Not having a multi-tool or a chain link, and completing the slow and cumbersome walk out of god knows where is almost a rite of passage for mountain bikers, but the Industry Nine MatchStix Multi-Tool is a product that aims to put this frustrating experience to bed.
Industry Nine describe the MatchStix Multi-Tool best with their slogan ‘Holds your wheel, saves your ass.’ The MatchStix certainly does exactly that, doubling as both an axle for your front wheel, with a concealed multi-tool so that you’ll never leave the essentials at home again.
How can a fork axle be a multi-tool?
Very cleverly! The lever for the axle (which attaches to the axle body via a 5mm allen key that also tightens the axle) doubles as a driver for the four bits that are housed within the axle body in a plastic sleeve.
The MatchStix comes with 2, 2.5, 3, 4 and 6mm allen key bits (you decide what four bits you want to take in the sleeve), which simply push into the driver slot located on the lever. Other bits that are included with the MatchStix include a 3.23mm spoke wrench, a T25 bit and a valve core remover. The driver slot is weather sealed through a tightly fitting rubber cap, and the 5mm end of the lever that attaches to the axle does so with a satisfying snap to let you know it’s in place and ready to roll.
The MatchStix Multi-Tool also works as a chain tool for nine, ten and eleven speed chains, using the 3mm bit as well as the axle lever after attaching them together- so you must have the 3mm bit to use the MatchStix as a chain tool, don’t forget it!
Using the chain tool isn’t difficult, but it’s best to watch Industry Nine’s video, where they explain clearly how to install the included bits, as well as adapting the MatchStix and operating it as a chain tool.
Does the MatchStix have the tools I’m likely to need out on the trail?
As mentioned above, the MatchStix Multi-Tool does a pretty good job of concealing a fair few tools in a limited space, however you can only take four bits in the MatchStix’s plastic sleeve, so choose wisely according to what sort of bolts are most prevalent on your bike.
In terms of what’s missing, most regular multi-tools will come with an 8mm allen key, which is handy if you need to tighten or take off your pedals, or you need to tighten a burly axle.
Despite not having the full array of tools you’re likely to find on a regular multi-tool, the MatchStix’s integrated chain tool is a real winner, and the axle insert has a specific space for a spare link, so you’ll never have to walk your bike home chainless again!
Isn’t pulling all the bits out of a plastic sleeve annoying?
Getting a bit out of the sleeve is actually quite simple, as the sleeve has slits so that you can take the bit you need straight out.
How much does it cost?
Industry Nine aren’t exactly a budget-oriented brand, so it’s no surprise the MatchStix doesn’t come cheap. We do feel however that the retail price of $230 ($160 US MSRP) is perhaps a tad steep- we’ll have to see how the MatchStix performs out on the trail before making any conclusions though.
One justification for the MatchStix’s high price is the clear attention to detail in the MatchStix’s construction, for example the weather sealing cap on the bit driver, and a seal covering the guts of the chain tool fitting snugly and ensuring nothing gets into these important parts. The gorgeous anodised finish on the axle lever is also a clear demonstration of the MatchStix’s high end construction.
Is it heavier than a regular axle?
Marginally. The Maxle Ultimate found on the RockShox Pike this MatchStix is replacing weighs in at 77 grams, whilst the MatchStix axle, with four bits installed in the plastic sleeve weighs in at 103 grams. If that 30 grams really worries you, you can slide out the innards of the MatchStix on race day- just don’t snap your chain! If you do decide to take this route (which we wouldn’t recommend unless your name is Nino or Julien), then the MatchStix axle alone is bloody light, weighing in at just 43 grams!
In terms of comparing the MatchStix to a regular multi-tool you might take out on the trail with you, the high end Lezyne Carbon 10, which features the same tools as the MatchStix plus a couple more wins both the grams game and the price game, tipping the scales at 80 grams, and costing $150 as opposed to the MatchStix’s $230 retail price.
Realistically however, the MatchStix is indeed lighter than most alloy or stainless steel multi-tools on the market, not to mention the fact it’s not going to bounce around in your pocket while you ride, and it’s definitely going to be there when you need it most!
What sizes does it come in?
The MatchStix is available in two sizes, including the “old” 15x100mm standard, as well as the more contemporary boost 15x110mm sizing. The axle lever also comes in a variety of colours so you can get your matchy matchy on. We’ve gone with blue, which fits nicely with the colour scheme on our YT Jeffsy test bike.
Where to now?
As we mentioned above, we’ve popped the MatchStix in our YT Jeffsy, which was just as easy as using the regular RockShox Maxle in terms of installation. The removable axle lever allows you to simply pop the lever off and put it out of harm’s way once the axle is tight, so now all that’s left is to hit the trails!