The VEL 13 Function Inflator Tool has pretty much every tool you need for basic repairs out on the road, with the added bonus of an inflator head to work with threaded CO2 cartridges. Its solid construction and durable tools make it a sound investment, although it's up against some top competition in the pricing wars.
The VEL uses a design we've seen many times before – two cast body pieces joined together by bolts, carrying a range of short tools, 12 in the case of the VEL. It folds away compactly, making it ideal for a jersey pocket or saddle bag, and with a weight of 166g it's not exactly a heavyweight.
You get a range of hex keys – 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm – which should cover every bolt on your bike, and the hardened steel construction is certainly up to the job for stubborn bolts, although with their short stature they aren't the greatest for leverage on those that are properly seized.
With more and more manufacturers starting to use Torx bolts, it's good to see VEL has included a couple of tools – T10 and T25 – the latter becoming an increasingly common size for stem bolts, on the likes of Fizik's range, for example.
Alongside these you also get two crosshead screwdrivers, including a small one for gear adjustment, and a flathead version.
So what's the 13th function? Well, the inflator head is a separate piece which uses a small adaptor to slide over the shortened 8mm hex key when not in use. It's not perfect as it's a little on the sloppy side and easy to lose, so something like a couple of dimples and raised location bumps on the opposing pieces would have been good.
That aside, the inflator head is actually very easy to use. You unscrew the 8mm adaptor piece from the bottom and use that thread to attach the CO2 cartridge, a small hollow pin breaking the seal to release the gas.
You then place it over the Presta valve (screw it on for Schrader) and once pushed fully home it will start to expel the CO2. Thanks to a small rubber grommet inside, the valve is held firm and no gas can escape.
Releasing pressure on the head stops the gas so you can stop and check that the tyre is seated correctly before continuing. A 16g threaded cartridge will get a 23mm tyre up to about 120psi in a matter of seconds, and over a few attempts during testing not once have I had a failed discharge.
My biggest gripe with the VEL is its price. It seems quite expensive at £34.99 for such a simple design. The tools look pretty similar to those we see on other multi tools, so it's not like there is custom tooling to be made or anything. When you see the, okay, slightly-less-well-equipped BTwin 300 for £6.50, and add in its inflator head for another £8 including canister, you kind of wonder where your money is going.
Overall the VEL is a solid, sturdy piece of kit with a great inflator head but the price is tough to justify
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road.cc test report
Make and model: VEL 13 Function Inflator Tool
Size tested: 2 / 2.5 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 8mm Hex Keys Flat head screwdriver Cross head screwdriver T10 / T25 Torx VEL Co2 inflator with micro adjust
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?
It covers pretty much all the tools you need for general rides except possibly a chain tool. A CO2 dispenser is a cool addition.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
13 Function Inflator Tool
2,2.5,3,4,5,6 & 8mm Hex Keys
Flat head screwdriver
2 off Cross head screwdriver
T10 & T25 Torx
VEL Co2 inflator with micro adjust
A pretty basic design but it's certainly strong enough to be up to the job.
A good tolerance between the tools and the fittings they're designed for. A little short for big leverage, though. Nice CO2 inflator head.
Tough as old boots design.
A lot lighter than expected.
Not the most comfortable to wrap your hands around.
Quite pricey for such a primitive design, and I've seen very similar for a lot less. Addition of the CO2 head helps justify the cost but not completely.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For simple adjustments at the side of the road it is ideal.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The CO2 inflator head offers a secure fit to the valve.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Pricey for such a basic design.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I'd probably shop around.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly
Use this box to explain your score
When you look at the recent test of the BTwin 300 multitool which has the same basic design as the VEL but only costs £6.50 (admittedly with fewer tools) you kind of wonder where VEL gets its price from. I like the inflator head and its easy, secure valve connection, but it's not enough to swing it. A strong, sturdy tool but just too expensive.
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.