The required torque on the nut/bolt that attaches the crankarm is about 27-33 lb*ft. The only way to achieve this amount of torque is with an automotive-style ratchet wrench with 12" handle. Park Tool makes a stupid 6" wrench with 14/15mm sockets to use for crankarm bolts. There's simply no way to achieve the required amount of torque with that wrench.
The distance you want to inspect is the distance between the back of the crankarm where the pedal attaches and the chainstay. Inspect one side, then spin the cranks 180-degrees and inspect the other side. They should be pretty close to identical although slight variation of up to about 1/8" between the two sides should be fine.
Even if you're shipped a bike completely assembled, it would be good practice to disassemble it, grease all the bearings and re-assemble paying attention to all the fasterner's torque values. The following are serious safety areas that should not be ignored (can really turn into life-or-death scenario) :
- brake-lever clamps
- handlebar clamps at the stem
- stem clamp at the fork
- crankarm bolts
- wheel-nuts or QR skewers (flip the lever, not spin it)
- brake-cable fixing-bolt (too loose and the cable slips, too tight and the cable snaps)
- spoke-tension on wheels
Here's a list of torque-values for the various fasteners on a bike: Park Tool - recommended torque
Also do a search on here for "loose crankarm".
Last edited by DannoXYZ; 04-08-11 at 06:23 PM.