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The best bike torque wrenches for cyclists – and how to choose the right one for your tool kit

Byadmin

Aug 4, 2022

There's a vast array of torque wrenches out there.

If you’re adjusting any of the bolts on your bike, a torque wrench is a particularly useful investment, to ensure that you don’t under-tighten or over-tighten them. There’s a reason you see the tool recommended in many manuals and maintenance articles.

As frame materials have evolved, tolerances have grown ever finer, and this is particularly true of carbon fibre frames and components. If a bolt is overtightened, the carbon can fracture and, ultimately, fail.

Equally, a bolt that is undertightened may result in a component slipping or becoming loose while riding.

Either way, it is important to make sure the bolts on your bike are securely tightened, and a torque wrench will help you do just that.

Here, we will take you through what to look for in a torque wrench, the different types, how to effectively use the tool and the best torque wrenches we have tested to date.

What is a torque wrench? And why should you use one on your bike?

A torque wrench enables you to fasten a bolt to the correct tightness.
Katherine Moore / Our Media

A torque wrench is an incredibly useful tool that measures how much force you are tightening a bolt up to, known as torque.

If you look at your bike, you’ll generally see there’ll be a small number next to a bolt, which is generally written in ‘Nm’ (newton metres) or sometimes ‘in-lb’ (inch-pounds). This is the unit of torque the bolts require.

Pay attention to the torque setting on any component.

Check to see if it says ‘max’ torque. If it is ‘max’, that really is the max and you should torque it 10 per cent lower. Sometimes, such as on Shimano crank pinch bolts, you’ll be given a range and you should aim for the middle of that range.

While there are plenty of hardened-skin naysayers for such a tool, happy to work on ‘feel’, the truth of the matter is that if you’re working with delicate components, the use of a torque wrench makes it far less likely for things to go wrong, especially when your warranty (and teeth) are involved.

Torque wrench types

There’s a vast array of choices out there.
David Rome / Immediate Media

Most bolts on a bicycle require quite a low torque (generally under 10Nm).

This is why bicycle-specific torque wrenches exist, though you could use a more general torque wrench for bolts that require a higher torque, such as the cassette, disc rotor lockrings and crank bolts. The most you’d ever need to torque something on a bicycle is 60Nm.

Ultimately, the best torque wrench for your needs depends on how frequently you intend to use it and what parts of the bike you intend to use it for. It is always worth investing in a quality option for the greater accuracy and user-friendly benefits.

Generally, there are four types of torque wrench: preset, adjustable, modular bit-based systems and beam-style torque wrenches.

Preset torque wrench

The handy little ATD-1.2 torque wrench covers the critical 4-6Nm torque range in 0.5Nm steps, and includes 3, 4, and 5mm hex bits, plus T25.
Matthew Allen / Immediate Media

If you only intend on using a torque wrench for items such as the stem and seatpost bolts, you could save some money and buy a preset design, based on the torques required on your specific bike.

Preset torque wrenches are also ideal if you’re regularly working on a range of bikes, to save time setting up an adjustable one.

Don’t forget a torque wrench when tightening up all your fancy components.
Reuben Bakker-Dyos / Immediate Media

You can often buy preset 4, 5 or 6Nm torque wrenches, with some designs also offering preset adjustability within that range.

As preset options can often be quite stubby in design, if you are running an integrated seat clamp or wedge system, which often require a low-profile head, you’ll want to check there’s enough clearance for the tool to fit.

This option is also typically lighter, so would be a good option to carry if you’re going on holiday.

Adjustable torque wrench

An adjustable torque wrench offers the largest range.
David Rome / Immediate Media

The best and most common type of torque wrench is the adjustable, click-type torque wrench.

That does, regrettably, mean they are the most expensive type and will cost you anywhere from £30 up to £200.

That’s quite a range in price, so what do you get for your money when you spend more?

Greater accuracy is the biggest difference and, ultimately, a torque wrench is only useful if it is accurate.

Other differences as you spend more include better-quality bits and a dial indicator that’s easier to read and set, ensuring less margin for error.

Modular bit-based torque wrenches

Silca’s T-ratchet + Ti-Torque is a delightful little thing that combines a multi-tool with a torque wrench.
Matthew Allen / Immediate Media

A less prominent type of torque wrench – but one that’s growing in popularity – is a portable bit-style ratchet with a torque feature.

These typically consist of a handle and bits with a torque bar. The torque bar usually features a set of numbers, denoting the torque and an arrow underneath. Once you’ve assembled the tool, you tighten the bolt while carefully monitoring the arrow until you reach your desired torque.

Some manufacturers, such as Silca, offer modular T- and L-handle bit-based systems for fitting into tricky spaces.

This can be a great option for cycling holidays or as an option to carry on the bike because it doubles-up as a multi-tool, only a better-quality option.

Beam-style torque wrench

Beam-style torque wrenches are cheap, but not the most accurate.
Dave Caudrey / Immediate Media

A final option is a beam-style torque wrench – commonplace before adjustable, click-type options existed.

They aren’t very common anymore because they’re less reliable and accurate. You have to carefully read the beam in relation to a scale to know that you have achieved the correct torque. You’ll also need a steady hand. However, some brands, including Canyon, include a beam-style wrench when shipping bikes.

Given the number of affordable designs available elsewhere, there isn’t much to argue in favour of the beam-style torque wrench.

That said, it’s certainly better to use a beam-style torque wrench than not to use anything.

Best torque wrenches for cyclists, as rated by our expert testers

We’ve split our recommendations into two categories:

Best preset torque wrenches

Park Tool Preset Torque Driver 5Nm PTD-5

4.5 out of 5 star rating

The Park Tool PTD-5 is an excellent preset torque wrench.
  • Good: Perfectly accurate, ultra comfortable, quality construction, cam-over design
  • Bad: Weight, size, price (especially to buy all three)

This model from Park Tool offers metal mechanical components to give a highly positive and durable wrench. Accuracy is superb and the cam-over mechanism means there’s zero chance of over-tightening.

Using standard 1/4in bits that magnetically snap in place, the tool also houses three spare bits in the handle. This is a top pick for a preset torque wrench, although to buy a set of three (4, 5 and 6Nm versions) is certainly expensive.

  • Price: $45 / £40 / AU$75 as tested
  • Preset options available: 4, 5 or 6Nm
  • Bits included: 3, 4 & 5mm hex, Torx 25
  • Weight: 216g
  • Length: 103mm
  • Average torque reading at 5Nm: 5.18nm
Latest deals

Park Tool Adjustable Torque Driver ATD-1.2

4.5 out of 5 star rating

Park Tool’s ATD-1 features a 4-6NM range.
David Rome / Immediate Media

  • Good: Accurate, ultra comfortable, quality construction, cam-over design
  • Bad: Needs a 6mm hex to adjust torque setting, heavy, price

Now updated to the ATD-1.2, this is the adjustable version of Park’s PTD wrenches, and can be switched between 4 and 6Nm in 0.5nm increments. To change the torque (silver dial), you use a 6mm hex key, although the key update with the ATD-1.2 is that it can be adjusted by hand. The opposite end hides three spare bits.

This tool offers everything we loved about the Park Tool PTD, but with further adjustment options. Accuracy is not quite as consistent as the preset options, but certainly close enough. Its American-made build quality is superb, but that does mean it’s heavy and priced relatively high.

  • Price: $73 / £60 / AU$120 as tested
  • Torque range: 4-6Nm
  • Bits included: 3, 4 & 5mm hex, Torx 25
  • Weight: 266g
  • Length: 103mm
  • Clearance: 110mm
  • Ratchet function: No (but does cam-over)
  • Average torque reading at 3/5/8Nm: N/A / 5.13Nm / N/A
Latest deals

IceToolz Ocarina Torque Wrench

4.0 out of 5 star rating

A top pick for those who travel, the new IceToolz Ocarina Torque Wrench is super-light, accurate and extremely affordable.
David Rome / Immediate Media

  • Good: Price, accurate, bits included, very light, ideal for travel
  • Bad: Plastic construction, clearance, hard to read torque in certain light or positions

Although we were initially sceptical of the design, the torque tester proved the Ocarina to be the real deal. At just 88g, it’s perfect for travel purposes.

It works like a beam-type torque wrench and so you stop tightening once the needle hits the desired number.

The struggle here is it can be hard to read the raised numbers, especially if you’re wrenching in a poorly lit hotel room, or adjusting a saddle bolt upside down. It’s comfortable to use, but the hollow plastic construction certainly feels cheap and can lead to clearance issues in rare cases.

  • Price: £25 as tested
  • Torque range: 1-10Nm
  • Bits included: 3, 4, 5 & 6mm hex, Torx 25
  • Weight: 88g
  • Length: 133mm
  • Clearance: 146mm
  • Ratchet function: No
  • Average torque reading at 3/5/8Nm: 2.92/4.83/7.7Nm
Latest deals

Also consider…

CDI Torque Preset T-Handle – 5Nm

3.5 out of 5 star rating

An old favourite, the CDI Torque Preset T-Handle is a reliable choice.
David Rome / Immediate Media

  • Good: Proven design, reputable company, cam-over design, comfortable handle
  • Bad: Plastic internals, no additional bits included

CDI, part of the Snap-On corporation, is a torque specialist, and this is the cheapest tool it offers. Accuracy is acceptable, and it too is impossible to over-tighten with a cam-over design.

The grip is perfectly comfortable, although only a 4mm hex bit is included, so you’ll need to supply any others needed.

  • Price: $36 as tested
  • Preset options available: 4, 5 or 6Nm
  • Bits included: 4mm hex
  • Weight: 108g
  • Length: 95mm
  • Average torque reading at 5Nm: 4.62Nm

Ritchey Multi-Bit Torqkey – 5Nm

3.5 out of 5 star rating

The original, the Ritchey Multi-Bit Torqkey is still a great-value choice for occasional use.
David Rome / Immediate Media

  • Good: Widely available, price, travel size, perfectly accurate
  • Bad: Tiny handle makes it uncomfortable, plastic internals, not cam-over

Ritchey was undoubtedly the first to the cycling market with preset torque wrenches. Since then, this tool has been seen with other brand names plastered on it.

The Torqkey continues to be a reliable option, and is still the lightest/smallest available, but it’s no longer the benchmark.

  • Price: $20 / AU$34 as tested
  • Preset options available: 4 or 5Nm
  • Bits included: 3, 4 & 5mm hex, Torx 20 & 25, Phillips #2
  • Weight: 50g
  • Length: 78mm
  • Average torque reading at 5Nm: 5.01Nm
Latest deals

Best adjustable torque wrenches

Effetto Mariposa Giustaforza II 2-16 Pro Deluxe

4.5 out of 5 star rating

Effetto’s Mariposa Giustaforza II 2-16 Pro Deluxe torque wrench is a high-quality option.
David Rome / Immediate Media

  • Good: Compact, high quality, accurate, classy looks
  • Bad: Expensive, ratchet head spoils clearance compared to original

Made in Italy, the Pro version from Effetto Mariposa is positioned as the premium cycling-specific torque wrench. Testing showed reliable accuracy and ease of use.

The ‘Deluxe’ tool wrap and bits are great quality and it even includes a free calibration service (in Italy…). All wrapped up, it’s compact and doesn’t waste space in the toolbox.

The ratcheting head makes tightening quicker, but does remove some of the clearance the original non-ratcheting version the brand became famous for.

Even with such praise, it’s priced at a premium and doesn’t offer a great deal over more generic Taiwanese options. It’s certainly one for those who appreciate both form and function.

  • Price: $260 / £190 / AU$395 as tested
  • Torque range: 2-16Nm
  • Bits included: 2, 2.5, 3, 4 (long), 5 (long) & 6mm hex, Torx 10, 15, 20, 25 (long) & 30, Phillips #2, 100mm extension
  • Weight: 192g
  • Length: 170mm
  • Clearance: 52mm
  • Ratchet function: Yes
  • Average torque reading at 3/5/8Nm: 3.05/4.9/8.06Nm
Latest deals

LifeLine Professional Torque Wrench

4.5 out of 5 star rating

The LifeLine Professional Torque Wrench is a well-priced and proven design.
Lifeline / Our Media

  • Good: Price, proven design, bits included, accurate, ease of use
  • Bad: Generic design

This is from Wiggle’s in-house tool brand and it’s hard to fault for the money. It’s effectively the same wrench sourced from Taiwan that many others have put their brand name on – and that’s because it just works.

The torque range offered is ideal for bicycles, adjustments are simple and the ratcheting head is compact enough for most situations.

  • Price: $70 / £50 / AU$90 as tested
  • Torque range: 3-15Nm
  • Bits included: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5 & 6mm hex, Torx 25
  • Weight: 214g
  • Length: 195mm
  • Clearance: 45mm
  • Ratchet function: Yes
  • Average torque reading at 3/5/8Nm: 3.31/5.34/7.93Nm
Latest deals

Effetto Mariposa Giustaforza 1-8 Deluxe

4.0 out of 5 star rating

Its numerous bits, drivers and extensions all come in a neat Velcro-secured bundle.
David Caudery / Our Media

  • Good: Quality, defined click, easy to use in tight spaces
  • Bad: Expensive

Made in Italy, the Giustaforza 1-8 Deluxe oozes quality and has a very well defined click when you hit your desired torque.

Its compact and minimal head makes this an easy option to use in tight spaces.

The numerous bits, drivers and extensions all come in a neat Velcro-secured bundle. It has a 1-8Nm range, comes with a comprehensive – 5,000-cycle – guarantee and you can send it back to be serviced and recalibrated.

  • Price: £130 / $170.99 / €167 as tested
  • Torque range: 1-8Nm
  • Bits included: 4, 5, T25 (long), 2, 2.5, 3, 6, T10, T15, T20, T30, Flat, Phillips #2
  • Ratchet function: Yes
Latest deals

Park Tool TW-5.2

4.0 out of 5 star rating

Its 23cm length helps when making small adjustments at higher torque settings.
Images: David Caudery / Our Media

  • Good: Quality, defined click
  • Bad: Limited in tighter spaces, no sockets included

Park Tool’s TW-5.2 uses a 3/8in drive rather than the smaller ¼in head, which means it isn’t as easy to wield in smaller spaces.

Yet it feels much better quality, with less play and movement at the head than other options, especially under higher torque loads.

Its 23cm length helps when making small adjustments at higher torque settings because you don’t have to heave on the tool. But its stellar price tag doesn’t include sockets, and Park’s SBS-1.2 socket and bit set, while comprehensive, costs £59.99.

  • Price: £126.99 / $113.95 as tested
  • Torque range: 2-14Nm
  • Bits included: None (Park Tool’s SBS-1.2 includes extensions, hex and Torx bits)
  • Ratchet function: Yes
Latest deals

Topeak D-Torq Wrench

4.0 out of 5 star rating

One of the most accurate we’ve tested, the Topeak D-Torq Wrench does so much right.
David Rome / Immediate Media

  • Good: Super accurate, makes you feel fancy, zippered case, low clearance
  • Bad: Price, needs batteries

This is the only digital torque wrench on test, and also the most accurate. Without mechanical clicking parts, it proved immune to torque reading inconsistencies. Though without such a click, it’ll require a little patience as you gently build up to your desired torque, watch the screen and listen for the beep.

While battery life is decent, you’ll only realise it needs a fresh AAA cell when you go to use it, which is just a pain when other torque wrenches will happily click away.

  • Price: $249 / £185 / AU$300
  • Torque range: 1-20Nm
  • Bits included: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5 & 6mm hex, Torx 25, Phillips #2
  • Weight: 166g
  • Length: 195mm
  • Clearance: 21mm
  • Ratchet function: Yes
  • Average torque reading at 3/5/8Nm: 3/5.06/8.03Nm
Latest deals

Syncros Torque Wrench 2.0

4.0 out of 5 star rating

If you take care of it, this should serve you well for years.
Images: David Caudery / Our Media

  • Good: Value, wide-ranging torque values, easy to set
  • Bad: Doesn’t come with as comprehensive an after-service as other options

Syncros’ wide-range torque wrench looks like a high-quality item with its polished chrome-vanadium head and shaft securely fixed into an anodised handle.

The sprung collar is a cinch to adjust and set, and its compact 1/4in drive head makes it easy to get into tight spaces, the supplied 75mm extension bar helping further.

It comes with six hex and three Torx bits, its 22cm length is a good size for making precise adjustments and it works both clockwise and anti-clockwise.

The Syncros is a great-value tool and if you take care of it, this should serve you well for years.

  • Price: £69.99 as tested
  • Torque range: 2-24Nm
  • Bits included: 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, T20, T25, T30
  • Ratchet function: Yes
Latest deals

Also consider…

Birzman Torque Wrench 3-15Nm

3.5 out of 5 star rating

If there was an award for being shiny, this would win it.
David Rome / Immediate Media

  • Good: Metal construction, pretty, ratcheting
  • Bad: A bit fiddly to adjust, vague click at torque

This shiny 3-15Nm torque wrench does everything it needs to. Pulling down on the central collar and turning the handle adjusts the torque setting. Without doing this, the torque is locked and there’s little risk in accidently changing it.

It’s more fiddly than others, but it’s less generic than many on the market. A full-metal construction provides a quality feel, but just beware that the click at torque is subtle and it’s easy to push past it if you’re not paying attention.

It comes in a foam-lined hard plastic case, something we found tough to actually get the tool out of. However, it does keep it safe and all the bits together.

  • Price: £110 / €125 / AU$139
  • Torque range: 3-15Nm
  • Bits included: 3, 4, 5, 6 & 8mm hex, Torx 25
  • Weight: 294g
  • Length: 211mm
  • Clearance: 48mm
  • Ratchet function: Yes
  • Average torque reading at 3/5/8Nm: 2.99/5.46/7.7Nm
Latest deals

PRO Torque Wrench

3.5 out of 5 star rating

Effectively the same as the LifeLine Professional but at a higher price, the PRO Torque Wrench is a fuss-free option if found at a good price
David Rome / Immediate Media

  • Good: Proven design, bits included, accurate, ease of use
  • Bad: High price for a generic tool

“Hey, that looks just like the LifeLine Professional or the Pedro’s Demi,” I hear you say. Yep, there’s a good reason for that – it’s the same. Sourced from Taiwan, this Shimano/PRO item is a rebadged tool, but there’s a good reason so many brands put their label on it – it does exactly what it should.

The included bits will see you through most repairs, and the case keeps it all together. However, it’s penalised for its price given that some online retailers sell effectively the same thing under a different name for less money.

  • Price: £89 / $139 / AU$155
  • Torque range: 3-15Nm
  • Bits included: 3, 4, 5 & 6mm hex, Torx 25 & 30, extension
  • Weight: 214g
  • Length: 195mm
  • Clearance: 45mm
  • Ratchet function: Yes
  • Average torque reading at 3/5/8Nm: 3.13/4.6/7.85Nm
Latest deals

M-Part Torque Wrench

3.5 out of 5 star rating

The matt-finish chrome-vanadium tool bits have kept corrosion at bay.
Images: David Caudery / Our Media

  • Good: Value, sturdy feel
  • Bad: Play at the head and handle where they meet the shaft

The M-Part is a sturdy wrench with a solid feel and an oversized head. Its decent quality with easy adjustment and a locking handle to set the torque, and comes with a T25 and hex bits.

The matt-finish chrome-vanadium tool bits have kept corrosion at bay even after being out in all weathers for a couple of weeks.

The 22cm arm is a useful length and the head works in both directions, but there was a tiny bit of play between the head and shaft, and handle and shaft, too.

  • Price: £59.99 as tested
  • Torque range: 3-15Nm
  • Bits included: 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, T25
  • Ratchet function: Yes
Latest deals

Lezyne Torque Drive

3.5 out of 5 star rating

The design uses an internal precision-machined torsion bar.
Images: David Caudery / Our Media

  • Good: Quality, range of bits
  • Bad: Non-ratcheting

Lezyne’s minimalist 2-10Nm wrench comes with six hex and three Torx bits and a couple of screwdriver heads, and its finish quality is up to Lezyne’s usual high standards.

The design uses an internal precision-machined torsion bar, with the torque shown by indices printed on the shaft and a pointer on the head.

It proved very accurate in use throughout its narrowish 2-10Nm range, but the design does make it a clockwise-only tool.

Its quality, accuracy, compact 160mm-long case and 145mm length make this a great travel torque wrench, but there are better options for heavy-duty workshop use.

  • Price: £51 / $54.99 as tested
  • Torque range: 2-10Nm
  • Bits included: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, T10, T25, T35, Flat and Phillips drivers
  • Ratchet function: No
Latest deals

How to use a torque wrench

Always hold the tool at the grip to achieve the best result.
Markus Greber / Canyon

Knowing how to use a torque wrench is key, because it is still possible to under- or over-tighten bolts with one if you are not careful.

Firstly, make sure you are holding the tool properly. If you are holding the tool by the head or in the middle, you are putting more torque through the bolt than you are intending. You should hold the torque wrench by the grip.

Make sure you take care of your torque wrench and whenever you’re not using it, reset it to zero or its minimum setting.

If you leave it set at a torque, the spring will lose its tension over time and the torque won’t be calibrated accurately. If you suspect your torque wrench has lost its calibration, most quality manufacturers offer a service where you can send it back to them and, often for a fee, they will recalibrate it for you.

If this is important to you, it’s another reason why you may want to spend the money on a better-quality option, to be backed up by an after-care option.

If you are tightening bolts where there are two or more in the same location, such as on the stem, make sure you tighten each bolt evenly rather than fully torque one and then the other.

This will ensure even tension in the system. If there are four, you will want to tighten the bolts in an X pattern for the same reason.

Be sure to use a torque wrench whenever there is carbon involved.
@mattgrayson_photo

It’s also important that you prepare the relevant component you’re fitting. It’s always worth adding a lower-strength threadlock or an anti-seize to prevent a bolt from loosening over time, but it also allows you to tighten the bolt up to a lower torque. You should always have suitable threadlock or anti-seize on any bolts – never have them dry.

Similarly, if you’re fitting a carbon fibre part such as a seatpost or handlebar, it’s always worth adding some carbon fibre grip. This contains small particles to create friction and reduce any slippage.

Finally, it’s important to have mechanical sympathy. If you’re tightening or torquing a bolt and it doesn’t feel right, stop and assess the situation before going past the point of no return.

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