As happens on occasion, I’ll write a post and leave out a point I meant to make, some detail I thought of while out riding, and because I was riding, I couldn’t write it down. Back at my keyboard hours later, I have, in rare circumstances, only remember said item days or even weeks after posting. Mr. Face, meet Mr. Palm.
Such is the case with my recent post, “The Bottom Line.” I meant to mention torque wrench ownership as a necessity for everyone who owns a bike with a carbon bar, stem or seatpost. It’s even smart for anyone who owns a carbon fiber frame. In fact, my personal epiphany that we’d entered a new, torque-driven age came not with a loud crack singing out from a handlebar headed for the recycler, but an aluminum stem made in Asia by an Italian company. I hit a driveway ramp and while I’ve never been one to yard on a bolt, the moment my front wheel hit that seam, the bottom two threads gave way. In classic good news/bad news fashion, I had the terrific fortune to have the bar still loosely (and I do mean that literally) connected to the stem, so I didn’t go down, but control was mostly illusory. I was on a bike, but I was terrified. That was a fresh experience.
The thing is, for ages, a torque wrench was at least a $100 investment. For people who love owning tools and working on stuff, be it a bicycle or a ’68 Chevelle, that’s no biggie. But for the rider with the inclination to pay someone else to work on their stuff, that’s a big spend.
And once again, Tom Ritchey comes to the rescue. What is it with this dude?
There are a few companies that have come out with more-or-less affordable torque wrenches. The Ritchey Multi-Bit Torqkey‘s first great feature is that it comes with four different bits, rather than having a different driver for each bit, which is the case with most of the inexpensive torque wrenches I’ve encountered (though not all). I’ve found that a few of them can be impossible to use on anything other than a bar, stem or seatpost due to the grip shape. The Ritchey Torqkey’s second great feature is that the unit is small enough that it can reach almost anywhere.
The Ritchey Torqkey comes with four different bits—3, 4 and 5mm, plus a T20 Torx. I’m not wild about Torx bits, but Zipp and Campagnolo are both using them, so I have to accept them, much the way I accept baby puke on my shirt. The wrench is preset to 5Nm of torque, and while I’ve run across a few bolts that beg being tensioned to 6.2Nm—an utterly ridiculous spec because I can barely tell the difference between 5 and 6Nm on my adjustable torque wrenches—with enough carbon prep paste 5Nm will secure any bolt I’ve encountered.
It’s summer, which means it’s vacation season, which means it’s a time of trips, which means taking your bike with you, which means … you probably ought to make sure you have one of these $19.90 doohickies, if you don’t already.
You can buy them here.