I'm always on the lookout for a decent multi tool, one that you can use at the side of the road without needing three hands and one that doesn't flex when tackling a stubborn bolt. The Topeak Tool Monster Air is pretty much there, I reckon – even with the one major compromise you have to make.
So, let's get straight to it – what's the compromise?
Due to the CO2 inflator head on the Monster Air, you have to sacrifice the chain splitting tool found on the standard Monster. That'll be a pretty large omission on a multi tool for some of you, as a broken chain on a ride pretty much means game over. On the flip side, though, I tend to puncture more often than I snap a chain so I reckon I could live without.
The rest of the tool is impressive, not just in the number of different functions – 19, as you're asking – but also in the layout of those tools.
The Monster Air comes in two pieces that locate together via one of the 8mm hex keys and are held in position by a couple of magnets plus a tool strap. By positioning the two parts together in various positions you can use the extended length or angle to generate more torque. As it's made from stainless steel you shouldn't see any corrosion issues either.
The range of hex keys, from 1.5mm to 8mm, covers every bolt on the bike, with the most commonly used 4/5/6mm being part of the T-shaped smaller tool, which gives you plenty of leverage. Torx bolts aren't an issue either, as a T10 and T25 are also included.
One end of the main tool is formed as a 15mm open spanner for pedal spindles and axle nuts for you single-speeders out there. It's positioned opposite the CO2 inflator, so you can really wrap your hand around it and get things tight.
The remaining tools are two 8mm box spanners, 14g/15g spoke keys, and a #2 Phillips screwdriver for tweaking those mech limit screws. Everything you should need then, really, whatever style of bike you're riding.
The CO2 inflator is simple to use and works with any threaded cartridges, although obviously Topeak recommends that you use its own brand in either 16g or 25g size, the former easily getting a 25mm road tyre up to 110psi from flat.
The head works with both Presta and Schrader valves, the difference being the latter needs to have the head screwed on. With both, once positioned, you just push the whole device against the valve and, voila!, a pumped-up tyre.
On the pricing side it's at the upper end of the market at £59.99, but it is very well made and, like I've said, very competent in use. I'd definitely shop around as you can get it for around 15 quid less online.
It's reasonably light, too, at 161g, and being long and thin it'll sit easily in a jersey pocket or saddle bag without taking up much room.
Overall, it's one of the best all-rounder multi tools I've used, and I've used it a lot – both on the side of the road and in the workshop as it was often to hand. Yep, it's pricey, but it'll certainly last you, with Topeak honouring that with a two-year guarantee.
If you would rather swap the CO2 inflator for a chain tool, Topeak offers the standard Tool Monster for £44.99, which has the same layout and functions as the rest of the Air.
Excellently designed multi tool with plenty of functions, but pricey and lacks a chain tool
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Topeak Tool Monster Air
Size tested: 10.6x4.7x1.5cm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Topeak says: "Unique articulating two-piece design for added leverage and ease of use and storage."
It's a very impressive design and array of functions. The two-piece design allows you to set it up for increased leverage.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Allen Bits: 1.5 / 2 / 2.5 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 (2 pcs) / 8 (2 pcs) mm
Torx® Bits: T10 / T25
Box Wrenches: 8 (2 pcs) / 9 mm
Open Wrench: 15 mm
Spoke Wrenches: 14G / 15G
Screw Drivers: #2 Phillips
CO2 Inflator: 6061 CNC aluminum
Inflator Head: Presta / Schrader
Tool Material: Stainless steel
Added Features: Chain pin breaker
Size (L x W x H) 10.6 x 4.7 x 1.5 cm / 4.2' x 1.9' x 0.6'
Doesn't feel as heavy as you would expect by looking at it.
A bit on the pricey side compared with some of its competitors, but backed up with decent quality and great design.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A really well thought out piece of design.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Two-piece design allows for a greater level of leverage.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A touch pricey.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, if I could find a decent discount.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The overall design is excellent. Rather than just have everything pivoting out from a central point, each tool is positioned where it can be used to get the greatest amount of leverage and clearance. It's been designed by someone who has had to use one of these things at the side of the road in the rain.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Mason Definition
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.