by Rick Schultz
A great torque wrench!
Last count, Topeak has 15 products in their Torq Tools category. They list a NANO TORQBAR series, NANO TORQBIT series, NANO TORQBOX series as well as two full-blown digital TORQ torque wrenches.
The timing couldn’t have been better. In need of a new torque wrench, the D-TORQ arrived at the shop for us to test.
Bike fitting is all about adjusting the bike to fit the rider. The bike fitter needs a great torque wrench – specifically when adjusting carbon fiber or aluminum parts. Carbon fiber doesn’t do well when you compress it too much (i.e., over tighten it by clamping it too hard), and I have seen my fair share of cracked carbon seat posts, the result of over-tightening the seat post clamp.
By the way, aluminum is also easy to damage. Most cyclists think that since aluminum is a metal, you don’t need a torque wrench when tightening bolts. But since bicycles are subject to A LOT of vibration, softer aluminum types are used so that stress cracking from vibration is reduced. As an example, manufacturers use softer aluminum in their stems. If you overtighten the handlebar stem face plate that holds the handlebars in place, several things can happen, none good. In the photo of the stem, overtightening (A) can pull the threads right out of the stem, (B) same thing here, (C) overtightening can cause stress cracks on the stem face plate.
When wrenching on carbon fiber or aluminum components, a great torque wrench is a necessity. If you don’t believe me, just ask your trusted local bike shop mechanic.
Do I Like It?
Yes, it’s easy to turn on and easy choose your preferred unit of measure (Nm, kg-cm, in-lb., ft-lb.). The D-TORQ is defaulted to Nm.
You can then use the D-TORQ in one of 2 modes.
- Normal Mode – As soon as you start using, the digital readout starts showing applied torque. Tighten until you reach the desired torque, which is shown on the digital display, then stop tightening.
- Alarm Mode – Or, you can use the “^” (increase torque), or “v” (decrease torque) buttons to set a value that when the D-TORQ reaches this number, it signals a buzzing alarm warning you the max torque value has been reached. I primarily use this mode when working on a bicycle. This is since most critical parts are either 4Nm or 5Nm. It’s very easy to set the D-TORQ between these values.
The D-TORQ takes a single AAA battery that lasts a long time. There is also a communication port – located along top edge of torque wrench pictured below. This is used by the factory to re-calibrate the D-TORQ every year and should never be opened by the user.
All-in-all, I would rate this torque wrench a 9 out of 10. For a digital torque wrench, it’s right in line with other quality DIGITAL torque wrenches. For example, CDI Computorq3 (SNAP-ON) runs $275 for standard model and $370 for the high accuracy model. Accuracy on the D-TORQ is +/- 3% in the clockwise (CW) direction and +/- 4% in the CCW direction. Quality manual torque wrenches (Proto, Snap-on, SK) run in the $125 to $225 range, so quality torque wrenches will cost a little. Personally, I prefer a digital torque wrench over a manual one.
The only ‘ding’ I have about this torque wrench is the small readout window. To be able to see the value clearly, you need to be looking at it almost directly on. Reviewing other digital torque wrench competitors, they all seem to have small windows. Other than that, if you are looking for a high quality and highly accurate torque wrench, look no further than the D-TORQ.
After finalizing this report, I sent it to a friend to proof-read. His comment was “WOW, that’s a hefty price for a torque wrench!” Thinking about his comment for a minute, I replied back “What’s the price if you overtighten the stem and your carbon fork’s steerer tube breaks while descending a hill at 35 mph?” I personally think a torque wrench is priceless and is one of the basic tools everyone should have.
Coach Rick Schultz is an avid cyclist who trains, races and coaches in Southern California. Rick is an engineer by trade, and in addition to being a coach, he's a bike fitter and prolific product reviewer. He's the author of Stretching & Core Strengthening for the Cyclist and Bike Fit 101: Your Toolset for a Great Bike Fit in the RBR eBookstore. Check his product reviews website, www.biketestreviews.com, and his coaching site, www.bikefitnesscoaching.com. Click to read Rick's full bio.