Is is better to be too tight, rather than too loose? How tight is tight enough? How tight is too tight? These aren’t just questions that could come from the script of the XXX version of Goldilocks and the three bears. These are questions that a bicycle mechanic faces every time they tighten a bolt. The professionals should have a torque wrench in their tool box, but many of us that wrench on our fat-bikes at home, do not. I know that I’m a ham-fisted home mechanic and (up until now) have been over tightening bolts for years.
Ok, so if I’ve gotten away with over-torquing bolts for years, why am I writing about torque limiters? The bicycle industry has been making a steady march towards lighter and more exotic materials that has no end in sight. That sweet new carbon fat fork, that you just spent your hard earned money on, will not take kindly to being crushed by the high quality machined aluminum or carbon stem! You may have noticed that manufacturers of these high end parts have started to print the torque ratings on their parts. (see photo above)
Enter the new age of simple, calibrated torque limiting toolage – color coded for your convenience! After using a similar set of t-handle wrenches during a recent bike build, I ordered a set for my home shop. These are made by a division of Snap-On Tools called CDI Torque Products. They accept 1/4″ bits that are held in place magnetically. My wrenches all came with a 4 mm bit, so I went to the hardware store and bought a set of metric Allen and torx bits for right around ten bucks. Each of the 3 wrenches ran about $25 each, so I spent about $80 dollars for this set-up.
Once you get your bars, levers, grips or stem into place, you just do the final torquing of each bolt with the appropriate Nm rated wrench. Just tighten, till it clicks. Simple enough that even I can’t screw it up! If you want the best performance out of your new light-weight high quality componentry, wrench on them the way the pro’s wrench and limit thy torque. Get the right amount of tight, when you adjust your trusty fat-bike, brothers and sisters!
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