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Gear Shots: Crank Brothers B17 Tool

Reinventing the Multi-Tool?

Words by Morgan Taylor. Photos by Morgan Taylor.
July 11th, 2013

Of all the multi-tools I’ve used throughout the years, my favourite by far is the Crank Brothers multi-17. In fact, I would wager that while Crank Brothers does make a variety of other products including wheels, pedals, and seat posts, their mini pumps and multi tools stand out as some of the best on the market.

With that said, I feel like there is a bit of the “if it ain’t broke” situation going on with the recently released b-series of tools. The quality of tool steel with the b17 is right up there with my expectations and the finish is decent as with other Crank Brothers products. Sporting similar capabilities to my beloved multi-17 but with a removeable bit design, the b17 is larger, heavier, and more expensive – so what does it do better?

crank brothers, b17, tool, multi tool, multi-17

The b17 features 14 removeable bits and a chain tool with integrated spoke keys to reach the prime 17 count. Size is on the large side for pocket use, but fine for carrying in a bag and has no sharp protrusions.

crank brothers, b17, tool, multi tool, multi-17

The chain breaker is spring loaded into the body of the tool, and comes out for use. The hex head on the bottom of the chain breaker needs to be inserted into the tool to provide leverage to twist against.

While in theory the removeable bits may seem useful, in practice they prove awkward and not-so-convenient. Beyond the possibility of a trailside bitsplosion, the bit driver located at the end of the tool makes for an awkwardly shaped device in hand that also reaches limitations when used in tight spaces such as bar clamps and derailleur limit screws. Bits are great in screwdrivers or on the ends of ratches, but not attached to a hand-sized chunk of metal.

crank brothers, b17, tool, multi tool, multi-17

The magnetized bit holder at the end of the tool.

crank brothers, b17, tool, multi tool, multi-17

In practice, getting the b17 into tight spaces proved cumbersome and inconvenient.

I can say conclusively that the b17 will not be accompanying me on any more rides, but it has left some good quality tool steel bits in the NSMB work bench which we can put in the drill and attempt to strip out rotor bolts and the like. While I wouldn’t stand behind the b17 for its awkwardness in functionality, the multi-17 remains a trusted workhorse and I regularly recommend it to people looking for a medium sized tool with a chain breaker.


Has Morgan lost his bits? What’s your favourite multi-tool?

  • craw

    I bet the packaging was nice.

  • nouseforaname

    I came here to say that. Haters gonna hate.

    Best multi tool is the Topeak Hexus 16 for exactly the reason that this CB product falls short. It has long bits that can reach into the awkward spaces on our bikes.

  • cam

    When I first saw this tool I was hoping that it would ratchet. Sadly not. But I snagged the B17from Morgan because it’s great to have all those bit sizes to use with a drill or on the end of a ratcheting screw driver.