the 25-function tool over the 15, but how many of those do you actually need? More means it’ll be bigger and heavier, and might even mean that the functionality of certain tools have been compromised in order to fit more in. You might have 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm allen keys on your tool but how many of those bolts do you actually have on your bike? Only three? Well there are four you don’t need, for starters…

Oh, and one more thing.

Make sure you practise using the thing before you go out. The last place you want to end up is sitting on the side of a road in pouring rain and freezing cold, trying to figure out how in hell your chain breaker works so you can get home. You might be cursing bad luck and the cycling gods, but you only have yourself to blame.

A few to consider

M:Part 13-function 19.99

PRO 15-function 29.99

Park Tool IB-3 24.99