30 November 2008

bikefix Exclusive Review: Lezyne Carbon 9 tool

While the multi-tool is an essential piece of equipment for any serious mountain biker, Lezyne have gone and made it sexy. I admit that I chose this tool mostly because it was really good looking, but I did need a dedicated multi-tool for my single-speed (on which I often don’t wear my tool-laden backpack). Lezyne offers a number of different multi-tools with different handle materials such as carbon and alloy, and varying amounts of tools on each- from 4 to 20. The “9” in the title refers to the number of tools that are included on this model. I figured the 9 tool model would be enough for single-speed use, but I would probably opt for one of the higher tool-count versions for my backpack. The Carbon 9 includes hex wrenches in 2mm (L-shaped), 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm and 8mm sizes. It also has a Phillips head screwdriver, a T25 Torx driver and a chain breaker. Despite all this the tool weighs in at a feathery 89 grams. Though the carbon handles help in this low weight, it is primarily the result of Lezyne's machining and their design. They forge and CNC machine the bits with careful consideration to weight from stainless steel and aluminum and the hardware is titanium. The design keeps the overall tool length to a minimum and the solid pivot base makes it very light and rigid (and simple). It is very well thought-out from the light-weight/sexy perspective.

Out on the trail, the Carbon 9 performed well, but not exceptionally. The short length of the tools and the width of the carbon handles made turning some of the bolts on my bike very difficult, if not impossible. On my single-speed, the main trouble occurred when I tried to adjust the front seat-post bolt. I could barely do it at all- so after 3-5 minutes I just stopped trying and finished the ride. Luckily the seat wasn’t that far out of whack. This problem could be a bigger issue on a full suspension bike where there are a lot more bolts and usually a lot less room to work with. Bottle cages were an issue also. There is no easy fix for this, but having an elbow hex wrench in the most common seat-post bolt sizes might be a start. Still, it worked great most of the time and has undeniable sex appeal (if that's possible for a multi-tool).

The truly bad news is the price of this tool. At a whopping $100.00 the Carbon 9 is many times the price of other multi-tools that have triple the amount of tools. I am usually somewhat lenient about high prices, but this is beyond even my acceptable level of value. The tool does exude quality, and they may make all the pieces by hand- if that is the case kudos to them for the quality, but the price needs to be in perspective. I like this tool a lot, but it is hard to recommend to anybody who has any kind of budget. Racers, bro-deals, and nobudgetarians are the market here.



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