Homework

Homework

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.

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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.

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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.

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12 comments

  1. Fuzz

    I have a fancy torque wrench, but it’s a nuisance to get out and set, so I tend not to use it. But when I got my first all carbon bike recently, I bought a 5 Nm tool similar to the above and I’m hooked. The one I bought is light enough that I’m carrying it on my bike in lieu of a multi-tool hex set. Not everything I need to do takes 5 Nm, but it I can easily estimate how much I need to add, for those bolts that need a little more, be it 6 or 10 Nm.

  2. Clancy

    We have four of these in our shop. Using a digital torque wrench we checked each one with it set to 5 Nm. We had one that consistently read between 4-4.5, two that were 5.5, and one that was 6-6.5 Nm.

    Realize not a true scientific test, but enough to check each one and I was very disappointed with the results. I love this tool for how it makes so much of the work done go that much faster and accurately. But now I don’t know if I trust its accuracy.

    Along these lines, reviews I’ve read all rave about the Park. Haven’t read any reviews where accuracy is checked.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      The boys over at Bike Radar checked a number of brands for accuracy and found their Park unit to be accurate.

  3. Jay

    It’s also a lot less likely to cause a $700 crack if/when you drop it onto that carbon frame. And being lighter, you’re less LIKELY to drop it.
    More frames than you might guess succumb to the whack of a falling tool. The thin walls of down and top tubes in particular are vulnerable to a sharp point load, and I’d guess this causes 10-20 percent of cracked or chipped carbon frames.

  4. jorgensen

    If a “click” is felt by the user when the full torque value is reached, very good. I did not catch how the user knows.
    The preset torque feature is probably worth the price of admission if you have ever broken a bolt head off.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Right; I failed to mention that. This is a clicking type of torque wrench, as there is no readable scale.

  5. Bryan Norvell

    I wish every new bike purchased came with this torque wrench. Stripped bolts and circumsized seat posts would be all but eliminated. Warranty departments and shop mechanics would rejoice and we would be one step close to world peace.

  6. EvilEuro

    Also from Park is the ADT-1, the exact same tool but adjustable to 4, 4.5, 5, 5.5 or 6 Nm. So one tool to do the entire range rather than three different tools.

    I have it, I use it, and I love it. I also have an Effeto Mariposa torque wrench that covers the wider range of torque from 2Nm to 16Nm. That covers everything from water bottle bolts to anything else that isn’t a chainring bolt, cassette lockring, or bottom bracket.

  7. VeloKitty

    The Felo Torque Wrench Screwdriver is a good option too. It’s adjustable and cheaper than the Park adjustable. You will need to get a Felo bit holder. Midwayusa carries Felo and has good prices.

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