Do I need a Torque Wrench...?[1]

Discussion in 'Bicycle Mechanics and Repairs' started by John the Monkey, 7 Apr 2008.

  1. John the Monkey

    John the Monkey Frivolous Cyclist

    I've done a little fettling on the new bike recently, tightening up the headset (threadless) to eliminate a clunk from it being loose.

    The process was all fairly straightforward, although I'm experiencing some paranoia now having seen the dire warnings in the manual concerning not tightening the pinch bolts on the stem with (to?) the correct torque.

    I'm considering adjusting the height of the handlebars soon, and wondered whether I should really be using a torque wrench for this type of thing, now I have a proper bike.

    The steed in question is a Giant SCR2, carbon fork, aluminium steerer - presumably the steerer isn't going to crumple like so much bacofoil under the pressure of me + 4mm allen key...?

    [1] NB: Need - I think I *want* one, but the two are, I'm told, different :tongue:
  2. Stwutter

    Stwutter New Member

    A torque-wrench can be useful, especially if you're not used to adjusting stuff. It gives you an idea. You'll be surprised how loose (relatively) you need certain bolts - the tendancy is always to over-tighten - I can't count the amount of stuff I threaded when I first started.

    Having said that, once you've been over the main bits once or twice, I doubt the wrench will come out much - you'll just get used to how tight stuff reallt needs to be. Always a handy tool to have tho'.
  3. alecstilleyedye

    alecstilleyedye nothing in moderation Moderator

    if you're making a warranty claim, always tell shimano/campag or whoever that you used a torque wrench, and find out the setting beforehand.
  4. Mortiroloboy

    Mortiroloboy New Member

    That'll be the little numbers on the component followed by the letters Nm then! :rolleyes:
  5. alecstilleyedye

    alecstilleyedye nothing in moderation Moderator

    ah, yes. i used the settings on the instructions that came with the groupset so i didn't see those. good spot.
  6. OP
    John the Monkey

    John the Monkey Frivolous Cyclist

    Thanks for the advice all - not sure I want to be making a warranty claim for a steerer, as I understand failure of this part usually results in expensive dentistry being required too ;)
  7. yello

    yello Guru

    You don't need need one. It is entirely possible to fettle without one if you go carefully and develop a keen feel for how tight something needs be. And, as someone has said, some components have very small pressures required and it's oh so easy to strip threads. I've managed without one so far but I do keep my eyes open for a good deal on one.

    So torque wrenches are darn useful - especially if the bike has carbon bits. I would say though that if you're going to get one, get a decent one and have it checked/calibrated periodically (race teams will do this every month or so!! I guess a bike shop may do it annually, a home fettler maybe every few years). Personally, I don't like the beam type (they have the long metal pointer thing, Park Tools do one for around £35) as I have read that they are not very accurate; a couple of Nm out could be critical at 5Nm max! I personally would get the click type , but a good one (e.g. a Norbar SL0) is not cheap and you can easily spend £80... and I don't do that much tinkering!!
  8. RoadieWannabe

    RoadieWannabe New Member

    I think you should use a torque wrench when it comes to replacing big things like the bottom bracket or cranks. I just bought a Ice Tools one from Only goes as low as 14 Nm. It will get used once every 2 years buts its nice to have.

    Someone I know got one but set the wrong torque (out by a factor of 10) -broke the bolt.
  9. Steve Austin

    Steve Austin The Marmalade Kid

    Been fettling for 30 years and never used one. built many bikes, fitted loads of cranksets, bars, seatposts etc Never sheared a bolt, never crushed anything, never had any fatal breakages and never used a torque wrench.
    pointless waste of money that we have been led to believe we need.
  10. Dave5N

    Dave5N Über Member

    I have never used one. I have never overtightened enough to strip a thread.
    I don't find stuff works loose either. I don't really understand the point of them, except to provide a iso9000 type paper trail and cover a few arses.
  11. ASC1951

    ASC1951 Guru

    I'm with Dave5N on this. If you do your own fettling you soon develop a feel for how much force to use.

    You only really need them on big stuff IMO. Many years ago I had to try and think up something sensible to tell Huddersfield Magistrates after a back offside wheel on a nameless operator's coach overtook the driver on the M62 - all because it had a new make of wheel stud and the mechanic hadn't checked the new torque settings. Luckily it shot away over the hard shoulder instead of causing a 20-death pile-up.
  12. fossyant

    fossyant Ride It Like You Stole It!

    South Manchester
    The only time I'd say use a torque wrench is with carbon bits/bikes as these plastic things are a bit iffy to being over tight..... not having got a carbon bike myself... think I'd go with a torque wrench if I had carbon !
  13. Dave5N

    Dave5N Über Member

    No difference. Use one if you like numbers - I go by feel.
  14. ghitchen

    ghitchen Well-Known Member

    Gullane, Scotland
    For those that feel they need/want one, Cycle Sport are giving one away with subscriptions at the moment.
  15. robbarker

    robbarker Well-Known Member

    We've been here before... :-)

    Lots of people, including a fair few bike shop mechanics, don't routinely use torque wrenches. The world of cycling is full of stripped alloy threads, loose headsets, clicky bottom brackets, groaning cranks and slipping seatposts. This is not a coincidence.

    If you want to do the job properly, you need at least two torque wrenches - a little one for the smaller fastners and a meatier one for things like crank bolts.

    The Park Tool ones are absolutely fine if you use them properly. Shimano and many others make clicky ones, which some people find easier to use.
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