Review: Blackburn Toolmanator 16 Multi Tool

If there’s anything a mountain biker could envy about the life of a roadie, it might be how long road cycling gear can go without adjustment. Mountain biking components jostle over rocks or careen down gritty trails. The bashing and the grit take their toll. That’s why mountain bikers often devote constant loving care and attention to their bikes. Roadies, on the other hand, devote said loving care and attention to themselves by shaving their legs and then trying to get everyone else to do it too.

But what if your bike needs a little fine tuning and you’re miles from home out on the trail? Well then you’d better have a tool of some kind to save your ride. Enter the Blackburn Toolmanator 16 (manufacturer site here).

Toolmanation, across the nation.
Toolmanation, across the nation.
The reverse.
The reverse.

One problem with carrying tools is that they’re heavy. The other is that you kinda need to know how to use them. The Toolmanator solves the first problem by being lightweight. It expects you to solve the second problem on your own, but the tools are helpfully shaped exactly like the holes they’re supposed to go into. Remind you of anything else? Yep! Lego.

From hex keys to Torx bits, the Toolmanator 16 has everything you might need, but it also an uncommon feature: amazingly, a shock pump.

The Shock Pump

Here’s the Toolmanator 16 with its shock pump at full extension next to a normal sized pump in the same state.


As you can see, the Toolmanator 16’s pump volume is not huge. If you had to put 100lbs of air into your shock using it, you’d be pumping vigorously for hours like a frisky teenager. But if you’ve forgotten to add air in a while and your fork is bottoming out and you’re 15 miles from your car, it might just save you from having to limp home like a rejected teenager.

Ride Loudly and Carry a Light Tool

I'll be bike.
I’ll be bike.

When it comes to multitools, it’s hard to beat a Terminator. But at 200lbs and 6’2″ for a T800 (according to the TV movie “Making of the Terminator” linked here on YouTube) you’re going to have problems stuffing it into a Camelbak, let alone a jersey pocket. Better to bring along one of the less sentient tools.

Of course, if you have access to a T1000, it could probably just become a mountain bike and you could ride it. But then again it might also murder you. Tradeoffs, right?

Blackburn says the Toolmanator 16 weighs in at a mere 144g, but like any cynical journalist I busted out my scale to doublecheck that claim. Guess what? Mine weighs exactly 144g. Well played, Blackburn. Like the Terminator, you’ve outsmarted me once again.

Compare that 144g with my previous multitool, which weighs in at an unconscionable 179g and doesn’t even have a shock pump. Jeez. Think of all that extra weight I’ve been carrying around all this time! Well, I mean except for my love handles. Don’t think about those.

The Coveted #8 Hex

No, it’s not a witch’s curse. The #8 hex wrench is the tool that I need to get my pedals off my bike, which I do often because I’m either traveling somewhere and wish to rent a mountain bike there or I’m hoping to hop on board a demo bike.

When I first got my hands on the Toolmanator 16, I inspected its #8 hex and found that it is not only stubby, but hollow, which explains why the Toolmanator is lighter than my previous tool.

Note the hollowness and shortness
Note the hollowness and shortness

Both the Toolmanator 16 and my previous multi tool are made from 6150 steel, also known as Chromium Vanadium steel, so they should resist rust, but as you can see from the above photo the years of rust and back sweat have nevertheless caused a little rust on my old one. It’s nothing that I couldn’t clean off if I cared that much, but thankfully for my free time, I don’t.

I confess that I thought that tool stubbiness might keep the Toolmanator’s #8 hex from being usable as a pedal removal tool, but once again I was wrong, as you can see here.

Gettin' cranky.
Gettin’ cranky.

Short story made long, I am impressed with the Toolmanator 16. It’s light and it has everything you’re likely to need to save your ride. At $44.99 MSRP, it’s a little more expensive than my previous tool was, but it’s also lighter, newer, and has a shock pump.

I doubt I’ll ever need, let alone use, the shock pump, but I am very likely to win a trailside multi tool comparison conversation by asking arrogantly, “Yeah, but does yours have a shock pump?”

If that doesn’t win the argument, I’ll simply point out that Toolmanator sounds almost like Terminator, and I’ll ride off into a glorious future free of the autonomous oppression of Skynet.

Thanks to Blackburn for sending over the Toolmanator 16 for review!