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Blackburn Tradesman Review

This quality multi-tool has all the functions you need at a reasonable price
Blackburn Tradesman
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Price:  $32 List | $31.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Affordable, lots of functions, durable quality construction
Cons:  On the bigger and heavier side
Manufacturer:   Blackburn
By Jeremy Benson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 8, 2018
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 14
  • Ergonomics - 25% 7
  • Features - 25% 8
  • Ease of Use - 20% 9
  • Portability - 20% 7
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Blackburn Tradesman impressed our testers with its combination of useful features, user-friendliness, and durability at a reasonable price. With 18 total functions, the Tradesman has you covered for most trail or roadside fixes and adjustments. Its got all of your standard hex keys from 2-8mm, Torx 25 and 30, a flathead, four sizes of spoke wrenches, disc pad spreader, chain breaker, and quick link storage. One unique feature of the Tradesman is their quick link tool which is integrated into the chain breaker and easily pops stubborn quick links open. It's on the larger end of the spectrum for this review, but it's still plenty portable for most applications. There are tools with better ergonomics, but it fits right in the palm of your hand for a positive grip and plenty of leverage.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Blackburn Tradesman
Awards    Best Buy Award  
Price $31.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$39.99 at AmazonCheck Price at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$28 List
Check Price at Amazon
$32 List
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Pros Affordable, lots of functions, durable quality constructionSimple layout, feature-rich, good leverage19 functions, comes with storage case, good ergonomics, all-metal constructionSimple layout, lightweight, ergonomic frameLightweight, compact, ergonomic frame, simple design
Cons On the bigger and heavier sideAnti-corrosion finish prone to wearheavy-ish, on the larger sidechain tool lacks leverage, short bitsLimited Torx selection, chain tool lacks leverage
Bottom Line This quality multi-tool has all the functions you need at a reasonable priceA well-outfitted multi-tool with great leverage and no small parts to keep track ofThe Crankbrothers M19 is a cleverly designed model with all the tools you need to get you out of a bind on the trailAn inexpensive, user-friendly multi-tool with all of the basic functions necessary to keep you rollingThe 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
Ergonomics (25%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Features (25%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Ease Of Use (20%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Portability (20%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Specs Blackburn Tradesman Lezyne Super V 22 Crankbrothers M19 Pro Bike Tool 17 in 1 Fabric 16 in 1
Weight 178g 141g 173g 112g 107g
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
Chain Tool Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
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.

Performance Comparison


The Tradesman is sturdy with durable bits and good leverage.
The Tradesman is sturdy with durable bits and good leverage.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Features


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.

Blackburn has packed 18 functions into their Tradesman multi-tool.
Blackburn has packed 18 functions into their Tradesman multi-tool.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

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.

Ergonomics


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.

The Tradesman is on the larger end of the size spectrum of the...
The Tradesman is on the larger end of the size spectrum of the models in this test, but it fits pretty nicely in the palm of your hand and provides more leverage than the smallest multi-tools.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Portability


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.

The Tradesman side by side for comparison with one of the smallest...
The Tradesman side by side for comparison with one of the smallest tools in the test, the Specialized EMT Pro MTB.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

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 is simple to use, simply slide the thicker rubber band...
The Tradesman is simple to use, simply slide the thicker rubber band out of the way to reach the tool you want, slide it back over the middle to keep the other tools in place while you use it.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Durability


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 disc pad spreader has integrated quick link storage. The only...
The disc pad spreader has integrated quick link storage. The only plastic on the tool, it has a "no twist" warning printed on it.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Value


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 quick link tool easily pops open even the most stubborn of quick...
The quick link tool easily pops open even the most stubborn of quick links.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Conclusion


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