Bicycle mechanic review of Blackburn Tradesman multi-tool
Blackburn Tradesman - Multi-Tool Review
No no nonsense, smart tools for today's modern bikes. The Blackburn Tradesman is a fantastic bicycle multi-tool.
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- Quick link splitter
- Up to 12 speed chain splitter
- Unique styling
- L shaped hex keys
- Disc pad separator
- Excellent quality tool bits
- Heavy for an 18 function tool
- Smaller L shaped hex keys can be fiddly to use
- Tools can be loose
- No Phillips screwdrivers
- Rubber band instead of case, can be fiddly to remove
- Price is high in comparison to other 20 function tools.
Who are Blackburn?
Blackburn was founded by Jim Blackburn in 1975, with nearly 50 years experience producing bicycle accessories they are one of the longest standing companies still in the market today. They seem to pride themselves on making “no nonsense” smart useful tools.
The Blackburn Tradesman Multi-tool sits at the top of their offering of compact multi-tools, there is another in their range at a similar position called the Wayside multi-tool but this has a rather intimidating serrated blade as par of the tool bits so I gave this one a miss given UK laws and locking knife blades.
What does the Blackburn Tradesman multi-tool look like?
Running with an industrial grunge theme, the tool has a type gun metal appearance to it, the body side bars are forged aluminium with an embossed logo. The washers of the bolts holding the tool together are a lovely bronze colour to provide an accent of colour that complements the dark steel look of the body.
The tool bits are a matt black colour, although not published this is likely to be a phosphate conversion finish for corrosion protection.
This multi-tool is fairly chunky, measuring 9×4.7×1.7cm when folded with official figures quoting 176g, the overall dimensions are similar to most other 20 function multi-tools like the Topeak P20. The larger hex keys profile when viewing the tool form the side protrude past the outline of the body side bars of the tool and most other tools. This makes the tool a bit uneven in its ergonomics and a bit uncomfortable to have in a pocket.
Most interesting with this multi-tool is its list of functions, its only an 18 function tool yet it can be extremely versatile while at the same time missing some important basic features.
What functions does it have?
The list of tools are as follows:
- Hex keys: 2/2.5/3/4/5/6/8 (2/2.5/4 are L shaped)
- Torx: T25/T30
- Chain tool: 7 to 12 speed
- Spoke wrench: #0/#1/#2
- Presta valve core tool
- Disc pad spreader
- Quick link removal tool
- Quick link storage
- Flat head screwdriver
So what do other people say about this tool? Well, its mainly all good people have not experienced any major negatives with this tool and go on to complement its great quality.
Having said that there are a number of similar complaints regarding the tool bits. People are saying that they are too loose and they all fall open as soon as the rubber band is removed. I checked numerous sites and this was common across them all, this leaves me to believe that this is a credible common issue for this tool.
Another complaint was the rubber band was particularly finicky to remove, not what you need if you are trying to deal with any type of mechanical failure.
This tool is instantly in the soft spot zone for me as it does not have a detachable socket for the 8mm hex key but it is also making me turn away from it by the lack of any Philips screwdriver, which I always find a need for them.
I really love the gunmetal with bronze accents for the styling but I don’t like the way the tools wrap around the retaining bolt and stick out in places especially the larger hex keys, which stick out the furthest. This could make for a slightly uncomfortable experience if you are storing it in a clothes pocket tight to your body
Having a chain splitter up to 12 speed is a great but also having a quick link splitter is fantastic and a great way to make this tool suitable for all. The fact it also has a brake disc pad spreader that doubles up as storage for the quick links is also a very welcome addition.
One of their selling points is the L shaped hex keys, personally I am not that fussed about them. I would much rather them straight and the tool made more ergonomic for carrying.
Finally, that rubber band!!! I can see why its there to hold the tools in place being loose, but seriously, it would have been much better as a neoprene case and the tool having a bit more friction grip to stop all the tools swinging free. The bolts on the body can be used to tighten the tool up but the shape of the hex keys make it difficult to do it without locking the bits in position.
This is an amazing tool in some respects and frustrating in others, I would say look at the equipment on your bike and if you think this tool would cover you then its not a bad buy, sure it has its quirks but it has some good functions other tools in its class do not.