SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MAY 30th
LIFELINE X TOOLS PRO 18IN1 MULTITOOL
with CO2 adaptor
112g silver/blue/black £15
The LifeLine 18in1 Multi-Tool with CO2 Inflator is a small, neatly-made, and light, one-piece tool. Something for the weight-conscious cyclist anticipating in almost all road or trail side fettling or fixing. The CO2 inflator is a definite selling-point in some contexts. Really one for stripped down builds, it makes the odd nod toward wider use, too.
Pros: CO2 inflator, perfect for the jersey pocket or smaller seat-packs.
Cons: No integral tyre lever, only a 10mm spanner.
The manufacturers have remained tight-lipped about materials. However, construction is solid and materials match this. As a one-piece tool, there’s no clips and slots. On the same count, it points in the direction of relatively modern bikes. Retro nuts and bolts etc. may look smart, but need a spanner, sometimes two. Either carry one or look elsewhere, for example at the Passport CWD Multitool.
The 18 tools in the name consist of a press-on CO2 adaptor for Schrader and Presta valves (bring your own cartridge), a pair of chain hooks, chain-breaker, 10mm open spanner, T25 and T30 Torx tools, Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, 2,4,5,6,8mm hex-head keys, four sizes of spoke key (3.23/3.33/3.45/3.96 Mavic compatible). Some might miss and integral tyre lever, but I am not one of them.
“Know your bike” is the proviso when considering buying a multi-tool – or know your fleet. OK, this will suit the wife’s nice new road bike very well, but it will also cope with most stripped-down machines. Short, stubby tools save weight and size, fitting both the machine and the ethos. On the other hand, fettling your rear disc brake through the rack of your long-haul tourer may require something longer.
Sitting neatly in the hand, this feels like a sturdy bit of gear. size-wise it is perfect for seat packs or jersey pocket, such as Zefal’s Iron Pack 2 M-DS or their smaller Iron Pack 2 S-TF.
A helpful feature is the long handle for the chain tool – definitely a promising addition to what is often the weak point of multi-tools. The chain tool should be compatible with most chains, although hollow pin models need something more specialised. The other slightly unusual – and positive feature – is the CO2 inflator. There are instructions for use; well worth reading and familiarising with before setting out.
Another nice touch? The splitter handle is held in place by a magnetic patch.
Let’s start with a common Achilles heel; the chain tool. I’ve split 6-8, 9, and 11 speed chains relatively easily – courtesy of the long handle. Having said that, I generally prefer to employ a weightier, workshop-specific, splitter when at home, reserving the multi-tool for the roadside or tour emergency. That applies to all multi-tool chain tools, not just LifeLine’s. Mind you, I have no reason to think that it has not got many more roadside emergencies left in it. Just note that the lip that holds the chain in position is part of the body. Be sympathetic. The pin is not replaceable, so, again, take care to position accurately. Single speed chains are tough cookies, so it was no surprise that I struggled determinedly for a while before succeeding.
The CO2 adaptor doesn’t feature on that many multitools. If you are a devotee of CO2 speedy inflation, then this will be a real plus point. Needless to say, unless emptied the cannister needs to stay in place, which may make it trickier to fit into a seat pack. The adaptor head fits both Shrader and Presta valves- suitably tightly: push on, pull off.
The chain hooks are handy, for example, if replacing a power link.
Whilst the hex-head keys are much what you’d expect, the 8mm benefits from being one-piece, as opposed to a removable shell on a smaller sized sibling.
Given the ubiquitous hex-heads on many contemporary bikes, the presence of a Phillips and a flat-head screwdriver may seem a little incongruous. Likewise, the 10mm open spanner. However, they add a bit of flexibility and nod toward fixtures and fittings that may adorn bars, for example. Indeed, a ten-mill spanner is perfect for those retro brake blocks etc. Likewise, though chunky looking, the Phillips fits nicely into gear mech adjusters.
The four spoke keys – Mavic compatible being the exception – are situated on the handle of the chain splitter. I’ve found these a little inconvenient. Best used when the lever is fully tightened, I have found them fiddly. Mind you, this is roadside bodging territory, rather than workshop truing.
Overall Performance 3.5/5
OK, I’m a bit of a cynic about some ‘ergo’ products. LifeLine don’t claim any such thing for their 18in1. Maybe by chance, but I find it just the right size and amongst the most comfortable multitools to use. OK, that may not be a functional priority, but it sits neatly in my palm or gripped between fingers and thumb.
Flex-wise, I did not expect much. Shorter tools, firmly fixed tend not to. Even so, it was pleasing to be able to tighten crank bolts and long-ignored seat post bolts, without a hint of give. Less recently serviced crank bolts needed more leverage for loosening, and defeated me until the WD40 cavalry came to the rescue. Removing pedals, took some grunting, but was successfully accomplished. Overall, I concluded that, in real life on the road situations, I was much more likely to be tightening than loosening.
Diminutive dimensions aid getting into bottle cages. In standard design cages tightening the braze-on bolts was unproblematic. My old Topeak Alien is much chunkier, and always snags having said that, it remains my go-to for longer tours.
Keeping an eye on the Allen-head bolts that hold the whole caboodle together will be a good idea; but over several weeks of use, things have not loosened significantly.
When out on a family ride with bikes of varying ages, adding a set of tyre levers and an adjustable spanner covered all bases. Despite that, it has been most use when dedicated to contemporary machines. Even better, it fits into a small seat pack or top tube bag with ease, so perfect for those faster blasts.
Passport’s CWD Multitool is a more expensive, heavier, but offers a tyre lever function. In fairness, it is a different beast – two-piece, with a more general audience. It lacks the CO2 adaptor, but may be a better bet for those on group ride mechanic duties or with older bikes.
The Soma Woodie is pricier, but offers an excellent range of tools, including ‘L-bend’ 2 and 3mm Allen keys, as well as a wider variety of screwdrivers. Again, this range of functions bodes well for those porting between multiple bikes of varying vintage and style, as well as when on group mechanic duty or on tour.
The Full Windsor Breaker comes in at over double the price, but is amongst the most powerful multi-tools we’ve reviewed. Similarly, the Blackburn Wayside has a good range of tools, but you’d not go to the back of beyond without some additional tools.
Of course, none of these have the adaptor. “Know your bikes” remains the motto, when it comes to laying out the cash on a multitool.
The LifeLine X Tools Pro 18in1 multitool is a well-made contemporary tool which will suit riders seeking to keep weight down, wanting to keep luggage capacity low, or who regularly use CO2 cartridges. That sounds like the speedier light brigade. However, with the addition of a couple of other tools, it will suit many more cyclists.
Verdict 4/5 Decent multitool with clear pros and cons, bargain price.
PUBLISHED JUNE 2020
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
Coventry CV8 3FH