Tested: An Uncommonly Cool Multi-Tool
Say goodbye to traditional tools—the lightweight Prestaratchet makes trailside repairs fast and easy
to building bikes from the frame up. I’ve also used it for odd jobs around the house, like taking apart and then reassembling an IKEA shelving unit
with no fewer that two-dozen 4mm hex bolts. I’ve given this tool plenty of opportunity to fail, but the Lilliputian-sized ratchet driver is still cranking away one crisp click at a time.
Thanks to the tool’s rubber bit holders, I haven’t lost track of a single driver, and even though I’ve pushed the wrench past its advertised limits—like the time I used to remove a pair of pedals
—it’s held up to the abuse.
The Prestaratchet is sold by Prestacycle, a small rider-owned company that also makes several other cycling tools. The ratchet is available without bits for $13, or as a complete package for $30 with steel bits, or $32 with chrome vanadium tools, which I recommend.
The full kit comes with two bit holders stuffed with 10 bits apiece. This includes 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm hex heads; Phillips #0, #1 and #2; and two flat-head screwdriver bits that are 1/8- and 3/16-inches wide, respectively. The package also includes drivers for the most common Torx bolts on a bike—T10, T15 and T25—plus a few you’ll probably never need. There’s even a converter that accepts 1/4-inch sockets.
The standard setup also comes with four long bits: 4 and 5mm ball-end hex tools, a magnetized extension socket, and an extra-long T25, which keeps your knuckles well out of harm’s way when installing and removing sharp-edged disc brake rotors.
Last but not least, the kit comes with an adapter for using any of the tool bits with a ¼-inch socket wrench—such as Park Tool’s excellent TW5 torque wrench.
The beauty of this tool is that it’s small, simple and effective. Slot in a standard hexagonal tool bit and start wrenching. Not only does the ratchet save time, it prevents you from having to repeatedly insert the bit into the bolt or screw, which can lead to excessive wear on bolt heads.
The tool made home repairs easy, but I was surprised how well it worked on the trail, too. The whole Prestaratchet package—with a sleeve of 10 bits—weighs just 90 grams. That’s less than many traditional multi-tools. Its slim profile allows it to slip easily into a hydration pack (and also makes it easy to access hard-to-reach bolts) and the ratcheting mechanism cuts down on repair time.
There were, however, some minor issues. The long extension bit is theoretically one of the tool’s most useful bits, but it broke the first time I used it to tighten a top cap—the magnetized bit holder seems to have been secured to the base of the extended bit with a simple press-fit process that didn’t withstand much torque.
I also was disappointed by the kit’s 4mm and 5mm ball-end extensions. They work well for sneaking under road brake hoods, but I’d rather have an extension with a straight bit head because repeated tightening and untightening these critical clamps with a ball-end bit could eventually round out a bolt head.
Last, I found that the ratchet mechanism lever occasionally reverses on its own. It only seemed to happen when I was ratcheting in a hurry, but it was a frustrating quirk.
These relatively minor quibbles aside, the Prestaratchet makes a great addition to any rider’s tool kit. It is versatile, adaptable and compact. It comes with a five-year warranty. And it’s light enough to be carried on the trail.
At 90 grams, the ratchet and tools weigh less than many standard multi-tools. (Chris Lesser)
Over the last six months, I have used the Prestaratchet for everything from making minor adjustment on the