ratchet rocket

Topeak's Ratchet Rocket Lite DX Tool

Words Cam McRae
Photos Cam McRae
Date Aug 10, 2017

Multi tools are awesome. Without thinking much you can toss one in your bag or your pocket or maybe even your headtube and have everything you need for most of the repairs and issues you are likely to encounter on your average hectic, unpredictable mountain bike ride. Light, compact and convenient, they often do the job.

trump hands

Go easy on the Trump comments, but I only wear a medium glove.

Multi tools suck. If you are trying to get into any tight space good luck with that. If you need ample leverage you'd best look elsewhere. If your tool doesn't happen to reach the spot you are reaching into you would have done as well bringing a 135 gram rock. Useful and compact are great but patching up your ride so you can limp home after a 40 km/h ragdoll into the rhubarb is rarely a predictable endeavour. 


Ratchet Rocket Lite DX is the basic version of Topeak's compact ratcheting tool. There is also a version with three torque heads which Topeak calls 'Nano TorqBits" allowing you to tighten to 4, 5 or 5 Newton meters. The tool includes 2-8mm Allen heads, a #2 Philips head, T10 and T25 Torx heads, an extender and two serviceable tire levers. I haven't used them yet but they have a robust and stiff feel that I wouldn't hesitate to try out on the trail.

Versatility is valuable when things have gone haywire and the Ratchet Rocket is an adaptable tool. You can use the extended head in hard to reach spots, remove it when the quarters are tight or pop the bits into the magnetic end of the handle to get into particularly inaccessible spots or when a deft touch is called for. 

limit screws

A ratchet isn't appropriate for the fine pressure needed to dial in limit screws or even the B-Tension of your derailleur. In those instances you can use the magnetic receiver on the end of the handle to get things just right. 

The first time I saw a tool like this was in the Kona bike shop in Bellingham. One of the staff had this on his belt to aid customers or tweak bikes on the floor. The compact size, multiple bits and ratcheting capability made it perfect for the sort of tasks he needed to perform. And who doesn't look like a bad ass with a tiny socket set hanging from your hip?


I quickly came to the conclusion that this tool's use extends far beyond the usual multi tool and I often use it for building bikes, swapping parts or general repairs when I'm in the shop. The trick is to remember to return it to your riding gear when you are done - or buy two if you tend to forget that sort of thing like I do. 

I have sometimes stooped to using a multi tool off the trail but it's rarely ideal. This tool, on the other hand, is so handy and adaptable that it's ideal for most tasks in the home shop as well. The ability to ratchet is like a super power when you are swapping stems or installing rotors, (in the absence of a drill that is) and the ability to slip it into your pocket is a bonus. The tool is small which is usually perfect for the sort of torque required to fasten bike parts to each other but even though there is an 8mm head the Ratchet Rocket wouldn't be much use for installing or removing cranks or for removing pedals that have been on more than a few weeks. 


The tool itself measures 9.2 cms or 3 5/8" and it captures bits or the extender with a spring clip. 

I actually thought the Ratchet Rocket was going to be most useful at home but the case is so compact and well-organized I began using it on trail as well. The case closes with Velcro and it's nice and compact. In fact I would happily walk around with it in my jeans pocket because it's as thin as my wallet. 


When all closed it's a tidy package; about the size of a 90s era flip phone only thinner. It weighs only 155 grams or 5.5 OZ. 


Of course it's not all roses. The spring mechanism that holds bits in place is a little tight so removing drivers that are inserted without the extender can involve a little frustration. The thumb ring around the ratchet head is gnurled for grip so you can spin a fitting that isn't tight enough to engage the ratchet.There is also a little more play (slop would be an exaggeration) in the mechanism than I would like. Reversing the ratchet direction requires flipping that tiny switch. I was a little worried about it because it seems delicate but it has proven to be robust. 


Another small issue involves the excellent velcro closure eating away at the case. I quickly determined that if you close the case properly this wouldn't be an issue so mark that one down as user error. 


The 8mm head will come in handy if your cranks come loose but a burlier tool will be required to tighten them sufficiently for the long haul.


The tire levers seem to be stiff and well-designed for their chosen profession.


Everything snaps or slides into place securely and rattle-free. Add a chain tool and some sort of air delivery system and you are set. 

Because it's so well housed you could carry the Ratchet Rocket Lite DX just about anywhere. It could strap to your frame, slide in a jersey pocket or be tossed into your pack or bum bag. I have been using the last two options in that list to keep the tool handy.


When I set about hunting down the price for this tool I found it on both Amazon for $27 and Chain Reaction for $45 Canadian which was a pleasant surprise. In fact, CRC has the non DX version (no extender or tire levers but even more compact and only 113 grams) on sale for Canadians right now pushing it down to CDN $33.99. For some reason American customers must pay $34.95 US for the same product. You can, of course, ask for it at your LBS - always a worthy endeavour. 

I really like the Ratchet Rocket DX. For some the TorqBits version will make more sense but my experience wrenching in shops in my youth made me too arrogant to realize I need a torque wrench, although the proliferation of carbon has me rethinking that. I will happily say goodbye to the awkwardness of muti-tools for the speed, versatility, and convenience of this tool.

For more hit up Topeak.com

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+1 Cam McRae
Spazzdick  - Aug. 10, 2017, 4:21 a.m.

I really like this tool, for those pedals and cranks that require extra force, you can pop the extender into the end of the handle to give you extra leverage - brilliant wee thing!


Cam McRae  - Aug. 11, 2017, 1 a.m.

Nice one! Totally missed that.


stinky_dan  - Aug. 10, 2017, 11:04 a.m.

This looks like a good combination of pricepoint and tool. Having a carrycase means it can also get stuffed with duct tape, zipties, links and some small pliers.


+1 mtnfriend
Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 10, 2017, 2:40 p.m.

In a very similar vein, I love my SILCA. 

The only real downside is it doesn't have a chain tool. :-(


+1 Cooper Quinn
stinky_dan  - Aug. 10, 2017, 4:33 p.m.

Yes, a weird deficiency for both kits really. I also lust after that quick link tool that comes with the e13 EDC kit. So hot.

I'm really, really liking the racestrap from backcountry research, similar to the silca seat roll.


+1 Cooper Quinn
Cam McRae  - Aug. 11, 2017, 1 a.m.

Testing the Silca next!


+1 Cooper Quinn
Mbcracken  - Aug. 11, 2017, 8:22 a.m.

I've used my Silca to do bike builds.  Really like the ease of the torque for carbon bits. I'd rank its quality at or close to Snap-On.


JaX-x8086  - Aug. 11, 2017, 11:48 a.m.


stinky_dan  - Aug. 11, 2017, 12:37 p.m.

well slap my mouth and call me Mary.


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