Mountain bike brands continue to stuff every open orifice that a bike has to offer, and there are oodles of new hide-a-tool options out since last year’s stash tool roundup. For bikes that lack a nifty storage cabin in the downtube, we’ve collected a few of the latest ways to carry goods without wearing a bag.
Just for fun, how many gear-stash gadgets could be fitted to one bike? With a OneUp EDC Lite or Granite Designs STASH in the top of the steerer, you could fit a Giant Clutch Fork Storage mount on the underside, tire repair or multi-tools in both ends of the handlebars with some zip ties stuffed between them just in case, a Fizik Alpaca tool and two Co2 canisters below the saddle, an Industry Nine Machstix skewer tool, a Syncros Matchbox Coup cage multi-tool with a OneUp pump and multi-tool riding sidecar, a Giant Clutch crank storage tool, one Muc-Off B.A.M. canister lashed to the frame alongside a lightweight Schwalbe or Tubolito tube, and a few other bits bolted to the Wolf Tooth Double Bottle Adaptor. What did we miss?
The Dynaplug Covert Kit hides the brand’s beloved puncture repair tool inside a set of ODI lock-on grips. Each grip holds a tool and two plugs that screw into the outside lock ring, and installation is as easy as sliding on a new set of grips. Everything is well-sealed with gaskets to keep water out of your bars, and everything screws (and unscrews) smoothly thanks to the quality of the construction and machining. My test units weigh about 77g per grip with the tool, compared to 47g for a PNW single-sided lock-on grip I had in the garage.
The tool sticks out from the ends of the bar by about 1cm, adding a total of 20mm to your usual handlebar width. I definitely scraped some trees during my testing, but now I’m used to the reduced clearance. The Dynaplug Covert kit retails for $69.99.
Fidlock Twist Toolbox
Fidlock has been developing innovative ways to carry gear and water on the bike, and this year they debuted the Toolbox. The Toolbox weighs about 140g and has 550ml of space. The material is waterproof and there is enough space in there for the essentials. The cargo box should fit a mountain bike tube, tire lever, CO2, a small multi-tool, and a snack bar or some gels with ease. The Toolbox does require a two-bolt bottle cage mount for the base to attach, so for those with only one bottle mount on a bike, it’s going to be a tough choice. For $10 more though, Fidlock sells the Toolbox with the uni-base, a base mount with a set of straps so that riders can mount it wherever there is space, rather than being limited to the cage.
- $50 for base mount Toolbox, or
- $60 for uni base universal strap mount.
- Weight: 140g
Fizik Alpaca Tool Carrier
The Alpaca Tool Carrier was just released this fall, and we received some inquiries about mounting it to other brands’ saddles. The tool cradle holds a proprietary multi-tool with a built-in CO2 inflator head and space for two 16 or 20oz. gas cartridges that screw securely into the case. The cradle has a bolt in the center to pair with two of the Fizik gravity saddles, while a zip tie on either side further secures it to the saddle rails.
We tested the Alpaca on a carbon fiber Syncros Tofino saddle, and the system worked well strapped to the rails with only the two zip ties. The whole thing stays quiet, with no reason to worry about it coming loose. Users will want to make sure that the carrier is lashed as far back on the rails as possible so their legs don’t hit the front of the CO2 cartridges, and that forward position leaves space to mount a spare derailleur hanger beneath the saddle.
The tool itself is quite small but feels impressively sturdy and ready for trailside triage. It’s helpful to open and grip the tools when using the Co2 inflator to give a larger handle while inflating.
- $39.99/€40, available
- Weight: Carrier + tool without cartridges 141g, tool alone 96g
- Tools: 2-8mm hex, Phillips and flathead screwdrivers, T10 and T25
Giant Clutch tools
Giant Bicycles has a number of stash tools that fill different ports around the bike. Their Clutch Fork Storage plug could be used to stuff all sorts of things in the steerer, and the brand has a CO2 Nozzle and foam sleeve in case inflation is what you want to use it for. The base of the plug is magnetized to keep the gas canister quiet while riding, and it has quietly stayed put throughout our testing. The plug is rather tight, requiring a firm twist and tug to free it.
- Clutch Fork Storage Plug: $20
- CO2 Nozzle: $20
- Plug alone: 0g
- Plug with inflator and 16oz CO2: 113g
The Clutch Crank Core Storage tool is one of the better-built crank-based multi-tools we’ve seen. It comes with a few steel C-clips to take up space between the crank arm and the tool, and to strengthen the carrier’s magnetic attraction. Unlike every other cranky tool, we haven’t managed to lose this one yet, and the fit seems solid.
The multi-tool itself is notably similar in size and functionality to a OneUp EDC tool, and there’s a chain breaker at the far end to sort out most drivetrain emergencies.
- MSRP: $85
- Weight: 86g
- Tools: 2-6mm hex, T25, valve core remover, spoke wrench, spare chain link storage
- Compatible with Shimano, SRAM, and Praxis cranks
Lastly, the Giant Clutch Bar End Storage cylinders hold a puncture plugging tool and five plugs at the ready in the end of your handlebars. The carriers are wicked lightweight, and likely won’t survive too many tree-checks or crashes. The tool handles twist to tighten plastic compression plugs, keeping them snug in the bar end. Following the theme, we haven’t managed to lose either of these out on the trail. The tire plug tool is fairly lightweight, and will likely work best with thinner XC or light trail tire casings.
- MSRP: $37.50
- Weight: 35g
Granite Design STASH
We have a full review of the Granite Design STASH Multi-Tools, and this latest RCX version uses a compression plug inside the steerer to make installation even easier. Forgoing the full bolt-through system that the brand began with, the use of a compression plug also means that this tool can be installed in a carbon fiber fork-steerer. Now riders can mount a carrier in the carbon steerer of their dirt road whip, and swap the tool between that and their trail machine. Check out the full review for additional details.
- MSRP: $54.99, available at Amazon
- System: 110g
- Tool alone: 57g
- Tools: 2-6mm hex, T25, flathead screwdriver, 0-3 spoke keys, valve core tool
- Colors: black or orange
Muc-Off Stealth Tubeless Puncture Plug
Back to the handlebar plugging, Muc-Off has a new puncture-filling tool that goes in that hole. Like the Giant bar-end tool, the Stealth Tubeless Puncture Plug tightens in place with an expanding compression plug. Unlike those featherweight plugs, the Muc-Off carriers are made from tougher CNC’d 6061 aluminum that tightens into the bar with a 4mm hex wrench. These suckers are not coming out on accident, and they will definitely survive a few seasons of crashing and nicking tree trunks.
The tool handle is plenty sturdy to shove a plug through thick tire casings, but be careful when trimming the excess with the included shiv. Stitches will sour a ride far more than a rushed repair can improve it.
- MSRP: €33.95
- Weight: 33g per side
- Colors: Ten anodized color options
- Tools: Tire plugger, serrated knife
- Compatible with flat or curly bars
OneUp has a new EDC steerer tool they’re calling EDC Lite that forgoes the fork steerer threading, the chain tool, and the CO2 holster in favor of a dead-simple little unit. They asked riders which EDC tools they use most, and pared it down from there. The multi-tool is housed in a plastic tube that tightens into a star nut to cinch the headset taut, once you hammer it to the correct depth. A long bolt comes with the carrier to bang the star nut in with, using a top-cap as a guide.
While this new system is sweet and super lightweight, it too can be hacked. It’s possible to tilt the fork flat, slide a fork compression plug into the steerer with the carrier, then slide the plug another 5mm deeper and tighten it in place. Boom, you can use the carrier to tighten the headset into the plug just like a star nut, minus the permanence. Now there’s no star nut lodged in the middle of the steerer when it’s time to sell the fork or mount a different tool system. The EDC Lite pictured above is bolted to a compression plug.
The tool is just as sturdy and useful as ever, and it’s a little easier to extract than the former version.
- MSRP: $40, available at JensonUSA
- Weight: 75g
- Tools: 2-8mm hex, T25, Flathead screwdriver
- Colors: Black, red, blue, green, purple, turquoise
That same tool can be installed in the EDC Pump with the original EDC Tool Frame Kit. The pump includes a bottle cage mount, leaving riders to find a tube mounting location and little else. We received the smallest 70cc version that seems to pump tires quite well, and only carries a multi-tool or 20g CO2 canister. The larger 100cc model can fit a tool and CO2 in case you need air options.
The pump body is aluminum, and it feels like it will fill a few hundred tires before being recycled. The handle is larger than a typical MTB grip, and it’s comfortable to hold onto while exercising one arm.
- MSRP: $59, available at Competitive Cyclist and other online retailers
- Weight: 133g (70cc version)
- Sizes: 70cc or 100cc
- Pumps Presta or Shrader valves
- Includes bottle cage mount
- No threads or locking chuck, just press it on the valve
Syncros Tailor IS
Syncros has multiple versions of their bottle-cage-mounted multi-tools, and the Tailor IS would be one of the lightest. The cage mounts on either side, depending on which hand a rider likes to drink with, and the bottle holds the tool still and quiet. While the tool is also clipped in place with pressure from the cage, it might pop in the unlikely case that someone managed to grab the bottle on a rough enough segment of trail. Maybe don’t do that.
The tool has a nice palm-sized frame that’s ideal for trailside repairs and the included chain tool seems tough enough to single-speed-it and roll home multiple times. Hopefully, that’s a tool riders only use every five years or so. There is a massive T30 driver and a Mavic spoke tool that I’m not sure most folks will need on the trail, but the rest of the bits seem well suited.
- ~€45, available at Backcountry and other online retailers
- System: 173g
- Tool alone: 114g
- Tools: 2-8 hex, T10-T30, chain tool, disc pad wedge, spoke keys, chain link holder, valve core remover
Wolf Tooth Components EnCase
Finally, we’re back to the handlebars with the EnCase System from Wolf Tooth Components. The tools are kept in the handlebar via rubber carriers that have to be cut to achieve the right fit. In order to get them in my Syncros Hixon handlebar I ended up trimming a lot of the outermost rubber rings off, and a good amount of the flap that wraps around the tools. There are sets of rubber O-rings to add if the fit is too loose. The business end of the carriers is a hefty chunk of aluminum that should keep the system safe.
These two tools cover most trailside repairs, and the swiveling head on the hex-wrench side allows for a good amount of leverage on all bits. You will want to be a little careful when gripping the handle. The tool bits are held in place by a magnet and a pair of rubber bands and they can fall out while twisting the handle if your hand slides just right. I learned this the hard way, and digging those eight itty bits out of loose soil wasn’t so rad.
The tools themselves are built to last, as we can expect from Wolf Tooth. The tire plugging fork has a small alloy base that can be reversed and screwed onto the larger handle to help shove it through dual-ply casings.
- $119.95/€125, available at Wolftooth and other online retailers
- Weight: 132g
- Tools: 2-8mm hex, T10-T30, flathead screwdriver, valve core wrench, tire plugger, chain breaker
- Fits most MTB and curly bars, excluding some more angular drop bars
“But I don’t wanna strap things to my pretty paint job!” With the B-Rad Strap and Accessory Mount, you don’t have to. This sweet gear strap works like any other, but the aluminum base of it attaches to a bottle cage mount so that it never has to touch the bike. The size medium strap has space for a tube, tire lever, and a CO2 canister, and there’s a hunk of foam at the base to silence vibration. Wolf Tooth also has some Roll-Top bags that attach to the same base if you would prefer to keep your gear enclosed.