GRANITE DESIGNS STASH RCX TOOL REVIEW
STEALTHY SHRED SAVIOR
Words by Robert Johnston | Photos by Adam McGuire
The on-bike tool storage market continues to grow, as the value of a ditched pack or the security of a never-forgotten hex key becomes known to more mountain bike riders. Seemingly every accessory brand has some form of solution, but Granite Designs have more options than most and deliver reasonable value to boot. The Stash RCX steerer-tube mounted tool is one of these options, which the Eurowolf put through the ringer to deliver his verdict.
The Granite Designs Stash RCX is a steerer tube mounted multi tool designed to offer the most essential tools for trailside bike maintenance in a convenient and stealthy(ish) manner. The RCX tool features a compression plug solution to offer compression to the headset, negating the need to modify the fork in any way (other than removing a star fangled nut if there is one), and will fit on steerers with a round inner shape between 23.5 and 27mm in diameter. This means it’ll fit most on the market, save for the elliptical steerer on the Fox 38 amongst some other outliers.
A plastic bung seals the top of the unit from the elements with an O-ring, with “wings” that overhang the metal sheath to give some purchase to pop it out. On the bottom of this bung, effectively two separate tools are attached, which sit within the cavity in the steerer tube: an 8-function multitool, and a separate spoke key and valve core tool. The multitool features six hex keys (2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6mm), a T25 torx and flathead screwdriver. All in, the Stash RCX weighs in at 110g, comes in black or orange (tested), and retails for £49.95/$54.99.
Thanks to the compression bung, fitting is quite simple, but it’s essential to follow the instructions and perhaps add a touch of grease to ensure it all goes smoothly. You may have to hammer a pre-installed star nut down and out of the steerer if your fork already has one fitted, but thankfully mine went into a new steerer without one. You push the metal sheath and compression bung into the steerer without the stem installed, so that the sheath can bottom out on the top of the steerer and ensure the bung goes deep enough to allow for some headset compression later on. The bung gets tightened with a 6mm hex but needs a high 8Nm torque figure to ensure it stays put, which is near impossible with the provided hex key. Even with this number reading from a torque wrench the bung initially slipped – adding grease to the threads and under the sliding faces allowed this 8Nm to provide just enough stick, so I’d recommend adding in that step.
Once the bung is tightened in place, you pull out the sheath and fit the stem with enough spacers to reach at least 3mm above the steerer top. The sheath then becomes your top cap essentially, with an m6 bolt using a 5mm hex key to tighten the sheath down to compress your headset. Then you just push in the plug tools attached, and you’re good to hit the trails.
Once you have the compression bung sitting firmly inside the steerer tube, the headset stays as tight as a star nut-equipped equivalent. You’ll be thankful for this, as both the 6mm of the compression bung and the 5mm that tightens the sheath down are much too deep for the Granite tool or any normal multi tool to reach down to, meaning if your headset comes loose then you’re likely out of luck. The tool bung was a very tight fit initially, which turned out to also benefit from some grease to help things move but eased over time. Once eased, taking the tool in and out had a good amount of resistance that means it’s not difficult but doesn’t feel like it’ll come out, however it did allow the tool to rotate within the sheath. This was only annoying for OCD reasons that meant the Granite Designs logo wasn’t straight, and the tool thankfully never rattled or came out accidentally.
Once the tool is out of the sheath, you are left with a 3-piece unit that’s held together by recesses on the tools and corresponding tabs on the bung. This means you have to take these apart to use any of the tools with ease, meaning you’re always left with two loose pieces when making use of the tool. This is a little annoying and led to a couple of hunts for a dropped bung or spoke key in the grass, but taking the tools in and out of the bung are quick and easy so it’s not a huge issue. The spoke key also features a magnet fitted to it, meaning you can stick it to a steel bolt on the bike to hold it for you until it’s ready to go back home. The multi tool lacks in leverage but offers a good spread of useful tools and feels good in the hand. The spoke key is a little awkward to use at times, but certainly gets the job done for a quick fix on the trailside to get you back home. There are signs of wear on the spoke key from some wrenching on worn spoke nipples, and there’s a bit of surface rust on the multi tool after many uses in the wet, but it’s looking fresh otherwise and ready for many more emergency repairs and adjustments.
The convenience of having a tool at your quick disposal is not something that should be overlooked, and its lack of impact on the performance and look of the bike mean I’ve only regretted having it fitted to the bike on a ride when the compression bung has slipped up in the steerer the first ride after re-installing. This is the real value of the Stash RCX, which has already saved the day a number of times.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Though there are a few quirks, the Granite Designs Stash RCX is an incredibly useful tool to have attached to the bike for those inevitable loose-bolt moments when you’re the least prepared.