We first got ahold of the Specialized SWAT CC (concealed carry) a few weeks after Sea Otter and have been using it ever since. When it was first debuted, the initial (unfounded) reaction from a small section of the MTB crowd was that Specialized was “copying” the OneUp EDC – which was complete horse shit. Anyone who’s familiar with manufacturing overseas knows damn well that you can’t see something that complex, engineer it and have it punched out in Asia in the span of a few weeks. Anyhow, hopefully no one’s feelings were hurt by that rant – but we can attest that Specialized has been working on perfecting this nifty device for quite some time now. We saw rough prototypes in the field last winter.
Essentially, the SWAT CC is a headset tensioner (“headlock”), chain tool and multi tool with storage all rolled into one discreet, handy 124 gram package. The device ships with a long and a short screw/chain pin driver to accommodate a broad range of head tube heights. Said screw attaches to a spring loaded multi tool storage block via the fork’s steerer tube. The whole unit acts as a chain tool and also houses a spare chain link.
- Multi-tool: T25, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, & 8mm hex.
- Swivel top for fast accessibility.
- Spring loaded for easy access, and to stop rattling.
- Chain breaker for those not-so-ideal trail side situations.
- Bottom mount bolt for headset compression that doubles as the chain-tool pin remover.
- Quick link storage held securely by magnets.
- Weight: 124 grams
- Availability: OEM only “for now”
In the photo above you can see the included multi tool fitted to the pin driver which applies tension to your headset when installed. On the top left you can see the cap which fits into a RockShox or Fox crown. The SWAT CC comes with an additional fitting to adapt the lower cap to work with Ohlins. We’re not sure about compatibility with other brands such as DVO, BOS, Suntour, etc. – but we’d be surprised if fitment was problematic.
In the photo above, you can see the swiveling top cap is opened to let the multi tool pop out via the spring loaded design. You also get a better look at the chain links in the lower cap – Eagle compatible and held in place magnetically and rattle free.
If you already have a star fangled nut installed, you’ll have to smash it out. That won’t be fun, but it’s not the end of the world. If you are installing this on a fresh build or with a new fork, it’ll be no big deal. The main difference is that you awkwardly tighten/tension the headset from below the crown as opposed to the more natural position above it and bearing down on it. Either way…It’s a pretty straight forward process.
In Use/On the Trail
Perhaps the best part about the SWAT CC is that if you’re the type to fuss with saddle height, brake lever angle or just neurotically check your hardware for proper tension, the tool is always there – right in front of you, in the flip of a disc any time you’re standing over or beside the bike.
Speaking of the tool, for how tiny and minimalist it is, it manages to check off the most critical tools (listed above, in “Details”). Specialized was actually smart to forgo the 2.5mm allen for the 3mm. Since most derailleur adjustments and lock on grips use a 3mm these days, that’s a wise choice given that there is limited space.
The trimmed down 8mm allen key will work in a pinch if your cranks or pedal(s) come loose mid ride, but if that does happen, it’s best to keep a watchful eye on them as you limp home as you can only apply so much leverage with such a small tool that’s lacking the girth of the full 8mm bit. Nevertheless, the keys that are included are quite practical and if you need extra leverage, you can open it up fully to gain some. Last but not least, compared to the last iteration of the SWAT mini tool that fits in the Specialized bottle cage mount and their frame fittings, this tool is a bit more ergonomic and easy on your hands, but it does lose the small flat head screwdriver bit.
In our opinion, to no surprise this is certainly the perfect match for a Specialized bike with a SWAT downtube storage. This is mainly because that affords room for a tube, food, a pump/CO2 and a jacket leaving everything you need stashed inside of the bike. Compared the the OneUp EDC, the SWAT CC may not cram as much into a head tube, but it makes regular usage of the multi tool far more convenient, adds in the often overlooked importance of a headset tensioner and negates the fact that you need to tap threads into your fork’s steerer tube and void its warranty. If you don’t have a Specialized bike with a SWAT downtube, you can always mount a pump by your bottle cage and strap your patch kit and tire levers alongside your tube on your frame. In the grand scheme of things, this is a device for minimalists and thus, its only shortcoming is that it doesn’t have loads of fittings like some multi tools. That said, you can roll with your pockets virtually empty and avoid a backpack as well.