Best bike torque wrenches 2023: Protect your components and improve your maintenance work

Best Torque Wrenches

Using one of the best bike torque wrenches will allow you to adhere to the manufacturer's recommended torque specifications for all the bolts on your bike, helping you work accurately and safely. 

Nearly every bolt or fastener on a bike will have a torque rating specified by the manufacturer. Torque is the measurement of rotational force that is applied to an object. When we tighten down a bolt we stretch the threads creating friction, which prevents the bolt from coming undone. Too loose and the bolt or screw may work free, but too tight and we may damage the bolt or whatever it's attached to. 

A torque wrench will allow you to quickly and safely tighten your bike's fasteners or bolts to the correct torque rating every time. Helping you protect the delicate and lightweight components that are now so commonplace on the best road bikes, as well as prevent a failure or mechanical whilst out on a ride. 

I've awarded the best in test to the Effetto Mariposa Giustaforza 2-16 Pro. As someone who has used torque wrenches day in for day out for years, it gets my vote. It's a joy to use and is calibrated to a very high level of accuracy.

If you're unsure what to consider when buying, head to the bottom of the page for our buyer's guide on how to choose a torque wrench. As a qualified mechanic, I've worked on a range of bikes with all of these torque wrenches across a range of different jobs to put them all through their paces to come to a final verdict. 

The Best bike torque wrenches you can buy today

Torque is a large topic and we put together a mini-series this year to supplement this guide and provide even more information on the subject. 

We spoke to professional mechanics in other automotive, aviation and the bike industry to get their take on working with torque wrenches and torque specs. And see how we could put it to use in the bike industry. 

We also spoke to torque wrench manufacturers and got some great expert information and advice on looking after your torque wrench and on torque itself.

Finally to finish the series we took some torque wrenches to a Metrology lab to get them calibrated and see how accurate they still were after years of use and highlight an area that often gets overlooked in the bike industry. 

Best Overall

Tools included

Shop Tools

Digital torque wrenches

Pre Set torque wrenches

How to choose

It's worth spending as much as you can afford on a torque wrench from a manufacturer that provides calibration documents or lists the calibration standard adhered to. This means you should end up with an accurate tool. 

Aside from that, work out the max torque rating to be found on your bike(s) and work backwards from this. You may need one or two torque wrenches to tackle everything, and pay attention to whether you have any hard-to-reach or awkwardly placed bolts that may be hard to access; this may dictate the torque wrench size you go for.

Also worth considering is drive size, if you have a socket set of 3/8" hex bits already, investing in a 3/8" drive torque wrench means you can do a lot more with your hex bits and sockets and use them with your new wrench for example, although you can of course buy convertor sockets to get around this. 

What is torque?

Torque is the twisting force applied to an item. In the case of bike torque wrenches, that's the bolts and components that hold your bike together, but you'll also find torque numbers (much larger ones) mentioned in relation to the turning force delivered by the best e-bike motors.

Torque on bikes is almost universally measured in Newton meters, abbreviated Nm, although there are other units like in/lb, ft/lb or kg/cm. Make sure that your torque wrench works in Nm to avoid having to convert values each time you use your tool.

Is one torque wrench enough?

In order to be able to torque every component to spec on your bike your probably going to need two torque wrenches. Though this isn't a hard and fast rule. 

The torque range of components across a bike normally ranges from 3 Newton metres and tops out at around 40-70nm depending on the component in question. Most wrenches won't cover this range so most people or shops end up with a smaller torque wrench for, you guessed it, the smaller stuff and a larger torque wrench to cater for things like cassette lock rings and crank arm bolts. A smaller torque wrench will also allow you to easily access smaller bolts that are potentially hard to reach such as brake calliper bolts and awkwardly placed seatpost clamp bolts. 

Is a preset torque key good enough?

For smaller jobs on your bike, you may be fine with a preset torque key rather than needing an adjustable torque wrench. Many small bike bolts specify a torque spec of around 5Nm, so a torque key preset to this value will really help you out. Some torque keys come with multiple fixed-value torque heads, so you'll be covered for other values too.

A torque key for bikes will usually be designed to be highly portable too, so it's easy to stash in one of the best bike saddle bags.

It's worth noting that not all pre-set torque wrenches can be recalibrated and do have a shelf or cycle life. So if you have been using the same unit for years it's probably good practice to replace it with a fresh one. Otherwise, you may be unknowingly over or under-tightening bolts. 

Where's the best place to buy a torque wrench?

Don’t be afraid to look beyond cycling brands. A common refrain is that bike-specific brands impose a bike tax on parts. There are reasons why that's not actually true but for the purpose of this conversation, it doesn't matter much. 

Torque is certainly not specific to the bike industry, there is a whole range of torque wrenches on the market, what you should look for is a quality wrench that has been calibrated to the relevant ISO standard so you know it is accurate.

For bikes that means torque ranges that make sense for the bolts on a bike and it means scales rated in Newton metres. Purchasing something designed for another industry might be cheaper but could require constant conversions. Torque is torque though; as long as you find something that works it doesn't matter too much what it's marketed for.

How do you use a torque wrench?

Just because you are tightening a bolt with a torque wrench doesn't automatically mean you are getting the correct torque. One of the biggest mistakes is holding the wrench incorrectly. Each wrench has a design that requires a specific placement of force against it. Park Tool has an excellent video covering the details but the bottom line is you should never choke up on the wrench or hold it at the very end; basically, hold it at the handle.

Once you know the torque rating of the bolt you want to tighten, set the torque wrench dial or gauge to the relevant rating and begin tightening the bolt. Ensure the hex bit attachment is sitting straight fully engaged with the fastener you are tightening. Once your desired torque is reached the wrench will audibly 'click', or if electronic, 'beep' letting you know the desired torque has been reached. You will also be able to feel a physical click in the wrench itself when the desired torque spec is reached. Resist the urge to redo the bolt, you only need to torque it to spec once. 

What type of torque wrench is best?

Some torque wrenches are electronic and some are mechanical. There's nothing that makes one inherently more accurate than the other but there are reasons you might choose one or the other. The main argument for mechanical is that they don't need batteries. You never run the risk of reaching for your wrench and finding it dead. Also, torque wrenches can last a very long time and LCD displays don't have the same staying power as a precision metal tool. 

Electronic wrenches offer more flexibility and information. If you have a need to measure different units an electronic torque wrench lets you easily switch between them.

More useful to most people though is seeing the torque as you approach your setting. It can feel comforting to know if you are getting close and loud alarms with blinking lights make it obvious when you've reached your target. It's also nice to be able to precisely set an exact number and have it easy to read. The downside is that the dead zone and click of an analogue wrench when it reaches the set value is easier to feel and electronic wrenches don’t have that.

Electronic or Analog?

Fundamentally the way that analogue wrenches and electronic wrenches work is different. Analog wrenches use a spring and when you get to the correct torque there's a release of pressure along with a click and some amount of dead zone. Digital torque gauges work the way that a power meter does, with strain gauges. What that means in practical use is that there's no release of pressure and dead zone in electronic wrenches. But their batteries can run flat, which may catch you out from time to time. 

Electronic torque wrenches also have a slightly different feel to mechanical units that can take some getting used to and it can be slightly harder to feel the torque or 'tightness' of a fastener as you tighten it with an electronic wrench. In our experience this can make you doubt yourself sometimes. If something feels off, don't just blindly proceed, stop and check your work.

Do torque wrenches need maintenance?

Torque wrenches are precision tools for measuring torque, not general-purpose wrenches or ratchets. If you use your torque wrench to undo bolts, you risk pushing it out of calibration and or damaging it. Always use another Allen key or regular wrench for loosening bolts and only use your torque wrench for tightening to spec.

For the same reason, you also want to be sure to release the tension on the wrench before storing it. Leaving the wrench spring in tension during storage will cause it to move out of calibration over time. It only takes a moment to set the wrench to the lowest setting before storing it and it will make sure you get the most precision out of an expensive tool.

Most manufacturers recommend calibrating a torque wrench yearly. This is not particularly expensive to get done and will ensure your wench is still operating in the correct range of torque.

Try to avoid dropping your torque wrench and always store it in its case or bag. Temperature extremes can also affect the accuracy and a few practice 'clicks' before you begin working will provide more accurate results as the spring in your click-style torque wrench warms up. 

Do I have to use a torque wrench?

You don't have to use a torque wrench on your bike but it is advisable and best practice to do so. 

Using your own feel when tightening bolts will get you pretty close (if said feel is decent), but we've seen plenty of heavy-handed riders strip delicate threads on parts, however.

A torque wrench eliminates any doubt and confirms your components won't be damaged or vibrate loose on your bike. In the event of a warranty issue, you'll also have a stronger position. 

How do I find the torque rating of a part?

Components like handlebar stem, seat post clamps and crank bolts often will have torque ratings listed on them somewhere by the manufacturer. But often things like derailleur bolts and brake pinch bolts will all have torque ratings but you may have to look them up. Mechanics will have a lot of these memorised already.

Manufacturers' websites will have torque specs listed, but Park Tool also has a very useful table of torque specs here for you to reference. 

Should I grease the threads of bolts before I torque them?

An assembly compound such as grease or anti seize etc is often recommended by manufacturers when assembling components and tightening bolts.    

Friction between dry threads can lead to inaccurate torque readings. It's best to adhere to the manufacturer specs if your unsure, but grease is a good idea on nearly every threaded fastener. 

How do we test torque wrenches?

I tested all of the torque wrenches included here on a range of different bikes, parts, and servicing jobs. I'm a qualified mechanic who ran a workshop for several years, using torque wrenches most days. 

These buyers guide represents my choice of what I think are the best torque wrenches for bike on the market today. 

Tom Wieckowski
Tech writer

Tom joined the Cyclingnews team in late 2022 as tech writer. Tom has over 10 years experience as a qualified mechanic with 5 or so of those being spent running an independent workshop. Tom has ridden and raced bikes from an early age up to a national level on the road and track and has ridden and competed in most disciplines, even the odd bit of bike polo. Tom is as happy tinkering away in the garage as he is out on the road bike exploring the Worcestershire lanes.

With contributions from