specialized swat tool renthal stem fatbar blur

Review | The Specialized SWAT Conceal Carry MTB Multi-Tool Hides Inside Your Fork

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According to the photographer Chase Jarvis, the best camera is the one that’s with you. A reference to the proliferation of smartphone camera technology, Jarvis’s famous quote implies that you can own the most technically capable camera in the world, but if it’s too bulky and awkward to have with you all the time, then it’s a bit useless.

Now I’m not entirely sure if Jarvis is actually a mountain biker, but if he were, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me butchering his quote and substituting ‘camera’ for ‘multi-tool’. Actually, I’m sure he would mind. But I’m willing to make these sorts of risky journalistic re-appropriations, because in my experience, it’s spot-on.

Outta Sight, Outta Mind

Take this gizmo. The Specialized SWAT Conceal Carry MTB Tool isn’t pretending to be the very best and most comprehensive multi-tool on the market. No, it’s far too minimalist for that.

Rather than come with every single attachment under the sun, Specialized has equipped the SWAT CC tool with the basics. You’ll find 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm hex bits and a T25 torx key. Further inside is a clever integrated chain breaker, along with magnetic storage for a spare set of chain master links.

specialized swat tool renthal stem fatbar blur
Wait a second…
specialized swat tool renthal stem fatbar blur

Sure, there are plenty of excellent multi-tool kits out there that have more functionality, including my two current favourites; the Fix It Sticks Mountain Kit and the Syncros Guide Multi-Tool Kit. But those tools require you to carry them in your backpack or jersey pocket. And more importantly, they require you to remember to bring them in the first place.

The real beauty about the SWAT CC tool is that you don’t have to remember to bring it along. Because it’s already with you on every ride.

specialized swat tool renthal stem fatbar blur
The Specialized SWAT CC tool uses a spring-loaded basket to out a mini-tool within easy reach.

Licence To Conceal ‘N’ Carry

Occupying the otherwise dead space inside your hollow fork steerer tube, the SWAT CC tool uses a long threaded pin that joins the lower fork plug to the body of the tool holster. You use a 5mm hex key (from the multi-tool of course) to tighten and compress the whole shebang, preloading your headset bearings in the process. Short and long pins come in the box with the tool to accommodate different length steerer tubes.

Unless you have a brand new fork, you will need to bang out the star-fangled nut out of the steerer tube first, which can be a somewhat violent affair. Otherwise installing the SWAT CC tool is all very straightforward.

specialized swat tool renthal stem fatbar blur
The base of the SWAT CC tool uses a 5mm hex key to tighten the whole assembly.
specialized swat tool renthal stem fatbar blur
No longer dead space.

In use, the SWAT CC is one of those tools that you just can’t help but fondle every now and then. Swivel the alloy top cap 180°, and up pops the multi-tool. A spring-loaded basket pops the tool upwards like a slice of toast, ready for you to pull out when needed. For stowage, just push the tool back down into its home, and slide the cap back in place.

Even after six months of use in all sorts of conditions, everything is still sliding smoothly and clipping positively into place. The tool bits are made from hardened CRV steel with an anti-rust coating, and so far there are no signs of any rust anywhere. Nothing has come loose, and I’ve never once experienced any untoward shakes, rattles or rolls.

specialized swat tool renthal stem fatbar blur chain link
You can store a quick link via a reliable magnetic mount.

What ‘Bout That OneUp Tool?

While Specialized is one of the bigger proponents of stealth storage via its various ‘SWAT’ systems, it ain’t the only brand to put tools in your fork tube. OneUp Components makes a similar tool called the EDC, which comes in at half the price (£45 / $79 AUD). OneUp’s multi-tool includes more functions (including 2 & 2.5mm hex keys and a valve core tool), along with the option to stow a CO2 cannister in the lower half of the tube.

The main drawback of the OneUp EDC is that it requires you to tap your fork steerer in order to fit the threaded top cap (for preloading the headset bearings). The specific cutting tool is sold separately, so you either need to factor that in when buying it or find a bike workshop that can offer this service.

oneup tool edc
OneUp makes a similar tool called the EDC.

Because you don’t need to tap the steerer for the SWAT CC tool, that makes it more easily swappable between bikes. And while it won’t work with carbon steerer tubes (‘cos they ain’t hollow at the bottom), it will fit basically any hollow alloy steerer tube, both tapered and 1 1/8in varieties.

Oh, and for the weight weenies you’ll be happy to know it’s also 100g lighter than the OneUP EDC tool, at a confirmed 125g.

specialized swat tool renthal stem fatbar blur
The SWAT CC tool will cover you for the typical repairs and adjustments.

In use, the OneUP EDC is a little clunkier since you have to pull out the whole assembly and break it apart anytime you want access to a specific tool. It uses O-rings to keep everything snug inside the steerer tube, but if things get a bit dry or dirty it can require a bit more force to remove and plug back in. In comparison, I do love the way the SWAT CC pops out the multi-tool automatically when you swivel open the top cap. It is very pleasing to use on a regular basis.

specialized swat tool renthal stem fatbar blur pedal
The half-an-8mm-hex-key thing works surprisingly well.

Ease of use aside, it’s worth noting that both multi-tools are a little weedy, so don’t be expecting to unleash huge torque numbers. I was able to successfully remove and install SPD pedals using the half-an-8mm-hex-key on the SWAT CC tool, which is a cleverly compact and useful addition, but not the sort of thing you want to rely on for, say, undoing a stuck main pivot bolt.

Otherwise everything else works fine, with the chain breaker being particularly solid compared to the tiny ones that come with most multi-tools.

specialized swat tool renthal stem fatbar blur chain
Pull the whole tool out to break a chain.
specialized swat tool renthal stem fatbar blur chain
And the multi-tool drives the pin. Clever!


This is a snazzy little tool that delights in its ease of use and high quality, all-metal construction.

It is very expensive for what is essentially a diet multi-tool though. And given that the OneUp EDC tool can be had for less while possessing more functions, the SWAT CC tool hardly earns a tick for value for money. It is lighter and easier to use than the OneUP tool though, and it also doesn’t require you to cut a thread into your fork’s steerer tube.

If you dig the stealthy minimalist vibe and appreciate the satisfying functionality, this is a very tidy solution to ensuring you always have the essentials with you on a ride. Just add a frame strap for your spare tube, tyre levers and CO2, and you’ll be both race and trail-ready for the vast majority of trail repairs you’re likely to encounter. The fact that you don’t have to remember to bring it along makes it all the more useful.

specialized swat tool renthal stem fatbar blur
It ain’t cheap, but it is oh-so-lovely to use.

Review Info

Brand: Specialized
Product: SWAT Conceal Carry MTB Tool
From: specialized.com
Price: £90 / $130 AUD
Tested: by Wil Barrett for 6 months

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