Tested: Park Tool TW1 and TW2 Torque Wrenches

Park TW-1 and TW-2 WrenchesCost: TW-1, $42; TW-2, $51
Phone: 651-777-6868
Web site: www.parktool.com

Technology is generally a good thing. In the world of the mountain bike, it has given us better-gripping tires, more efficient suspension and new, lightweight materials. These advances have necessitated change in the way we approach servicing the bike — specifically, the use of high-tech (thin-wall or composite) materials in the area of the seatpost, stems and handlebars, where a component failure could result in catastrophic consequences. As much as the old shop wrench in me hates to admit it, torque wrenches are becoming a necessity to get bars and posts tight enough without overdoing it. Park initially offered a ratcheting-type torque wrench that, while nice, also cost a lot. Realizing that the average enthusiast would much rather blow large amounts of disposable income on new parts rather than tools, Park now offers beam-type torque wrenches. The beauty of these new wrenches is that not only are they much cheaper, but they are actually more accurate with a margin of error around two percent compared to the more expensive ratcheting mechanisms with a margin of roughly four percent. The beam will also never fatigue or become inaccurate because you forgot to zero-out the spring. Also, when dealing with small fasteners, the beam’s heft is much lighter than that of its ratcheting brother, making it easier to wield (not much of an issue with the big wrenches).

The downsides of these wrenches are few and insignificant for the home mechanic. Requiring a visual check of the torque and a lack of ratcheting motion makes for slightly longer installation times and, because the small wrench lacks a Newton meter scale, you’ll need to consult a conversion chart.

Now, I know that $100 is still a big chunk of change for a pair of wrenches, but they will save many costly mistakes in the future. When something breaks and the warranty guy asks if it was tightened to torque spec, you can give a confident, “Yes.”