Wolf Tooth 8-Bit Pack Pliers NSMB AndrewM (9).JPG
FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Wolf Tooth 8-Bit Pack Pliers

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Nov 17, 2020

EnCase X Pack Pliers

I know, a broken clock is right twice a day but I still did a little happy dance when the 8-Bit Pack Pliers arrived. When I tested the Pack Pliers in 2018, I couldn't help but wish they had combined a 1/4" driver to get that much closer to the perfect, lightweight, all-in-one for my pack:

In my perfect world, Wolf Tooth would manufacture a more multi-functional tool using the Pack Pliers platform. My version would have a 1/4" bit driver which would allow riders to carry as few or as many individual tools as they like.

It's true that the new 8-Bit Pack Pliers do not use a 1/4" driver, but rather shares the same bits as their excellent EnCase in-the-bar toolset. This setup allows the driver itself to be an 8mm hex with a 4mm opening for the other bits. Combined with the handle of the Pack Pliers the 8-Bit tool creates a healthy amount of leverage. You aren't getting DUB cranks off with it - but then you probably aren't getting DUB cranks off without tying the non-drive arm to your chainstay and strapping your full-sized 8mm to a cheater bar - but there's plenty of leverage available to tighten Race Face Cinch, SRAM DUB, or any other similar crankset.

For anyone concerned about the durability of the aluminum handles, or the swivel mount of the 8mm head, Wolf Tooth says the tool is designed to withstand more than 40 Nm of force. This is not just intended as a 'sometimes tool' for the trailside, they'd love to see it being used as a daily driver in your home shop. The swivel head allows the tool to be used like an L-Handle hex key or like a screwdriver which I find very handy.

Wolf Tooth 8bit Pack Pliers NSMB AndrewM (2).jpg

All the features in a beautifully made, very usable, 67-gram tool for an investment of 70 USD.

As with EnCase, there is a magnet inside the swivel head to keep the bits in place. All the bits are the same. There's also the addition of the Valve Reamer AKA rasp for clearing dried sealant out of your tubeless valves. Here's the litany of features:

  • Spoke wrench
  • Valve core wrench // Valve Reamer
  • T10 and T25 Torx
  • Flathead #3.5 and Phillips #2 screwdriver
  • 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, and 6mm hex bits (plus the 8mm hex head unit)
  • Quick link pliers and valve lock-nut tightener (also decent for straightening rotors)
  • Quick link carrier (links not included)
  • And it weighs just 67 grams

I tried fairly hard to think of what's missing. Some folks will lament the lack of a chain tool but not me, I just snap off the remains of a broken link and install a quick link. [Edit]: I learned today, thanks to trying to make a How-To for the comments below that this only works for the 1/8” chains I usually run on my single speed. With the flaired pins on a mulit-speed 3/32” chain a breaker is still needed to avoid a long runbike home. [/Edit]

I suppose someone who was being really persnickety could ask for a few more Torx options or a 1.5mm hex, but the only separate tools I've added to my kit are a carbon-rim-friendly plastic tire lever, which I'll remove after my Bontrager Line test is finished, and a knife. I'm not sure how Wolf Tooth could best add a locking blade to the 8-Bit and if it wasn't truly usable it would be a drag on the rest of the tool, but they are smart folks and I'd love to see their take on an 8-Bit + Blade.

Whingeing about what a 'fair' price is aside, the only negative I can come up with is that the bits are a bit finicky to use with heavy gloves, but then I generally remove my gloves for anything I do trailside other than straightening a stem so it really isn't a big deal to me.

The tool is beautifully made and very nice to use and it probably doesn't come as any surprise that it's an investment at 70 USD. I'm not trying to convert the 'my basic multi-tool is all I need' crowd but if you like nice things, and would prefer a shop-level tool experience on the trail then the 8-Bit Pack Pliers are likely right up your alley. They would also make a great gift for the rider in your life who already has everything, which I suspect Wolf Tooth is aware of given the November release.

The 8-Bit Pack Pliers will be available soon in your preferred local bike shop, and can currently be researched more thoroughly, or purchased, on their website.

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Comments

morgan-heater
+2 Andrew Major Nologo
Morgan Heater  - Nov. 17, 2020, 10:14 a.m.

This tool looks pretty rad, but I don't quite get this:  "I just snap off the remains of a broken link and install a quick link".  How do you get the chain pin out on the side of the link that isn't broken without a chain tool?

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 17, 2020, 11:19 a.m.

Tool is beautiful.

I apologize if this isn’t clear - I think this is what you’re asking - usually when I break chains (not that it happens that regularly) or see broken chains one of the outer links have snapped has snapped and the other gas popped off the chain pin, or more often the outer plates are bent/splayed and otherwise intact.

I use the pack pliers to flex/snap one of the broken/splayed outer plates off the side that isn’t broken and then that pin slides out as well leaving me two inner links to join. 

If it would be helpful I could fake some photos! It’s surprisingly hard to explain clearly.

Reply

Poz
+2 Andrew Major Nologo
Poz  - Nov. 17, 2020, 11:19 a.m.

Ya I’m curious about this too. Would be good to remove the need for a chain tool.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 17, 2020, 11:22 a.m.

Okay I’ll make some photos :-)

Reply

AndrewMajor
+4 Grif Poz Marc Fenigstein Sanesh Iyer
Andrew Major  - Nov. 17, 2020, 12:38 p.m.

Well, this is a very embarrassing defeat to admit to but I suppose I should be grateful that you folks potentially saved me a long run bike out of the woods.

My demo shots were going great - easy to snap the outer link off one side with the Pack Pliers as before, but as any idiot (aside from this one apparently) will tell you multi-speed chains have peened ends on the rivets and it is not at all easy to push them through the center links even once the outer links are off. 

It’s no problem with the 1/8” chains I usually run on my single speed (confirmed with a KMC and a Wipperman chain) as once one plate is off the other slides out with the pin; however, as of yet I have not found a way to make it work with a multi speed 3/32 chain. 

So yeah, sorry to get your hopes up. Still need a chain breaker unless you’re switching to #1FG

Reply

morgan-heater
+1 Andrew Major
Morgan Heater  - Nov. 17, 2020, 1:22 p.m.

Cool, thanks for doing the homework! So, now they just need to add a chain breaker, and it would be a pretty swanky all-in-one.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 17, 2020, 1:23 p.m.

I’m working on something. Will report back.

Reply

Poz
+1 Andrew Major
Poz  - Nov. 17, 2020, 1:57 p.m.

Ha too bad. 

I have carried a small Park chain breaker for years. Very nice to use over a fiddly multi tool one.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+7 DanL goose8 Metacomet Morgan Heater Lu Kz Sanesh Iyer Vincent Edwards
Andrew Major  - Nov. 17, 2020, 2:47 p.m.

You guys knew I’d come through for you?!?!?!

21 USD OneUp Chain breaker and a longer chainring bolt. Just need to make sure the bolt is threaded all the way to the head for everything to play nice.

Everything works nice whether the chain breaker is on there or not.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 bumVSmtn
Andrew Major  - Nov. 17, 2020, 6:52 p.m.

Since it came up on Instagram, I cut a bunch of fresh sections of chain before posting this (didn’t care to be wrong twice). 

No, there is not a handle for the breaker. I wrap the chain around it to create something to hold onto. Presumably a production version could have a fold out handle, or use the p.pliers as the handle and have a fold out driver.

Reply

Poz
+2 Andrew Major bumVSmtn
Poz  - Nov. 17, 2020, 9:51 p.m.

A man truly dedicated to his craft. 

This is truly creative.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 18, 2020, 2:38 p.m.

Cheers!

cooperquinn
+1 Poz
Cooper Quinn  - Nov. 18, 2020, 9:24 a.m.

I like that you played the long-con on this one. Didn't bring up single-speeding until the comments.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 bumVSmtn
Andrew Major  - Nov. 18, 2020, 2:39 p.m.

Hahahaha. Trying to make sure you can’t fill up that Major Bingo card too easily.

Reply

DanL
+1 Andrew Major
DanL  - Nov. 17, 2020, 10:57 a.m.

I want to love the wolftooth plier so much but I have a lot of difficulty using them to separate links as I find the are so thin compared to the leverage needed and it really aggravates my hands. Maybe I want thicker gloves or something - I often pack the park quicklink pliers instead.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 DanL
Andrew Major  - Nov. 17, 2020, 11:21 a.m.

Interesting. Are you running Shimano chains by any chance?

I use the Pack Pliers as my home shop quick think pliers. They are a bit harder to use than the steel Park ones at work but not to the extent that I’d buy the Park ones for home or carry a heavier tool in my pack.

Reply

DanL
+1 Andrew Major
DanL  - Nov. 17, 2020, 12:06 p.m.

yeah, I do hate the shimano linkage system - I think this may be it.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 17, 2020, 12:39 p.m.

The Shimano quick links are pretty brutal compared to others on the market.

Reply

mb
+1 Andrew Major
Mikey Bikey  - Nov. 17, 2020, 7:52 p.m.

Maybe that explains it. Haven't found the original pliers to work that great (w. Shimano links.) They sure look cool tho,  which is why I bought them in the first place, as these ones do also.  At home I grab the Park. 

Problem is on the trail is little bits falling and getting lost. Probably will stick with my Crankbrothers M17 for now. We is late tech adopter.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 17, 2020, 9:20 p.m.

Haven't lost anything with the EnCase yet (knock on wood) or the 8-Bit (knock on wood). One nice thing with Wolf Tooth is they really do support the products (you can buy spare bits). 

But yeah, I still have an SKS Toolbox Race from forever ago and it gets the job done beautifully. I was actually using it for a while this year combined with a separate chain breaker (just the breaker and plastic handle - no magnet/tool - from Giant Clutch = weighs nothing).

Where the EnCase and 8-Bit bury most other tools for me is the leverage to adjust (loosen/tighten) the swingers/sliders on my single speeds. It's not a regular occurrence but it just is nice to be able to do with confidence (I know most folks don't have the issue). It's also a matter of being able to go on a road trip and not pack many other tools --- assuming there are road trips in my future!

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