Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: DC / Maryland suburbs
Bikes: Homebuilt tourer/commuter, modified-beyond-recognition 1990 Trek 1100, reasonably stock 2002-ish Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo
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I would say that for a "typical" pinch-bolt stem, I put about 20 ft-lbs of torque on the handlebar clamp. It's less for a two-bolt pop-top stem, maybe 10-15 ft-lbs.
For the steerer clamp bolts on a threadless stem, I would do about 20 ft-lbs of torque. For the wedge bolt on a quill stem, I'd do about 15 ft-lbs of torque.
Obviously, do a sanity check after torquing the bolts. Is anything loose? If so, go a little tighter. With aluminum stem and handlebars, you don't have to worry too much about excessive torque. I don't think most experienced mechanics use a torque wrench or consult tables of torque data unless they're working with fragile carbon fiber parts and such. The size of the Allen wrench used to tighten a part gives a pretty good idea of how tight it should be: a derailer usually needs a 4 mm wrench, while a square-taper crank bolt usually needs an 8 mm wrench