My first bicycle-specific torque wrench was a large, beam-style model. With a length of nearly eleven inches, it was fine for home use, but wasn’t practical for in-the-field adjustments. Handheld, clicker-style torque wrenches were more compact, but still too bulky for my bikes’ tool rolls or seat packs. Weighing in at less than 120 grams, and not much longer than a tire lever, the Topeak Nano TorqBar X ($54.95 MSRP) is ideal for workshop or trailside use.
The heart of Topeak’s Nano TorqBar X is the ultra-compact TorqBit. Constructed from steel and aluminum, the TorqBit driver delivers a torque range of 2-6 N m. In addition to the TorqBar’s handle, the TorqBit is also compatible with 1/4″ ratchets such as Topeak’s reversible driver. The TorqBar’s sturdy carrying case neatly stores the included five bits (3, 4, 5 mm Allen; T20, T25 Torx®) and TorqBit, or you can carry the TorqBit and two bits inside the handle. And for the times when you need all the bits-and-pieces, the included rubber strap (not shown) keeps everything secure and rattle-free.
In use, the TorqBar feels and operates like a much larger tool. It may be compact, but there’s nothing small about the Topeak’s performance. The alloy handle is comfortable, and produces plenty of leverage for the TorqBit’s 2-6 N m range. Large, easy-to-read numerals make obtaining the desired torque value a breeze, and the TorqBit has an extremely smooth feel throughout its entire range. Topeak’s hardened-steel bits are a step above the generic units often found in competitors’ tools, and they show no discernible wear after several weeks of daily use. And when it came to accuracy, the TorqBar’s values were in line with my other torque wrenches (both clicker- and beam-style).
Some readers might question the need a portable torque wrench. If a bike or component was assembled properly in the first place, wouldn’t a torque wrench be unnecessary in the field? Yes and no. Aside from the usual break-in period for drivetrains–and occasionally, brakes–I find that I rarely need to make road- or trail-side adjustments. But when setting up new contact points–handlebars, saddles, etc–a torque wrench is an absolute necessity. Over- or under-tightening bolts can easily damage expensive components, or worse, lead to failure and injury. A torque wrench offers cheap peace-of-mind, and with its compact size and light weight, the Topeak Nano TorqBar X is a worthy addition to any rider’s spares kit or workshop.
Disclosure: Topeak provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.