Topeak Ninja Tools C
Materials: Steel (tool), Aluminium (housing)
Dimensions: 8.6 x 2.3 x 2.3 cm (chain tool) 8.5 x 2.3 x 2.3 cm (chain hook)
Compatibility: 6-11 speed chains
Features: Stores into end of handlebars, though note the bar needs a 7cm straight section at the end to accommodate the tool.
I first saw the Topeak Ninja Tools C at the bike show in Birmingham back in October (read this article and see some photos at ‘7 Cool Things I Saw At The Bike Show 2016’). The Topeak stand had a number of their ‘integrated’ tools on show. I had never seen anything quite like them and added them on to my Xmas list!
Thankfully Santa obliged and the 25th of December provided a fantastic opportunity to bore my family silly with details of how cool this new gift was.
I was interested in buying one as I ride with quite a small saddle bag (the Scicon Soft RL 2.1) and have never had the space to take a chain tool with me. Admittedly in 3 years of riding I have only managed to break a chain once but with alot of volume planned over the coming months ahead of a massive adventure in May I was going to be a long way from home quite often so wanted to be self sufficient.
Well that and they’re bloody cool….
The Topeak Ninja Tools C arrived in a small, secure box. There is lots of information on the rear about how the product works
Inside there are the two parts of the tool, one which is the chain break itself and the other that is used to twist the tool and a removable chain hook for holding the chain together.
There is also a comprehensive instruction manual to help you set up and use the Topeak Ninja Tools C
CHAIN BREAK TOOL
- The chain break section is 8.6cm/2.3cm/2.3cm.
- It starts with a twistable cap which is use to bulge out the rubber to create a secure fit into the end of the bars (see installation video).
- Above that is a piece of black metal on a pivot that can flip through 180 degrees. In its initial position it is used for removing the pin as it gives space for the pin from the chain to fit into the device. When flipped over it is then used for re installation of a pin, the metal giving a sturdy part of the chain to push against when the pin is being pushed in.
- Above that is another pivot which can turn the whole section to a right angle which gives more leverage when screwing the chain break
- The rest of the unit is similar to most chain break tools. A portion of raised metal for holding the chain steadily in place and a pin which is lined up with the pins on the chain and then screwed to break or fix the chain.
ALLEN KEY AND CHAIN HOOK TOOL
- The allen key and chain hook section is 8.5/2.3/2.3cm so very slightly shorter than the chain break tool
- The bottom is exactly the same with a twistable cap that expands the rubber to secure it into your handlebars
- It then moves up to a locked in allen key that is used to operate the chain break tool
- There is also a removable chain hook which is used to keep you chain together when you re working on it
Before I fitted the Ninja Tools C to my bike I wanted to have play around with it to see how easy it was to use. I didn’t want to be my first experience of using it to be at the side of some muddy road in the pouring rain!
BREAKING THE CHAIN
Firstly I had a go at breaking an old bit of chain. It was quite easy though admittedly more difficult than a standard chain break tool. On a standard tool the screw is controlled by an attached lever so is easier to keep moving. With this one you have to put a bit of downward pressure on the allen key whilst turning so it doesn’t slip which makes it a bit awkward.
This being said it is not designed to be as simple as a normal chain break tool. It is designed to get you out of jail when the worst happens on the road and for this it was more than sufficient. Lining up the chain was easy slotting it into the metal holders and then screwing the pin by hand up against the chain. It is then as simple as turning the allen key until the chain is broken. No problems at all.
REPLACING THE PIN
Replacing the pin is always a pain, which is why it’s best not to take them the whole way out in the first place!
With the Ninja Tools C it is pretty much the exact reverse of what we did before.
You wind out the pin attached to the tool a little way and line it up with the pin on the chain. You then have to flip over a piece of black metal which is located on the chain break portion of the tool (you can see this on the right hand photo below. Have a look to the very left of the photo you can see the hole where the metal has been flipped 180 degrees). This is to allow the chain to have something to push against. You could not have it flipped over when removing the pin initially as it would stop the pin coming out of the chain.
Installation was really easy using the instructions provided and the Topeak Ninja Tools C felt secure in the handlebars.
Here is a quick video I put together showing you how to install it on a road bike.
If you want to carry a chain tool out with you on the bike then I would say this is a fantastic way to do it without taking up vital saddle bag or rear pocket space. It is hopefully not something you are going to be using regularly so having it slotted into your handlebars for when you need it is a really innovative way to plan for the worst.
They are well built and easy to install with clear instructions on how to do so. It is an easy product to use out on the road, not quite as slick as a standard chain break tool but this is a minor criticism given the purpose they are designed.
At 77g they are incredibly light. In fact they weight exactly the same as the Park Tools Mini Chain Brute. This is an incredible effort from Topeak to cram such innovation into these units but keep the weight down.
The only downside is price. In comparison to a standard chain tool you are talking about a 300% markup. You can get a decent chain break tool for around £9 so if you have the space in your saddle bag this would be the more obvious option.
However if you are looking for something to hide away in your bike that gives you the comfort of knowing it’s there if you ever need it and not taking up precious space for other items the Topeak Ninja Tools C comes highly recommended by me. In fact I have just purchased a second set for my winter bike!! The innovation shown by Topeak is to be congratulated and I think it is a product well worth the money.
EDIT: 15th Jan 2016:
One further negative I have found is the allen key part of the tool rattling indie the handlebar. It’s fine when you re riding the drops as you are cushioning the bars but on the hoods, and especially the tops it does make a really annoying sound.
Maybe I have not installed it quite correctly however any rough ground seems to set it off.
I have solved the problem by wrapping one of the rubber gloves I use in the garage for doing maintenance work around it. Not a deal breaker, but drove me crazy on my ride yesterday to the stage I actually took it out and stored it in my jersey pocket for the ride home.