Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
How obtained: Sample from the company
RBR sponsor? No
Availability: retail and online
I’m a sucker for all-in-one bicycle multi-tools. So one of my favorite gifts over the holidays was Topeak’s ALiEN X, the updated version of their most fully featured ride saver.
Opening the package, the thing that surprised me straight away was how tiny it is at only 3.1 x 1.8 x 1.6 inches (7.8 x 4.5 x 4cm). Smaller is better when it comes to take-along tiny folding tool kits and the X will easily fit in every pack and all but the smallest seat bags. Or carry it in a pocket if you don’t mind its weight (204 grams).
I like having a full assortment of tools along on rides because while I don’t expect to need them for my own bike, I never know what challenges await on my friends’ bikes. It’s fun to be the person to have just the problem-solver needed to get everyone back on the road.
The ALiEN X can perform 34 functions with its full assortment of tools, almost all made of tough chrome vanadium steel. Some of the highlights include several handy chain tools, such as a chain hook, pliers for separating quick links and a chain breaker that includes a second shelf for easily loosening stiff links after driving in chain pins (even some dedicated chain tools don’t have this feature).
There’s also a tire lever, a disc brake pad spacer (removable), a Presta valve core removal tool and a sharp knife with a partly serrated blade for sawing. The knife has a removable nylon cover for safety – I haven’t seen that before and it’s a smart addition.
The tools that need the stability for best use lock in the open position, like the knife, the master link plier arms and the multi-sized spoke wrench. The other tools pivot freely for getting the body of the tool (the handle) positioned right for sufficient leverage and comfort.
Topeak filled the ALiEN X with hex keys and torx tools for what’s on most modern bicycles. So it’s the wrong mini-tool for bikes requiring wrenches for hex nuts. For those, go back a generation and get the ALiEN III, which is still available online.
The ALiEN’s body is made of an engineered grade polymer with rounded corners for durability and a good grip. The tools’ two halves simply slide together and lock in place.
Last but not least – and I didn’t realize this until I read Topeak’s owners’ manual, they even include holders hidden inside the chain tool half of the tool (naturally) for stashing a chain master link (you provide your own – it’s not included).
Here’s the manual if you’d like to learn how all the tools work: https://cdn.topeak.com/storage/app/media/download/product-manual/Alien%20X/M-ALiEN_X_ML-2020-08_web.pdf.
For a complete list of all the tools/functions, see the illustration here with the callouts. I’m impressed with everything Topeak has packed into this little helper from another planet and I think if you appreciate fully featured multi-tools you’ll like this one a lot. It even comes with its own nylon bag, a thoughtful bonus that will help keep the tools like new.
Ride total: 9,870
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.