Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
- Simple to use, accurate 2-10Nm torque wrench fits in a seatbag
- Full ¼” bit sets included for multi-tool functionality
- Durable, reliable, impressively small and light
- Highly versatile tools help make repairs easy, fun and safe
- There are “cheaper” tools (pun intended)
Price: TorqRatchet $59.95 and T-Handle Ratchet $39.95
Use: Used in my home shop, on the road and at work in our Praxis Cycles shop
RBR sponsor: No
How obtained: Samples from the company
Prestacycle Sets a New Standard With an Easy-to-use Takealong Torque Wrench
While the rest of us dream of epic rides every night, I bet that Prestacycle owner David Finlayson lies in bed dreaming up amazing new tools. Because he’s done it again with his TorqRatchet and T-Handle Ratchet. (Last fall I reviewed his Prestaratchet Kits.
These new bike-fixers are both small, light tools, the first only 5.25 inches (13.3cm) long and 68 grams and the second 4.5 inches (11.43cm) and 88 grams. Which makes them ideal for taking along in a pocket or pack and fitting in even the most overstuffed toolbox.
But don’t let their size fool you. Both are quality tools made of the best materials to handle anything you can dish out on the road or in the shop. And, they’re versatile for easy use, too.
A torque wrench is important to have on hand today with so many light bicycle materials and components. If you guess when you tighten things, it’s easy to mistakenly overtighten, which can damage and even break parts.
I’ve seen brake levers that were only slightly too tight cut right through a set of $300 carbon handlebars and too-tight seatpost bolts that snapped the seatpost collar. You’ll save yourself a lot of frustration and money by getting and using a torque wrench.
The TorqRatchet is the smallest torque wrench I’ve seen and it couldn’t be easier to use. It’s a big step up from what you’ll find in hardware stores because ordinary torque wrenches are usually oversize for bicycle work and clumsy to use.
Prestacycle’s is sized small to fit in tight spaces, feel right in the hand and prevent overtightening. It’s a beam type tool, which means that as you tighten the bolt a beam inside the tool flexes and makes the tool’s indicator point to the current torque.
The gauge is printed on the end of the tool on both sides so that you can read it even if you’re holding the tool upside-down. So you don’t have to plan how to hold the tool. Whichever way you put it on the component, you’ll be able to read it.
Also, the bit end of the tool has a built-in thumbwheel allowing turning the bit by hand for quickly snugging or loosening bolts to get a part off or get bolts tight fast. This can speed things up when a bolt is in a hard-to-reach spot, too, since you would otherwise only be able to move the handle a short distance. And, a tiny lever allows changing the tool’s direction for tightening or loosening.
Another nice feature is that the bits fit into the tool’s head so they don’t stick out as far as common ratchet bits do. This let’s you get the bit onto bolts where a regular bit or hex wrench won’t fit. And the tool’s head is open making it easier to change out bits, plus once in the tool the bits stay put thanks to Prestacycle’s bit-retention feature. The bits themselves come in a small rubber holder for organization and safe-keeping. You can trim the bit holder if you prefer to carry fewer bits.
The TorqRatchet’s hardened-steel head, aluminum handle and proprietary patented ratchet mechanism ensure plenty of power for working on bicycle components that take more torque, like pedals. And, its accurate torque wrench is designed to go 5,000 cycles before needing recalibration.
A Prestacycle 100mm Bits Extension bar is available separately for $5.95 and can be used two ways to increase leverage. You can also get a nice zip case with a bit set and the TorqRatchet held inside in rubber holders. To see the tool in use and all its features, watch this Prestacycle video.
Prestacycle T-Handle Ratchet
The T-Handle Ratchet is a ¼-inch-drive ratcheting handle with ¼-inch bit set plus Prestacycle’s 100mm Bits Extension. It boasts all the features of the TorqRatchet minus the torque wrench.
I find it ingenious that the handle end accepts bits, too, which means you can put a bit in the ratchet end for quick tightening and loosening and keep a different size bit in the handle for driving bolts by spinning the handle screwdriver style. It’s also nice to have 2 bits handy on the tool for quickly switching them without having to go get another bit from the bit holder. Plus, there’s a strong magnet in the handle end to holds the bits in.
The T-Handle Ratchet has an attractive and durable chrome finish and feels super solid in use. Both sides of the bit holder are open which makes bit changing easier. And just like the TorqRatchet, the bit holder actually grips the bits. They won’t fall out when you’re working.
The compact head on both these tools makes it easier to fit the bit into small places. And the 100mm T-Handle Extension lets the tools access hard to get at bolts like those T25 screws you find on some direct mount cranks these days. It’s also nice to have the added leverage of the T-Handle when loosening tight components such as pedals for example.
Overall, the more I use these cool new tools, the more I appreciate having them. And I can’t wait to see what Mr. Prestacycle dreams up next.
Ride total: 8,975
Leon Webster says
The ratchet looks a lot like the Topeak rocket ratchet that has been available for many years. Since my bikes are mostly old school steel, and alloys I am much less concerned with using a torque wrench on the road. Could you compare this to the Topeak rocket ratchet? Is it the same product?
The Topeak Ratchet Rocket Lite NTX is limited to 4-5-6 NM.
Jim Langley says
Thanks for letting us know, Roy!
This looks like a great tool. As a novice mechanic, how do I know what the proper torque is for a bolt?
Jim Langley says
Good question, Columbine. Park Tool has a nice chart showing common torque settings here:
Also, lots of parts today have the torque spec written on them. Sometimes it’s in hidden or hard to see places so you may need to look closely and around the part.
You can also find torque recommendations by visiting the component maker’s website in their technical or support papers. Not all companies do this but more and more are these days.
Hope this helps!
John M Greenler says
“Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance” has a great table in the back of desired torques for a wide range of bike fasteners! -John G-
Jim Langley says
Thanks for that tip, John – good one!
“And, its accurate torque wrench is designed to go 5,000 cycles before needing recalibration.” How does one recalibrate the tool?
Jim Langley says
You return the tool to the manufacturer, Roy and they recalibrate it. I have a few different torque wrenches and have used them a fair bit over the years but I doubt I’ve ever used one 5,000 times. I would think most people would never need to have the tool recalibrated.
Robert Ray says
I have been a fan of Prestacycle tools since they came out with their small ratchet and hex sets. They continue to surprise and excel. Kudoos