BLACKBURN SWITCH MULTI-TOOL
The Blackburn Switch Multi-Tool is a small, yet surprisingly mighty, eight function minimalist model that is well made and genuinely pleasant to use.
The switch shuns the time honoured pen-knife design in favour of a Codura nylon tool roll. A thick rubberised band locks this closed while providing handy parking space for a micro pump.
Unfolded, the Switch's inner compartment is similarly well organised. 2.5, 3, 4, 5 and 6mm ball-ended Allen keys, T25 and T30 torx bits and drive handle slide into webbed nylon sleeves.
A large, flat pouch will accommodate banknotes/cards, small chain tool or, in my case, tyre lever and CO2 kit.
Look closer and you’ll notice the drive has two sockets. This allows the switch to be used as a T, or L shape, providing greater torque when adjusting Aheadset/stem, seat post binder or cleat fasteners, which can become incredibly stubborn. Alternatively, plug them in the bottom and use, screwdriver fashion.
Made from CNC machined, heat-treated, Chrome vanadium steel, with a sanded electroplated finish, these are precision fits, so mesh perfectly. The only casualties were a weathered set of down tube bottle screws and that was due to their soft heads, not the tooling.
For this reason, I’ve tended to tackle suspect cleat hardware, bottle screws and stem/seat bolts with the T25 and T30 bits (primarily designed for discs and chain ring bolts) since the splines provide some welcome, additional bite.
Talking of busting stuff, the Switch carries Blackburn’s no quibble warrantee and the electroplating was hardier than its mirror finish might suggest. No hint of that tell-tale orange taint, despite being left for several days in a soggy nylon wedge pack.
Though not machine, dare I say genre, specific, the Switch feels tailored to those who like to cultivate a toolkit around a particular machine.
The omission of an 8mm key for tackling cranks, or pedals divided opinion. Arguably, there’s not much call for an 8mm unit, especially since square taper cranks are becoming increasingly scarce.
Personally, I’ve been carrying a standalone key and prefer this to a stubby afterthought, which will just about get the job done but isn’t efficient, or pleasant to use.
Penknife style folders arguably have an advantage speed wise and aren’t so easily lost in long grass…That said; changing bits quickly becomes counter intuitive. Ball ends and surprising amounts of leverage often recouped those precious seconds.
Bottom line, would I recommend the Switch? Yes, but seasoned fettlers who like to build specific toolkits to suit specific bikes are those most likely to appreciate its charms.
For example, at 108g, it’s perfect for a pared to the essentials road or TT build, such as my Holdsworth.
Pop a chain tool and 15mm ring spanner in the big pouch section and along with a Co2 inflator, spare tube and mini pump you’ve got the basics covered. Riders looking for a single, pocket workshop to share between bikes, or on group rides, are arguably better served by something like
Blackburn’s 19 function Wayside or the Full Windsor Breaker