Palmer’s Picks: Fix It Sticks

Amazingly simple, customizable tools

Since Fix It Sticks use standard bit inserts, they're infinitely expandable and will never get outdated. They've quickly become my favorite trail companion. Photo: Ryan Palmer
Since Fix It Sticks use standard bit inserts, they’re infinitely expandable and will never get outdated. They’ve quickly become my favorite trail companion. Photo: Ryan Palmer

Words by Ryan Palmer

Fix It Sticks Replaceable Combination Set
Price: $55

Multi tools are annoying. They always seem to have every other tool on them than the one you need right now. I don’t need a tire lever, pad spacer or bottle opener. A bottle opener? Really? I just need a 1.5-mil hex. Oh, this tool doesn’t have that? Perhaps it’ll be more more useful collecting rust on the forest floor.

The more tools a multi tool has, the bulkier it gets and the more unusable it seems to become. Even if it does have the tool you need, you either can’t get enough torque on the bolt, or can’t seem to get the tool in the bolt in the first place. It’s painfully frustrating to use most multi tools–this coming from a guy who made a living by putting tools in bolts for 20 years.

Then Shimano decides one day that they’re going to start using Torx T27 heads for their chainring bolts and your shiny new tool is even more useless than it was from the beginning.

This is why I’ve always carried a customized tool roll with a full size set of hex wrenches, a few individual Torx keys, Swiss Army knife, chain tool, and other bits and pieces. Is it heavy? Yes. But not as heavy as carrying a broken bike back out to the trailhead.

As a mechanic, I’m always on the lookout for rad tools. Last year I saw these Fix It Sticks on a Kickstarter campaign and had to give them a try. Since then, my pack has gotten a lot lighter. I carry the set you see in the foreground of the photo above with a grip of standard 1/4-inch bits that fit snugly in magnetic bit holders at the end of each stick. The sticks fit together by another 1/4-inch hex at their center, creating a T-shape.

With over a year's worth of use, they're holding up just fine. Photo: Anthony Smith
With over a year’s worth of use, they’re holding up just fine. Photo: Anthony Smith

You can easily flip the sticks around to position bits at the short or long ends, depending on the torque requirement and available space. Because insert bits are available in any head type, I now have more tools in a smaller package, that can even fit in a jersey pocket. And next time someone decides to throw a new fastener on my bike, I’ll just swing by the hardware store, root some spare change out of the glovebox and add a new tool the the collection. Sure, I still need to carry a chain tool and a knife, but the Fix It Sticks pretty much take care of everything else. They’re simple as hell, clutter-free, and provide enough torque to swap pedals. For brake reach adjustments, you can use one stick without connecting the two together. You can even run a bit in the center hole of a stick for tight spaces.

Fix It Sticks fit together by sharing the 1/4-inch insert. Photo: Anthony Smith
Fix It Sticks fit together by sharing the 1/4-inch insert. Photo: Anthony Smith

The tool takes care of holding four bits, which I keep stocked with common sizes like, T25, 5, 6, and 2.5. (Don’t tell anyone, but the T25 kinda sorta works on 4-mil hex fasteners. I use it on low-torque ones, like brake lever clamps and seat binder bolts.) A small plastic that comes with the tool fits four additional bits, but if you’re anything like me and want carry a bunch around you’ll have to figure out another way to carry them. Fear not, though, there are plenty of bit storage solutions out there.

Strong magnets keep bits in place. Occasionally, the bit will stick to the bolt and pull out of the tool. I've gotten used to giving a gentle opposite turn after snugging fasteners to free any potential bit jamming. Photo: Anthony Smith
Strong magnets keep bits in place. Occasionally, the bit will stick to the bolt and pull out of the tool. I’ve gotten used to giving a gentle opposite turn after snugging fasteners to free any potential bit jamming. Photo: Anthony Smith

Fix It Sticks also makes a fixed-handled T-shaped tool that makes a great addition to the home toolbox. I have a 6-foot tall Snap-On case filled with tools, yet I wind up reaching for the T-Way wrench more often than not. It’s a real space-saver, actually. Rather than 10 tools out of the drawer, it’s this and a box of bits. It doesn’t suit each and every situation, but it’s a phenomenally useful and versatile little tool.

The set of two wrenches, including 14 bits will run you $55. They’re also available individually. Fix It Sticks Replaceable Edition (ones that come apart) go for 36 bucks, and the T-Way wrench is $30. Full-bling titanium versions are also available for 100 bucks a pop.