Blackburn Tradesman Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Affordable, lots of functions, durable quality construction
Cons: On the bigger and heavier side
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|Pros||Affordable, lots of functions, durable quality construction||Simple layout, feature-rich, good leverage||19 functions, comes with storage case, good ergonomics, all-metal construction||Simple layout, lightweight, ergonomic frame||Lightweight, compact, ergonomic frame, simple design|
|Cons||On the bigger and heavier side||Anti-corrosion finish prone to wear||heavy-ish, on the larger side||chain tool lacks leverage, short bits||Limited Torx selection, chain tool lacks leverage|
|Bottom Line||This quality multi-tool has all the functions you need at a reasonable price||A well-outfitted multi-tool with great leverage and no small parts to keep track of||The Crankbrothers M19 is a cleverly designed model with all the tools you need to get you out of a bind on the trail||An inexpensive, user-friendly multi-tool with all of the basic functions necessary to keep you rolling||The 16 in 1 wields impressive capability in a small, lightweight, straightforward package|
|Rating Categories||Blackburn Tradesman||Lezyne Super V 22||Crankbrothers M19||Pro Bike Tool 17 in 1||Fabric 16 in 1|
|Ease Of Use (20%)|
|Specs||Blackburn Tradesman||Lezyne Super V 22||Crankbrothers M19||Pro Bike Tool 17 in 1||Fabric 16 in 1|
|Number of Functions||18||22||19||17||16|
|Weight With Cover||N/A||143g||209g||118g||N/A|
|Hex Wrenches (mm)||2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 mm||2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8mm||2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 mm||2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8mm||2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 mm|
|Torx||T25 & T30||T10, T25, T30||T10 & T25||T25||T25|
|Screwdrivers||Flat head||Phillips||Philips #1, #2, Flat #2||Phillips||Flat head, Philips|
|Addtional Tools||disc pad separator, quick link storage, quick link separator. 1,2,3 spoke wrenches, plus a valve core tool.||8/10mm wrench, 4 spoke wrenches, rotor truing tool, bottle opener, disc brake wedge||8mm & 10mm open wrench; #0, 1, 2, 3 spoke wrench||Spoke wrenches sizes 13, 14, 15, 16, and Mavic Spline, bottle opener||Spoke wrenches sizes 13, 14, 15, 16, and Mavic Spline, bottle opener|
|Size, Length x Width x Depth/thickness||3 1/2 x 1 13/16 x 13/16||3 1/2 x 2 3/4 x 1/2||3 1/2 x 1 7/8 x 3/4||1 3/4 x 2 3/4 x 1/2||2 3/4 x 1 3/4 x 3/8|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Blackburn is a cycling accessory company that makes a huge range of products from indoor trainers and bike packing bags, to lights and multi-tools. The Tradesman is a newer model in their multi-tool lineup that boasts 18 functions, a quality construction, and a reasonable price tag. It also has a unique and innovative tool in the quick link splitter, and its integrated quick link storage means you won't be fumbling around in the bottom of your pack trying to find it. When our testing finished, the Tradesman had impressed our testers so much that it ended up with our Best Buy Award.
The Tradesman has 18 total functions and has you covered for all of the adjustments and minor fixes you may experience while out in the field. Testers even like the quick link splitter tool so much that they said they'd consider keeping this tool in their garage or home workshop for doing drivetrain work that requires the removal of the chain.
The Tradesman has all the standard sizes of hex keys, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm. The 2, 2.5, and 4mm hex keys are L-shaped while the rest are straight. It also has a Torx 25, Torx 30, and a flathead screwdriver. There is a disc pad spreader, the only plastic on the entire tool, which has holes and indentations to store a spare quick link. The chain breaker is relatively standard and has spoke wrenches in size 0, 1, 2, and 3/Presta valve core tool machined into it. The most unique tool on the Tradesman is the quick link splitter, which is integrated into the chain breaker. This tool allows you to pop open quick links which are typically challenging to split otherwise.
The only occasionally-necessary tools the Tradesman doesn't have on it are a Torx 10 and a Phillips head screwdriver. This isn't too big of a deal since most modern bikes and components don't really use Phillips head screws anymore, and Torx 10 heads are generally only on found on brakes which you're probably better off working on at home.
The Tradesman has relatively good ergonomics. The side plates have nice rounded edges, and the 3.5-inch long tool is easy and relatively comfortable to grasp. It was outperformed slightly in this metric by the Crankbrothers M19, due to its more contoured side plates and comfort in hand. This is not to say that it has bad ergonomics, as it is far superior to the Park Tool IB-3 or the smaller tools found on the OneUp EDC.
The overall size of the Tradesman is one of the largest in our test, almost identical to the Crankbrothers M19. This size fits nicely in the palm for a secure grip, even with gloves on, and allows for plenty of leverage should you need to torque on something. The length of the tools themselves is also quite good, with inch and a half long bits that make it easier to reach your bolts, plus some L-shaped hex keys in the smaller sizes to get into those hard to reach places. Again, the ergonomics are pretty good; there are just a few models that are a little bit better.
At 178 grams the Tradesman is among the heaviest models in our test selection. This is in contrast to the three lightest models in this test which all weigh in around the 90-110g range, roughly 70g less than the Blackburn. If you're a real gram counter, you'll probably be happier with one of the lighter options like the Ninja 16+.
This is also one of the largest of the multi-tools, almost identical in size to the Crankbrothers M19 at 3.5" x 1.8" x 0.8". These tools are far from huge, by any means, they are just a bit bigger overall than the smaller competitors. The smallest tools in our test, like the Fabric 16 in 1 and Ninja 16+, will take up significantly less space in your pack or saddlebag. If you can spare an extra inch of storage and don't mind carrying an additional 70 or so grams with you, then the Tradesman has more features than most of the smaller and lighter competition.
Ease of Use
A thick rubber band wraps around the middle of the Tradesman to keep all of the tools in place when not in use. It needs to be removed or just slid slightly to the side to get access to the tools you wish to use. Other than that, everything is right at your fingertips and ready to go the moment you need them. Testers found they liked keeping the rubber band around the middle of the tool when in use to prevent any other tools, especially the chain breaker, from getting in your way while wrenching.
The Tradesman appears to be a very durable product. The tool is made almost entirely metal, with durable aluminum side plates and steel bits. The only plastic in the tool is the disc pad spreader which should stand the test of time assuming you never twist it; it has a "do not twist" warning printed on it.
The steel bits appear to be very strong and show virtually no signs of wear and absolutely no signs of rounding even after repeated use on stubborn heads. When compared to the Park Tool IB-3 whose Torx 25 head spun and was ruined the very first time we ever used it, we feel the Tradesman is a much more durable product. While it weighs more than several other models in the test, the durability of the steel bits is worth the weight penalty for most people.
The Tradesman is a great value. We feel this quality multi-tool is one of the best values in our test, but it was just barely edged out for the Best Buy Award by the Pro Bike Tool 17 in 1.
The Blackburn Tradesman is a quality multi-tool offered at a reasonable price. With 18 useful functions, it has virtually every tool you need, and then some, to handle typical adjustments and standard simple repairs. It has all the normal hex and Torx bits, a chain breaker, plus helpful additions like a disc pad spreader, quick link storage, and a quick link splitter. There are lighter and smaller options, but if you value functions and durability over weight savings, we think the Tradesman is an excellent option for the price.
Other Versions and Accessories
Blackburn makes a full line of bike accessories including several models of multi-tools.
The Wayside ($35) has even more tools than the Tradesman, with individual detached hex keys for sizes 2-5, and a serrated knife blade.
Blackburn also makes toolkits that include all of the essentials you'll need. Check or their Switch Wrap ($45) or Local CO2 ride kit ($50).
— Jeremy Benson