A Must Have For Every Tool Box
A quality torque wrench is a must have for every tool box. So you aren’t going to do your own work on your mountain bike? You still need a quality torque wrench.
Why is a torque wrench a must have?
Every bolt on your mountain bike has a specified torque setting. This torque setting insures that the bolts do not fall out of the frame through vibration, and it makes sure that you do not damage components by over tightening. In many cases (as in the pictures below), the torque settings are printed on your mountain bike frame or components.
When it comes to aluminum mountain bike components, the torque setting is still important but not as critical. Over tightening can crack these components over time, so you should still tighten correctly. With the increasing popularity of carbon mountain bike components, torque settings have become much more crucial. Over tightening of carbon mountain bike components guarantees component failure. Carbon parts and pieces can not handle the same clamping force of aluminum. Carbon will crack (or slip of not tightened enough) much faster than their aluminum counterparts.
So you don’t do your own mountain bike maintenance? You still need a torque wrench to double check bolts after numerous rides. Also, when you want to make simple adjustments to stem height, handlebar angle and other simple tasks, you will need a torque wrench to make sure that you tighten the bolts correctly upon installation.
Torque Wrench Tips
In my tool box, you will find the Craftsman torque wrench that you see in these pictures. For most mountain bike maintenance, it is really too large. I wanted something that would also work for automotive needs, but you can get one of the smaller versions to make things easier during your mountain bike wrenching.
One of the biggest mistakes that most riders make when using a torque wrench is over tightening. Once you set a torque wrench to the desired torque setting, slowly tighten the bolt until you feel the torque wrench click. Once it clicks…LEAVE THAT BOLT ALONE! Many times, you will mentally feel like that couldn’t possibly be tight enough, so you go back and re-tighten that same bolt using the same torque setting. You have now over tightened that bolt and will run into issues later. The biggest thing to remember is to trust that torque wrench!
If your torque setting is not printed on the parts like you see below, consult your owners manual of the part the bolt is attached to for the correct torque setting. It is always a great idea to check all of your bolts periodically to insure that you will not have devastating mechanicals out on the trail.