Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Product Review: Park MTB-3 Rescue Tool

One of the first pieces of gear I purchased when I started bike commuting was the Park MTB-3 Rescue Tool. I realized that my Gerber multi-tool wasn't going to cut it for roadside repairs, so I checked out a wide variety of tools before settling on the Park MTB-3.

Designed with singletrack trail riders in mind, the MTB-3 is Park Tool's answer to the trials and tribulations of mountain bikers everywhere. As it turns out, it contains pretty much everything I've ever needed to get myself and others out of a bind. I've found that it doesn't matter where I'm riding or what kind of bike I'm on, the Park Tool MTB-3 is always the right tool for the job when I don't have access to my huge box of tools at home.

The MTB-3 comes with a very impressive array of tools at a reasonable price point, and that's what sealed the deal for me. My goal was to carry only one multi-tool, some tire patches and an air pump, yet remain confident that I wouldn't be left stranded somewhere. Clearly, I was seeking an affordable, sturdy and robust tool that had most of the right tools for my bike at the time, including a chain tool and tire levers.

The Park Tool MTB-3 stood proud of offerings from Wrench Force, Crank Brothers, and Blackburn regardless of price, which was often higher than that of the Park Tool MTB-3. Try as I may, I couldn't find a wider variety of tools in one compact package, and never once have I found myself wishing that Park Tool had included just one more thing. I've never needed anything else on the roadside, ever. It comes with a handy, attractive and rugged ballistic woven nylon belt holster, as well. It truly is a toolbox on your hip or in your bag.

Over the course of the last year, I've helped several bicyclists including myself tighten loose pedals, brakes and seatpost clamps. I've turned bikes with destroyed derailleurs into short-chained singlespeeds, I've adjusted shifter stops, re-attached clipless cleats, fixed flat tires and a host of other things, thanks to the Park MTB-3. it doesn't matter if I'm commuting, just taking a nice lonely ride in the country, group riding, or out on the singletrack with buddies: I simply don't leave home on my bike without it. I even used it to crack open a refreshing bottle of Boulevard Wheat after one of my group rides, just so I didn't have to wait for the communal bottle opener to make its rounds.

What, then, does this mysterious tool hold within those sleek blue nylon tire levers-turned handle? There are three snugly-interlocking pieces that nest together. Feast your eyes!

The center piece contains a chain tool, Bottle Opener and Pedal Wrench. Side 1 offers a Philips-head, Torx T25, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm and 8mm allens. Side 2 is loaded with a Flat-head, Serrated knife blade, 8mm, 9mm, 10mm box-end wrenches, 1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm allens and 3 different spoke wrenches.

It's pretty obvious from the photos that my MTB-3 has been put through its paces in the last year or so. The handles are stained with chain grease and marred from scores of impromptu bike surgeries. The tools themselves are made of high-quality plated and polished steel, and there's not a scratch on them, nor have they torqued or bent. The nylon handles have bent a little bit from prying off some very stubborn tires, but they still work well both as handles and as tire levers.

I did have one problem while tightening a pedal on one of my group rides a few weeks ago. A minor crack formed in the MTB-3's pedal wrench, and I'm pretty sure I was within torque specs. Park Tool, however, sent me a replacement center section via priority mail with no further questions aside from where to mail it!

If you don't yet have a decent bike-specific multi-tool -- and everyone who relies on their bike for transportation instead of as a weekend toy should -- I strongly recommend the Park Tool MTB-3.

See Also:


Doug said...

I have that same Park tool. It's way cooler than any of my backpacking multi-tools.

Andrew said...

Thanks for the review Noah. I have added this one to my Christmas list.

Tamar said...

Thanks Noah, this is the only decent review I've found on the MTB-3. What are your thoughts on the pedal tool, is it easy to use? In your view would there be enough leverage for tightening 15mm wheel nuts?

Noah said...

Actually, The pedal wrench broke when I was helping an immigrant worker re-attach a pedal on a beater mountain bike that had come off. It got the pedal tight, but couldn't be used again. Park sent me a brand new center piece, no questions asked. The metal on this newer one looks more sturdy.

Wheel nuts and cone bearings on bikes, however, are usually tightened less than pedals. The only thing is you kind of need two wrenches. For road-side emergency tightening of cone bearings, it would probably work.

If you want to do occasional in-home repairs, cheap cone wrenches from nashbar will work. Quality ones from Park will stand up to daily use for months upon months, which is why they're more expensive. It's also why they're a favorite among professional bike techs.

Anonymous said...

I have the same tool and the middle chain tool broke the first time the tool was dropped. I had it less than a month. garbage.

Anonymous said...

I bought this tool yesterday from a bike repair shop for half the price it is sold in stores. It is used in perfect condition and hopefully would help me on journys. I wasn't sure I made the right choice, so thanks for the positive review.

James said...

I've had the same tool for a bit over a year now - absolutely love it. Cannot tell you how many times it has gotten me to work in the morning!

The Unabashed Blogger said...

I..uh...just wasn't sure...umm...if you knew....that the Boulevard Wheat is a screw top....I was..just...uh, ya know...wondering...

Noah said...

I don't even bother looking. Most beer I buy doesn't have a screw top. I'd probably reach for my bottle opener if someone handed me a bud light (assuming I'm already inebriated enough to consider consuming it)

Anonymous said...

I'm converting my bike and I just picked one of these up. Fully stripped my bike, save for my cranks. Its' awesome

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