Crankbrothers F15 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: ergonomic, metal construction, functional and sleek carrying case
Cons: multiple pieces, large-ish
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Crankbrothers hit yet another home run with the F15. Their long tenure designing multi-tools shows in its sleek, well-constructed body. Unlike its bigger brother the M19, the F15 isn't one of the most full-featured tools in our test, but within its convenient and functional carrying case are enough tools to get you out of most trailside trouble that you might encounter. Though it didn't shine enough in any one particular area to win an award in our test, this versatile tool with excellent ergonomics and an easy-to-use design makes a great trail companion on all but the deepest backcountry excursions.
The F15 doesn't quite pack as many features into its real estate as some of the other models in our test, but each of its 15 functions is well thought out with little fluff. On the body of the magnetically-held mini-tool that sits inside the F15's case lie nearly all the hex sizes you would ever need with 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm wrenches. Additionally, it holds a T25 Torx wrench and Phillips #2 and flat head #1 screwdrivers. At the other end of the tool's carrying case lies a chain tool with size 0, 1, 2, and 3 spoke wrenches. The case itself doubles as a magnetized bottle opener and a handle for any of the wrenches.
With the F15, Crankbrothers offers a clever new take on the traditional multi-tool design. A smooth, easy-to-hold carrying case totes a small multi-tool frame on one end and a chain tool on the other using powerful magnets to keep the entire package together. When it comes time to use a wrench, the carrying case does double duty and becomes an ergonomic dream for tightening and loosening tough bolts. The 3.5 x 1.5-inch case fits well in your palm and the smooth, rounded edges of the brushed-metal frame provide a comfortable, high-leverage, platform. When breaking a chain, the chain tool remains in the magnetic case and the mini-tool's 4mm hex wrench powers the chain punch. This means that both of your hands have large handles, and getting enough leverage to pop out a chain pin is no issue.
The F15 couldn't quite stack up ergonomically with the Ratchet Rocket Lite DX's ratcheting socket system, but it scored on par with the best traditional tools in the test. The Crankbrothers M19 and the Blackburn Switch Wrap both matched this model's score. The M19 offers more functions than the F15 but sacrifices in portability, while the Switch Wrap is super portable, but not as easy to use as the F15. When compared to the most feature-packed tools in our test, the F15 is more ergonomic by a fairly wide margin.
While its heft sits just about at the median of the tools we looked at, our testers thought that the 163 gram F15 was very portable for its weight. The smooth carrying case with rounded edges conceals the bulges and bumps that can make toting a multi-tool a pain. You can slip this tool into a jersey or bib pocket without any discomfort, but if the pocket is loose, you can expect to feel it bouncing on rough terrain.
Most of the multi-tools that we tested are super portable, and the F15 is no different. While it isn't our highest rated tool in this metric, it stacks up well. We found that only lightweight tools like the ToPeak Ninja 16+ or tools that store on your bike like the Switch Wrap and the OneUp EDC were easier to bring along on rides. The F15's smooth carrying case makes it a bit more portable than most tools of a similar size and weight.
Ease of Use
In spite of its 3-piece design, we found the F15 just as quick and easy to use as many of the traditional multi-tools in our test. The magnet holding everything together is just powerful enough to ensure that the pieces won't come apart accidentally, while still allowing you to separate the mini-tool or chain breaker when necessary easily. Additionally, the F15's design means you never need to have more than two of the three pieces separated at a time, so you don't have to worry about keeping track of everything at the trail or roadside. The individual wrenches on the mini-tool aren't labeled, but the clean layout makes sizes easy to visually identify.
Other than the added step of removing and replacing the mini-tool in the magnetic case, the F15 is just as easy to use as a traditionally organized multi-tool. For riders who aren't interested in managing multiple pieces, the Euro17 and the Blackburn Tradesman were two of the easiest-to-use models.
With its all-metal construction, the F15 ranked among the most durable tools in our test. We saw no problems with the tool during testing, and nothing about its construction gives us any concern about its longevity. The mini-tool and chain breaker fit tightly into the outer case, and the magnet that holds them in place is pressed into a metal sleeve to ensure that nothing starts rattling or falling out of the case in the long run. The tools themselves showed no signs of wear throughout our testing process despite heavy use.
After our testing process, we gave the F15 a strong durability rating. It matches other tools with a full-metal construction like the M19 and the Specialized EMT Pro. The Ninja 16+, with a carbon fiber reinforced polymer body, is the only tool with a non-metal frame that we ranked among the most durable. It offers an incredibly lightweight, but sacrifices in ergonomics when compared to the F15. Crankbrothers also provides a 5-year warranty, so on the off chance that you have trouble with the tool, you're covered.
The F15 is one of the higher-priced tools in our test. Despite this, we feel that it is a good value for anyone looking for a reliable and well-rounded tool without any frills. Riders who are looking for a super-capable tool might be better served looking elsewhere, but if you value performance, durability, and sleek design, then the F15 is a great buy.
The F15 was one of the best all-around tools in our test. With an aesthetic design, great ergonomics, and an easy-to-use layout, we think it is a solid tool. It doesn't particularly dazzle in any single category, but it was one of our most consistently great performers across the board. We think riders looking for a reliable tool for their daily driver would be well served by the F15.
— Zach Wick