Blackburn Tradesman Multi-Tool: Fix More, Make Friends
“Fix stuff, split links, win kudos.” The Blackburn Tradesman Multi-tool incorporates a quick link remover, chain breaker, disc pad spreader, all of the torx and hex wrenches you’ll ever need, and a few other surprises that should be essential to every bikepacker’s tool kit. Why not keep them all in one place?
We’ve always been impressed with Blackburn’s innovative approach and attention to detail when it comes to bikepacking-friendly repair tools. I think this comes down to their real-world usability, something that is often missed with multi-tools sporting numerous features. Their latest, the Blackburn Tradesman Multi-tool offers 12 separate functions (plus a few added features) in a compact and attractive steel package. If trailside bike repair was a professional trade, this might just be the wrench.
We love unique solutions and functions added in multi-tools, but it’s just as important to cover the most basic tools as well. Quite often the hex and torx wrenches are the only bits we use on a regular basis, and this remains true whether you are tackling a huge expedition or just ripping around your local trail system. The Blackburn Tradesman Multi-tool includes 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, and 8mm hex keys; the smaller 2mm, 2.5mm and 4mm are all L-shaped which are designed for getting into tricky spots on the bike. However, as I note below, L-shaped hex keys don’t always make life easier. Both the T25 and T30 are also included, which cover most riders’ torx needs on the trail. There is also a flathead screwdriver thrown on there, just in case.The #1, #2, and #3 spoke wrenches are integrated into both sides of the chain breaker, which you can see in the photos below, this is also where you find the channel for the valve core tool.
It’s a compact tool — 3.5×1.81×0.84” (89x46x21mm) to be exact. As such, when removing some of the larger, higher torque bolts I found myself wishing for a bit more leverage to get the job done. I probably should have been using a full sized hex key in those situations, so just approach tiny tools with realistic expectations and know that the ability to remove your pedals might be a bit much to ask. Besides embracing the minuscule size of the tool, I never had any issues using the basic hex and torx keys, they do their job just fine.
The chain breaker shares a very similar design to the Crankbrothers M17 and M19 tools, as well as Cass’s beloved Wayside Multi-Tool which also happens to be made by Blackburn. Nothing too revolutionary here, although it is worth mentioning that all of Blackburn’s chain breakers are interchangeable; meaning the functions that are unique to the Tradesman can be added onto the Wayside if you wanted to make that happen.
So here’s where your friends are really going to be jealous. The chainbreaker attachment also includes a valve core removal tool, spoke wrench, and quick link remover. Although a couple other tools have been released that incorporate a quick-link removal tool, the Blackburn Tradesman was in fact the first to pair this handy function alongside the usual multi-tool ensemble.
This function lives right beside the chain breaker, and requires the L-shaped 4mm hex key to pull (or push) two prongs that mimic the ends of a quick link plier. I like how it is sturdy and applies even pressure to the links, which cannot be said for some of the DIY methods I’ve seen people using online.
Although the quick link removal function functions as it should, I have to admit it is a bit awkward to get much rotation out of the L-shaped 4mm hex key before it interferes with the chain itself. To avoid frustration, I just prep the tool by turning the 4mm bolt with my fingers to the approximate sweet spot, and then get in with the tool when I need it. It was the only gripe I had with the tool, and I don’t see a way around it.
To round it out, Blackburn also incorporated a quick link storage area that is built into the side of the plastic disc pad spreader. It stores one masterlink which uses a small insertion point for the pin of each quick link, and does a great job at holding them firmly in place. The quick link storage area fits 9, 10, 11, and 12spd Eagle master links in KMC, Shimano, and Sram however there have been claims that Campy quick links do not quite fit the tool. Best of all, you can quickly fix your bud’s chain without getting grease all over your hands and he is still going to owe you a cold beer after the ride.
- Quick link removal tool integrated into a multi-function tool; the first of its kind.
- All of the normal functions we like to see in a tool we bring bikepacking.
- Durable and attractive steel finish.
- L-shaped hex keys are sometimes unnecessary and tricky to use.
- Small tool means low-torque jobs only.
- Size 3.5 X 1.81 X 0.84” (89 X 46 X 21mm)
- PRICE $29.99
- PLACE OF MANUFACTURE China
- Manufacturer’s Details Blackburn
All in all, the Blackburn Tradesman has most of what you’ll need on the trail and more. The regular hex and torx wrenches are normal to see, but Blackburn managed to pack in a chain breaker, disc pad spreader, valve core removal tool, spoke wrench, and quick link removal, plus it has the ability to store a spare quick link. It’s one of the most complete all-in-one multi-tools we have come across, and definitely one I’d recommend for a bikepacking repair kit.
I often misplace things, just ask my girlfriend. This is partly why I have never strayed that far from all-in-one multi-tools. I find comfort in knowing exactly where my tools, extra bits, and repair kit exist within my bikepacking bags and the Blackburn Tradesman multi-tool is a step closer to creating the ultimate grab and go peace of mind. Not only does the Tradesman offer a few surprise functions that are particularly useful for multi-day bikepacking, but the finish and quality of the tool itself really jives with my regret of not pursuing a trade after high school.
New in gear
- Feb 12, 2019Complete List of Useful, Durable, and Oversized Bottle Cages for Bike Touring and Bikepacking
- Feb 11, 2019Onza Canis 27.5 x 2.85” Skinwall Tires: Long Term Review
- Feb 5, 2019Complete List of Cargo Cages and “Anything Bags” for Bikepacking and Touring
- Feb 4, 2019Selle Anatomica Saddle Review + X2 vs H2 Comparison
- Feb 3, 2019Apidura Expedition Fork Pack: First Impressions