MAMIL REVIEW: ALTUM DESIGNS – MODUAL BIKE TOOL
Bike multi tools have come on a long way since the old all in one forged steel ‘spanner’ that came attached to virtually every new bike. Back then it was a vintage bicycle component manufacture TDC. Altum Designs, a British company, is hoping to lead the way with their new innovative bike tool – the modual – an innovative 14 function bike tool.
Altum is a derivative of the Latin word for maintain and encapsulates Altum’s aim to produce innovative, aesthetically strong and cleverly conceived bicycle multi-tools. Dan Varney, the man behind Altum was not only underwhelmed by the usual folding bike tools, but as we’ve all discovered, found they can be incredibly frustrating to use. He was also determined to make a product in the UK. Sadly he hasn’t quite achieved that lofty aim, with only the plastic components being made in the UK, but chapeau for trying.
The tool itself is light and very well constructed. It’s a really simple design that allows for the tool to be used as both a wrench and like a screwdriver. The components fit in with a reassuring snugness. It’s a real pleasure to use.
The tyre levers cleverly attach to the side of the tool and serve as contact points for the palm of your hand when using the tool. More importantly they do their job as tyre levers well. I tested them on a range of bikes within the family, road, hybrid and mountain bike with no issues.
The components (with the exception of the 3 sockets and extension bar) all tightly fit into a moulded plastic holder. The fit is very snug and I can’t imagine any of the components falling out. The components also all snugly fit into the the tool which means there are no frustrations of the tool bits falling out when being used in fiddly situations. The same can be said for the extension bar and the sockets.
The roll comes with an internal zipped pocket which is very handy for small change, a credit card or the like. It is though too small for a phone.
It all neatly folds together using velcro with a clip fastener around the outside, which is used to attach the roll underneath the saddle.
When I first took the Altium out on a ride, I put the tool roll with my mini pump into my jersey pocket. Initially it feels bulky but once you’re riding you don’t tend to notice it. However, riding on a Spring day in the UK means be prepared for a number of seasons in one day. When it came to peeling off the arm warmers and gilet it soon became apparent that the Altium tool roll was taking precious room in the jersey pocket.
In fairness to Altium Designs they do suggest the tool roll can be attached underneath the saddle. I tried this the second time, but quickly spotted another flaw, What to do with your spare tube, which in my case was in my small saddle pouch? Attaching the Altium tool roll to the saddle is very straightforward and didn’t budge on a 55 miles ride, that included a few roads displaying the ravages of Winter. The only downside for me was having the tube in my pocket, taking up room again.
Overall Altum Designs have made a smart, practical and aesthetically pleasing tool and I do applaud the concept of the tool roll. I do feel that it needs to decide whether it’s for attachment underneath the saddle or for the jersey pocket. My suggestion would be to reduce the size of the tool fractionally and the tool roll so it fits in a jersey pocket without taking up as much room. A jersey tool roll would also alleviate the need for the clip fastener making it much neater.
The Altum Designs Modual tool system and roll retails at £44.99. The tool system (without roll) retails at £24.99
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