Blackburn Wayside Multi-Tool Review: Frustration-free wrenching
Blackburn’s Wayside Multi-Tool has bikepacking in mind; the 19 function design includes a serrated knife blade for trailside picnics, and detachable hex keys for frustration-free wrenching.
We all know the value of a good multi-tool. But as handy as they are, their stubby tools can be notoriously awkward to actually use. Separate, ball ended hex keys are so much better at reaching those tricky wrenching nooks and crannies, and for the traveling cyclist, they make the task of fitting and removing racks and bottle cages far speedier. They also offer more control and leverage, to the point that I always carry extra 4 and 5mm hex keys in my tool roll.
Which is where the Blackburn Wayside Multi-Tool comes in. Unlike other multi tools on the market, its design incorporates a range of detachable hex keys in 2, 2.5, 3, 4 and 5mm sizes, all of which stow snuggly away in a plastic tray, marked with each size. Even better, they’re ball ended, which really helps in reaching those tricky angles, keeping trailside frustration at bay. Nice!
On the tool itself, there’s a flat head screwdriver, as well as a T25 and T30 Torx heads. In the hex department, there’s also a 6 and 8mm stubby keys supplementing the removable ones, both of which can be used for pedals. Bear in mind too that the wide cage and plastic tray don’t make for an especially comfortable grip, so make sure you grease the threads first, as it’s hard to get much leverage. In fact as a general note, the Wayside doesn’t rest in the hand as naturally as smaller, more rounded multi-tools. Using it with riding gloves helps, especially with high torque wrenching.
A good chain breaker is crucial for any multi-tool. This one works well and is compatible with 7-11 speed chains – again, it’s just the shape of the tool that makes a little uncomfortable to use. The Wayside also features spoke wrenches, and niftily, a disk pad spreader and a Presta valve core remover for tubeless setups. Tucking discreetly away, a chain assembly hook makes fixing broken links a good deal less mucky than holding a greasy chain in your hands.
Last but not least, the Wayside Multi-Tool even includes a serrated knife that locks into place. Being on the short side, it’s not as good as a separate blade of course, or as easy to clean. But I’m not complaining it’s there, given my propensity for packing tortillas and a block of cheese when I ride.
In terms of build quality, the wide plastic hex cage means the tool feels less solid than some, though the parts themselves are all very nicely made. A rubber band stops any bits from potentially waggling around; one that I managed to misplace almost immediately. Luckily, the bands that keep heads of broccoli together work just fine too! More importantly, you’ll need to be extra disciplined about putting all the hex keys away after use, or they’ll be gone in no time. Don’t be tempted to throw them loose into your framebag!
- Size 3.39 X 2.09 X 0.91″ (86 X 53 X 23mm)
- PRICE $35
- PLACE OF MANUFACTURE China
- CONTACT Blackburn Design
Over the years, my preferred multi-tools have included Topeak’s Hexus, Topeak’s Alien, and Crank Brothers’ M19. As good as these are, I’m happy to be giving the Blackburn Wayside Multi-tool a go from now. While nothing beats individual tools over an integrated multi-tool for real life wrenching, it’s a thoughtful attempt at combining the best of both worlds, and one that works well for day rides and long distance trips alike. The wide, squared off shape means it’s not especially comfortable to use for some applications, but the detachable hex keys are a real boon. To me, they’re its biggest selling point – just be extra careful not to lose them.