Pretty much every nut and bolt on your motorcycle will have a pre-determined figure for the torque it should be done up to.
Torque is a force applied at a radial distance and is a measure of how tightly you do up a bolt or fixing, and while screws may not need an accurate measure of torque application, most nuts and bolts do. The only way to make sure you have it correct is by using a torque wrench.
These measure the applied torque and most will ‘crack’ when they reach the pre-determined level. For example, you find out the correct setting for a particular fixing, set your torque wrench to that figure then tighten the fixing until the wrench ‘cracks’ – a clutch releases when you reach the required torque.
However, some are more technical than that and offer a digital read-out of the torque being applied, for even closer accuracy.
Getting the torque right is important for several reasons; it provides the correct clamping force for the component that the nut or bolt is securing, such as an engine casing, for example.
Too tight and the casing could get damaged, too loose and it may not provide a proper seal. Other fixtures will prevent movement, such as tightening rear-wheel spindles; too loose and it may allow dangerous movement while getting it right is essential to stop this as well as allow future work to be carried out easily and prevent damage.
When it comes to motorcycles, if you tackle most jobs yourself, you will almost certainly need a 1/2in drive torque wrench, especially if you plan to ever remove the wheels or adjust your chain.
Motorcycle rear-wheel spindles can require torquing up to 150Nm (110lb·ft), which is the equivalent of a force of 110lbs or 50kg being applied by a 1ft (300mm) long lever. To put it into context, that’s really tight – the wheel nut for a Volvo XC90, for example, is 105lb·ft.
Here is selection of torque wrenches that can help you get every job right.
This hefty torque wrench from tool manufacturer Silverline is the kind of beastie you may need if youu2019re planning on swapping wheels around or adjusting chains and need to tighten wheel spindles.
It can cope with torque figures from 28 to 210Nm – plenty for motorcycle wheel spindles and is Amazon’s Choice, with great reviews. It has a reversible ratchet head and comes in a plastic case with a 125mm extension bar and a 1/2in to 3/8in socket adapter.
Hefty limit of 210Nm
465mm long handle
Case with 3/8in adapter and extension
Overkill for smaller fasteners
Amazon Basics 1/2in
Amazon has its own range of branded items u2013 Amazon Basics u2013 and this 1/2in drive torque wrench looks remarkably similar to some others, including the Silverline, but gets good reviews on the site.
It comes in a plastic storage case and is available in a range of sizes, including this one, with settings from 27.1 to 203.5Nm. The knurled handle is used to set the torque and the 480mm long handle makes easy work of applying the necessary torque, with a clutch ‘cracking’ at the limit. It also has a reversible ratchet head.
Good limit of 203.5Nm
Use for left and right-hand threads
Too large for smaller fasteners
KK Moon Digital
A variation on a theme, this meter isnu2019t really a torque wrench u2013 it turns any 1/2in drive ratchet or T-bar into a torque wrench. The ratchet goes in one end and the socket on the other and a digital read-out displays the actual torque being applied.
Different meters are available with different ranges – this one is rated to 200Nm though you can get one up to 340 if you need it. Not only will it display the actual torque but you can set an alarm to indicate a pre-determined value.
Reads actual torque being applied
Audible alarm at pre-determined value
Need separate drive ratchet/handle
Ice Tools T-Handle
Though intended for bicycles, this could be handy for intricate work with smaller fittings. Itu2019s a T-handle that is supplied with a selection of drive bits that includes a small torque meter built into the handle.
It only runs to 10Nm but will be handy for smaller fittings or screws that need to be tightened to an actual figure. It gets decent reviews online.
Great for smaller jobs
Changeable drive bits
Gauge built in to handle
No way to pre-set limit
AC Delco 3/8in Digital
Not a cheap option but then, if you are using your tools regularly, then you may want to spend some more money on ones that are built to last. This digital torque wrench from AC Delco uses 3/8in drive sockets and has a digital read-out of the actual torque being applied.
A pre-set limit alarm can be set that generates an audible signal as well as a flash when reached and this example goes up to 50Nm though a larger, 1/2in drive version is also available with a limit of 134Nm.
Actual torque read-out
Audible and visible limit
Certificate of calibration
High cost for amateur or occasional mechanic
Draper Gauge Wrench
This brought a flood of nostalgia to me u2013 my father had one of these and we used to use it when I was a kid when we were tinkering with whatever was our project at the time.
Proper old-school, it’s a 1/2in drive handle with a separate bar that indicates on the built-in scale the actual torque being applied. There’s no limit or warning – you just have to keep a watch on the needle to see what the torque is.
Simple to operate
Give real-time measure of actual torque application
No pre-set limit to indicate correct torque
Torque Angle Gauge
Sometimes on fasteners, you have to tighten them to a certain torque and then, a specified angle further. Many people assess that angle by eye and if itu2019s something easy like 90u00b0, then fine.
However, if it’s an angle that isn’t particularly easy to judge, then this angle gauge will do the job. A ratchet handle goes on top, the socket underneath and you apply torque until the necessary angle has been achieved.
Make torque angle application easy
Adjustable stop bar
Full 360° use
Doesn’t indicate actual torque value
This torque wrench from British manufacturer Britool is a serious piece of kit. Itu2019s almost 600mm long, meaning it can easily apply plenty of torque and it is rated to 135Nm with 1/2in drive sockets.
The figure is set by turning the handle and it ‘cracks’ when the limit is reached. There is no switchable direction head – to change direction, you push the drive square through the head and mount the socket on the other side and reverse the direction of operation.
Long handle for easy torque application
Accurate and easy to set
Comes in plastic storage case
Large size means useful for big jobs only