There was a time when the vast majority of bike frames were steel and specific torque specs weren’t that big of a deal. Tighten down the bolts until they feel tight enough and call them good. If they feel a bit loose after a ride, give it a little more. The time of this being good advice is long past. As frames have gotten more advanced, torque requirements have become very important. If you want to work on your bike at home you will need a torque wrench. To help you choose one, we’ve put together a list of the best bike torque wrenches available, within which the Topeak Torq Stick sits very happily.
The Topeak Torq Stick is what we’ve dubbed the best bike torque wrench for all-around use: We like the features and the price point, and we like that there’s an option for more accessories or less depending on how you plan to use it. Now that we’ve had more time to spend with the product, we are ready to discuss what it’s like to use in a bit more detail. If you are looking to start working on your bike at home, keep reading to see if the Topeak Torq Stick is the right choice for you.
Design and aesthetics
It’s a funny thing to talk about how a torque wrench looks but just like any product in your possession, it matters to some extent. Not only does it matter, just as a matter of rule, but the Topeak Torq Stick Pro actually stands out a bit in this regard. The exterior is black anodized aluminium with an overall length of 22.5cm. Down the top of the main body is a simple graphic that reads “Torq Stick” in all caps with white lettering and a thin line helping to ground the graphic in the space.
Just below where the graphic ends is where the working part of the handle begins. This section has a subtly different design if you are looking at the pro version vs the original, non-pro, version. Both units feature a knurled bottom section but the design of the knurled detail has changed a bit. The pro version also continues the knurled texture farther up the body of the wrench. On the newer wrench, it surrounds the torque selection meaning that there’s enough space to fit your entire hand over the knurled grip texture. The selected torque indicator has changed a little as well and is now a flattened indent into the rounded wrench body.
What hasn’t changed is the design that covers how to select a torque. In both versions of the wrench there is a plus and minus indicator with a line and arrows. If you need a round number torque then the line on the bottom and upper portion of the handle will align. To change the selected torque, pull out on the end of the handle and rotate it towards the plus or minus. On the back of the wrench is a half torque indicator line and when you align the bottom portion to that line, you’ll have a half torque measurement selected.
At the other end of the wrench is where the ratchet head sits. The head is the same width as the rest of the body meaning there is no need to worry about getting into tough to reach spots. While some torque wrenches, such as the Effetto Mariposa Giustaforza 2-16 Pro torque wrench, use a shank that requires an adapter, the Topeak does not. Instead of a shank you will find a 1/4″ hex socket with a magnet in the back. The top of the head features a bronze switch for the direction. Torque is only measured when tightening a traditional right hand tightening bolt, but given the only common reverse threads found on a bike are on the pedal-crank interface and within threaded bottom brackets this isn’t going to cause you any issues.
Topeak Torq Stick Pro vs Topeak Torq Stick
Topeak offer a 1-10 version and 4-20 version of the Torq Stick but, as long as you are talking about the same torque range, the Pro and non-Pro models are functionally the same. Released second, the Pro wrench has benefited from some small aesthetic updates. This amounts to a change in the texture at the bottom of the wrench, a longer section of knurled texture, and the torque selection display has seen a change as well. Instead of following the same curve of the wrench handle on the non-pro model, it now inhabits a flattened indent.
The main change between the two wrenches are the accessories included. Previously the wrench had no case and only a small plastic case with 3/4/5/6/8/10 hex bits and T20/T25/T30 Torx bits. The new to market Pro version adds a case, adds to the bits, and also includes a couple of additional wrenches. For the bits there’s everything previously included plus 1.5, 2, 2.5 hex bits and T6, T7, T8, T9, T10, T15 Torx bits. Just as before the bits are extremely high quality and built from S2 hardened steel. There is also an extension that Topeak refers to as a speed sleeve with a plastic sleeve that allows rotation without moving your fingers.
Along with the bits, there’s two extra wrenches and a case. The two wrenches are both smaller, non-torque wrenches. One of them is just a simple round grip with no ratchet function. It’s perfect for hand tightening. The other is a 9cm chrome vanadium steel wrench that is typically marketed as a mobile solution. Hex bits slot into the ratcheting head directly and there is also a magnetic hex socket at the end of the handle. All of the pieces have a spot in the case and the holders for the bits rotate outward for ease of use and have a magnet to keep the bits held firm.
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When I put together our list of the best torque wrenches I knew right away I wanted to include the Topeak Torq Stick because it was such a joy to use. As I said up above, it’s funny to talk about the look of a torque wrench as an important feature but it draws you in visually and it feels good in your hand too. There are no large and cartoonish handles or anything that feels off about it. The design is simple and tasteful and the small updates for the Pro version fix most of the complaints we had about the original version. Namely, that means the addition of a case. Torque wrenches are delicate tools and having a simple plastic case to hold everything is such a nice upgrade.
Aside from the visual look, and feel in your hand, there are two main things that Topeak does really well with the Torq Stick. There are a lot of torque wrenches on the market that make it difficult to understand what torque you actually have selected. They tend to require starting from the bottom then counting turns of the handle to make sure you are at the bottom of the scale. From there you’ve got to count three turns per whole number and if you lose track it can be tough to tell for sure what number you have. For a half number, you’ll need to count.
Topeak throws all that out the window; the dial is clear and concise with an indicator that matches the dial exactly. You don’t need to count to move between whole numbers because it’s completely clear what’s selected. If you need less than a whole number, you can still count individual notches as you turn the handle for 1/10 resolution, but that’s rarely necessary. Torque specs on a bike will either be whole or half and having the half marker on the rear means no counting and no ambiguity.
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The other thing that Topeak nails, no matter the version, are the included bits. While it’s true that over torquing a bolt is an easy way to strip it, so are low quality bits. Even when used with a torque wrench, low quality bits can be imprecise. I have a set of cheap bits that I used to use and I had one slip on a bolt. I thought for sure I was in for a world of pain extracting a striped bolt until I grabbed a more precise bit from the Topeak set. The exact tooling and S2 steel was enough to grab the bolt and get it out. It might not always look like there’s a difference but high-quality bits are important and Topeak makes sure that’s what you get.
If you are using the Pro version that means a few more of those bolts but it also gets you some extra wrenches. The finger wrench is nice, and does get some use, but it’s really the mini wrench that got my attention. For years I’ve carried a Fix-it-sticks wrench in my mobile tool pack on my bike. This little wrench from Topeak might finally replace it. It lacks some of the leverage that one does but it’s smaller and on the side of the road I’m not sure I need that much leverage. Unfortunately, you will still need to purchase the Nano Torq bits to carry with it which aren’t included in this kit.
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There are less expensive torque wrenches on the market but the Topeak Torq Stick is worth the extra money. Compared to similarly priced options, and even more premium offerings, it stands out. It feels good in hand and it’s so much easier to read the selected torque than other options that use a window with a vague indicator line. A digital torque wrench such as the Unior Tools 266b offers additional functionality and a luxury option like the Effetto Mariposa Giustaforza 2-16 Pro is worth lusting over, but if all you need is a quality everyday tool and a good price then Topeak Torq Stick is the best option available right now. Choose the Pro version if you want the extra pieces, and a case, but otherwise the cheaper choice is just as good.
Despite being the best right now, there is some room for improvement in the future. When you reach the selected torque, the click is a bit light. I’d love to see a more prominent click and a larger dead zone to keep things safe at the lower end of the torque spectrum. The range is also a bit off and skews higher than necessary. It’s unlikely you need higher than 16 Nm if you need lower than 4 Nm. An update to shift the range a little lower would be welcome as well. Despite the complaints though, this is the torque wrench I’d recommend to most people.
|Build Quality||High quality anodized aluminium. This is a nicely built wrench and only misses a perfect score because the spring isn’t sealed inside.||9/10|
|Accuracy||We don’t have a laboratory but it’s claimed at +/-4% and checks against other torque wrenches. It loses a bit here because while that’s good, it’s not as good as a digital option.||9/10|
|Hand feel||Shaped well but the feeling of hitting torque isn’t great.||7/10|
|Included accessories||You get your choice here. Pay more for the Pro model and you get more. Either way, what you get is very high quality.||10/10|
|Value||It’s certainly not undervalued in the price but it’s worth the extra money charged.||8/10|
Tech Specs: Tech Specs: Topeak Torq Stick
- Price: £104.99 / $139.95 Pro: £152.99 / $199.99
- Included bits: Pro version adds a case, mini ratchet tool, finger bit holder, speed sleeve bit holder, and 1.5, 2, 2.5 hex bits as well as T6, T7, T8, T9, T10, T15, Torx bits. This is in addition to 3/4/5/6/8/10 hex bits and T20/T25/T30 Torx bits which are included in both versions.
- Measured Torque Range: 4Nm – 20Nm
- Length: 22.5cm
- Resolution: .1 Nm