Review: Granite Hides a Tiny Socket Wrench in Your Steerer Tube

Multi-tools come in countless favors, from the ‘I can rebuild my transmission with this 8lb folding brick’ to the slimmest of barely-there mini-tools best suited to short rides or race days. And if you’d rather not wear a backpack or carry said brick in a pocket, there are all sorts of options that can be stored anywhere from your bottle cage, crank spindle, handlebar, or your inside of your fork’s steerer tube.

Granite Designs’ new $69.99 USD Stash RT takes the latter route with a spring-loaded design that pops up from beneath your top cap when you need it but, rather than a traditional folding multi-tool, it consists of nine bits and a pocket- sized socket wrench.

Stash RT Details
• Steerer tube-mounted tool
• Spring loaded design
• Two-way, 1/4-inch-drive socket wrench
• Tool bits: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8mm, T25, extended PH1
• Optional computer mount
• Weight: 160-grams
• MSRP: $69.99 USD
• www.granite-design.com

The Details

This isn’t Granite’s first steerer tube-mounted tool, but the new Stash RT is different from their previous offerings that came with a more traditional mini-tool and needed to be pulled out from inside the steerer with a firm yank. Also, those older versions didn’t fit into the thicker-walled steerers that the latest modern long-travel forks use, so a slimmer version was necessary.

The RT’s smaller diameter solves that, and a tapered coil spring hidden beneath it means that the tool carrier pops up like you’re playing Whac-A-Mole when you rotate the plastic top cap to the side for access. There’s an o-ring at the top that should help to keep some of the water out and prevent any rattling, and the whole thing, including the two-piece bottom cap and a medium-length bolt (it comes with three lengths), weighs 160-grams and can be had in either anodized black or orange.

The plastic carrier that pops up is home to a small, two-way 1/4-inch-drive socket wrench and 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8mm hex bits, a T25 bit, and an extended Phillips bit that you can slide into the wrench’s handle for more leverage if you’re trying to loosen a stubborn bolt. The big 8mm lives in the wrench’s handle when not in use, while the others are held in place with a small magnet hidden under a black clip on the carrier; this should keep the bits from falling off and rolling into the underbrush to never be seen again.

At the top, a black plastic cap rotates out of the way to allow the spring-loaded tool to pop up, and those who like to mount a computer in that location can buy an optional top cap with a small threaded hole in the center and the matching computer mount that works with Garmin, Bryton, and Wahoo devices.

How does it work? You likely have a traditional star nut that’s been smashed into your fork’s steerer tube with a hammer, and this is what the top cap and bolt tighten against when you finally fix your loose headset. You’ll need to punch that old star nut out to use the Stash RT, though, as Granite’s tool takes its place and uses a cap that goes underneath the fork crown and one of three steel bolts (depending on how long you need) runs through the bottom of the insert and threads into the cap. Now, when you need to tighten your headset, you use a long 5mm hex key to reach that bolt.

Performance

Granite isn’t the first brand with a spring-loaded tool in your steerer tube, but the idea makes so much sense that I’m surprised we haven’t seen many others doing it. The pivoting top cap looks clean, and rotating it to the left lets the tool carrier to pop up like a happy little helper… usually. It was sometimes a little hesitant to come out of its nest, with the tool bits catching on the o-ring at the top and making for a tight fit. Tapping the top of the carrier a few times was enough to free it up, and I suspect that the tolerances won’t be so tight after a few months of use.

My other influenza is more subjective – I prefer to have all the tools I like to carry, including a chain breaker, together in a single unit. Granite sells a separate chain breaker for $21.99 USD that hides inside your handlebar, but the Stash RT obviously doesn’t include one.

Does the Stash RT work? Of course it does. The little ratchet wrench ratchets when needed, and the tool bits don’t have the sloppy fit in bolt heads that you can sometimes find with some multi-tools. I know they’re usually just for trail-side emergency repairs, not shop work, but it’s still nice to see a tight interface. I’m of two minds as to whether I prefer a traditional folding tool or this ratchet wrench set-up… The folding tools can be a pain in the ass when you’re trying to tighten a hard-to-reach bolt and they’re either not long enough or the tool itself is too large and cumbersome. But with the Stash’s tiny wrench, you can easily spin a loose bolt in or out by putting the bit in the end of the handle, and there are going to be many times when the ratcheting head is way quicker than rotating your 8lb brick around and around.

To me, the wrench and separate bits also feel more professional than a multi-tool, especially the rusty one I’ve been using for the last twenty years, and you can easily replace any of the bits, or even the wrench itself, with a quick trip to the hardware store if you wear out, damage, or just loose any of them like I surely will. Of course, you can also substitute different bits as needed, so this little tool might come in handy for working on more than just your bike.

To me, the best part about the Stash RT, or any multi-tool that you store on your bike, is that it’s always going to be there when you need it. While I used to never leave home without a backpack or bum bag, I can’t stand wearing them anymore and that means that my pockets are often stuffed full of tools and candy when I’m heading out on a big ride. Having a tool on my bike instead of my body frees up a small but vital amount of room for those kind of rides.


pros

+ Ratchet wrench is much easier to use than some cumbersome multi-tools
+ It’ll always be there when you need it
+ Easy, inexpensive to replace tool bits

Cons

Tool was sometimes hesitant to pop up
You’ll (maybe) want a separate chain tool


Pinkbike’s Take

While I still prefer my all-in-one 8lb folding brick, the Stash RT is a simple and clean solution for riders who prefer to carry items on their bike rather than in a bag or pocket. And if you’ve ever struggled with a cumbersome multi-tool to tighten (or loosen) a hard-to-reach bolt, you’ll appreciate the socket wrench’s ability to fit into tight spaces better. Mike Levy


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