With a torque wrench you can get the bolts on your bike as tight as they need to be and — importantly — no tighter. They cover the relatively low tightness requirements of bikes and are easy to use. These are the best torque wrenches you can buy.
Why is using a torque wrench to get the tightness of your bike's bolts right important? Too loose and you run the risk of a bolt coming undone, too tight and there’s the danger of causing serious damage to your bike and, as a result, to yourself. Over-tighten a seat clamp, for example, and you could ruin a carbon-fibre frame.
Bike-specific torque wrenches provide just the range of tightness most commonly found on easily-damaged parts like seat post and handlebar clamps.
Click-type torque wrenches are the most common kind, alerting you with a click when you've reached the set tightness.
The best torque wrenches come with factory certification and can be returned or recalibration so you know they're doing the job perfectly.
The 10 best torque wrenches for bike use
Best portable torque tool: Silca T-Ratchet Kit + Ti-Torque Kit
Buy Now for £112.50 from Chain Reaction Cycles
The Silca T-Ratchet and Ti-Torque kit is a beautifully made, superlight, and multi-functional set of tools, made to the highest quality. The set comprises a ratchet handle; a couple of extenders to tailor the reach and leverage; six hex bits ranging from 2mm to 6mm in size; T10, T20 and T25 Torx bits; a Philips #2 bit; and the important part for our purposes, a torque-measuring arm based around a titanium spring.
Rather than setting the torque and hearing a click when you reach it (the method by which many torque wrenches work), you read the N·m indicator printed on the barrel of the tool. There is a risk of over-tightening a bolt, but with due care and attention, and slowly and gently applying torque, you should be fine. The wrench will measure between 2N·m and 8N·m, which covers all the areas of the bike that you are likely to need to tweak in the field, such as handlebar faceplates, stems and seatposts.
Best compact Torque wrench: Park Tool ATD-1.2
Buy Now for £80.74 from Triton Cycles
Most bike-fettling jobs that really call for a torque wrench require fairly low torque values, like the 4-6 N·m range of the Park Tool ATD-1.2. It's quite expensive for a limited-function tool, but does what it does so well that it's very highly regarded.
Find a Park Tool dealer
Best budget torque wrench: Merida Adjustable Torque Wrench
Buy Now for ~£22.00 from R2-Bike
A no-frills T-shape handle design, Merida's Adjustable Torque Wrench is the perfect tool for quick and easy bolt tightening. It has three torque settings – 4, 5 and 6N·m – and with the 3, 4 and 5mm Allen keys, as well as a T25 Torx key, it'll cater for most common bolts on a bike. Neatly, all keys bar one are hidden inside the case. It's a good price too.
The chunky T-shape handle makes it easy to hold the torque wrench firmly, and its relatively stubby nature means you can tighten bolts easily without worrying about the key slipping inside a bolt head.
Adjusting the level of torque is easy – a dial on the top allows you to do this on the fly – although I found it slightly ironic that you need a separate 6mm hex key to adjust it, which sort of spoils the ease of having everything you need in the one unit.
Read our review of the Merida Adjustable Torque Wrench
Find a Merida dealer
Best torque screwdriver: Norbar 13702 Torque Screwdriver
Buy Now for £125.95 from FFX
Your classic torque wrench is, in effect, a sophisticated spanner handle. But a lot of bike parts don't need the high torque you can reach with a spanner, and for those applications the easy turning of a screwdriver handle is more convenient. The 13702 screwdriver has a range of 1.2 to 6 N·m, and can be adjusted in 0.1 N·m increments.
Norbar is a British company that specialises in torque measurement. The 13702 screwdriver comes with a calibration certificate, and if you suspect the device has drifted off, you can get it recalibrated.
If you don't need the bits (and let's face it you can get a set of good quality bits for £10-£20) you can get the screwdriver on its own for £88.79.
Best beam-type torque wrench: Park Tool TW-1.2
Buy Now for £44.99 from Chain Reaction Cycles
Park Tool TW-2.2
Buy Now for £49.99 from Freewheel
It's a big welcome back to a couple of old friends. Park Tool's brace of beam-type torque wrenches are easy to use and reliable, and if they get knocked out of calibration you can just bend them back.
The scale on a lot of beam-type wrenches is marked in both metric and Imperial units in such a way that the thick part of the pointer obscures the metric scale. Clearly realising that bike mechanics think in Newton metres, Park Tool have avoided this blunder by putting the metric scale at the tip of the indicator.
The TW-1.2 has a range from zero to 14 N·m, making it suitable for low-torque jobs like handlebar, seatpost and stem clamps. It has a 3/8-inch square drive so if your tool kit's anything like mine you'll need a 3/8-inch-to-1/4-inch adapter as well.
With a range of zero to 60 N·m, the TW-2.2 is suitable for bigger jobs: cranks bolts, sprocket lockrings, bottom brackets and the like. It also has a 3/8-inch drive.
Find a Park Tool dealer
Topeak Torq Stick
Buy Now for £80.77 from Amazon
The Topeak Torq Stick is compact, very nicely made and easy to adapt to most fastener types with its magnetic 1/4in drive. Running from 2-10N·m, it's a great way to ensure important bolts are tight but not dangerously so – especially important if you run a carbon bar or seatpost. The five supplied bits are basic and disappointing, though, and if portability isn't important you can get much cheaper wrenches.
The Torq Stick adjusts from 2-10N·m in 0.25N·m steps, and is certainly accurate enough for bicycle use. It's also enough torque for most components, such as bars, stems, brake and shifter clamps, drivetrain parts and most bits of disc and rim brakes. It's not enough for cranks, bottom brackets or pedals, though.
The scale is etched clearly alongside a physical indicator, so it's easy to read and should stay that way. The aluminium casing has a slightly satin anodised finish that's pleasing – and comfy at maximum torque – while the adjuster is grippy and impossible to twist accidentally once set.
Read our review of the Topeak Torq Stick
Find a Topeak dealer
Feedback Sports Range Torque and Ratchet
Buy Now for £45.49 from ProBikeKit
The Feedback Sports Range Torque Ratchet is a lightweight, compact tool for working on your bike while adhering to ever-more-critical torque settings. Made from premium materials with a price tag to match, this may be the perfect Significant Event Present for the cyclist in your life.
It has a wide 2-10N·m range and includes every bit you're likely to ever need. It's intuitive to use, and multi-functional for undoing and tightening without removing. The fine ratchet and compact clearance makes it ideal for bolts in awkward places.
Read our review of the Feedback Sports Range Torque and Ratchet
Buy Now for £183.99 from Wiggle
The Birzman digital wrench we mentioned earlier is no longer available, but this Topeak torque wrench with a digital display is very similar. It has a ratcheting head, a range of 1-20 N·m and can be set in 0.01N·m increments. To be honest, that's a tiny bit silly. It's hard to imagine needing more than 0.5N·m precision, but it's amusing for geek points.
If you need more oomph, the £168.53 D-Torq DX has a range of 4-80N·m.
Find a Topeak dealer
Ritchey Torque Mini Tool Key Set - 4N·m or 5N·m
Buy Now for £21.98 - £30.20 from Amazon
Ritchey popularised the idea of a single-setting torque wrench with its first Torqkeys, but they were also supplied with just one hex size, which was fine if it was the one you needed, but a bit limiting if not. The latest version bundles a selection of useful bits with either a 4N·m or 5N·m body. Moulding a driver for a Shimano Hollowtech crank cap into the handle is a nice touch.
Find a Ritchey dealer
Things to know about torque wrenches
You’re too smart to trash a component by over-tightening it? It’s easily done. The mechanics at your local bike shop will tell you about people who’ve cost themselves a lot of money by getting it wrong. Torque wrenches aren’t exactly cheap but buying one could save you a lot of cash in the long run.
You'll also need a torque wrench to install some power meters so they provide accurate measurements, though this is less common than a few years ago.
The amount that you should tighten a bolt varies between components, so always check manufacturers’ recommendations.
This Shimano Ultegra crank, for instance, comes with the instruction: “Each of the bolts should be evenly and equally tightened to 12-14N·m by torque wrench”. The N·m stands for Newton metre.
This seat clamp requires 4N·m.
If you're wondering what a Newton metre is, it comes from the definition of torque. A torque is a rotational force. Force is measured in Newtons, as you'll recall from GCSE physics. Torque is the force multiplied by the distance between the point where it's applied and the centre of the bolt. You get a torque of 4 N·m by applying 4N to the end of a spanner a metre long, or — if you don't happen to have a set of stupendously large spanners — a 40N force on a 10cm spanner.
The right torque for a particular bolt depends on what it's made from, what the parts it fits into are made from and — if it's part of a clamp — what the thing it's clamping is made from, among other things.
Torque wrenches have become a must-have in the last few years because there's so much carbon fibre and very light aluminium in modern bikes. Clamps around carbon components can easily do damage if over-tightened, so a torque wrench is essential if you're handling such gear.
A torque wrench is also useful for big jobs, when you may not realise just how tight something needs to be. Square taper cranks, for example, typically need around 40 N·m, which is surprisingly hard to achieve without a long spanner.
Torque wrench types
Different torque wrenches work in different ways, but one common type allows you to set your required torque by turning a knob at the end of the handle. You fit the appropriate head, then turn the wrench until a distinct ‘clunk’ tells you that you’ve reached the correct torque.
To maintain accuracy, manufacturers of adjustable click-type torque wrenches usually recommend you send the tool back to the factory to be calibrated after a certain amount of use: check the manual for your tool's particular requirement.
If you can't live without an LCD display, then there are torque wrenches that'll feed your desire for digits. You can either read the torque from the display as you tighten the bolt, or set a target torque and it'll buzz and flash a light when you reach it.
One other option is to use something like this Preset Torque Driver from Park Tool. This one allows you to tighten 3, 4, 5mm and T25 bolts accurately to 6N·m, clicking when you’ve reached the required torque. Drivers set to other torques are available.
You might also run across a beam type torque wrench like the Park Tool TW-1.2, above. This indicates torque with a pointer that simply indicates how much the tool's main arm has deflected as you turn the bolt. Beam wrenches are incredibly simple, very tough and don't have to be sent back to the factory to be recalibrated. If the pointer isn't on zero when the wrench is at rest, you just bend it until it is.
However, you can't set the torque in advance and get a satisfying click when you reach it, so beam-type wrenches are now less common. That said, Park Tool have just reintroduced theirs.
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