I do a lot of work on bikes. My neighbors sometimes ask me if I run a bike shop. They also occasionally ask if I might work on their bikes. My new definition of diplomacy is finding a way to say yes without them feeling like they need to run back to their garage and grab that old Huffy before I head out for my ride.
From building bikes up to replacing parts for reviews, I need a few hours of uninterrupted time each week to keep up with the basics. And because the writing part of my job occupies the whole of a normal work day, my garage time is forced to happen in the margins, time that I might otherwise spend riding or with my family.
I mention this because the reality is that I never get as much garage time as I’d like. I actually like working on bikes and for me, bike work is quiet, contemplative time, like cooking or baking is for some of my friends. However, the other factors of my life require me to be as efficient as possible with my time.
Last year Park Tool released a set of torque drivers, preset to 4, 5 or 6Nm values. I’ve been using the 5 and 6Nm drivers and have come to the conclusion that anyone doing home repair work would be well-served by having a couple of these around.
In looking at the typical torque values of the bolts I tighten most often, the reality is that I could survive almost entirely on just the 5Nm driver. I’ve used the 6Nm driver only a couple of times. It’s important to bear in mind that items like stems, seat binders and such usually list a maximum torque value—a measure not to exceed. So if your stem clamp gives a torque number of 6.1Nm, there’s a high degree of likelihood that 5Nm is sufficient to tighten that bolt. For reasons of wear, tear and stress, I try never to tighten anything more than necessary, so if I can get away with less, I do.
The long end of the handle is finished with a screw cap that includes three bits (and it comes with one in the torque socket). The four bits are 4, 5 and 6mm Allen keys, plus a Torx T25 bit. That covers the great majority of all the bolts I need to tighten to a specific torque measurement.
The socket is magnetized to hold the bit in place and the entire assembly is long enough that it can reach through a mass of cables to get to a stem plate.
The handle on this driver is big and easy to grip, like it was made for toddlers with poor fine motor skills. I love that I can use the Silca Allen kit for the heavy lifting—removing bolts, installing parts and then tightening them enough to achieve the correct position—and then reaching for this driver when it’s time for the final snug. It honestly cuts down on the amount of time I spend snugging bolts.
Each of the drivers goes for $44.95 (there is an adjustable unit that goes for $72.99). On a shop mechanic’s wages, that was a lot of money, but judging from my Home Depot shopping experiences, it’s a deal. You be the judge.
I know very few cyclists who don’t work on their bikes at all. The problem is that I also know very few cyclists who own a torque wrench. Those two things don’t add up in this age of lightweight carbon fiber and alloy parts. These drivers are the easiest way to address that need I have encountered.
Final thought: An insurance plan without the monthly premium.