Crankbrothers M19 Review: Long-Term Relationship

Although multi-tools aren’t normally the most interesting products that come across our desks, it’s not uncommon to develop a certain type of connection with one after multiple years of use. For Miles, the Crankbrothers M19 is that tool. After over five years of trusted service, it’s proven to be one of the most reliable pieces of gear he’s owned to date. Find his long-term review here…

I’m one of the most disorganized people I know, and my seemingly selective memory doesn’t work in my favour. You might think I have a neatly organized area for everything bike-related in my life, but every aspect of that (including bikes, bags, and other bits) looks more like an estate sale than a gear room. Organized chaos? Not even. This often means pre-ride preparations are jerky and sporadic, running into the basement, to the backdoor, and to the front of the house looking for water bottles, a multi-tool, or a pair of gloves before I get rolling. With van life on hold, I’ve been fortunate to have an entire rental house here in Powell River. The change has been fantastic. But on the other hand, I’m good at finding ways to spread my belongings around, and our house is approximately 45 times the size of the van. You get the gist.

When heading out the door, I feel most confident grabbing the Crankbrothers M19 tool I purchased more than five years ago. Paired with my regular repair kit, it’s the cherry (albeit a rusty one) on top of what I consider to be a pretty well-rounded setup for daily rides and bikepacking. It has proven to be an incredibly reliable tool and I’ve gotten an exorbitant amount of use out of it over the years. With spring temperatures on the way, I figured it was about time I share some thoughts and glamour shots of my trusty M19.

  • Crankbrothers M19
  • Crankbrothers M19
Crankbrothers M19
  • Crankbrothers M19
  • Crankbrothers M19
  • Crankbrothers M19

The Crankbrothers M19 has been around since 2010. A few smaller details have changed over the years, but the overall design remains the same. It is made from high-tensile steel, with two burly knurled ‘side beams’ that hold everything together. It has a great selection of standard tools, including 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm hex keys, 8 and 10mm wrenches, a #1 and #2 Phillips driver, #2 flat head, three different spoke wrenches, and T10 and T25 Torx. Although my model is a little older, the latest M19 chain tool is compatible with 8-12 speed chains.

The tool is 89mm long by 45mm wide and folds away to about 20mm thick. Its slim profile makes it easy to stow in my hip pack or feedbag pocket for quick access. My M19 weighs in at 173 grams, which means it isn’t the lightest multi-tool I’ve owned, but it’s easily one of the sturdiest and best built, so I think the extra weight is justified. Due to its weight, and since I misplaced the included case a while ago, it isn’t the best tool to toss into a frame bag where it has the chance of rattling against the downtube or other gear. I prefer multi-tools with soft, neoprene cases that make packing easier, but it’s also quite easy to work around that.

  • Crankbrothers M19
  • Crankbrothers M19
  • Crankbrothers M19

The slim shape of the M19 is easy to get a hold on for loosening big, tight bolts, and although the 8mm hex key is a little stubbier than the rest, I’ve successfully removed pedals using the tool. In my opinion, its biggest strength is that it’s just so durable, making it a great option for anyone who is hard on gear or wants a fairly well-rounded multi-tool to bring on any ride. The chain breaker is compact but easy to use, and the lower portion is large enough to grab onto securely. I also appreciate that it requires no setup, and it’s threaded directly onto a dedicated pin so there’s no fussing about required or need to search for another tool to operate it.

Crankbrothers M19
  • Crankbrothers M19
  • Crankbrothers M19

Although it’s missing a tubeless tire plugger, brake rotor straightener, and dedicated valve core removal tool, it makes up for those shortcomings by being designed to last a lifetime, and it’s been a great addition to my ever-changing tool kit. For those looking for those additional tools mentioned above, Crankbrothers released the M13 and M20 multi-tools in September 2020 as more complete options. Both include a tubeless tire plugger and a nifty little storage case to hold plugs or extra bits, such as a patch kit, and clips directly onto the multi-tool. For me, I’m a big fan of my Dynaplug Pro for my tubeless repair needs, so I’m not feeling the need to upgrade.

As you can tell from the photos, I haven’t done much in the way of maintenance and my M19 is covered with surface rust. Cosmetically, it has seen better days, but all of the tools still function as they should, so I can’t complain.

Pros

  • Very durable and well built
  • All steel construction
  • Good selection of tools
  • Priced fairly

Cons

  • A little heavy
  • May not work as the only tool in your kit
  • Model Tested: Crankbrothers M19
  • Weight: 173 grams
  • Place of Manufacture: Colorado, USA
  • Price: $34.99 USD
  • Manufacturer’s Details: Crankbrothers.com

Wrap Up

Crankbrothers describes the M19 as “the ultimate trailside companion” and it’s hard to disagree. Sure, there are multi-tools loaded with more functions that might even weigh less, but the M19 is delightfully easy to use and has proven to be durable and extremely reliable. In fact, I believe its simple design and overall robustness are its greatest strengths. If you can’t trust your multi-tool, who can you trust?!

Crankbrothers M19

Do you have a beloved multi-tool that just refuses to quit? Let us know in the comments below.

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