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  1. #1
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    Torque wrenches?

    I've never used one before but I think it's time to buy one, or two. Does anyone have any recommendations for 1-2 torque wrenches(preferably click type) that handles everything on a bicycle? I'm guessing 1/4" and 1/2" for around $50-100 each if possible?

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    Please do a search on this forum. This question comes up about every two weeks and seems to produce way more than it's share of controversy.

    My take: Two beam-type wrenches, a 1/4"-square drive for small fasteners and a 1/2"-square drive for big ones.

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    I like getting that kind of stuff from Amazon. You don't have to spend too much. Make sure you cover not only a range of drive sizes but also a range of torques from 3 or 4 Nm to at least 50 Nm for bicycles.
    Robert

    "Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then." (Bob Seger, "Against the Wind")

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    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    You don't want a click-type. They need to be calibrated periodically. Beam types don't and they're ideal for bike work.

    Click-types are ideal for jobs where you get into positions where you can't see a scale, like working on cars. Not so with bicycles.
    Last edited by Grand Bois; 02-05-14 at 04:20 PM.

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    Cottered Crank Amesja's Avatar
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    Go with Harbor Freight. Buy one each of the 1/4" the 3/8" and the 1/2" as you will need all 3 to wrench on all the fasteners found on the typical bicycle. Just any two will leave a gap in the torque tables. They are only around $20 each. They aren't the best, but are accurate enough if you don't drop them and return them to their lowest value after every use. I'd advise against a beam-type as they are a pain to read when reaching around a bike in the stand. Clickers are accurate enough and so much more convenient.
    '74 Raleigh Carlton Competition w/ Ultegra | '97 Trek 720 Singletrack CX-er w/ 105 | '64 Raleigh LTD-3 modernized w/ all alloy components |'69 Raleigh Twenty | '54 Raleigh Sports

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    Thanks guys. The Pittsburgh Professional ones are good and stay calibrated as long as pricier ones? That's one thing that scared me looking at the cheaper priced torque wrenches

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    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    Yes it's always a good idea to buy the cheapest tools you can find.

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    So they are highly inaccurate and break quicker?(or come broken)

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    You simply don't have to overpay for decent torque wrenches. There are plenty out there that will do the job for years to come for an amateur enthusiast. This is repair and building of bicycles, not the space shuttle.
    Robert

    "Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then." (Bob Seger, "Against the Wind")

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    Cottered Crank Amesja's Avatar
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    So easy to check calibration on a torque wrench.

    Many come with calibration hooks, some don't but you can still do it without them using string and some weights.

    Torque wrench calibration/check

    As long as you take care of even a cheap torque wrench and never drop it or leave it stored at any value but the minimum on the scale it will last forever. If you haven't used a clicker in a while run it up and down the scale a couple of times.
    '74 Raleigh Carlton Competition w/ Ultegra | '97 Trek 720 Singletrack CX-er w/ 105 | '64 Raleigh LTD-3 modernized w/ all alloy components |'69 Raleigh Twenty | '54 Raleigh Sports

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    Alright, do those Pittsburgh Professional wrenches go low and high enough for every part of a bike? the 3/8" goes to 5 ft lbs so that should be low enough?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amesja View Post
    Go with Harbor Freight.... They are only around $20 each.
    Catch 'em on sale for ten bucks each.
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  13. #13
    Cottered Crank Amesja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dosu View Post
    Alright, do those Pittsburgh Professional wrenches go low and high enough for every part of a bike? the 3/8" goes to 5 ft lbs so that should be low enough?
    No, 5 ft-lbs is 60 in-lbs and there are many fasteners on a bike that have torque values much less than that. Look at Park Tool's torque table pdf and you'll see what I mean. It's these low-torque fasteners that most people tend to over-torque in the first place, not to mention that a clicker-type torque wrench is much less accurate at the bottom portion of the scale than at the top. You really shouldn't use the bottom 1/4th of it.

    You can probably get away with just the 1/4" and the 3/8" but there are a few things that the 3/8" just isn't high enough to do properly.

    Most people, even more experienced mechanics, tend to over-torque small fasteners and under-torque larger ones when not using a torque wrench. It's surprising how LITTLE torque is supposed to be used on small fasteners like M4 and M5.

    Even that 1/4" HF torque wrench doesn't go down low enough for some carbon-fiber torque values like on stems and seat-posts. It's like "screw in a light bulb" torque without it breaking and the 1/4" doesn't go down that low.
    '74 Raleigh Carlton Competition w/ Ultegra | '97 Trek 720 Singletrack CX-er w/ 105 | '64 Raleigh LTD-3 modernized w/ all alloy components |'69 Raleigh Twenty | '54 Raleigh Sports

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amesja View Post
    No, 5 ft-lbs is 60 in-lbs and there are many fasteners on a bike that have torque values much less than that. Look at Park Tool's torque table pdf and you'll see what I mean. It's these low-torque fasteners that most people tend to over-torque in the first place, not to mention that a clicker-type torque wrench is much less accurate at the bottom portion of the scale than at the top. You really shouldn't use the bottom 1/4th of it.

    You can probably get away with just the 1/4" and the 3/8" but there are a few things that the 3/8" just isn't high enough to do properly.

    Most people, even more experienced mechanics, tend to over-torque small fasteners and under-torque larger ones when not using a torque wrench. It's surprising how LITTLE torque is supposed to be used on small fasteners like M4 and M5.

    Even that 1/4" HF torque wrench doesn't go down low enough for some carbon-fiber torque values like on stems and seat-posts. It's like "screw in a light bulb" torque without it breaking and the 1/4" doesn't go down that low.
    Oh sorry the 1/4" at the lowest is 20 in lbs so that's 2.3nm, so the 1/4" should be good and I should find a 3/8" with a higher top range? What would be around the max I would need for a bike?
    Last edited by Dosu; 02-05-14 at 08:40 PM.

  15. #15
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    Why not start with a Ritchie torque key? Or a similar one by another maker.

    To me, the smaller stuff is the most critical, and a torque key with interchangeable bits will do most of the critical stuff like stem & bar attachments, brakes, etc.

    The bigger stuff (crank bolts, pedals, etc) can usually tolerate a fair amount of error.

    My $0.02

  16. #16
    Senior Member JerrySTL's Avatar
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    Even a torque wrench that is 20% out of calibration is better than your arm alone.

    I have a 3/8" and 1/2" beam type that I've used for decades.

    I also have a 1/4" click torque wrench from Harbor Freight. It does a find job on bike parts. Just don't drop it or use it as a hammer. Also store torque wrenches at their lowest setting.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    A single value click torque T handle tool is made for a lot of the 5x.8mm bolts threaded into aluminum,
    brake discs , etc.
    by specialty bicycle tool making companies ..

  18. #18
    Cottered Crank Amesja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dosu View Post
    Oh sorry the 1/4" at the lowest is 20 in lbs so that's 2.3nm, so the 1/4" should be good and I should find a 3/8" with a higher top range? What would be around the max I would need for a bike?
    I use my 1/4" for most of the small fasteners but I still find myself using the 3/8" quite a bit -especially for things like the Freehub mounting bolt to the hub (after I flush it with new lube) and the cassette mounting bolt after putting the rear wheel back together after Freehub and bearing service. BB cups, and pedal spindles are another thing that the 1/4" doesn't quite go high enough for off the top of my head. I feel all of these are important to get the right torque on and all of this stuff is on my yearly overhaul list.

    YMMV.
    '74 Raleigh Carlton Competition w/ Ultegra | '97 Trek 720 Singletrack CX-er w/ 105 | '64 Raleigh LTD-3 modernized w/ all alloy components |'69 Raleigh Twenty | '54 Raleigh Sports

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amesja View Post
    I use my 1/4" for most of the small fasteners but I still find myself using the 3/8" quite a bit -especially for things like the Freehub mounting bolt to the hub (after I flush it with new lube) and the cassette mounting bolt after putting the rear wheel back together after Freehub and bearing service. BB cups, and pedal spindles are another thing that the 1/4" doesn't quite go high enough for off the top of my head. I feel all of these are important to get the right torque on and all of this stuff is on my yearly overhaul list.

    YMMV.
    Thanks, I think I'm going to get that 1/4" and a 3/8" on that's between 120 to 960 in lb, should do the trick

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by JerrySTL View Post
    I have a 3/8" and 1/2" beam type that I've used for decades.

    I also have a 1/4" click torque wrench from Harbor Freight. It does a find job on bike parts. Just don't drop it or use it as a hammer. Also store torque wrenches at their lowest setting.
    Pardon my ignorance but Jerry and others have recommended 1/2 wrenches of bicycle work. WHAT are you using 1/2 inch wrenches and sockets on??? I only use mine on the mowers and the tractors. 1/2"???

    And given the cost of stripping threads out of components that cannot be repaired and are $$$ to replace I would not have a cheap clicker on the property. Maybe I'm a snob but cheap tools are a waste of money. I don't need top end for everything but SK, GearWrench and Craftsman torque wrenches are money well spent. And, if well taken care of, they do not go out of calibration so that's a non issue.

    Oh, and remember that the bottom 10% and top 10% of any clicker are not going to be accurate. You really cannot use the first 10 or 15 ft-lbs of a 10 to 100 wrench. Buy an inch-lbs wrench to cover that lower end. Set the wrench and test it clamped gently in the vice EVERY TIME you use it so you're reminded of the feel/sound. Clickers are just fine for bike work. Ex: when I torque a BB cup I need to focus on keeping the wrench firmly on the cup, everything held in control and slowly approaching the spec. I don't want to also have to lean over to read a beam scale. Just my choice.

    Opinionated old fart aint I?

  21. #21
    Cottered Crank Amesja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dosu View Post
    Thanks, I think I'm going to get that 1/4" and a 3/8" on that's between 120 to 960 in lb, should do the trick
    Don't buy the Tekton 3/8" torque wrench. It's the bottom-end in torque wrenches as it has some real faults. The scale is really messed up. It used to be marked in ft-lbs then they took the scale and just converted it to in-lbs. But that means you need to memorize your 12 times table because every notch on the handle is +12 inch-lbs. It's a pain in the butt to use and set.

    It also doesn't go backwards. So you can't use it for pedals or for an English Bottom bracket. A cartridge BB or an external drive-side cup is one of the main things I use my 3/8" torque wrenches for. So I retired my Tekton and replaced it with the Harbor Freight. It's way better IMHO.

    As for the 1/2" I think I was wrong about needing it for bicycle use. I use mine all the time on my motorcycle and on my cars/trucks. I use it a lot at work too but I'm building electrical switch gear and some of the bus connections need crazy torque in the bigger substations and gear.
    '74 Raleigh Carlton Competition w/ Ultegra | '97 Trek 720 Singletrack CX-er w/ 105 | '64 Raleigh LTD-3 modernized w/ all alloy components |'69 Raleigh Twenty | '54 Raleigh Sports

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    Mechanical gauges of this type are usually non-linear near the extreme ends. A gauge that reads 0-60 inch-lbs, I'd only use between 10-50, preferably 20-40. Don't expect to buy a 0-60 and a 60-120 and think you've got it all covered. Overlap is the key. Plus, you gotta calibrate them yourself. That way for every division or major division on your scale you can have a cheat sheet that tells you the real value. Yeah, I like beam types.
    A ride on a bike is not a walk in the park

  23. #23
    Senior Member JerrySTL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prowler View Post
    Pardon my ignorance but Jerry and others have recommended 1/2 wrenches of bicycle work. WHAT are you using 1/2 inch wrenches and sockets on??? I only use mine on the mowers and the tractors. 1/2"???

    And given the cost of stripping threads out of components that cannot be repaired and are $$$ to replace I would not have a cheap clicker on the property. Maybe I'm a snob but cheap tools are a waste of money. I don't need top end for everything but SK, GearWrench and Craftsman torque wrenches are money well spent. And, if well taken care of, they do not go out of calibration so that's a non issue.

    Oh, and remember that the bottom 10% and top 10% of any clicker are not going to be accurate. You really cannot use the first 10 or 15 ft-lbs of a 10 to 100 wrench. Buy an inch-lbs wrench to cover that lower end. Set the wrench and test it clamped gently in the vice EVERY TIME you use it so you're reminded of the feel/sound. Clickers are just fine for bike work. Ex: when I torque a BB cup I need to focus on keeping the wrench firmly on the cup, everything held in control and slowly approaching the spec. I don't want to also have to lean over to read a beam scale. Just my choice.

    Opinionated old fart aint I?
    I didn't say that I used the 1/2" drive torque wrench on a bicycle. I said that I have one mostly for automotive work. I had one car where the axle nut called for 200 ft lbs and even the 1/2" drive wasn't big enough for that!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amesja View Post
    Don't buy the Tekton 3/8" torque wrench. It's the bottom-end in torque wrenches as it has some real faults. The scale is really messed up. It used to be marked in ft-lbs then they took the scale and just converted it to in-lbs. But that means you need to memorize your 12 times table because every notch on the handle is +12 inch-lbs. It's a pain in the butt to use and set.

    It also doesn't go backwards. So you can't use it for pedals or for an English Bottom bracket. A cartridge BB or an external drive-side cup is one of the main things I use my 3/8" torque wrenches for. So I retired my Tekton and replaced it with the Harbor Freight. It's way better IMHO.

    As for the 1/2" I think I was wrong about needing it for bicycle use. I use mine all the time on my motorcycle and on my cars/trucks. I use it a lot at work too but I'm building electrical switch gear and some of the bus connections need crazy torque in the bigger substations and gear.
    The Tekton 3/8" was actually the one I was looking at, I guess I'll go with the 1/4" and 3/8" Harbor Freight unless you know of a similar 3/8" that has a higher top end for around the same price?

  25. #25
    Cottered Crank Amesja's Avatar
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    If you lived in Chicago you could have mine. I was going to give it to a friend of mine but after I showed her all the mental gymnastics you had to do to set the darn thing she told me she didn't want it any more. It's only been used a few times, and I wrote a big conversion table inside the case with sharpie (1 = +12, 2 = +24, 3 = +36, 4 = +48, 5 = +60 etc ) and it is even in the original cardboard packaging that the inner plastic protection box shipped in. But the thing isn't even worth the shipping sending it through the mails.
    '74 Raleigh Carlton Competition w/ Ultegra | '97 Trek 720 Singletrack CX-er w/ 105 | '64 Raleigh LTD-3 modernized w/ all alloy components |'69 Raleigh Twenty | '54 Raleigh Sports

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