The lowdown: Innovative prototype multi-tool anticipated to be available to consumers early next year
Pros: Extremely lightweight and durable; T-grip handle for great torque; made in the USA
Cons: Still in development
Sturdy and compact, able to provide serious torque, with no articulating parts to break: what else could you ask for from the bold new multi-tool anticipated for release early in 2013 by Fix-it-Sticks? The Appleton, Wisconsin, start-up claims its tool will be the lightest cycling multi-tool on the market, shedding as much as a quarter of the weight of many competitors.
The concept is simple and highly functional. Scrapping the standard frame with various sizes of hex keys and other tools that pivot on a spindle to unfold, the “Sticks” are independent aluminum rods, each with a different size steel hex bit or other tool at either end and a hole through the center.
The consumer can opt to take just two sticks for the ultra-lightweight four-tool option or three sticks to add the convenience of two more tools.
Two independent rods work together as a unit. Using them is as simple as sliding one through the flat-bottomed hole in the other to form a cross on its side. The resulted use has at least as much torque as the T-handle hex key set in your shop with the added bonus of a sturdier neck, so smaller diameter tools are put under less rotational strain.
The “T” design enables the use a variety of hand positions, including both hands for extra leverage.
I’ve found that the long and thin profile is much easier to fit into my saddle bag than a short and stout tool.
The pre-production tool is 36 grams for the four-piece option, and a six-piece set weighs about 50g. As a point of reference, the Park Tool Low-Profile I-Beam Mini Tool IB-12 has seven sizes of hex wrenches, a Torx and a screw driver head and has a claimed weight of 79g.
Inventor and company founder Brian Davis told VeloNews that he envisions the final product having magnets along the rods to hold them together, and customers would be able to purchase individual rods with whatever combination of tools best suited them. Then, if a rider doesn’t need anything smaller than a 3mm hex key, she can refrain from purchasing it or leave it at home, saving the weight of an extra tool. There will likely be options for chain tools and tire lever ends down the road, as well.
At the moment, all fabrication is local to the Appleton area. Davis plans to move from testing to a launch and limited run with a kickstarter.com campaign in 2013. For more information: www.signup.fixitsticks.com