Bontrager BITS Integrated MTB Tool Review
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The Bontrager BITS Integrated MTB Tool is one of the latest multi-tools designed to hide away inside your steerer tube but be accessible at a moment’s notice. Here’s a closer look and Miles’ thoughts after a few weeks of using one…
The amount of stashable multi-tools released this year is overwhelming, and it seems every manufacturer out there now has their take on a tool system specifically designed to be housed in the nooks and crannies of a bicycle frame. We’ve had the opportunity to test out a number of them, and although some have been better than others, it’s always interesting to see how each option is tucked away inside your cranks, bars, and steerer tube. One of the most popular approaches is to take advantage of the unused space inside the fork’s steerer tube, which often requires the removal of the star nut within, and preloading the headset using a built-in compression system. Although these designs provide an easily accessible multi-tool, they do open up the potential for future headaches down the road—which I’ll touch on more below—and I believe are more suited for close to home adventures and day rides.
The Bontrager BITS Integrated MTB Tool was released earlier this summer, providing yet another option for a stowable multi-tool designed to hide away inside your steerer tube. It uses a bolted compression system within the fork’s steerer to securely hold both the carrier sleeve and tool, replacing the star nut but not requiring additional modifications or steerer tube threading. The tool includes two different bolt lengths and multiple spacers to work around different steerer lengths, and is compatible with mountain bike forks with threadless headsets and non-carbon steerer tubes.
Before removing the star nut, it’s a good idea to double-check compatibility by measuring from the bottom of the fork crown to the top of the steerer tube. As long as you’re within 165 and 250mm, you’re good to go. This measurement will ultimately dictate what bolt length and how many spacers you’ll need to install the carrier sleeve. Most mountain bikes with front suspension should have no issues, but like I said, it’s worth checking first. Using a long punch and hammer, you can remove the star nut if you’re comfortable doing so, or your local bike shop can help you out. The carrier, and correct number of spacers, slide down into the steerer tube, followed by the correct bolt. The threaded lower portion is then threaded onto the end of the bolt, and the winged edges grab hold of the underside of the fork crown for a secure fit.
You’ll need a long hex key to get down to the bolt head inside the steerer tube to get things tightened at first, but once the bottom section starts to grab the fork, a T25 Torx can be used from the bottom (or out on the trail) to adjust the headset preload. Straighten your front wheel, tighten up your stem, and you’re good to go. The tool itself is slotted on one side, mating with a raised edge on the sleeve, and fits snugly inside thanks to a few raised plastic ‘bumps’ and a rubber bumper. After installing, I immediately wished the pull latch was bigger, as it just barely provides enough to grab onto when removing the tool. It’s an extremely tight fit and took a few tries to remove. While riding, the tool stays put and I’ve had no worries of it coming loose while on bumpy trails.
The Bontrager BITS Integrated MTB Tool has a light selection of tools that are perfect for trailside repairs and adjustments, but not much beyond that. There’s a 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm hex along with T25 and flat-head screwdriver, chain breaker, and storage for a single quick link. The amount of torque is limited due to the size of the tool, and although these functions are perfectly suited for quick repairs and work as intended, it wouldn’t be enough for any kind of extended bikepacking trip. The multi-tool and quick links snap into place within the plastic carrier, and the chain breaker is operated with help from the tool’s T25 Torx.
One major advantage I see is that the compression bolt can be accessed from the bottom of the fork in order to tighten up the headset preload without the longer hex key used during installation. From a bikepacking perspective, the BITS Integrated MTB Tool won’t be enough for longer trips, but for local rides and commuting I could see it being useful for some riders. In the unlikely event of a complete failure, it would be easy enough to slam a new star nut into the steerer to get rolling again, but I can’t imagine the tool imploding on itself as it feels pretty solid.
- Easy to access
- Holds tightly on rough trails, and stays in place
- Perfect for smaller close-to-home repairs and adjustments
- Compression bolt can be accessed from the bottom of fork to adjust the compression
- Tiny latch and tight fit is an awkward combination
- Very basic tool
- Expensive for what you get
- Weight: TBD
- Place of Manufacture: China
- Price: $89.99 USD
- Manufacturer’s Details: TrekBikes.com
The Bontrager BITS Integrated MTB Tool has no real flaws and works as intended. Although the multi-tool itself is limited, I can report that it holds firmly in place, is well built, and will take care of any broken chains or loose bolts you happen to come across on the trail. I think $90 is quite expensive for a tool with 11 functions, even if it does stow away in your steerer tube, and from a bikepacking perspective it isn’t substantial enough to replace a larger toolkit—so it may be best suited for your daily driver or commuter bike.