Tools. I love them.
I come from a family of craftsmen and furniture builders, so I grew up around all sorts of tools–everything from fine chisels to industrial table saws. That upbringing taught me what makes a good tool and how to spot them. While my path led me in a different direction than my father and grandfathers, I still have a workshop filled with tools. Mine just serve a different purpose. Instead of turning wood into works of art, I combine piles of metal and carbon parts into complete bikes ready to paint the trail.
Birzman may not be the first name you think of when it comes to bike tools–at least, not yet–but the Taiwanese company has been increasing its presence in North America over the past couple years. They recently sent over their torque wrench for us to try out. It comes in a protective plastic case with a die-cut foam interior to hold all the components. Inside the case you’ll find the torque wrench itself along with 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm bits, as well as a T25 Torx bit. Those will cover the vast majority of bike components, although I would like to see the inclusion of a 2.5mm bit as well, since many lock-on grips use that diminutive bolt size.
In hand, the torque wrench is weighty and feels solid. The torque ranges from 3-15Nm, with 0.1Nm gradations between each whole number. This means that if you need to torque something to 7.2Nm, you can do so. To adjust the setting, pull down on the collar on the handle and rotate it to the desired position. The numbers are etched into the body of the wrench, but I found them a little hard to see, as there wasn’t much contrast between them and the rest of the steel. If your shop is brightly lit, this is probably less of an issue. When you reach the desired torque, there is a satisfying breakaway.
If you’re serious about working on your own bike, you really should have a torque wrench in your tool kit. Doubly so if your bike is rocking any carbon parts. While carbon is extremely strong, it can easily be relegated to the scrap heap by a ham-fisted mechanic. And not just to pick on carbon, as I’ve seen plenty of cracked aluminum stem face plates too. My point is, if you have nice shit and you want to keep it nice, you need the right tool for the job.
Another place where the Birzman torque wrench has been handy is suspension pivots. You want the bolts tight enough that they don’t back out, but you also can’t just wrench down on them as hard as you can. That’s an easy way to crush bearings, leading to premature wear and less than optimal suspension performance. Using a torque wrench takes the guess work out of the process. As an aside, several of the bikes we’ve had in for testing recently–including from Norco and Pivot–have the torque specs printed directly on the suspension bolts. That is endlessly helpful.
As I noted above, I would like to see the addition of a 2.5mm bit, and the numbers can be a little hard to read. Even considering those minor flaws, I would not hesitate to recommend the Birzman torque wrench. It’s an essential tool for the serious home mechanic to keep their modern mountain bike running well.
Thanks to Birzman for providing the torque wrench for review.