A torque wrench should be an essential tool for any new home mechanic or keen cyclist. The fact that many people seem not to want to buy one when working on bikes that cost many thousands makes little sense.
A torque wrench will make sure that you have all your bolts tightened to the correct specification and stop you from damaging your bike.
Once you’ve used a good torque wrench, you’ll never want to be parted from one again.
To help you make sure that you pick the best torque wrench for you. We have compiled a review feature of the best torque wrenches for bikes available in 2019.
What is a torque wrench?
To put it simply a torque wrench is a tool that allows you to tighten a bolt to a precise measurement. You may have seen markings on your stem or seat clamp that say “5Nm”. 5Nm is 5-Newton meters.
A Newton meter is equal to the torque resulting from a force of one Newton applied perpendicularly to the end of a moment arm that is one meter long.
If a bolt says 5Nm, you want to tighten it to exactly that torque. If you tighten it more, you risk stripping out the bolt or causing the part you’re tightening to fail. Tightening the bolt below that will cause the bolt to allow the part to come loose.
Now a torque wrench won’t be cheap, and you may feel that you won’t overtighten or under tighten parts. The simple fact is that it is really easy to go one way or the other and bike shops everywhere have tales of people ruining expensive bikes with making that error.
Get a torque wrench, and you’ll never need to go through that agony.
The Topeak D-Torq is a digital torque wrench. It has an easy to read digital readout above its handle. You can use the D-Torq to set for ranges between 1Nm and 20Nm.
It also allows you to set increments of 0.01Nm, to be honest, you’ll pretty much never need to set the torque wrench in this fashion, but it is something you can bore/amaze your friends with.
Being a digital torque wrench, you’ll find the D-Torq to be a very accurate torque wrench. It is also very easy to set the torque setting you are after, simply press the up or down arrows. The wrench will then emit a beep when you reach the correct torque when you’re tightening a bolt.
You can also use the D-Torq for other torque settings. It will allow you to also set for kg/cm, inch/lbs or ft/lbs readings, all it takes is a few clicks of a button to find the torque measurement system you need.
There is a negative, and that is that the D-Torq will allow you to tighten all the delicate parts of your bike, but it won’t reach the high torque settings for bottom brackets or pedals. There is a more expensive sibling to the D-Torq, and that is the Topeak D-Torq DX, and it will meet those high torque settings.
At the opposite end of the torque wrench spectrum from the Topeak sits the Ritchey Torque Mini Tool Key Set. The Ritchey is a small handheld multi-tool that comes with 2 torque settings preset.
Those are 4Nm and 5Nm. The Ritchey then won’t cover all bolts, but it will cover the majority of bolts for most manufacturers.
For the 4Nm tool, you get a 3mm and 4mm hex key and a T20 Torx key. The 5Nm tool will work with a 3mm, 4mm, and 5mm hex key and a T20 Torx key. The tools do use a ¼in tool bit so it should be possible to adapt the Ritchey to use other bits.
One thing to know about the Ritchey is that greasy hands make it a bit of a fiddly tool to use. Make sure you use gloves and then take them off for using the Ritchey, and you’ll be fine.
The Ritchey is also a great tool for throwing in a flight case with your bike, allowing you to quickly to set your bike up at the correct torque when you arrive at your destination.
The Park Tool ATD-1.2 is a very similar tool to the Ritchey. They are both highly portable. The Park Tool can get up to 6Nm though. It gets from 4Nm to 6Nm in 0.5Nm increments.
To change the torque setting, you will need to use a hex key to loosen the dial, turn it, and then tighten it again with a hex key.
It comes equipped with 3, 4, and 5mm hex keys and a T25 Torx key. The bits live in a little holder that when you’re finished with it nicely fits back in the tool’s handle.
Hopefully, this will stop you from losing the bits when you’re not using the tool, but it can be a little fiddly to use, particularly when you’re in the middle of a job.
The Effetto Mariposa Giustaforza II Pro is a great looking torque wrench and comes in a very pro looking tool wrap. These qualities don’t tell us anything about how well the torque wrench works.
The Giustaforza II Pro is designed to be a premium tool, and its looks certainly seem to belong to a premium tool.
The Giustaforza has a simple way to set the torque setting that you’re going for. At the bottom of the tool, you’ll see a little knurled area. You twist this are to increase or decrease the torque setting.
As you twist, you’ll see a white line climb or lower on a scale showing the available torque range of 2 to 16Nm. When you hit the desired torque, the unit gives out a loud click. We’ve found this click to be more pronounced than many other torque wrenches. You’ll find it hard to get over your desired setting.
The Effetto Mariposa Giustaforza II Pro is a tool that we can see lasting the test of time. By being a hard-wearing tool, you’ll find that over the years of ownership the cost of owning it will be less than you’re imagining.
Our second Topeak is very different from the first. The Topeak ComboTorq Wrench and Bit set is very much an analog unit.
The ComboTorq features hex bits from 3 to 8mm and a T25 Torx bit. These should cover you for most bolts on your bike, and the unit will let you set torque from 3 to 16Nm.
The ComboTorq has a simple design which lets you see where you are as you tighten bolts. The needle will climb as you tighten a bolt and you stop when you reach the correct setting.
We like this simple idea, but for some reason, this torque wrench always leaves us wanting more.
It feels fragile, and if you test it twice on the same bolt, you might get different answers, so that leaves us questioning its reliability. It is also a hard tool to store as it has a very unusual shape and we’re always worried about breaking it.
The Feedback Sports The Range torque wrench is another good looking torque wrench, it must be something about the color red.
The Range comes with pretty much every hex size you could need and a great range of Torx keys. It all comes in a nicely labeled case with foam cutouts for each part.
The Range comes with an easy to read round dial to let you pick the correct torque for your bolt. The Range will work between 2Nm and 10Nm.
With all the parts that are included, you are covered for pretty much any job you may have to complete on a bike.
The best torque wrench in our review has to be the Effetto Mariposa Giustaforza II Pro. It is a tool that works simply and can take a lot of abuse. It is also a great red color that makes it hard to lose in your workshop or garage. Over time we have also found the Effetto Mariposa to stay the closest to accurate measurements.
The best portable torque wrench would have to be the Ritchey Torque Mini Tool Key Set. We’ve found it to be as reliable as the Park Tool wrench, but at around half the price we feel it offers you more value for money.
I’ve spent way more time in the bike trade than anyone should reasonably want to. In that time I’ve wanted to make cycling jargon and marketing easier to cut through to help people get the bike of their dreams.
When I’m not writing about bikes, I can be seen out bikepacking on single speed bikes or teaching kids how to ride.