Ritchey Multi-Bit Torqkey

Ritchey Multi-Bit Torqkey

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.

 

13 comments

  1. LesB

    Is the socket in the wrench the standard quarter-inch screwdriver hex socket? Because if it is, those bits come real cheap.

  2. Caesar Belli

    While I ‘m a big fan of using a torque wrench rather than the tried and true method of keep tightening until you hear a crack then back off a 1/2 turn. This is not the tool. It is surprising uncomfortable to use due to that point on the top and if fact it hurts to use it. I have had one since they first came out years ago and suffered because they were the only one out there then. Then along came the Trek/Bontrager tool. A sheer delight to use. Comfortably fits into your hand with nothing sticking out. Or for that matter there is also the CDI tools torque key. Even comes in different torques too.
    Oh by the way the first Ritchey keys had the 4mm bit stuck in but you could pull it out and use other bits. Glad they finally at least got that right. What’s with the pointy piece though. Ouch!
    By the way I am a professional race mechanic with over 10 years experience.

    1. Larry T.

      Glad to know I’m not the only one who wondered why this thing has that goofy shape. While I have Effetto Mariposa’s wonderful torque wrenches in both my shop and travel tool box here in Italy, I end up (for stuff with 4 mm hex screws) pulling the Ritchey thing out more often than not just because it’s easy to grab. I’m not much of a fan of anything Ritchey sells, but these things are cheap and readily available at just about any decent bike shop, unlike the other, superior versions you mentioned. I’d rate it “good, but could be much better with some small design improvements” like you described.

    2. Dave

      The pointy thing allows you to use your thumb and pointer finger spin the fastener really fast to tighten/loosen it when barely any torque is needed. I have this tool and happily use it all the time. My only concern is not knowing how long it will remain accurate.

    3. Larry T.

      OK, but that little nubbin’s not much good for twirling to me. I run the screws in with a screwdriver or t-handle until snug, then finalize the torque with this handy tool. A better shape in the hand would be welcome, though I realize it’s tough to get that torque twisting a screwdriver handle. Just like Caesar, as a pro mechanic you get into certain habits and this thing could be a much more comfortable fit in the hand without the little nubbin, for the tasks I grab it for.

  3. Bikelink

    I own the Park tools tw-5 torque wrench, which requires a (comes with) adapter to fit the standard bits they sell. Putting the thing together, setting the torque, then using along with the adapter feels awkward and it is a process. Seriously tempting to by the Ritchey thing too as an improvement, not a half step, for routine bike stuff.

  4. Rob Beard

    Spot on Padraig. I have been using the TorqKey for years (since the first iteration) and love it. There’s not many torque wrenches you can carry in your pocket or wrapped in your tube under your seat, and I think Ritchey nailed it. I’m glad to have one in my toolbox and another under my seat right now! Highly recommended.

  5. Kevin

    I find it odd that you say that a torque wrench is “a necessity for everyone who owns a bike with a carbon bar, stem or seatpost” and then go on to say that since you can’t feel the difference between 5 and 6 Nm you just use the lower value. One major point of a torque wrench is that, because you can’t feel a difference, you should use a tool that is able to differentiate for you.

    Also, why no love for Torx? They’re easier to engage and disengage than hex heads and are specifically designed to prevent rounding of either the bit or the fastener in situations where contact isn’t ideal.

    1. Shawn

      I think you missed Padraig’s point. And then restated it.

      Also be aware that the torque numbers printed on your bike parts are maximum torque values. It is perfectly fine that Padraig torques his 6.2 nm bolts to 5 nm. In fact, he may be ahead of the game; I have cracked carbon bars using the torque value printed on the stem. Better to use a little less torque and a little more loctite, IMO.

  6. Bielas

    specialized makes also a nice preset torque tool, I have one in 6.2Nm and they offer two other settings. Bonus points over the Ritchey: more ergo shape and a hole on the handle to hang it on my wall

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>