Every single in-frame tool I have ever tried is flawed. Most try to do too much, and compromises are always made. Versatility, functionality and usability always suffer. But not always in equal measure, and some brands understand this. They prioritize the things that matter, and OneUp did exactly that with the EDC Lite.
OneUp arguably invented the in-frame tool with the original EDC, which included a tire lever, a chain tool, some spoke wrenches, optional spare CO2 storage or plug kit, and the same multi-tool you see here in my EDC Lite. The original EDC famously requires you to thread the inside of your steerer tube, which likely scared some people away. Their V2 Threadless option includes most of those original tools with no need to tap, but the threading is such an elegant, simple process. I actually still own a bike with the first EDC system I ever tried. But the thing is, it’s a little clumsy to actually use. There’s enough thought involved in the disassembly and reassembly required to access the multi-tool, that it just didn’t work for my admittedly tool-dependent lifestyle. On the other end of the spectrum is the Specialized SWAT Conceal Carry tool. You just twist the cap and out pops a modest multi-tool. But it’s flawed too. Never mind that the rather tacked-on chain tool requires you to disassemble and remove the whole device from your steerer tube, SWAT the multi-tool lacks a 2mm and 2.5mm wrench. Yes, it does have a cleverly hacked 8mm wrench that I’m sure has saved a few rides in its time, but I’d rather stash a more substantial 8mm in my pack and have a 2 and 2.5 at the ready.
The multi tool in the EDC kit allows me to do that. Of course, it’s also got a 4mm, 5mm, often-neglected 6mm, t25, a somewhat fumbly master link tool, and a limited flat-head screwdriver. There’s also an even more cleverly hacked 8mm hidden in there, accessible by deploying that screwdriver next to the 6mm wrench to effectively make an 8mm bit, but at the high torque most 8mm fasteners are tightened to, the two tools tend to squirm a bit. It is better than nothing, though, and it doesn’t displace other tools like the SWAT 8mm, so I’ll allow it.
The OneUp EDC Lite also is the easiest-to-install steerer tool out there. Simply pound your star nut down a couple inches, drop the tool caddy in and tighten it up. Yes, it does require an extended 5mm wrench you probably won’t have with you if you need access to your headset preload adjustment on the trail, but I have never had an issue.
Perhaps my only complaint about the EDC Lite is that, unlike the SWAT Conceal Carry, it relies on a small plastic cap to hold the tool in place. But if I really don’t want to deal with the cap, half the tool remains usable while it’s still attached to the tool’s other end. And if I need easy access to the whole set, that cap very easily pops back in the caddy while I’m using the tool. It’s an extra step not required for the SWAT, but well worth the extra versatility, functionality and usability.
The ingenuity behind more full-service steerer-tube tools like the original EDC, SWAT Conceal Carry, and the underrated Bontrager BITS isn’t lost on me. For riders whose goal is to ride completely packless and pocketless, those negligibly inconvenient tools are methods to help make that happen. I just can never successfully pull off a packless and pocketless ride at the scale I tend to go. Even with my apparently unsightly frame bags, I always want a place to put the rest of my essentials. It doesn’t bother me if I have to open my pack to get a chain tool or a pedal wrench. But I want my 4mm ready to go at a moment’s notice. Or maybe my 2.5. Don’t make me choose. I don’t like compromise.
Photos: Anthony Smith