Blackburn Wayside Multi-Tool Review: Frustration-free wrenching

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Blackburn’s Wayside Multi-Tool has bikepacking in mind; the 19 function design includes a serrated knife blade for trailside picnics, and detachable hex keys for frustration-free wrenching.

We all know the value of a good multi-tool. But as handy as they are, their stubby tools can be notoriously awkward to actually use. Separate, ball ended hex keys are so much better at reaching those tricky wrenching nooks and crannies, and for the traveling cyclist, they make the task of fitting and removing racks and bottle cages far speedier. They also offer more control and leverage, to the point that I always carry extra 4 and 5mm hex keys in my tool roll.

  • Blackburn Wayside Review, Multi-tool, Bikepacking Tools
  • Blackburn Wayside Review, Multi-tool, Bikepacking Tools

Which is where the Blackburn Wayside Multi-Tool comes in. Unlike other multi tools on the market, its design incorporates a range of detachable hex keys in 2, 2.5, 3, 4 and 5mm sizes, all of which stow snuggly away in a plastic tray, marked with each size. Even better, they’re ball ended, which really helps in reaching those tricky angles, keeping trailside frustration at bay. Nice!

  • Blackburn Wayside Review, Multi-tool, Bikepacking Tools
  • Blackburn Wayside Review, Multi-tool, Bikepacking Tools

On the tool itself, there’s a flat head screwdriver, as well as a T25 and T30 Torx heads. In the hex department, there’s also a 6 and 8mm stubby keys supplementing the removable ones, both of which can be used for pedals. Bear in mind too that the wide cage and plastic tray don’t make for an especially comfortable grip, so make sure you grease the threads first, as it’s hard to get much leverage.

A good chain breaker is crucial for any multi-tool. This one works well, and is compatible with 7-11 speed chains. It also features spoke wrenches, and niftily, a disk pad spreader and a Presta valve core remover for tubeless setups. Tucking discreetly away, a chain assembly hook makes fixing broken links a good deal less mucky than holding a greasy chain in your hands.

Last but not least, the Wayside Multi-Tool even includes a serrated knife that locks into place. Being on the short side, it’s not as good as a separate blade of course, or as easy to clean. But I’m not complaining it’s there, given my propensity for packing tortillas and a block of cheese when I ride.

  • Blackburn Wayside Review, Multi-tool, Bikepacking Tools
  • Blackburn Wayside Review, Multi-tool, Bikepacking Tools
  • Blackburn Wayside Review, Multi-tool, Bikepacking Tools

In terms of build quality, the wide plastic hex cage means the tool feels less solid than some, though the parts themselves are all very nicely made. For the same reason, the shape of the Wayside Multi-Tool doesn’t rest in the hand as naturally as smaller, more rounded multi-tools. Using it with riding gloves helps.

A rubber band stops any bits from potentially waggling around; one that I managed to misplace almost immediately. Luckily, the bands that keep heads of broccoli together work just fine too! More importantly, you’ll need to be extra disciplined about putting all the hex keys away after use, or they’ll be gone in no time. Don’t be tempted to throw them loose into your framebag!

Wrap Up

Over the years, my preferred multi-tools have included Topeak’s Hexus, Topeak’s Alien, and Crank Brothers’ M19. As good as these are, I’m happy to be giving the Blackburn Wayside Multi-tool a go from now. While nothing beats individual tools over an integrated multi-tool for real life wrenching, it’s a thoughtful attempt at combining the best of both worlds, and one that works well for day rides and long distance trips alike. The wide, squared off shape means it’s not especially comfortable to use for some applications, but the detachable hex keys are a real boon. To me, they’re its biggest selling point – just be extra careful not to lose them.

Blackburn Wayside Review, Multi-tool, Bikepacking Tools

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  • mikeetheviking

    Lol, I literally just bought a multi tool over the weekend, simply for the fact that ive been running around with a couple of loose allens in a ziplock bag (and they have been eating through the bags) This tool seems nice being able to hold all your allens in place, and as a mechanic by trade I LOVE THE BALL ENDS…I ended up buying this crank bros tool http://www.amazon.com/Crank-Brothers-Multi-Bicycle-10-Function/dp/B002VG38X2/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1454337010&sr=8-3&keywords=crank+brothers+tool, I purchased this model because I needed a tool that had a flat blade screwdriver to use on the hose clamps for my water bottles, I also pack a chain breaker and spoke tool seperately….But i see that this tool also has a flat blade screw driver….LOOKS LIKE A WINNER, I can see the need for the T25 for brake rotors, but can someone enlighten me on where the other larger TORX bit would be used? Thanks!

  • Cass Gilbert

    Mike, some chainring bolts use a T30 Torx, though in the past, I’ve swap mine out for Hex ended ones.

    I like the Crank Brothers series of multi-tools too. And the one you mention rests very nicely in the hand. But yes, those ball ended hex keys are great to have!

  • mikeetheviking

    Thanks Cass!

  • Rob Grey

    I’ve found that the green guru zipper bags, made out of recycled inner tubes, make for a nice tool bag and can handle a few allen wrenches rattling around in it without much damage. I carry a 4, 5, 6, and 8mm and there’s plenty of room for tire levers, a spoke wrench, spare chain links, bolts, a co2 inflator, and a grease rag and lube. Works surprisingly well.

  • Rob Grey

    I love those broccoli elastic bands for holding my tool pack tight, too.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Nothing beats individual tools, for sure, and Green Guru do great stuff – looks like they’re developing a seat pack too.

    But for keeping things minimal and streamlined, the Wayside Multi-tool is a pretty nice option.

  • Rob Grey

    it does look like a nice tool; the addition of separate allen wrenches is a novel idea and would be a great addition to a bike travel kit. i’d prefer a standalone 8mm for pedals and cranks, i think. the wideness of the tool looks like it’d be uncomfortable when reefing down on a crank bolt. easy fix; just bring a separate 8mm, of course. you know what they say about a successful, true compromise: everyone should feel like they lost. just kidding, but i sometimes feel this way about multi-tools.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Similarly, it’s not the best tool for removing a pedal that’s been living on a bike for months… but then again, I don’t know any multi tools that are…

  • Rob Grey

    totally! i even have trouble with a full-blown pedal wrench sometimes.

    i remember the good old days when my bikes had two sizes of bolts: 5mm and 8mm. i even modified my multi-tool down to three things – 5mm, phillips, and flat – and carried a 8mm step-up adapter that i modded to work on the 5mm. those were simpler times…

  • blue

    I would very interested to know if it made by Aluminum? stainless steel? or just steel @@
    thanks for the review anyway, it helps!

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