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The Topeak Nano Torquebox X is a very compactly storable addition to your on-bike tool kit, turning any 5mm hex into a 2-6Nm torque tool. Presented in a sturdy box with five of the most-common bit sizes, it should see you right for most trailside repairs.
If you don't own a torque tool compact enough to take on every ride, you could be asking for trouble, especially if you run lightweight or carbon components and something needs attention mid-ride. Accurate torque application can mean the difference between a happy ride and a trip to the bike shop or even hospital after a part fails. Contrary to popular belief, no one – not even pro mechanics – can judge torque accurately using their fingers. (This was tried at a bike trade show a few years back, and the readings were all over the place.) The issue of judging torque becomes even more prevalent if you happen to be tired/cold/wet/wearing gloves.
Fortunately there is now a wide selection of compact, light tools on the market, easily slipped into a pocket or bag. Topeak has a range of torque tools, including ratcheting levers and single-setting 'clicker' bits that cam over once you reach the preset force.
There are basically three types of torque tool: ones preset to a single setting that cam out once met, ones adjustable to different values that then cam out or click once met, and ones with a variable amount of torque marked on the side, that twist internally as force is applied but do not cam out – so you need to watch carefully as the only indication is visual. The Nano Torqbox X is this final variant.
Handily, Topeak has made both ends of the tool magnetic – so you're unlikely to drop bits in the grass. Speaking of which... in the case you get five 1/4-inch drive bits: a 3, 4 and 5mm hex, and Torx 20 and 25. Whether these are all you need for your bike is a moot point, but there's certainly plenty of space for at least another five, plus a bit of cloth to stop them rattling.
The case also has a rubber strap that hooks around the outside, so you can slip a multi-tool under it, thereby keeping your tools in one package.
The Nano Torqbox X is easy enough to use. You have to line up the reference mark on the black end so you can see it. The mark rotates around as you tighten, so it can take a few goes to get it visible enough as you start to approach your desired setting. Typically you have to reposition the tool bit two or three times to hit the magic combination of indicator alignment and visibility to see it happen. This is, of course, not an issue with a ratcheting tool where the torque measurement is in the handle.
The scale moves inwards as it tightens, which leads me to believe there's a spring being wound up inside. As for every other torque tool of this type, you must never use it to undo a fastener, as that will result in loss of calibration. This means if you are in a trial-and-error process like getting handlebar angle just so, you'll be doing a lot of shuffling back and forth between the almost-certainly 4mm bit in the Nano Torqbox to tighten, and your multi-tool's 4mm hex to undo things.
Working practically in the same way that the Silca Ti-Torque does, the Nano Torqbox is certainly much easier to read than the Ti-Torque. It's shorter and one third the price – but is also over twice the weight for the actual torque bit, and you don't get all the ratchety goodness included with the Silca. If you're a gram-counter and have the money, the Silca Ti-Torque is still pretty much the lightest way to go, and you can buy just the second-generation easier-to-read torque bit on its own for half the price of the kit.
For exactly the same weight you should also seriously consider the Feedback Sports Range Torque Ratchet. It is over twice the price, mind, and you'll want somewhere to keep the bits you need without using the large and heavier case. Having the ability to act as a ratchet, be able to undo as well as tighten, be super-low-profile, and read up to 10Nm still makes the FBS Range a serious contender for the only on-bike torque tool you'll ever need.
For £39 the Nano Torqbox X does the job it sets out to, with the shortcomings inherent to all tools using its design. If you understand your use case – and let's face it, 99% of the time it'll be the easily accessed handlebar/stem/seatpost – for the price it's a good option.
Good choice for simple torque-dependent work where you have room to move, at a decent price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Topeak Nano Torqbox X
Size tested: 6.9xø1.7cm
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?
It's for people needing accurate torque settings, in a compact package.
Topeak says: 'The most compact adjustable torque socket available. Works with a 5mm Allen wrench or any mini-tool with a 5mm Allen key to provide correct tightening of frame and component bolts to recommended torque values for safety and performance. Torque range : 2 - 6 Nm.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
3 / 4 / 5 Allen bits
T20 / T25 Torx® bits
2 -6 Nm
Steel / Aluminum
Rubber strap, Carry case
6.9 x ø1.7 cm / 2.7' x ø0.7' (TorqSocket)
72 g / 2.54 oz (TorqSocket)
128 g / 4.51 oz (TorqSocket+bits+case)
Hefty, with good tolerances and materials.
The need to reposition the bit does detract from speed and ease of use.
Seems solid enough.
It's pretty heavy for what it does, weighing more than comparable tools.
Compared to the offerings from Silca and Feedback Sports, it's competitively priced.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Allowing for the need to reposition the bit to sight the reference mark, it works well enough.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The need to reposition constantly – if it had an internal ratchet mechanism on the fastener side it would be much easier.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Pretty well – as noted, the similar Silca Ti-Torq and Feedback Sports Range are both considerably more expensive, though they offer ratchety goodness and, in the case of the Silca, less weight.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes-ish
Would you consider buying the product? Yes-ish
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but with caveats.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The shortcomings of weight and dimension, lack of ability to undo, no ratcheting and need to reposition the scale to see make it a less-than-perfect experience, but understanding these drawbacks, it is quite capable to get easily accessed fittings up to torque.
About the tester
I usually ride: Sonder Camino Gravelaxe My best bike is: Nah bro that's it
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, general fitness riding, mtb, G-R-A-V-E-L
Living in the Highlands, Mike is constantly finding innovative and usually cold/wet ways to accelerate the degradation of cycling kit. At his happiest in a warm workshop holding an anodised tool of high repute, Mike's been taking bikes apart and (mostly) putting them back together for forty years. With a day job in global IT (he's not completely sure what that means either) and having run a boutique cycle service business on the side for a decade, bikes are his escape into the practical and life-changing for his customers.