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Park Tool I-Beam Review

The Park Tool IB-3 has all the right tools, but its ergonomics are lacking and its durability is questionable
Park Tool I-Beam
Photo: Park Tool
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Price:  $32 List | $31.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Integrated tire lever
Cons:  Poor ergonomics, questionable durability, large size
Manufacturer:   Park Tool
By Jeremy Benson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 8, 2018
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61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 14
  • Ergonomics - 25% 5
  • Features - 25% 7
  • Ease of Use - 20% 7
  • Portability - 20% 6
  • Durability - 10% 5

Our Verdict

Park Tool and their distinctive blue tools adorn the workbenches of virtually every bike shop, ever. They're the industry leader in workshop tools which raised our expectations for their IB-3 multi-tool. IB is short for I-Beam and is a reference to the unique design with a stout structural beam down the center of the tool. With 15 functions, the IB-3 is equipped to handle just about every adjustment and simple fix you may need out on the trail. Testers quickly found that this tool doesn't meet the high standards set by the competition, however, as the very first use resulted in a spun Torx 25 bit. The ergonomics also proved to be the worst in the test, along with the heavier weight and generally awkward size and shape of the tool. We expected much more from the IB-3 but found ourselves disappointed in many ways. Despite being the least expensive model in our review, we prefer other tools in this test.

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Pros Integrated tire leverSimple layout, feature-rich, good leverage19 functions, comes with storage case, good ergonomics, all-metal constructionSimple layout, lightweight, ergonomic frameAffordable, lots of functions, durable quality construction
Cons Poor ergonomics, questionable durability, large sizeAnti-corrosion finish prone to wearheavy-ish, on the larger sidechain tool lacks leverage, short bitsOn the bigger and heavier side
Bottom Line The Park Tool IB-3 has all the right tools, but its ergonomics are lacking and its durability is questionableA 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 rollingThis quality multi-tool has all the functions you need at a reasonable price
Rating Categories Park Tool I-Beam Lezyne Super V 22 Crankbrothers M19 Pro Bike Tool 17 in 1 Blackburn Tradesman
Ergonomics (25%)
5.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Features (25%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Ease Of Use (20%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Portability (20%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
5.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Specs Park Tool I-Beam Lezyne Super V 22 Crankbrothers M19 Pro Bike Tool 17 in 1 Blackburn Tradesman
Weight 177g 141g 173g 112g 178g
Number of Functions 15 22 19 17 18
Weight With Cover N/A 143g 209g 118g N/A
Hex Wrenches (mm) 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8mm 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 T10, T25, T30 T10 & T25 T25 T25 & T30
Screwdrivers Flat blade Phillips Philips #1, #2, Flat #2 Phillips Flat head
Chain Tool Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Addtional Tools 8 mm box wrench, tire lever, 2 spoke wrenches - 3.23 mm & 3.45mm 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 disc pad separator, quick link storage, quick link separator. 1,2,3 spoke wrenches, plus a valve core tool.
Size, Length x Width x Depth/thickness 3 1/2 x 1 5/8 x 1 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 3 1/2 x 1 13/16 x 13/16

Our Analysis and Test Results

If you've ever set foot into the repair shop at virtually any bike shop in the world, then you've probably seen Park Tool's distinctive blue handled tools hanging or in the hands of the mechanics. They've been a dominant player in the bike tool market for as long as most people can remember, so we assumed that their IB-3 multi-tool would deliver a similarly high level of performance from one of the industry leaders. It quickly became apparent, however, that this was not the case, as it was outperformed in virtually every way by every other multi-tool in this review.

Performance Comparison


Knowing how to use a multi-tool is just as important as having one.
Knowing how to use a multi-tool is just as important as having one.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Features


The IB-3 is equipped with 13 functions, all of which are useful in the field. It has the standard sizes of hex keys, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm. It also has a Torx 25, flathead screwdriver, chain breaker, and a large plastic coated tire lever with an 8mm box wrench and size 0 and 2 spoke wrenches integrated into it.

The tools of the IB-3
The tools of the IB-3
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Ergonomics


The ergonomics of the IB-3 are the worst in this test. We feel there is honestly nothing redeeming about the way this tool feels in your hand or the way the tools are laid out. Everything about this tool is awkward, the size, shape, slippery finish, removable tire lever, and the operation of the chain breaker. This comes as a huge surprise to us considering the quality tools that Park Tool has built their reputation upon.

The length of the tool is good, but the thick shape makes for the...
The length of the tool is good, but the thick shape makes for the worst egonomics in the test.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Portability


The IB-3 is one of the heaviest models in our test selection. It weighs in at 177g, just 1g heavier than our Best Buy Award winner, the Blackburn Tradesman. It's at least 70g heavier than each of the lightest models in our test, the Fabric 16 in 1 and Ninja 16+.

One of the heaviest in the test and it has the bulkiest shape of...
One of the heaviest in the test and it has the bulkiest shape of them all.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

The IB-3 is also one of the most substantial tools in our test. It is the same length as both the Blackburn Tradesman and the Crankbrothers M19 at 3.5". At only 1-5/8" in width, it's a bit narrower than either of those tools, but it makes up for that in its thickness at a full inch. This tool is by far the bulkiest of all the models in this test.

Ease of Use


In general, the IB-3 is relatively user-friendly. There are a few aspects of its design, however, that make it a little less easy to use than some of the competition. One of the first things we noticed is that the tire lever is sort of in the way when you want to access certain tools. Testers found it helpful to slide the tire lever off the track to fold out many of the bits. When it's brand new, the tools are all a little tight and somewhat reluctant to spin. After a little break-in, they do start to spin out a little more freely, but overall, they tend to be a little tighter than many of the other models in this review.

The large chain breaker also has an innovative design. The threaded pin pusher has an 8mm box head, and it is intended to be used with the 8mm box wrench that is in the center of the plastic coated tire lever. It isn't especially difficult to break a chain with this tool, although the tire lever/wrench is a little bit prone to slipping off the head, and if you misplace or lose the tire lever then the tool is rendered useless. While this design works, its just a little more awkward than many of the simpler chain breakers like the Crankbrothers M19.

The chain tool is quality, but it requires the box wrench on the...
The chain tool is quality, but it requires the box wrench on the tire lever to use it.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Durability


The very first time we used the IB-3 for anything was to free a T25 brake rotor bolt. Half a twist with the IB-3 and it's Torx 25 head was spun and deemed useless for the rest of its life. We repeat this was the very first use of this tool and an impression that cannot be overcome. Every other tool in this test was used in the same way and did not fail at the first possible moment, or ever for that matter. The longevity of the metal used for their bits is very questionable.

This is not what you want the head of your Torx 25 to look like.
This is not what you want the head of your Torx 25 to look like.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Another major durability concern we have about the IB-3 is the plastic coated tire lever that is attached to the main body of the tool on a slotted track. First, if the tire lever slides off the tool, which it is prone to do, you can lose it completely rendering your chain tool useless. Second, if you leave the tire lever on the track while you twist the tool during adjustments and repairs, you will do damage to the plastic, bending it and rounding it and making it less secure on the track than it already is. Before you know it, you'll have two separate tools. The 8mm hex key attachment is easily lost as it doesn't have the tightest fit on the 6mm hex key where it lives.

Value


At a retail price of only $27, we'd generally be inclined to say the IB-3 is a good value. Because we spun the Torx 25 head on its very first use and this tool has worst in test ergonomics and is generally awkward to use, we would say that your money is better spent elsewhere.

Conclusion


We think it is rare that a bike tool from Park Tool doesn't knock our socks off, but this is one of those times. Their IB-3 multi-tool doesn't compare to the competition in this case. It is bulky, with poor ergonomics and questionable durability. If you're looking for the best value in a multi-tool, we suggest checking out the Blackburn Tradesman which retails for $3 more and has more functions and better overall design.

Other Versions and Accessories


Park Tool makes a full line of workshop and multi-tools. The IB-3 reviewed here is the most fully featured of the I-Beam models.
The IB-1 ($16) has 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm Allen keys, plus a flat head screwdriver. It weighs 91g.
The IB-2 ($17) has 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm Allen keys, a T25, and a flathead screwdriver, and weighs 108g.

Jeremy Benson