December 2016 Product Picks: Smith Optics, Bontrager, Edco 3ax, Bar Fly, Fix-It Sticks, Tacx, and Wind-Blox

by James Huang

December 7, 2016

Photography by James Huang

In this month’s edition of Product Picks, U.S. technical editor James Huang provides his feedback on Smith Optics’ latest lens technology, some budget-minded footwear from Bontrager, a novel pedal concept from Edco 3ax, Bar Fly’s latest two-in-one gadget, Fix-It Sticks’ innovative take on the lowly multi-tool, Tacx’s stylish water bottle and cage, and a neat idea from Wind-Blox to keep wind noise at bay.


Click the links below to skip through to a particular review:


Fix-It Sticks Original

by James Huang

First launched on Kickstarter in 2013, Fix-It Sticks took conventional thought surrounding multi-tools and turned it on its ear. Instead of the usual Swiss Army Knife-like body with fold-out bits, Fix-It Sticks comprised two separate “sticks” that combined to form a T-handle for greater leverage and usability. Inventor Brian Davis has expanded the Fix-It Sticks family since then, but this Original version is still no less innovative than it was three years ago.

The beauty of Fix-It Sticks lies in how closely it resembles the shape and feel of shop-quality tools. The "sticks" can be combined to form a T-handle or L-key, or can even be used individually depending on the application.

The beauty of Fix-It Sticks lies in how closely it resembles the shape and feel of shop-quality tools. The “sticks” can be combined to form a T-handle or L-key, or can even be used individually depending on the application.

This variant uses an aluminum body to keep the weight down, along with four non-replaceable bits that are press-fit and secured with retaining compound. Six different versions are available, depending on the hardware sizes you need, and there’s now a handy mounting clip that sandwiches the tool in between your frame and bottle cage.

Actual weight is just 62g, including the mount.

Our Take:


Having spent more than 14 years as a shop mechanic, I definitely have a soft spot for well designed tools — be they portable or otherwise. Although the Fix-It Sticks Original only offers four different bits, the configuration in which they’re arranged makes them more usable than many other multi-tools.

The Fix-It Sticks design is simple but effective.

The Fix-It Sticks design is simple but effective.

Depending on the task at hand, each bit can be used as a standard T-handle (which offers a good mix of accessibility and leverage), an L-key (for extra oomph on stubborn bolts), or as individual sticks (which makes it easier to “spin” individual bolts). So far, the bits also seem to be more durable than what you normally get with multi-tools, and Fix-It Sticks continues to add features — most recently, a small add-on tire lever and a frame mount that tucks the tool neatly away underneath a bottle cage (although riders on frames with very broad and flat-profiled tube shapes will want to make sure it fits first).

As added bonuses, the Fix-It Sticks Original is not only light, but quite inexpensive, too; other tools of similar weight invariably cost more.

The new mounting clip allows you to carry Fix-It Sticks right on your frame. The mount won't work on all frames, though, especially those with very flat and broad tube shapes.

The new mounting clip allows you to carry Fix-It Sticks right on your frame. The mount won’t work on all frames, though, especially those with very flat and broad tube shapes.

Riders seeking more versatility can instead opt for the Fix-It Sticks Replaceable version, which swaps the aluminum body and press-fit bits for a steel body and standard 1/4″ magnetic bit sockets (which also means you can customize it further as needed). The Replaceable version is about twice as heavy but doubles the number of tools, and only costs a few bucks more.

Either way, these are winners in my book.

Price: US$25 / AU$34 / £20 (with mounting bracket)
www.fixitsticks.com


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