• Leatherman Pockettools: Handier than ever

    • Mako TI
    • Piranha
    Date:1 July 2013 Author: Anthony Doman Tags:, , ,

    The Mako and its fishy stablemate Piranha appear in a new line of tools that don’t feature the flick-flack folding ability that made the company famous. In fact, they have been introduced through the acquisition of the PocketToolX company. These tools do have one priceless advantage over many foldable types: they are all, by design, travel-friendly and comply with strict regulations about what may be carried on board aircraft. They also, of course, carry the brand’s 25-year warranty.

    Mako Ti
    Hardcore riders tend to sneer at the species unkindly dubbed weight weenies. For racer dudes, weight-reduction can make the difference between podium and also-ran. Truth be told, some folk do lighten their bikes when they would be better off (in both money and health terms) putting themselves on diet.

    As the Ti part of the bike-specific ultralight Mako Ti name indicates, it is made of titanium alloy – aerospace-grade 6AL- 4V, to be precise. That means it’s compact and light enough to fit almost unnoticed in the back pocket of your cycling shirt (saddlebags are for noob riders, don’t you know).

    A contemporary update of the classic bike multi-spanner, the Mako puts 9 tools in 1 in the palm of your hand. The 4 bits (1 Philips, 1 Torx and 2 hex) are stored in neoprene holders when not in use. In bike terms, there are actually 8 tools, because the bottle opener really isn’t essential – apparently, it’s latté that goes with lycra.

    The Mako Ti’s compact size can work to its disadvantage, making it hard at times to get decent leverage. The bits fit into a socket designed to look like the shark’s eye of the Mako body, providing good lateral torque but lacking the ability to apply pressure vertically as you’d do with a screwdriver or socket driver. It’s possible that the bits might damage or slip out of the screw or bolt head. Those bits are also likely to be tricky to grip and extract from their holder in the rain – which is when, according to Murphy’s Law, you’ll need to use one.

    Annoyingly, as supplied there isn’t a hex key bit that fits the standard 4 mm seatpost clamp bolt on my bike. Granted, the seatpost is one part of a bike that should be set and pretty much forgotten, so you shouldn’t need to adjust it on the road. But even bike legend Eddy Merckx had a habit of continually fiddling with his seat height – during races, no less – both as a consequence of his meticulous approach and the lasting back discomfort resulting from a bad crash.

    The Mako Ti is expansive compared with more traditional bike tools. That said, it is all about versatility and lightness, which for some might outweigh (pardon the pun) its shortcomings.

    Piranha
    The Piranha, despite having a heft noticeably greater than the Mako Ti’s thanks to its stainless steel construction, is nevertheless light enough to carry around all day without really noticing. Its serrated edges, like those of the Mako, provide good grip, though the design feels slightly more comfortable than the Mako’s sharper edges.

    Where the Mako has more or less distinct cutouts for specific nut or bolt head sizes, the Piranha uses two V-shaped openings with toothlike steps. The front “jaws” cater for a range of Imperial sizes from quarter-inch to roughly half-inch. The internal ring spanner part of the Piranha covers metric sizes from 5 mm to 15 mm. At each end, tapered and bevelled edges can be used as scrapers or miniature crowbars – when opening paint tins, for instance.

    Like the Mako, the Piranha provides a quarter-inch hex bit driver, though only one bit – a combination Phillips/flat unit.

    Overall, it’s a rugged-feeling tool that would be as at home on the building site as it would be in the pub after work (a bottle opener is standard). Like the Mako, it’s expensive – but we have a sneaking feeling it could yet prove indispensible. – Anthony Doman.

    Specifications

    Mako Ti

    Spanners: 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 mm; 1/4” bit driver
    Bits: Phillips #1, Torx # 25, hex 5 mm and 6 mm
    Spoke spanner:  14 and 15 ga
    Features: Lanyard; rubber bit holder; bottle opener
    Dimensions: 95 mm x 30 mm x 3 mm
    Weight: 20 g empty; 45 g with bits
    Price: R615

    Piranha

    Spanners: Imperial and metric multi-size; 1/4” bit driver
    Bits: Phillips #2; 5 mm flat
    Features: Scraper; bit holder; lanyard; bottle opener
    Dimensions: 98 mm x 36 mm x 3 mm
    Weight: 54 g
    Price: R545