Concept: 3 out of 5
Execution: 4 out of 5
Yeah, but: Finally, a stellar bike tool that isn't riding a fixie.
The Long Version: Filzer's classic I-Tool is one of those little things that has been done right. It's a simple tool with five hex drivers with a T25 torx, slot, and philips screwdrivers. These eight tools fold flat into a package that's comfortably under 3" long, about 1" wide, and one-quarter of an inch thick. It's so small that it can be carried anywhere, and it's so easy to use that I'll often reach for it instead of a dedicated hex wrench set. It can do almost anything I need.
The bits don't lock in place, and their short size makes that an advantage. I have no problem putting plenty of leverage on the tool at ninety degrees and then smoothly reversing the tool for another crank, or bringing it straight up to quickly move a loose bolt. Naturally that doesn't work so well with the screwdriver bits, but the basic theory is still good.
The "Skin-E1 I-Tool" isn't perfect – aside from the name, which thankfully doesn't appear anywhere on the item, the Philips screwdriver suffers from being a #1 instead of the more common #2 size. It's a necessary concession to the form factor, and a #1 size is better than nothing, but it's the only thing that has disappointed me when I've tried to do quick tune-ups on my bike.
Of course such a little tool can't do everything, and this MT4 model – yes, it has a code in addition to the horrid name – is just about the simplest one that Filzer makes. It's a natural to combine with another tool, either a small pliers-based multitool or a more complex bike tool kit. I carry both of those in my pannier as well, but I reach for the little I-Tool first.
last updated 17 aug 2011