Crankbrothers M19 Review
Cons: heavy-ish, on the larger side
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Crankbrothers has been in the cycling components and accessories business for quite a while. One of their most successful and popular products has been their multi-tools and the M19 has been a mainstay for over a decade. They've made some very minor tweaks to it in that time, but the general shape, size, and design remain the same. It's safe to say that the M19 is a modern classic, a tool that lives up to the adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." During testing, the M19 quickly became a tester favorite for its wealth of tools, excellent ergonomics, and ease of use.
With a total of 19 tools, the M19 has pretty much everything you will ever need to handle trailside repairs and adjustments. It comes equipped with all the usual hex key sizes, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm. It also has a Torx 10, Torx 25, #1 and #2 Phillips, and a flat head screwdriver. The chain tool is quality and has size 0, 1, 2, and 3 spoke wrenches, as well as 8mm and 10mm box wrenches integrated into its design. It also comes with a slick brushed aluminum case. The case weighs 38g, so we opted to use the tool without it most of the time, but its there should you chose to use it.
The M19 was one of the most ergonomic traditional-design tools we tested. The aluminum side plates are round and have some texture added to their center to enhance your grip. All of the tools fold cleanly in from both ends between the two side plates. The 3.5" length of the tool fits nicely across the palm, making it one of the most comfortable and secure tools to hold onto. From a comfort in hand standpoint, the M19 is one of our highest rated tools, tied with the Specialized EMT Pro MTB in this regard. The M19 edges the EMT Pro out for its size, however, as the additional length of the M19 enhances the grip in general, especially for hard wrenching efforts.
The length of the tools and bits on the M19 is also excellent. They are some of the longest in the test, similar in length to those on the Blackburn Tradesman which is roughly the same overall shape and size as the M19. This length makes it easier to reach most of the bolts and heads you need while not being so long that the tool gets in the way of itself.
Like every multi-tool we tested, the M19 is relatively portable. When compared with the smallest and lightest tools, however, it is definitely on the heavier and larger end of the spectrum. It tips the scales at 173g for just the tool only, in the included case it weighs 209g. Considering the 36g weight penalty associated with the case, testers opted to carry the tool on its own most of the time. This is on the heavier end of tools in this test, though the M19 weighs 4g less than the Park Tool IB-3, and 5g less than the Blackburn Tradesman. For comparison, the lightest tools in this test, such as the Specialized EMT Pro MTB, Lezyne V10, and Ninja 16+ weigh at least 65g less.
The M19 is almost identical in size to the Blackburn Tradesman, and they are two of the largest tools in this test. That said, it's still a slim and relatively small multi-tool that won't take up much space in your pack. If you're looking for the smallest and lightest tool around you're better off checking out tools like the Ninja 16+, the Lezyne V10 and the Fabric 16 in 1, but be aware that they have fewer tools and functions.
Ease of Use
The M19 is about as user-friendly as multi-tools come, especially if you opt not to use the case. Taking the tool out and putting it back into the case adds another step, and a significant amount of weight, to the process. Beyond that, the tool is one piece and completely self-contained. There are no loose bits or pieces to lose. All of the tools fold out from the middle, and the hex keys have their sizes etched into them for quick identification. The bits fold out with just moderate force, and they stay in place when not in use. The chain tool is attached to the threaded pin pusher and is a bit larger and has texture on both the front and back to make it easier to hold onto during use. The addition of some texture on the rounded side plates also makes this tool one of the most comfortable and easiest to grip, even with gloves on.
Admittedly, all of the tools in this review are relatively easy to use. That said, we feel that the M19 is among the most user-friendly, tied with a few other tools including the Specialized EMT Pro MTB and the Blackburn Tradesman in this metric.
With an all-metal construction that includes forged aluminum side plates and high tensile steel bits, the M19 is a very durable product. One of our testers has had a similar version for the better part of the past ten years, and it is still going strong. The steel bits are stout, and the heads show no signs of wear or rounding. The biggest durability concern with the M19 is the potential for some minor corrosion in the form of rust occurring on the steel bits. This has been noted in many other online reviews, and it is present on our tester's older model. This slight amount of corrosion only occurs if the tool gets wet and stays that way for an extended period. In the chance that the bits do begin to rust, it isn't a big problem since it doesn't affect the performance or longevity of the tool.
We feel that the M19 is as durable as any of the other all-metal tools in this review, though we understand the corrosion that may occur on the bits could be disconcerting to some. Other brands have taken anti-corrosion measures like chrome plating or making the bits from Chrome-vanadium steel. You will find CrV printed on many of the bits found on other tools. That said, we still feel that the M19 is among the best from a durability standpoint.
At just $34 retail, we feel that the M19 is an excellent value. Because this tool has proven to stand the test of time from both a design and durability standpoint, we think this is an excellent and affordable option that everyone should consider.
Few designs and products in the cycling industry stick around for more than a few years, much less more than a decade. The M19 is one of those special products that has stood the test of time with a simple but excellent design that makes it one of our top-rated multi-tools. With 19 useful functions, the M19 is equipped to handle virtually every adjustment or quick fix you need out on the trail. It has excellent ergonomics with rounded side plates and texture added to enhance grip. It's not the smallest or the lightest model out there, but it's still plenty portable. On top of that, it's reasonably priced at just $34.
Other Versions and Accessories
Crank Brothers makes a range of multi-tools including several models in their M-series. The M19 reviewed here is the most fully featured model in the series and is offered in 4 colors, gold (tested), nickel, midnight, and black/red.
The M17 ($28) has 17 tools, all of those on the M19 minus the T10 and the Phillips #1, and it weighs 168g.
The M10 ($20) has ten tools, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm Allen Keys, a T25, and a #2 Phillps and #2 flat head screwdriver. It weighs 124g
The M5 ($13) is the most basic of the bunch with five tools, 3, 4, 5, and 6mm Allen keys, and a #2 Phillips head screwdriver. It weighs 85g.
— Jeremy Benson