Wolf Tooth 8-Bit Pack Pliers Review
Wolf Tooth just released their new 8-Bit Pack Pliers, a lightweight multi-tool with 17 functions, including one we haven’t yet seen in a bike tool. We had the opportunity to test the 8-Bit prior to today’s launch. Read on for the review, details, and loads of photos…
Over the last couple of years, Wolf Tooth Components has been on a roll with its Pack Tools, an interesting and innovative series of lightweight and stashable multi-tools. They now have four cleverly designed gadgets in the range, each equally at home on your desk as a stress-relieving fidget gizmo or stowed away on your rig during a bikepacking trip, ready for action. Following the Encase system, a pair of function-rich bar-end tools released exactly one year ago, the Minnesota-based company just introduced the sequel to their unique folding tire lever Pack Pliers: the 8-Bit Pack Pliers, a 17-function multi-tool with a unique form factor and an interesting combination of tools.
Similar to the original Wolf Tooth Pack Pliers, the 8-Bit version is a small engineering marvel that you kind of just have to play with and admire for a little while before tossing it into the depths of a bike bag. It has the same precision scissor-folding action for opening and closing, as well as the same pliers as the original—designed to remove and install the master link of a chain or loosen a stubborn valve stem lock nut via the section closer to the swivel bolt. I’ve used both of these tools for both purposes, and they work well for either task. Also, like the other Pack Pliers, the 8-Bit version is machined from 7075-T6 aluminum, has the ability to store chain quick links and uses embedded magnets to secure bits and attachments in place, as well as keep the handles closed.
There are significant differences between the two, however. Aside from all the bits and functions, which I’ll go over shortly, the 8-Bit Pack Pliers doesn’t offer a tire lever in its arsenal. Instead, the handle is significantly longer and chunkier, providing a fair amount of leverage for the bit socket on the non-plier end of the tool. All accounted for, the 8-Bit Pack Pliers are about 1mm thicker, 30mm longer, and 31 grams heavier than the original Pack Pliers. Even so, at 69 grams, it’s not overly bulky, or heavy. For the sake of comparison, it weighs 100 grams less than the popular, 17-function Crankbrothers M-17. Also, note that the original Pack Pliers can store two pairs of quick links while the 8-Bit tool stores just one pair.
Created to address nearly any minor field repair you might experience on a mountain or gravel/road bike, the Wolf Tooth 8-Bit Pack Pliers multi-tool has a total of 17 functions: seven hex keys, two Torx heads, spoke and valve core wrenches, two screwdrivers, quick link and valve stem nut pliers, quick link storage, and a valve stem rasp. While that roster of functions doesn’t include everything you might find in a comprehensive folding multi-tool—namely a chain-breaker and the odd bit or two, it pretty much covers most of the bases.
As its name implies, the 8-Bit Pack Pliers has eight separate attachments that nest inside its handles. Seven of these attachments fit into a 4mm hex opening within the 8mm ball detent swivel head at one end of the tool—for use with the same, smaller 4mm drive bits that Wolf Tooth used in the EnCase tool. The six hex bits nested in the large rectangular recess on the inside of the handle include a dual-sided T10 and T25 Torx bit, a flat head #3.5 and Phillips #2 screwdriver bit, and hex 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, and 6mm bits. The seventh 4mm hex attachment—stored on the back-outside handle alcove—doubles as a spoke wrench and valve core wrench. The eighth—and rather odd—attachment is a rasp designed to clear clogged valve stems and removed dried tubeless sealant. I haven’t used it yet, but I could certainly see how this might come in handy on a long trip. I’ve had plenty of valves clog up over the years, which is frustrating when you need to top off the sealant.
In use, the 8-Bit Pack Pliers tool works very well on a couple different levels. It easily passed my two compulsory tests: adjusting a seatpost clamp, which has two of the more challenging bolts to access, and loosening a pedal, which is one of the more torque-intensive processes in general trailside bike maintenance. For the former, one nice touch is the swivel head. It locks into three positions using a ball detent, which has a nice sturdy feel and stays put. The tool itself also feels significant and good in hand, so in the case of removing a pedal, you can angle the swivel head at 90° and apply a significant amount of torque with plenty of leverage. And when the swivel head is left straight, it works like a screwdriver for easier rotation when loosening easy-access bolts. The handle is also cleverly made so the angled and magnetic interface keep it closed during use. I suppose if I had one wish, it’s that Wolf Tooth was able to integrate a bit extender to enable the driver to reach off-camber bolts, such as derailleur limit screws.
- Size (L × W × H) 146 × 21 × 9mm (5.6 × 0.9 × 0.4″)
- Actual Weight 69 grams (2.43oz)
- Place of Manufacture Minnesota, USA
- Price $69.95
- Manufacturer’s Details WolfToothComponents.com
- Clever design that’s easily stashable in any bag
- A lot of functions in a very lightweight package
- Strong enough for pedals and stubborn bolts
- Handle design is well-proportioned for leverage and feels good in hand
- Without a chain breaker it’s not a complete multi-tool; although it can easily be paired with the Encase Chain + Tubeless Repair Tool
- Like the Encase tool (and other bit drivers, for that matter), it’s nearly impossible to access recessed bolts, such as a rear derailleur attachment bolt
As someone who spends a lot of time contemplating ways to pack more efficiently, it’s hard not to love the approach that the clever minds at Wolf Tooth have taken with their Pack Tools series. All four of their unique tools are engineered to be lightweight, small, and easily stowed in a bag or within other nooks on the bike. Not to mention, they’re also designed with a lot of attention to detail, and made in-house at Wolf Tooth’s Minnesota HQ.
The new 8-Bit Pack Pliers are a nice addition to the lineup and offer a slightly different suite of functions than the others. As with most products, it’s not without cons. It’s fairly expensive for a multi-tool (but for good reason). And as a complete multi-tool there are a couple necessities that might be missing, depending on the particulars of your bike and its components. But generally speaking, it covers most of the functions you might need, except a chain-breaker and perhaps a longer hex key or two to access the random recessed bolt. That being said, other than a couple chunky 30-function, 400+ gram folding tools, I’ve never really found multi-tool that can truly do it all. So I’ve always approached my bikepacking tool kit with a little bit of a mash-up approach, tacking in a few bits, parts, and extras from other tools to make a complete kit that’s customized for my bike and kit.
With that MO, the 8-Bit Pack Pliers might be my favorite of the Wolf Tooth tools, and it makes a good foundation as a tool that can be stored in an easy-access location for quick adjustments. Then backups, spare bits and bobs, and rarely used tools can be kept in a tool roll, or elsewhere on the bike. One option, as suggested in the Cons list above, is that it could easily be paired with Wolf Tooth’s Encase Chain + Tubeless Repair Tool. Albeit an expensive investment, that would pretty much cover about everything. Or, better yet, just repurpose a chain-breaker from an old multi-tool…