Your bicycle has many tension parts and some of them are of delicate material. They need to be fastened to their precise torque so that they stay intact for a long time.
And this is why you need to know how to use a torque wrench for bicycle maintenance.
You can use torque wrenches to tighten bolts to the correct tightness or torque.
When you pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for your bicycle, you do not want to take some risks that could cause serious harm to it. You also do not want to break some parts that could void the warranty.
If you opt not to use a torque wrench for your bike, you could damage a vital part such as the pedal, brake or even the handlebars.
That’s why, here, we’ll show you the proper way of using a torque wrench for bicycle maintenance.
Why Over-Tightened Bicycle Parts are as Bad as Loose Parts
Of course, you could opt to tighten your bike bolts by feel alone. However, if the manufacturer of the bicycle says a certain tension part should be torqued to 7Nm, it is impossible to tell 7Nm by touch. This is why you should not skip buying the torque wrenches of the recommended size for your bicycle.
Buying the right bicycle torque wrench is important. However, knowing how to use the wrench in the right way is even more important. If you misuse the wrench, you could end up damaging the very part that you were trying to protect.
How to Use a Torque Wrench for Bicycle Maintenance
Although using a torque wrench for maintaining your bicycle is not hard, you still need to bear a few important things in mind. Here they are:
Step 1: Find out the recommended torque
The first thing is to find out the recommended torque setting for the bolt or part that you are tightening. While the torque may not be indicated on the actual bolt, check the bicycle part where the bolt is used. For example, if there is a torque indication on the handlebars, it means that all the bolts around that area should be tightened to that torque.
Step 2: Ensure you have the right torque settings
The process is different for preset and adjustable torque wrenches. We’re gonna discuss both of them here.
1. When Using Preset Torque Wrenches
Some of the bicycle torque wrenches come preset with maximum torque from the factory. The small pocket torque wrenches that come preset torque are good for small adjusting jobs. For example, you can use such a wrench for adjusting the height and position of the saddle. You will recognize these wrenches by their simple design. They look like Allen Key with a handle and they are usually preset to the most common torque values for several parts.
2. When Using Adjustable Torque Wrench
Also, get a small torque wrench with a small adjustment range. Such an adjustable torque wrench is good for different bolts without requiring calibration.
Compared to a car, a bicycle will come with a few differently sized bolts. Therefore, you will find one torque wrench enough for your needs when traveling.
In your bicycle maintenance routine, remember that bolts are different. They may look the same or appear to be of the same size, but depending on where they are, they require different care and maintenance. Some may require grease, some loctite and so on.
While most of the bolts have regular threads – right/tighten, left/ loosen, you should check the user manual to see whether there are bolts that do not have regular threads. Understand what tension part needs what torque and so on.
Not every torque wrench can be used in the anti-clockwise direction. Thus, if you have bolts whose threads tighten in the opposite direction, ensure that the torque wrench you buy is made for such bolts. Also, while working with a bicycle wrench, you may use a mechanic stool to work comfortably. Another tool that might be of great help is a torque angle gauge.
Finally, on the choice of torque wrench, you ought to know something about maintaining the wrench. The preset ones do not require any maintenance. Just wipe after use and return it to its wrench roll up pouch or case. However, the adjustable wrenches need to be reset to zero before storage.
How a Torque Wrench for Bicycle Maintenance Works
A bicycle torque wrench works in the same way as a car’s torque wrench. It is very simple. First, it has a cue so that it will alert you when you have achieved the maximum torque. Of course, the wrench will not stop tightening. You have to stop as soon as you hear or feel the cue. It can be a click sound or a vibration. In some torque wrenches, it can be both.
Using a Torque Wrench to Tighten The Stem Bolts
Some people argue that it is not important to use a torque wrench for the stem bolts. However, using a wrench is recommended because it gives you a kind of insurance for the item that you are tightening. If you try to use feel for carbon parts, you can do irreparable damage.
When you use a torque wrench, you take the required precaution against damaging your bicycle. Stem bolts are quite critical and so you should not joke around with their health. Since most are made of titanium, which is light and strong, they need to be tightened precisely to the recommended torque.
Using Torque Wrench on Disc Brakes
Fast bikes require more stopping power and that is why they come with disc brakes. If you are a bike mechanic, it is good practice to use a torque wrench to install disc brakes – for tightening the rotors. The biggest fear when installing the rotors is to either leave them too loose or over-tighten to the point of stripping them. For proper installation of the rotors, you need to tighten them in the right sequence lest you pull them out of line when you tighten one side first.
Here, we are at the end of our article. I hope, by now, you know how to use a torque wrench to keep your bike in optimum condition.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions regarding bike maintenance.