You wait for one affordable and portable torque wrench alternative to come along, and guess what? Hot on the heels of George's review of the Nano TorqBar comes this, Topeak's Nano TorqBox, offering an even cheaper and better value solution to the problem of over or under-tightening bolts...
Cracked carbon has to be one of the biggest fears for a bike owner and yet I'd hazard a guess that the vast majority of us don't tend to use a torque wrench for tightening bolts. Yes, torque wrenches seem to be far more expensive than your average tool, but the effect of over-tightening the bolts on a carbon steerer or seatpost could be catastrophic. The Nano TorqBox is a clever and cheap solution to prevent that scenario.
Whereas the TorqBar is a tool in its own right, the TorqBox features a torque adaptor that fits onto any multi tool containing a 5mm hex/Allen key. The kit includes 3, 4 and 5mm hex bits as well as T20 and T25 Torx bits, all packaged neatly into a durable plastic carry case. These bits then fit firmly to the end of the adaptor with a magnet.
The attachment is limited and preset to 5Nm, which is roughly the average recommended torque for stem bolts. However, as with the TorqBar, there are also 4Nm and 6Nm versions if they would suit you better. The device has a delicate click when it reaches the limit, which is noticeable albeit not exactly obvious.
The case is designed to make the kit portable, with a strong but stretchy rubber strap to fit your multi tool under. I found it more useful for checking the headset and stem pre-ride, rather than for adjusting anything on a ride, but if you think you'll need to adjust parts regularly mid-ride then of course it would be handy.
I realise this might make it sound a little unnecessary and you might be thinking you'd do as well to spend more and get a fully adjustable torque wrench. But these can be priced anywhere from £50 to over £100 for a Park Tool one – even the TorqBar is £24.99 – so the Nano TorqBox is a much more affordable solution at £15.99.
Handy alternative to one of the most useful and expensive home maintenance tools
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Topeak Nano TorqBox 5Nm
Size tested: 5.4 x 5 x 2.2 cm / 2.1' x 2' x 0.9'
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Topeak Nano Torqbox is a handy attachment, for any multitool with a 5mm Allen key, which allows you to accurately torque bolts to a preset limit. The one tested was the 5Nm version, so perfect for tightening stem or seatpost clamps, removing the worries of over-tightening. It is designed as a cheaper solution to purchasing a fully adjustable torque wrench and does the job very well.
Topeak says: "This preset 5Nm TorqSocket kit will work with any mini tool containing a 5mm Allen wrench (or single 5mm Allen wrench). Its advanced torque limit release design consistently applies precise torque values on component bolts for safety and prevents damage to expensive carbon parts. A carry case neatly stores one preset 5Nm and the 5 most popular tool bits (3/4/5mm hex & T20/T25 Torx)."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The TorqSocket Kit fits on any 5mm Allen key. It contains five attachments:
Allen Bits - 3 / 4 / 5 mm
Torx Bits - T20 / T25
Tool Material - Hardened steel
Added Features - Carry case
Size (L x W x H) - 5.4 x 5 x 2.2 cm / 2.1' x 2' x 0.9'
Weight - 75 g / 2.65 oz
Well-made parts fitting nicely into a neat case with two hinged sides. The attachments fit snuggly to the magnetic ends with no rattle. The rubber strap holds the case firmly closed and allows other items to be stored under it. Small design, so very portable if needed.
Does what is says it should. The point at which it reaches the limit could be a little more obvious, but it works very well.
Well made from hardened steel, making it tough against impacts. The case is also strong and robust, having stood up to a couple of drops by yours truly. The rubber strap seems a little thin when stretched fully, but has stood up to the test so far without snapping.
Much cheaper than your average adjustable torque wrench, but obviously limited by the preset torque. Useful for those critical bolts such as your headset, stem and seatpost.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Does exactly what it should and is well manufactured.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
How well it was made and the way it all fits neatly into a little case. No need for a large tool.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Works well and is a useful addition to your tool set. The torque setting limits its use, but if you pick the version which suits your bike best it can be pretty effective.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAADX My best bike is: Scott CR1 Pro
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives