I’ve never kept count, but I imagine that in the past 10 years I’ve purchased at least 20 different compact multi-tools for my bikes. Like the Cynic philosopher Diogenes who spent his time looking for an honest man, I spend my time looking for great bicycle products. A few weeks ago the folks at Serfas sent me one of their new products for review, the Serfas ST-17i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool, and it has a few features that ought to be of interest to any cyclist. As an added bonus, I’ve not seen this product reviewed anywhere else yet—and I am always delighted when I can share new products with my readers.
Here is a breakdown of the seventeen tools in the Serfas ST-17i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool: Eight Allen keys (8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.5, 2, and 1.5mm), one 10m open wrench, four spoke wrenches (3.23, 3.3, 3.45, 3.96mm), a chain break tool with two chain retainers, two Torx drivers (T25, T30), CO² Inflator head, and both a Philips and flat head screwdriver. This tool has a full metal body and is 2.75″ long, 1.5″ wide, and .75″ tall. This products weighs an even 4.0 ounces (114g).
The Torx drivers are mainly needed to tighten the bolts on disc brakes (usually found on mountain bikes). In case you are wondering—Torx bolt heads resist slipping better than Philips head bolts, and there is less chance of stripping a Torx head bolt.
The chain tool on the Serfas ST-17i is one of the best I’ve ever seen on a cycling multi-tool. I never throw my old bicycle chains away—I keep them so I can test chain break tools! When I put a short length of chain on the Serfas ST-17i I was surprised to find out it had a self-centering head since it’s not mentioned on the package. The self-centering head means that your chain will not slip as you are working on it. Even if you keep your bicycle chain clean and well lubricated it is going to wear out. While it is always best to replace your chain before it wears out, some cyclists (maybe most) just don’t check very often to see how much their chain has stretched. If your chain should snap when you are out on a ride you will need this tool to remove the damaged link and put the chain back together. If you are not sure how to use a chain tool there are several good videos on YouTube.com that can show you how they work (most of these tools work the same way).
The biggest selling point for the Serfas ST-17i is the CO² inflator head (Presta valve only) that is built into the mini-tool. It seems like nearly every time I get a flat tire it is during a rain storm (this past Saturday it was during a snow, sleet and slush storm). The small CO² inflator heads that most cyclists carry are easy to drop (especially when wet), but since the CO² inflator head is built into the body of the Serfas ST-17i it is very easy to handle and even easier to use.
There are two items lacking from this tool: a tire lever and a carrying case. You always need to have a pair of tire levers with you when riding, so make sure you pick up a set before you head out. The lack of a carrying case is no big deal since most of the ones that come with cycling multi-tools just take up space in your saddlebag anyway. However, loose items in a saddlebag will make enough noise to drive you crazy on a long ride. A great way to prevent the noise is to put loose items in a short length of on old inner tube and seal up one end with the glue from your tire patch kit. By the way, I also keep my spare CO² cartridges in shorts lengths of inner tubes as well.
The Serfas ST-17i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool retails for $45 and can be ordered from the Serfas Website or from almost any bike shop in America. If you like this tool but have no need of the chain break or Torx wrenches you should check out the Serfas ST-13i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool (it retails for $36). One step above the Serfas ST-13i is the Serfas ST-15i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool. The Serfas ST-15i comes with two tire levers and glueless patches (it retails for $40).
As some of my regular readers know, I seldom keep the products that are sent to me for review—most of the time I give the products to random visitors who comment on this blog. However, I’ve decided to hold a contest for this beautiful Serfas ST-17i CO² Inflator / Mini-tool. To enter the contest all you have to do is pick a number between 200 and 500 and enter it in the comment section below (you don’t actually have to make a comment). The contest ends at midnight (CST) on Friday, January 11, 2013. After the contest closes I will use a random number generator to pick the winning number. If no one has the exact number the person with the number closest to, but not over, the winning number will get the Serfas ST-17i I reviewed today. In case two or more people chose the same number the first person to pick the number will be the winner. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. When the contest is over I will publish the results in the comments section of this article. I will mail this product to the winner via Priority Mail at my expense.