Justin Dodd and Mike Manzione of Mineral Design have a story that’s one shared by a lot of folks working in the bike industry.
The two mechanical engineers were working in various industries while enjoying their passion for cycling on the side. After a while, the duo decided to merge work and play and launched a Kickstarter to fund the production of portable bike tools. The project to fund the Barstow and Mini Bar products was successful, and Mineral Design was born.
The Barstow are two bar ends that allow you to store a chain tool and tire levers inside your handlebar ends, and the Mini Bar is a portable steel multi-tool with removable bits that snaps into a plastic carrying case.
We put the portable Mini Bar multi-tool to the test for gravel rides, mountain bike shredding and ’cross race-day fixes.
Mineral Design Mini Bar
Mineral Design designs and produces the steel Mini Bar in its Philadelphia workshop. If you look at the company’s website, Dodd and Manzione’s backgrounds in engineering shine through via the dimensioned CAD drawings of the Mini Bar on the product page.
The company name also pays homage to their background in science. The two spend a lot of time riding at Wissahickon Park near the company’s Philadelphia headquarters. The park’s dirt is rich in the flaky mineral mica, and since their gear always comes home covered in it, they decided Mineral Design would be the perfect company name.
The Mini Bar tool has an L shape with a head that holds bits and a handle that allows you to apply torque. The tool has a similar appearance and function to the Spurcycle Tool we reviewed over the summer.
The tool has three drivers. Two on the head allow you to provide torque via the handle, and a a third on the base of the handle facilitates easier spinning and fitting into some tight spots. Each of the drivers has a magnet inside to help hold the bit in place.
The red plastic holster holds six steel bits at a time. The bits secure in the bar via a 1/4″ hex, and neodymium magnets hold the bits in the holster. The bar itself has holes drilled in the handle to alloy the tool to securely attach onto the holster via two more magnets embedded in the holster.
Mineral Design ships the Mini Bar with 10 bits: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm hex; Torx T25, Phillips screwdriver; Flat head screwdriver.
If you misplace one of the bits, the company will replace it for the cost of postage.
All told, the unit measures 3.8″ x 1.3″ x 0.5″, which allows it to slide into a bike bag or jersey pocket. The unit weighs 114g. For comparison, the titanium Spurcycle product weighed in at 93g.
The Torque Test
When I reviewed the Spurcycle Tool, I wrote that I really like this style of multi-tool design due to frustrations I have had with folding-style multi-tools. The same is true of the Mini Bar.
The sturdy steel handle provides a confident platform for applying torque to bolts on the bike. The steel bits easily slide into the drivers, and the driver position on the handle end helped for tight spots like water bottle cage bolts. When you are done using the tool, it easily snaps into the holster for convenient storage.
The design that allows the tool to snap into the holster is an elegant design that makes for easy transport. One drawback is that with the bits secured to the bottom via a magnet, it can be difficult to get them out if your hands are sweaty. Also, if you are like me and bad at storing things, keeping track of the extra three bits that do not fit in the holster can be a challenge. These, however, are bit quibbles.
Weight-wise, the 112g felt similar to the weight of a normal bike bag multi-tool. An obvious comparison is the Spurcycle Tool, which weighs about 20g less but costs twice as much as the $35 Mini Bar.
If you are using your multi-tool for gravel rides, your bike is already likely to be weighed down by food, water, gear and bags, so it a few extra grams are not likely to make or break your experience. If road is your off-season jam, then yes, a different option may be weight-weenie appropriate.
One thing the Mini Bar cannot do is measure torque. We have recently seen products from Feedback Sports and Prestacycle that have more bits and torque settings at a higher price. Stay tuned for reviews of those products to see how they stand up against designs such as Mineral Design’s.
Overall, I really liked the Mineral Design Mini Bar and still have it in my bike bag after reviewing it. The American-made design is thoughtful, and the sturdy handle on the tool makes for confident torquing. The bits can be a bit of a bother, but in most non-sweaty-hand cases, they are easy to remove and snap into place thanks to the strategically placed magnets.
For more on the Mineral Design Mini Bar, see the specs below.
Mineral Design Mini Bar Specs
Design: Tool: Welded steel; Holster: Plastic
Bits: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm; Torx T25, Phillips screwdriver; Flat head screwdriver
Dimensions: 3.8″ x 1.3″ x 0.5″
More Info: mineralbikes.com