ToPeak Ratchet Rocket Lite DX Tool Kit Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Fine tooth ratchet, magnetic bit holder, super ergonomic
Cons: No chain tool, lots of small pieces, larger than the average multi-tool
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Our Analysis and Test Results
It's not too often that you see someone bust out a full-on ratcheting socket set to remedy a mid-ride mechanical. In fact, we're pretty sure that before we got our hands on the Ratchet Rocket Lite DX, we had never seen it before, so we were pretty excited to try out this unique multi-tool. There are a few other cycling-specific ratcheting mini tool kits on the market, but they're far less common than the standard wrench-packed-frame style of multi-tool that comprises most of our test field. The ratcheting socket system provides both benefits and compromises when compared to standard multi-tools, but we had to try it out to be sure. Overall, we found a lot to like with the Ratchet Rocket Lite DX.
With a grand total of 16 functions, the Ratchet Rocket Lite DX skips out on some of the more superfluous features found out there and sticks to the essentials. The tool kit contains eleven separate bits that include 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm hex, T10, T15, and T25 Torx, and a #2 phillips head. These bits nearly cover the full range of bolt-head configurations you'll encounter on a modern bike. The 10mm hex wrench is missing, but 10mm applications are typically too high-torque for a small multi-tool anyways. The kit also includes two small-but-durable tire levers, a magnetic socket extension, and an extra pocket in the case that ToPeak calls the "patch compartment."
While the Ratchet Rocket Lite DX nails the essential bits, it leaves us wanting for some of the features that come standard on most multi-tools. First and foremost, our test model did not come with a chain tool. Because a broken chain makes finishing a ride incredibly difficult, we think a quality chain tool is essential. If you want to be truly prepared with the Ratchet Rocket Lite DX, you'll either have to carry a separate chain tool or upgrade to the "plus" version. Along with the chain breaker, the kit is also missing the spoke wrenches, box wrenches, and a flat head screwdriver that are found on some of our favorite tools in the test. These features are used far less often but occasionally come in handy.
From an ergonomics standpoint, the Ratchet Rocket Lite DX is the best tool we tested hands down. The mini socket wrench is longer than most of the tools in our test and provides good leverage for such a portable tool. You can apply as much pressure as you like to the smooth wrench handle without any pressure points or pain in the palm. The thumb wheel at the back of the ratchet allows you to thread or unthread a bolt quickly, and the ratchet mechanism means you can usually find the right angle to tighten down bolts in hard-to-reach places. If you can't access a bolt with the standard wrench, Topeak also includes a magnetic extender that we found especially helpful when installing and removing bottle cages.
While testing in the workshop, it quickly became apparent that the Ratchet Rocket Lite DX was the most ergonomic tool in the test. We constantly had to remind ourselves not to reach for this wrench for every operation during back-to-back testing. One of our key ergonomic tests was pedal installation and removal, and the Ratchet Rocket Lite DX passed with flying colors. Pedal removal can be super challenging—and sometimes painful—with most multi-tools since it is such a high-torque operation, but the mini socket wrench handled it with aplomb. During this test, we also discovered that the bit extender could be magnetically fixed to the back of the wrench to make it longer and provide more leverage. We liked this tool's ergonomics so much that we think it would even be a viable option for some uses in a home workshop setup.
While it's super ergonomic, the Ratchet Rocket Lite DX isn't the easiest tool to transport when compared with the rest of the test field. The bits, wrench, extender, and tire levers come packed into a foldable nylon case with a velcro closure. When it's all sealed up, the case is fairly compact at 5 x 2.5 x 1 inches, and the whole package tips the scales at 160 grams. It's not huge or overly-heavy by any means, but it does come in towards the top end of our test. For reference, the lightest, most compact tool we tested was the ToPeak Ninja 16+ at just 93 grams and just over 2 x 1 x .5 inches. The only other tool we tested with a socket-and-bit configuration, the Blackburn Switch Wrap, also comes in a large nylon case, but unlike the Ratchet Rocket Lite DX it can be attached to your bike's frame.
We think the Ratchet Rocket Lite DX is a bit too big and heavy to carry comfortably in the pocket of your riding shorts, but it should slip into any backpack, hip pack, or saddlebag without taking up too much room. The nylon case also has a velcro strap that would allow you to attach it to the outside of a pack or your belt, but we don't know many people that ride with belts these days. We tried attaching the case to the outside of our pack on a few rides but ultimately decided that we were less likely to lose it if we safely stowed it away in a zippered pocket. In our opinion, the extra few seconds it will take to open up your pack is well worth knowing that you'll have your tools when you need them.
Ease of Use
Once you've found your bit and put it in the wrench, the Ratchet Rocket Lite DX is incredibly easy to use. Still, the socket-and-bit configuration inherently sacrifices some speed and convenience to traditional multi-tools. ToPeak's design is intuitive and maximizes the efficiency of the socket-style tool with bits that snap firmly into place in the wrench, a small lever that controls the direction of the ratchet, and a stitched label for each bit in the nylon case. When threading a bolt in or out, a quick spin of the thumb wheel speeds things along.
The Ratchet Rocket Lite DX loses some ground to the easiest, most convenient tools in the test because of the multi-piece design. Every time you want to use the tool, you need to find the correct bit and install it in the wrench before you can use it. If the bolt you're working on is in a hard-to-reach place, you have the added step of installing the magnetic extender. These things only take a few seconds, but they make a difference when you need to make a quick mid-race repair, or your riding buddies are waiting for you. Additionally, we find it quite difficult to keep track of lots of little pieces during a mid-ride repair. We've spent time spinning in circles looking for our tire lever during a flat repair. During testing, we made sure to take special care to keep track of all of our bits, but for multi-bit repairs, it can get messy quickly.
We did our best to expose any flaws or durability issues in this tool during testing, but we came up empty-handed. We think this tool will last you as long as you can keep track of all the bits. The hardened-steel tools held up to our testing process and showed no signs of wear, and the nylon case and velcro held up well despite being thrown in the dust more than a few times during testing. We only used the tire levers a couple of times during testing, but they held up well. If your tires fit especially tight to your rims, the small levers might not be much help. We could see them snapping when trying to remove a tire, but we didn't have any problems with our average-fit tires.
When we got our hands on this tool kit, our primary concern was the durability of the tiny ratchet system. We quickly put it to the test with a variety of high-torque operations, and despite our fear of a knuckle-busting wrench explosion, it held up to the punishment. We can't claim that the ratchet will hold up forever, but it will certainly try.
The Ratchet Rocket Lite DX won't put too big of a dent in your pocketbook. With a price that's right in line with some of the best values in our test, we think this mini socket set is well worth a look from anyone in the market for a new tool for their pack. We're a little bit disappointed that the standard kit that we tested doesn't include the all-important chain tool, but for just a few bucks more, the "plus" version does.
Topeak delivered yet another great multi-tool with the Ratchet Rocket Lite DX. We think this tool kit presents a viable alternative to the traditional multi-tool design with some clear advantages. Riders looking for an ergonomic tool that can access all of a bikes nooks and crannies will love this model, and that's why we named it our Top Pick for ergonomics.
— Zach Wick