Components

Best Torque Wrench For Bicycle Maintenance: Which One Is It?

cycle spanner

Some people may question why a cyclist needs a torque wrench at all.

Any work on the bolts of your bike can produce over tightening and crack various parts of the frame, so a torque wrench is necessary to make sure nothing is over tightened.

There are many types out there, so what is the best torque wrench for bicycle maintenance, and why?

If you're in a hurry, I'd go for the Park Tool Product. It has a large torque range and it's from a company with a great reputation.


Product Comparison Table

Product Name

Venzo Torque Wrench

Park Tool Torque Wrench

My Rating

7

9

Cost

$$

$$$$

Torque Range (NM)

2-24

10 - 60 (high)

Tolerance Accuracy

+/- 4%

+/- 4%

Allen Keys

3/4/5/6/8/10

N/A


Buyers Guide

Who should NOT buy a torque spanner

If you've never used a torque wrench before, don't buy one until you have familiarised yourself with its use.

One of the worst feelings in the world is to invest in something you think is quality but seeing it break because you are unfamiliar with it.

Companies like Park Tool offer training classes and videos to help you get up to speed.

The tools recommended here are also tools for the lone bike user, not for the big companies and bike shops.

If you're a company owner, you will want something a little more lasting, which can stand the test of time when working on several bikes a day 7 days a week.​

For advice on how to use a one of these check out the video below by GCN


Some Things To Look Out For

Allen Wrench​

Some of these tools come with an additional longer Allen wrench, others don't come with any. It’s hard to say what you will need until you’ve tried using the tool on your bike. Angles and difficulty are affected by your body weight, posture and height.

If you already have an Allen set that will work with the torque wrench, then you don’t need this investment.

Calibration​

Calibration is crucial. The companies recommended here ship a lot of products. It’s possible for 98% of products to be calibrated correctly but for the occasional one to slip through.

If it is calibrated incorrectly, you can end up splitting the bolts or even your frame.

Test the wrench on something else first. Perhaps a lawn mower bolt or something similar. If you do not hear the expected clicking, or it seems loose then call the company or take it to a bike shop to look over.

Both of these options should be able to calibrate the wrench for you. It's much better to spend a little extra money at the beginning than to buy a new bike at the end.

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Settings​

Every wrench has its own unique way of letting you view the torque settings. If you've used a wrench before for any length of time, you will be used to seeing the settings a particular way.

It will take time for you to stop reflexively checking the wrench just because these are different to what you are used to​.

Having said this, if you find that just using the wrench causes the settings to slip, then you have a huge problem. Either call the company, ship the product back or invest in a new wrench.


Alternative Solutions​

Manual Wrench​

I don’t personally recommend this but it is possible to tighten the bolts on your bike without using a specialised wrench. The problem is that it’s the people who have never tightened the bolts before that need a torque wrench the most.

This is because they’re not familiar with how tight the bolts need to be, and the wrench does that calculation for you. These are the same people that are most likely to avoid investing in one due to money.​

If you're going to use a manual wrench make sure you're very familiar with tightening bolts, and if you have a carbon frame I encourage you to just make the additional investment!

Shop Rental​

Some shops like Auto Zone offer tool rental services. If you don't want to fork out the money for a spanner but recognize you need to use one then check out these stores first to see if they offer rental.

It's a cheaper option in the short term although the more you rent the more expensive it obviously becomes.​


The Top Wrenches For Bike Upkeep

Venzo

wrench in its case

Overview

Venzo is owned by Cycle Bay, a cycling company based out of Taiwan.

They have a 35-year history and ship cycling parts all over the world.

Their website does give a warning that in Argentina the Venzo trademark logo was falsely used for inferior products.

They price their bike frames and parts competitively and are not necessarily known for high-end performance racing.

They specialise in being an intermediary between the manufacturer and the bike store. They know how to find what stores want at a bargain price. They are not usually a direct retailer, although the Venzo subsidiary does sometimes act in this capacity.​

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The Venzo tool is for those that want adjustable options and are worried about the difficulty of tightening those hard to reach bolts on a bike.

Allen key ​inclusion

It's the inclusion of the Allen keys which really make this product stand out. If you've spent any time trying to tighten or loosen bolts on a bike you know that sometimes the angle is just a little awkward.

The Allen key itself is 5mm longer than usual which makes the wrench very easy to use, and comfortable.

The range of the sockets is standard, and this is clearly aimed at cycling enthusiasts but not necessarily pros. It's beginners who usually need the torque wrench more than anyone, and this set is built to make sure they succeed.​

Pros

  • Allen keys help with difficult angles and places
  • Cheap and affordable

Cons

  • A minority of this item may need recalibrating
  • Not sturdy enough for bike shops

What did reviewers think?

Hue Chau talks about how he was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the product.

Like most other reviewers, he believes a torque wrench set is necessary when dealing with carbon fibre frames. He found the wrench to give clear measurements and the turning to be smooth.

His one negative comment is worth mentioning because it comes up several times in reviews. There is no method to lock the setting.

This means you have to be really careful when turning the wrench so that you don't accidentally adjust it. The best way to do this is to make sure you're gripping it in a way that won't let your hand slip over the settings.

Over all, reviewers were impressed with the quality and thankful for the longer than usual Allen key.

A small minority of buyers found they have to recalibrate the tool, which is a pain and the fear of all cyclists who use a torque wrench. If it's not clicking when you use it, stop immediately and take it in for calibration.​


Park Tool


Overview

Park Tool’s history stretches back to the 1960’s. The original owners were a couple of guys who were hands on and believed in making your own tools to solve problems.

They were creative and innovative. To quote the company itself, their promise is to: "build the best tools."

I encourage you to check out their website because it's obvious they believe the promises they make. 

The company has produced its own videos and articles about bike repair and wish to empower the avid cyclist, casual biker or professional to do a great job at fixing any issues that come up.​

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This torque wrench is for those that want to work on their own bike rather than entrusting it to a shop, and value precision above speed.

Pros

  • Plastic hardshell case for protection 
  • Torques both ways

Cons

  • Will need to buy 2 version to torque all bolts on the bike
  • Can be difficult to adjust to specific setting

What did reviewers think?

Jeff mentions what I already indicated earlier in the article, that you need two of these to complete a full work over on your bike.

That's why there's such a large price range on this product. The TW5 is for use on smaller bolts and the TW6 for use on the larger bolts.

He continues with his review, stating how impressed he is with the clamshell cases. I think in the mind of many it shows a care for the product that was pleasantly unexpected.

He does mention that as with any tool, it should be handled with care. If you're new to the world of torque wrenching you might want to have someone show you the ropes or check out enough youtube videos to give you confidence.

park tool ratchet

In general, people liked this. There were occasional concerns that the tool needed to be calibrated, but these were few and far between.


Change Today Not Tomorrow

At the end of the day if you’re mechanically challenged then maybe you should consider taking the bike into a shop instead of working on it yourself. Having said that, there’s nothing more thrilling than making your own repairs, and adjustments or tuning up your own personal bike.

A torque wrench can offer you the precision needed to make great alterations to your ride. It also gives you a peace of mind when bolts may have come loose after an accident. It’s handly, means you can repair the bike on your own time and not have to wait for shop maintenance.

I am sure that if you do the research and the practice you won’t regret buying one of these wrenches, it’s worth the investment so why wait?

If I were to choose one today it would be Park Tool's version. It torques both ways and their reputation for building quality products stands above all others.​



Image Credit Flickr Creative Commons - Norbar Torque