Wolf Tooth EnCase NSMB AndrewM (5).JPG
REVIEW | EDITORIAL

Going Pack Free With The Wolf Tooth EnCase Tool

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Jun 29, 2020
Reading time

Fabulously Fanny Free

I remember the first time I ditched my pack completely. It was long before hip packs had made their comeback and dropper posts were still rarified crap. My frame held a large water bottle with plenty of room to tape a tube into the front triangle. My wallet, keys, and a snack were tucked into my jersey pockets (or the jersey-style pockets of my CoreRat vest) and all my tools hung from my saddle in a seat bag.

I have always carried quite a few tools, including a chain breaker, multi-tool, knife, pump, lighter, a few links of a chain, tire levers, and I am probably missing a few things. All tucked away in my recycled-rubber Pedro's 'Blow Out Bag' and then, one day, after I told all my friends how great riding without a pack was, that f***ing bag did just that. Bouncing down the trail, the zipper tore open and I ended up completing the rest of my ride with all my collected hoardings bouncing around in my jersey pockets. I went to packs and never looked back.

I resisted hip packs long after they became socially acceptable again just because I couldn't find one that worked for me. Then, in short order, between the Shower's Pass, Stealth, and my Porcelain Rocket, I found some great options, even for carrying my camera with a pancake lens. Goodbye backpack on most rides. Of course, by the time I had, almost, fully adopted hip packs, the rage became getting rid of them altogether.

And then the Wolf Tooth EnCase tool entered my life. It has enough leverage to tighten the dropouts on my single speed and all the bits I could need equals not having to carry any other multi-tool. My Wolf Tooth B-Rad Mini Frame Bag has enough space for the tools I don't need regularly; pumps, knife, pliers, lighter, quick-links, as well as spare gloves, and my buff necker-toque. Wallet, phone, and keys in a jersey pocket and it's ride time!

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On my hardtail, I strap the B-Rad Mini Frame Bag behind my bottle cage which I have set low enough that the bottle helps hold the bag in place with the round steel tubes.

Wolf Tooth BRad NSMB AndrewM.JPG

On my Alpine Trail the bag traps firmly in place against the flatter top tube. I promise there is just enough light between the linkage and roll-top bag that there is no contact in use.

Carrying all the tools I never almost never use in a weatherproof frame bag has been awesome and has given me a new appreciation for a product I reviewed very positively in the past. My multi-tool is the only thing I use every ride and the only time I've opened the B-Rad on the trail in the last month was because I wanted my spare, spare, spare gloves on a wet ride.

Full disclosure; I still usually carry my hip pack. It houses my emotional support jacket, phone, wallet, gloves, camera, and snacks. But, when I don't need the camera and I'm positive the ESJ won't be necessary, I still own a few three-pocket jersey options that are great for spare gloves and my essentials. I am absolutely a fan of pack-free riding.

With that out of the way, I should probably talk about the tools that make it possible. My favourite part of using the EnCase multi-tool is the 8cm lever. Not necessary for adjusting controls or saddle tilt but it is so nice when straightening a stem or tensioning my chain. I've even torqued up a buddy's Race Face crankset, as the tool is itself an 8mm, with a satisfactory amount of force.

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A total of 14 tools. The hex swivel head is an 8mm, and the additional inserts include a spoke wrench, valve core tool, flathead & Phillips screwdrivers, all the hexes (2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, & 6mm) and three Torx options: T10, T25, & T30.

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The kit Wolf Tooth sent includes both their tools and two rubber bar inserts with nicely machined aluminum caps. The rubber housings and aluminum bar end caps are individually replaceable.

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On the other side Wolf Tooth includes a chain tool, tire plug bacons, and a bacon inserter-tool. The chain tool works great, but I don't normally carry one anyways.

There are handlebars that the EnCase tools don't fit as they have a minimum inner bar diameter of 17.5mm. They fit in every bar I tried except for the Fasst Flexx suspension bar and it's so close that I almost want to believe that with some modification to the rubber housing I could make the magic happen. That rubber part is available separately from Wolf Tooth if I mess it up so I may give it a shot.

The various aluminum, and one carbon, bars I used the system with required a bit of modification to get the end caps to fit tight enough. I've highlighted the different setups I used in the photos below and I did a more in-depth look at installing their reducer kits in my first look. As the popularity of the EnCase tool grows, Wolf Tooth may offer more sizes of end caps just to clean it up.

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The bits are all held into the tool magnetically, and with o-rings, and sit inside the rubber case. EnCase is dead silent inside the handlebar.

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With my SQLab 16° aluminum 30X bar I needed to use Wolf Tooth's heat-shrink reducer kit for tight enough fit that I was happy with it.

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In my cut-down PNW 10° aluminum range bar the heat-shrink reducer kit wasn't quite sufficient so a couple of wraps of electrical tape did the job.

The narrow profile and swivel head of the hex-bit wrench (multi-tool) help me get into all the tight spots on my bikes that have been difficult with tools that bring much less leverage to the game. The head itself is both an 8mm hex head and a magnetic receiver for the bits. The handle is 8cm long and has a great feel when tightening torque-sensitive hardware like stem bolts.

The bits, held into their cut-outs by magnets and o-rings, can occasionally be a bit of a PITA to remove. Especially when sporting gloves. And absolutely always when in a hurry. I get around this by leaving my most commonly used bit in the tool when it's stored in the handlebar. For a long time that's been my 4mm hex but lately, 5mm hex has been riding shotgun.

The total list of tool options are the hex swivel head in the 8mm receiver, a spoke wrench, valve core tool, flathead & Phillips screwdrivers, all the hexes (2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, & 6mm) and three Torx options (T10, T25, & T30). It is a very healthy collection of usable tools. I can't decide which, but either the EnCase or Wolf Tooth's Pack Pliers needs a knife blade so I can ditch another tool from my kit.

Wolf Tooth EnCase Heatshrink NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG

The end caps look so clean and have a little machined lip to help pop the sleeves out. Given that it's Wolf Tooth, I'm very surprised they aren't selling nine different colour finishes.

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I always leave the bit I'm using the most installed in the tool. It saves time and faffing. The bits can be a touch tricky to remove with cold hands or gloves but I have a pretty good technique to pop them out after some practice.

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The 8cm long handle of the hex-bit wrench is so good when it comes time to loosen or tighten highly torqued bolts like the ones on my single speed swinging dropouts.

The fly in my mug full of awesome here is the price. A Park IB-2 is a really nice multi-tool for 17 USD and the SKS Tool Box Race has been my German-made favourite for years at around 30 USD. Just grabbing the EnCase Hex-Bit Wrench is 50 USD and a single bar plug & sleeve adds 20 USD for a 70 USD multi-tool. Another option is to buy the full system with two sets of sleeves, the chain tool, and the multi-tool for 120 USD.

The EnCase is nicer to use than any multi-tool I've experienced but at home, I'm still pulling out my individual hex & Torx keys so that's in the context of something I'm only using trailside. It's the only tool that's getting me to the point of doing rides pack-free, but now that I'm carrying the vast majority of my tools in the B-Rad my hip pack is really light and throwing a multi-tool in it doesn't seem like a big deal.

To wrap up that thought, I use the EnCase system on every ride on every bicycle that it fits and I happily swap it between multiple rigs. It's a tool I love to use on the trail and combined with a mini frame bag, I'm very satisfied with my current setup. You can either justify the price or you can't and the value proposition is going to be different for everyone. If you are curious there's a bunch more information, various options, and a well-supported selection of replacement EnCase parts available at Wolf Tooth.

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Comments

Endur-Bro
+1 Andrew Major
Endur-Bro  - June 28, 2020, 11:15 p.m.

Is there room for quick link storage? 

Also; on the Marin would a ski strap looped around the seat tube triangle pull the B-Rad more snug m?

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Endur-Bro
Andrew Major  - June 29, 2020, 6:54 a.m.

My quick-links live in my mini frame bag, but yes, at the plug end there is room for a pair of quick-links on each side. It’s not a feature I used.

Wolf Tooth also suggests it could be a good place to store a valve core or presta-schrader adapter.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 1, 2020, 1:48 p.m.

I updated the photo to show how I'm running it now. No difference in noise or contact but it does look cleaner with an extra strap:

Reply

fartymarty
-1 Kelownakona
fartymarty  - June 29, 2020, 4:24 a.m.

Has anyone tried on of these https://www.allinmultitool.com/ 

They're a bit spendy at £60.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 29, 2020, 7:05 a.m.

Haven’t seen one in person. Had good results with the crank-mounted Giant Clutch multitool (although it’s a bit small and doesn’t fit everything).

Reply

hbelly13
+1 Andrew Major
Raymond Epstein  - June 29, 2020, 4:07 p.m.

@fartymarty A friend gave me an All in tool and it literally ejected on the first ride I took it on never to be seen again. I installed an EDC threaded top cap in both of my bikes and have used it for nearly three years without any complaints.

Reply

Endur-Bro
0
Endur-Bro  - June 29, 2020, 11:26 p.m.

Glad I never ordered one 😂

Reply

mawa12
+1 Andrew Major
Matthias Wasmer  - June 29, 2020, 11:52 p.m.

Using it for the last months and absolutely happy with it. I used some very thin tape to make it absolutely rattle free. Perhaps depends on the cranks you are using, but the magnet is really strong. 

But you never should let your bike fall over on the derailleur side, then it is possible that it slides out (that was before using the tape.)

Reply

Kelownakona
+1 Andrew Major
Kelownakona  - June 29, 2020, 4:46 a.m.

How are you finding the Marin Andrew. I've been sizing one up

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Kelownakona
Andrew Major  - June 29, 2020, 7:03 a.m.

I have lots of fun on my Alpine Trail. Next level manufacturing compared to their past FS bikes and still really reasonably priced.

Mine is over forked with a 180mm front. I ran it at 160mm and really like it but needed to bump the Mezzer up to 180mm for the review and didn’t feel any burning desire to go back. 

I’m on a large (5’9”) but I’m right on the cusp of sizing running a 40mm stem. If the ETT was much longer I’d drop to a medium.

It’s one of the new breed of bikes that pedals like a much shorter bike, with the shock wide open, thanks to the AS. It accelerates really well in landings or pumping but you have to ride it a bit harder than a bike with less AS to make it feel plush. 

I always have fun riding it but I’m also on the fence on whether my shorter travel Rift Zone was the better platform for me. Loved my Rifty as well.

Reply

Kelownakona
+1 Andrew Major
Kelownakona  - June 29, 2020, 9:25 a.m.

Thanks Andrew. Yeah the Rift Zone appeals too. Have to weigh up the usage. Its a killer spec for price

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Kelownakona
Andrew Major  - June 29, 2020, 9:31 a.m.

I'm not racing anyone up the hill and in both cases I had heavy rubber and coil shocks. Even used the same fork on both for quite a bit (just with the fork lowered on the Rifty) and I'd say seated and turning the pedals they are equal pedalers. 

There's a point pounding down rough trails where the AT is definitely more bike - faster, more stable, etc - which I suppose is obvious based on geo and travel, but the Rifty with a -2° angleset was really capable and it more interesting (not in a scary way) on the tight janky trails I like best.

Reply

Kelownakona
0
Kelownakona  - June 29, 2020, 11:58 a.m.

Great info thanks :)

Reply

Vikb
+4 danimaniac Kelownakona Tremeer023 Andrew Major
Vik Banerjee  - June 29, 2020, 5:51 a.m.

All that empty space on the V2 WW just screams for another frame bag that'll get rid of the fanny pack for that bike anyways. :)

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Vik Banerjee
Andrew Major  - June 29, 2020, 7:07 a.m.

Hahahahahaha. I knew that was coming! I like being able to swap my setups from bike to bike but yes, it’s been pointed out that even a longer B-Rad style bag would quickly swallow my jacket, wallet, and snacks. 

I also still think I would stick with wearing my phone and camera (when I carry it).

Reply

Vikb
0
Vik Banerjee  - June 29, 2020, 4:23 p.m.

I was carrying my phone in my fanny or in a pouch on my the belt of my fanny for a while, but a crash last year where I landed on my expensive phone and killed it convinced me I needed to protect it more. I settled on carrying it inside a frame bag on my bike. Fairly easy access, but much better protected.

I've been thinking about carrying a real camera on rides again and having killed a camera in the past that was in a pouch on my waist belt I'll do the same thing and put it inside a frame bag where it's better protected.

Reply

Jotegir
+1 Andrew Major
Lu Kz  - June 29, 2020, 7:19 a.m.

B-but Andrew, to get this to work you'll have to cut the end off your fresh slide on grips!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 29, 2020, 7:23 a.m.

The Renthals Ultra Tacky and Sensus Swayze push-on grips I usually run are open ended so no issues there... but I have had to punch out the end of a pair of 711R grips in the name of science.

Reply

agleck7
+1 Andrew Major
Agleck7  - June 29, 2020, 9:37 a.m.

Specialized tool that sits under the Zee cage does the trick for me on regular rides. If I'm going on a ride that I'd want more tools, I'm wearing a hip pack anyway, so can pack a bigger multi-tool

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Agleck7
Andrew Major  - June 29, 2020, 9:43 a.m.

Definitely, and as a pack guy (often a backpack actually) I've never had a struggle hauling all the tools I want. I think the roadie potential for the EnCase is just as high as MTB but either way, it's all about the game a lot of riders are playing of going for longer and longer rides without a pack - which is entertaining if nothing else.

I like having really good, usable, tools with me and the EnCase is definitely the first one I've come across that both stashes on my bike and I'm really happy using. The only issue was getting around it not fitting in my Fasst Flexx bar (and not being compatible with some grips I'm testing) but I've got a future piece coming on how I got around both those issues and also some DIY Colabs I think are cool.

Reply

blaklabl
+1 Andrew Major
blaklabl  - June 29, 2020, 10:58 a.m.

I bought the full Encase system based on your early review and IG messages, and I couldn't be happier with it.  I am almost to the point of only having to carry a hip pack for the additional bottle it allows (AZ in summer, better have an extra just in case) and love riding without a sweaty backpack.  I also switch it around quite a bit depending on the bars I am using, and that is where I find the only weakness, the size based on diameter of the bars.  Their heat shrink solution didn't work for me AT ALL, so I have to use electrical tape to tighten it up.  That's not awful, but it does leave adhesive as it shrinks and is a little messy.  If they could just make that a bit easier to use or adjust, it would be a 10/10 in my book.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 blaklabl
Andrew Major  - July 1, 2020, 1:47 p.m.

Yeah, the way they ship tools I could see offering a couple of different sizes of end caps in the future.

Reply

sanesh-iyer
+1 Andrew Major
Sanesh Iyer  - June 29, 2020, 11:18 a.m.

I've been drooling over this tool for a while. Too rich for my blood, but it's a beauty

Reply

ackshunW
+1 Andrew Major
ackshunW  - June 29, 2020, 12:20 p.m.

Great review but I’m missing the thing I want somebody to tell me—— do I get this or the One Up & put it in my steerer!? They both seem really well made and I can’t comprehend which I’d prefer. Would have thought my push-ons wouldn’t play nice but sounds like you’re making out well.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 29, 2020, 1:45 p.m.

The OneUp will work with any bar but does require threading your steerer or using their stem, which is definitely the lesser of the two options. The OneUp is ideal for racing as the tool is very fast to access and use.

The EnCase does limit bar choice a bit but doesn’t require any mods and I feel it’s a nicer tool to use. It is slower to pull it, unwrap it, and select a bit so not as useful against the clock.

I don’t race and I’m a tool nut so my choice is obvious. I’ve alluded to it already in the comments and I’ll have a DIY Colab piece coming soon with photos, but I’m carrying the EnCase differently than spec.

Reply

HitechTurtleneck
0
HitechTurtleneck  - June 29, 2020, 8:55 p.m.

I really like the specialized steerer tube setup.  The housing is a chain tool, has quick link holder, and I tape a couple other “break glass” supplies to the spindle. I don’t know how easy it is to access the head tube with the one up.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 1, 2020, 1:46 p.m.

Around here I've seen quite a few of those rust out but YMMV obviously. I carry a set of pliers and quick links so it's been a couple of years since I've regularly ridden with a chain tool and longer since I've used one trailside.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 1, 2020, 1:42 p.m.

Third option maybe?

Reply

rugbyred
+1 Andrew Major
Eric Van Sickle  - July 1, 2020, 6:27 a.m.

I’m using the Granite multi tool: https://www.granite-design.com/stashmultitool

No need to thread your fork, only remove your star nut. Quiet and seems well made.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 1, 2020, 1:50 p.m.

No issue with the headlock style system coming loose? It's a clean looking tool.

Reply

rugbyred
0
Eric Van Sickle  - July 1, 2020, 6:45 p.m.

No issues yet (fingers crossed) after 25 days of riding. I’m not easy on parts or light (215lbs). 

I have a creak that I’m chasing down and I checked the clamp and all was nice and snug.

Reply

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