With every year that passes, bikes are becoming more precise and are built with more delicate materials, so it’s crucial to use one of the best bike torque wrenches to protect those all-important bolts. Alongside the best bike multi-tools and best bike pumps, a quality torque wrench should be in your toolbox.
Even the most experienced professional mechanics rely on a torque wrench when working on the best carbon road bikes, so it’s not worth trying to use guesswork. All it takes is the tiniest bit of over-tightening, and you hear a crack. It might be a quiet one, and you aren’t even sure you heard it, but take things apart and sure enough, you’ve damaged something very expensive.
There’s no reason to be in that position. There’s no award given for managing to not break things while using the incorrect tools. Spend some time and pick out the best bike torque wrench to match your needs, and then use it every time. Not only will you know you are doing your best to keep the expensive parts of your bike safe but every bolt will be as tight as necessary to prevent it from slipping mid-ride.
The best bike torque wrenches will last years, and a little preparation will keep many bikes safe. We’ve gone through what’s out there and put together a list of some of the best in every category. Keep reading to see our list or jump down below for some info on what to consider when choosing the best bike torque wrench for you.
Best bike torque wrenches
For a lot of people, the Park Tools TW-5.2 is a wrench that could be the only torque wrench they own. The torque range of 2-14Nm covers the vast majority of what home mechanics need. Given that this is the most common range there’s a lot of competition for options.
Park Tool manages to stand out in this space with the simple addition of a moulded handle. For correct measurement, it’s important to hold a torque wrench in the right spot. Moulding a handle into the design makes sure that there’s no confusion about where to hold the TW-5.2.
There’s a wide world of precision tools outside of the bike community. The Tekton torque isn’t bike-specific but it’s widely available, offered at an excellent price, and well made. The Tekton 23240 covers a torque range of 20-200 in.-lb. which is that sweet spot again. The adjustment scale is a dual-range scale that is very clear to read with a high-contrast design. Although the design has a focus on in.-lb. there’s no need to squint and guess what you’ve set the wrench to even if you are setting the wrench for a Newton Metre value.
Unior isn’t the most well-known brand out there but they offer an excellent option in the torque wrench market. It’s another electronic offering but with clear warnings as you approach the target torque. Starting at 95 per cent of your setting the wrench will start to beep and a single LED will illuminate green. Keep going until the tone turns solid and the second LED illuminates red. There is no ambiguity and you know exactly when you’ve reached the correct value. The large covers the higher torque ranges you are likely to see on bottom brackets and cassettes.
The Topeak Torq stick is a bit of a hybrid between a full-sized torque wrench and a portable option. The wrench itself is less than six inches/15 centimeters but you still get a ratcheting and adjustable product. The torque range is 2-10Nm which isn’t a huge range but should cover most of the pieces that need periodic adjustment on a bike. It’s a perfect option for a second wrench you might travel with or even carry with you on a ride if you have the space. It’s also a good option if you have a need for a small wrench head for a hard-to-reach bolt.
The Giustaforza 1-8 is without doubt a speciality tool. It goes as low as 1Nm with a high .25Nm resolution. The head is a non-ratcheting design that accepts bits directly. Without the added size of a ratchet and no need for bits to accept the socket drive tang, you end up with a perfect solution for hard-to-reach areas. Everything adds up to a high-quality tool that for many people won’t make a lot of sense. If you have a need for it though, there are very few other options and it’s built to last a lifetime.
The promises made by Giustaforza are appealing. There is a specific guarantee of how accurate their wrenches are and for how long that accuracy will last. The 1-8 non-pro version is a very speciality tool though. If you like the idea but need the right tool for most of your needs the Giustaforza 2-16 pro gets you the most frequently used torque range. It also has a reversible, ratcheting, head. Instead of being a rarely used speciality tool, you can have the tool you reach for every time you need precision torque. Effetto Mariposa checks and numbers each wrench out the door.
Everyone needs a torque wrench but not everyone has the same kind of expansive needs for working on the whole bike. If you feel like you want something a bit cheaper just for tightening saddles or cleats then the Park Tool ATD-1.2 fits the bill. There are even more basic tools available out there but the ATD-1.2 retains a wide range of usability while still staying small and saving money. If you later upgrade this tool stays relevant as an excellent option for traveling. All the included bits store in the handle making them hard to lose and easy to carry.
Even when you’ve got a quality torque wrench there’s a degree of stress as you tighten a delicate bolt. The only way you’ll really know if there’s an issue is if you hear a crack. It can also be hard to see the settings and know you’ve set the wrench correctly. You can avoid all of that with a digital torque wrench. The Topeak D-Torq is a rare, bike-specific, digital torque wrench. When you’ve reached the correct setting a loud, uninterrupted, beep will sound. As you are tightening, look at the display to see the current torque value.
Just because you are riding doesn’t mean you don’t need to torque the bolts on your bike. Many of the pieces likely to need mid-ride adjustment – such as saddles, seat posts, and handlebars – are the most delicate pieces on the bike. The Nano TorqBar DX comes with three torque limiters and a selection of bits to go inside them. Choose the desired torque limiter and insert it into the tool then put the bit inside of that and you can be sure you won’t break something. Inside the tool, there’s storage for two bits plus a place to hold a single torque limiter at the end.
How to choose the best bike torque wrench
Is one torque wrench enough?
There’s no easy way to say this, one wrench isn’t enough. Yes, torque wrenches are expensive. There’s a temptation to try and get one to cover everything but it won’t work out. The most used wrench is going to be the middle range of somewhere around 4Nm up to around 20Nm. That’s the range you need for all the small pieces on your bike and if you have a need to torque cleats. If you are only planning to make one purchase that’s the best place to start.
Even with a mid-range torque wrench, you are going to need to head to the bike shop occasionally. 12-speed cassettes have an incredibly tight tolerance with the frame and it takes a larger torque wrench for that application. Another common high-torque situation is bottom brackets. If you’d rather take care of everything at home that means a second, larger, torque wrench for the bigger jobs.
Where’s the best place to buy a torque wrench
Don’t be afraid to look beyond cycling brands. A common refrain is that bike-specific brands impose a bike tax on parts. There are reasons why that’s not actually true but for the purpose of this conversation, it doesn’t matter much. There is a wide expanse of situations beyond the bike that require precise torque and there are brands that cater to those situations. If you feel like you can find a better torque wrench from a company that’s not associated with the bike industry then go ahead and look around.
The only reason you might decide to stick with a bike specific brand is convenience. Every application of a tool has small nuances and companies cater to them. For bikes that means torque ranges that make sense for the bolts on a bike and it means scales rated in Newton Metres. Purchasing something designed for another industry might be cheaper but require constant conversions. Torque is torque though, as long as you find something that works it doesn’t matter too much what it’s marketed for.
How do you use a torque wrench?
Just because you are tightening a wrench with a torque wrench doesn’t automatically mean you are getting the correct torque. One of the biggest mistakes is holding the wrench incorrectly. Each wrench has a design that requires a specific placement of force against it. Park Tools has an excellent video covering the details but the bottom line is you should never choke up on the wrench or hold it at the very end.
Beyond proper measurement, there is also continued calibration to concern yourself with. Torque wrenches are precision tools for measuring torque, not general-purpose wrenches. If you use your torque wrench to break bolts free you risk pushing it out of calibration. Always use another wrench for loosening bolts and only use your torque wrench for tightening to spec.
For the same reason, you also want to be sure and release the tension on the wrench before storing it. Leaving the wrench tensioned during storage will cause it to move out of calibration over time. It only takes a moment to set the wrench to the lowest setting before storing it and it will make sure you get the most precision out of an expensive tool.
Why type of torque wrench is best?
Some torque wrenches are electronic and some are mechanical. There’s nothing that makes one inherently more accurate than the other but there are reasons you might choose one over the other. The main argument for mechanical is that they don’t need batteries. You never run the risk of reaching for your wrench and finding it dead. Also, torque wrenches can last a very long time and LCD displays don’t have the same staying power as a precision metal tool.
Electronic wrenches offer more flexibility and information. If you have a need to measure different units an electronic torque wrench lets you easily switch between them. No back of the napkin conversion is necessary. More useful to most people though is seeing the torque as you approach your setting. It can feel comforting to know if you are getting close and loud alarms with blinking lights to make it obvious when you’ve reached your target. It’s also nice to be able to precisely set an exact number and have it easy to read.