Topeak has been making fine bicycle accessories for almost 15 years, and has constantly been searching for ways to make their products better. From hand pumps, speedometers, repair stands and even multi-tools, they have all received rave reviews from road and mountain bikers alike. Our reviews team has recently laid our paws on their latest mini multi-tool, the Topeak Mini 9.
The Topeak Mini 9 mini tool consists of:
– 7 hexagonal keys: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, with a clip-on 8mm socket attached to the 6m head
– A T25 Torx head
– A Philips screwdriver
The Topeak Mini 9 is a relatively small package, compared to most multi-tool kits, with 9 essential tools compacted neatly into one. Measuring approximately 64mm x 30mm x 20mm, and weighing approximately 92g, it is rather small by typical standards, but definitely not the smallest multi-tool in the market. It allows the user to deal with most, if not all, basic trail repairs and minor adjustments, such as tightening bolts for seatpost clamps, stems, bottle cages, and also crank bolts. To complement this tool for trailside repairs, items such as tire levers, handpump, a chain breaker, a spare tube and some glueless patch kits would be useful.
The mini-tool comes with a soft neoprene bag to protect it from weather elements, so that the user can stow the multi-tool nicely in their jersey pocket or hydration pack without the risk of having any sharp edges poking a hole in their jersey or injuring the user. The neoprene bag has a slot so that you can actually loop it on the straps of your hydration pack. The tool is also shaped in such a way that the edges are all rounded as an additional safety and ergonomic feature.
The Topeak Mini 9 worked fine; tightening seatpost clamp bolts and stem bolts were a breeze. However, a problem that always exists in the smaller mini-tools exists in this mini-tool: leverage and torque. The size of this tool has much limited the amount of leverage we could get from this tool. Tasks such as tightening the seatpost clamp are relatively easy, because they do not need excessive torque to do so. But when it comes to tasks such as tightening the crank bolt and rotor mounting bolts for disc brakes (which may need the use of the T25 Torx wrench), it would require a fair bit of strength to obtain that amount of torque to fully tighten the bolts.
Although size did matter in terms of torque and leverage, there was still an advantage: The Topeak Mini 9 fitted into the lever adjustment screw for the disc brake and we could adjust it with much ease, compared to the bigger sized multi-tools, where we could not fully adjust the lever reach screw. Having said that, the size and the amount of tools present (9 tools) has very much limited the Topeak Mini 9 to emergency repairs and touch-up duties only. Another problem we noticed is the way the 8mm hex socket was attached to the 6mm hex key; It is believed that after some time, the inner groove which is present to secure the 8mm hex socket would wear off, and the latter would then be misplaced or lost in a matter of time.
The Topeak Mini 9 is a practical and rather well-designed toolkit for its class. It is built with simplicity and compactness in mind, and despite it being a basic toolkit in the absence of tire levers, and a chain breaker, I would maintain that it still gets the job done at the end of the day. As mentioned before, pocket multi-tools were never made to replace the full complement of tools in our home workshop, so we should always make do with what we have on the trailside. We like the thoughtfulness of Topeak in including a neoprene bag to keep the Mini 9 from the elements of the weather, and the size and weight of the tool made it easy to carry around for rides.
As an addendum, knowing that there are so many options of multi-tool kits available in the market, I?ve included some tips in helping the consumers to decide what kind of tools they would want to buy.
Factors in choosing a multi toolkit
The tools themselves will have to be of good quality such that they do not bend or become distorted in use. A wonky tool is already bad enough, but if the tool rounds out a crucial bolt or screw, it would be excruciating to fix. Most multi-tools are made of steels, so protecting the tool against rusting with regular oiling is a priority.
Need Vs Wants:
Knowing what kind of tools you actually need, and what repairs you?re prepared to do to make your bike rideable helps in deciding what tool you will want to buy. Tools such as the chain breaker and Allen keys (5,6mm vital, 3, 4, 8mm certainly very useful) are very much essential. A Torx head, flat head and Phillips screwdrivers will come in very handy. Of course, one can say that the more tools for the same price, the merrier. But think of it this way: how many times will we need the use of an adjustable spanner, and bits such as bottle openers and knives in local trails? And also, the more tools in a multi-tool kit, the heavier it will be.
Anything not physically attached to the tool will be misplaced, and the smaller the item is, the more likely it is to disappear. Allen key or star drive adaptors, clip-on sockets, chain breakers, you name it all. No matter how smart you keep them, there is always a certain chance of misplacing them eventually.
Tools with spanners in places that couldn?t reach bolts, and chain splitters that rely on Allen keys attached to the same piece of tool should be generally avoided. In short, accessibility of the tool in various tight situations should be greatly considered.
Does it punch a hole on your back or pocket when you?re riding? Does it mangle your hand and give you blisters and cuts when you?re using it? If you answer ?yes? to any of the questions above, you are probably going to be disgusted with the offending tool and ditch it aside, in favour of more ergonomic tools, after some time.
After spending hundreds and thousands on a slimming session for your bike (which we love to do!), would you want to put it back on the bike with a big bag of spanners and barang barang? In general, the lighter the toolkit, the better. But the ubiquitous debate regarding weight versus the number of tool features is often the biggest headache when it comes to deciding what you want in a toolkit.
Tool size is always important (pun not intended). You would want it to be small enough to be stowed away on a jersey pocket or hydration pack, yet big enough to avoid misplacing it, and to provide adequate leverage and torque.
This would come in handy if you want to stuff every thing you need into it, be it tire levers, chain breakers, spoke wrench? Not really a necessity, but useful when you want to locate all your tools in the event of a breakdown, and also protecting your toolkit against the weather.