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  1. #1
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    Why do shops buy crappy Park torque wrenches?

    Okay, I've just got to ask this one. Why do so many shops have absolutely crappy Park torque wrenches, both the cheap beam type and the micrometer 'click' type?

    In any other hobby, be it motorcycles, aviation, etc. the guys owning the equipment are very knowledgeable about how critical torque specs are on soft alloy components, and people consider a quality torque wrench absolutely critical to working on their own stuff.

    Now with a shop, a professional repair facility, how does it make sense to have low quality torque wrenches? I don't care which Park torque wrench they might have, or even a Pedros, but why even bother going with such low end tools?

    A quality Torque wrench is a precision tool. The funny thing is that the original patented torque wrenches of around 1938, Dial type, are probably all more accurate than anything hanging in just about any bike shop in the country in 2009.

    The funny thing is that you can pick up a Snap-On dial type torque wrench, which is actually made by Precision Instruments, off eBay for less than you can buy one of these inaccurate crappy Park or Pedros wrenches. Only about $150 you can get a 0-600 in/lb or 0-150 in/lb dial type Precision Instruments torque wrench from Sears.com. These are the people that invented the torque wrench and held the original patent, they've made every torque wrench for Snap-On 'till the nineties, and they are one of the vendors for Snap-On, Cromwell, MAC, MATCO, to this day. Essentially they are the standard. There are good wrenches from Proto, S&K, and others, but Precision Instruments is the real deal. 2% accuracy. Try that with a Pedros or a Park.

    The Precision Instruments split beam torque wrenches are considered the 'best' for those that want a CLICK style wrench by guys work on their own Porsches, Ferraris, and high end motorcycles. Unlike a micrometer torque wrench, it won't go out of calibration if you don't immediately return it to its lowest setting after every use (a complete pain), and yes this means that almost every Park micrometer torque wrench in the land is completely out of calibration because the wrenches using 'em haven't a clue about how to use or handle a torque wrench properly.

    Which begs the question, why is it that guys that own a Porshe that's only worth a couple thousand dollars know enough to use good tools, and they wouldn't dream of going to a shop that had crappy precision tools, but guys that have high zoot bicycles think if it says Park its good?

    Why is that?

    You don't need a bicycle specific torque wrench, you need a torque wrench that actually works and is accurate. That ain't Pedros or Park, so why does the cycling crowd pay good money for these low end inaccurate torque wrenches?

    Last question (for those working in shop), since you'll need to use the torque wrench everyday. How often does your shop have the Park or Pedros torque wrench calibrated? My guess is never...

    Because if they did, they'd have the paperwork that would prompt them to buy a torque wrench that wasn't a Park or a Pedros.

    They say in the other hobbies when you need a precision tool get a Precision Tool, but why in cycling do you never see the Snap-On, Mac, Proto, S&K, CDI, and the Precision Tool torque wrenches but the cheap Park and Pedros crap?

    I don't know why I get so frustrated with how incompetent most local bike shops are, but it just gets me going.

    Something to think about the next time you pay the ridiculous shop rates at your LBS, which by the way are typically higher than what you'd pay a Porsche, Ducatti, or Volvo mechanic. Someone who actually has certified technical training, not someone who just 'learned in the shop'.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by mtnbke; 11-17-09 at 05:42 PM.

  2. #2
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    I would like to buy one of your wrenches, sir!

  3. #3
    Radac!
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    i work on aircraft....and tq wrenches are barely used.
    when we do, it sa snapon though

  4. #4
    Call me The Breeze I_bRAD's Avatar
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    My shop rates are WAY lower than a porsche shop rate.

    PS- you make a porsche 944 turbo look low maintenance.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by yokotas13 View Post
    i work on aircraft....and tq wrenches are barely used.
    when we do, it sa snapon though
    That's about the most ridiculous thing I've read in the Bike Forums. On aircraft EVERYTHING has to be torqued to spec. There are regulations regarding how oftern torque wrenches used on aircraft HAVE to be calibrated, what happens if a wrench is dropped etc...

    You can always pick up a great $200~450 torque wrench from the aviation liquidators after each tool has exceeded its end of calibration cycle. The tools are completely repairable and a good calibration facility will demonstrate that they are still in spec.

    In the military they won't even allow a torque wrench to touch a plane until the brand new wrench has been checked and calibrated even new from the factory. In many high volume aviation companies technicians have to check their torque tools against a bench tester multiple times EVERY day. That you're representing that you wrench on aviation equipment and don't spend half your day with a high quality torque wrench in hand is absurd.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by I_bRAD View Post
    My shop rates are WAY lower than a porsche shop rate.

    PS- you make a porsche 944 turbo look low maintenance.
    A 944 is a Porsche the way a Windor is a Cinellli.

  7. #7
    Radac!
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbke View Post
    That's about the most ridiculous thing I've read in the Bike Forums. On aircraft EVERYTHING has to be torqued to spec. There are regulations regarding how oftern torque wrenches used on aircraft HAVE to be calibrated, what happens if a wrench is dropped etc...

    You can always pick up a great $200~450 torque wrench from the aviation liquidators after each tool has exceeded its end of calibration cycle. The tools are completely repairable and a good calibration facility will demonstrate that they are still in spec.

    In the military they won't even allow a torque wrench to touch a plane until the brand new wrench has been checked and calibrated even new from the factory. In many high volume aviation companies technicians have to check their torque tools against a bench tester multiple times EVERY day. That you're representing that you wrench on aviation equipment and don't spend half your day with a high quality torque wrench in hand is absurd.
    we can drop a tq wrench from 9 feet and not need to calibrate it....
    that being said
    cheap tq wrenches are fine if you know the calibration
    if you have somethign to gauge it off of, then whatever if it works it works

    tq wrenches arent used as much as you think it is.....

  8. #8
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    Torque specs on bicycles are not that critical. Although I own a torque wrench (for automotive use) I don't bother using it on my bikes. I like to torque things down by feel.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbke View Post
    ... the ridiculous shop rates at your LBS, which by the way are typically higher than what you'd pay a Porsche, Ducatti, or Volvo mechanic.

    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbke View Post
    That's about the most ridiculous thing I've read in the Bike Forums.
    Granted I've never brought my Porsche in for repair, but I don't know of any auto mechanics who will pick up thier tools for the price a competant bike mechanic charges for a tune up.

  10. #10
    Senior Member exRunner's Avatar
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    I have been waiting on a rant like this.

    I work for a company that provides equipment to the Nuclear Power Industry, both civilian and military. My company lives and dies by .0001" measurements and torque values. The technicians that use those torque wrenches under go hours of training and testing. We don't have a torque wrench that cost less than $500, and they are calibrated every 3 months or anytime we suspect them to be in accurate. Adjustable "snap" wrenches are not allowed, only balance beam, dial, and internally fixed snap (and then only in special case with special training.)

    I work on my own bike, and I don't use a torque wrench. It just isn't necessary if you know what you are doing. Using a cheap uncalibrated torque wrench blindly is far more risky.

    And to the OP - A Craftsman torque wrench can not even be calibrated in our system, because it does not have guaranteed repeatability.

  11. #11
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    I sold tools, good torque wrenchs, really good ones cost closer to two hundred than to one hundred, we know that. Cheap ones I sold for fifty bucks, clickers. Beam type were preferred by the most discerning even when the clickers or dial types had been out for awhile.
    In one of those very same stores, we rented half the small building to a bike shop.
    I never would've even mentioned utill this post that the mechanics at the shop hated Park tools. I think that they're OK so it's not me talking but the bike mechanics.
    Campy tools were easier on their hands, didn't burr nearly as easily and unlike the Park, weren't "disposable". Park has a virtual monopoly. They ARE a "generous" Co. & I respect them.
    Pertaining to Porche, one of my specialties, made a "significant" part of my livelyhood in those cars for 25 years. Though the 924 was an "Audi", right down to the engine; 944s were NO joke. An entirely different automobile. The Turbos were awesome, just don't miss a gear.
    Bike mechanics are under appreciated and with all due respect, are under-paid.
    Then again, that just MIGHT be said for auto mechanics (except dealer ones).

  12. #12
    META Severian's Avatar
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    wow.... *hangs his head*

    god I hope you don't come into my shop....

    More to the point. Would you like to be charged $50 to have me install a stem onto your bicycle? Because I will if that's what it'll take for my shop to be able to afford to buy one of those $500 torque wrenches. Otherwise, a stem install is $12, unless I have to put new cables onto your controls.

    So... you pick; $12 and I use a Park Torque Wrench, or $50 and I use a snap-on?

  13. #13
    META Severian's Avatar
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    On postview... your statements about bicycle mechanics and local bike shops is insulting. flagged, particularly since you're in MY town.

  14. #14
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    I can't see the catastrophic failure of a bicycle part causing serious injury or death like a car, bus, airplane, or nuclear device.

    Bike shops charge a labor rate of $50-$70, with a minimum of $10-$15. Most automotive dealer shops are $100-$125.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  15. #15
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    To be blunt, bike components are not engineered like an aircraft or automotive component. Using stems as an example, who here believes that a Chinese stem maker is doing stringent engineering and validation of the clamping force per unit area their stem generates on the top ten most common handlebars and steer tubes on the market, of varying materials and compressibilities, and coming up with torque values based off that? Anyone?

    The companies that do have something like a believable engineering department still don't always get it right. Campy UT cranks that loosen at the Hirth joint when torqued to their spec, for example. Of course, you're not supposed to expose them to sunlight either, according to the instruction sheet... Or Shimano left crankarms with a pinch-bolt torque spec range of 12-15nM... wow, a 20% range, we'd better make sure we get THAT one dead-on I could go on... stuff that either loosens or may break when torqued to the "right" value.

    In sum, if you have a well-engineered car, motorcycle, nuclear reactor, or aircraft, then you have a good reason to believe that the "official" torque specs have some engineering behind them, and to follow them carefully. With bikes, I haven't seen that in my ~20 years as a mechanic. So I don't think it's a huge crime to use lower-end torque wrenches in our environment. I have one Snap-On split-beam and one Craftsman myself, but sometimes my own judgement has to be the final authority.

    Bike mechanics are under appreciated and with all due respect, are under-paid.
    Preach it, brother! They work us to the bone in the on-season, then kick us to the curb... I should just go work as a janitor or something.

  16. #16
    META Severian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan View Post
    I can't see the catastrophic failure of a bicycle part causing serious injury or death like a car, bus, airplane, or nuclear device.
    To be clear, it can and has. But, most shops cannot afford the nice 200 dollar syntace torque wrenches, or the $500 snap ons. We are not all "Exclusive Cycles", which is what it sounds like the OP likes to shop at.

  17. #17
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan View Post
    I can't see the catastrophic failure of a bicycle part causing serious injury or death like a car, bus, airplane, or nuclear device.
    +1

    The only catastrophic failure I can think of occurring on a bicycle is a snapped front end which has nothing to do with torquing.
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  18. #18
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    I've got a Norbar torque wrench (branded as Syntace). Nothing on a bike is super critical on torque that we need a $500 torque wrench.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by I_bRAD View Post
    PS- you make a porsche 944 turbo look low maintenance.
    Nice.

    Quote Originally Posted by old and new
    The Turbos were awesome, just don't miss a gear.
    Huh?

  20. #20
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    They are freakin' bicycles, not F-16s.
    Where do you find "couple of thousand dollar Porches?"
    We don't need no stinkin' torque wrenches!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
    Nice.



    Huh?
    you know, reving it to six, missing a gear by inadvertantly down-shifting........ guess you don't drive high perf. cars Huh ?

  22. #22
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    That use to be a problem on the older BMW M3, shift pattern was too tight.

  23. #23
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    Oh btw, the only thing that I use a torque wrench for is to put the square tapper cranks on the bottom bracket, otherwise I tend to put them on too loose and it rubs on the front derailluer.

  24. #24
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    Probably because employees abuse them so badly. Why let them ruin good ones? bk

  25. #25
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbke View Post
    Thoughts?
    A bike shop guy took your lunch money and now you're on the internet trying to get even?

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