Back in the day, we tightened bike parts until they felt right. Torque was measured by the sensitivity of your hand. My brother used a torque wrench to put together sports car engines, but I never used one on a bike.
Then along came carbon fiber. Tighten too much and it could crack. Tighten too little and things could slip or maybe cause a pressure point that would lead to a crack. Suddenly, bike parts came with torque ratings and ¼ inch drive torque wrenches became necessary.
My first torque wrench was adjustable. When you reached a pre-set torque you would feel and hear a click. It didn’t stop you from tightening more (unlike my plumbing torque wrench, with a clutch that slips when you hit the preset torque). At higher torques, the click is definitive. At low torque, it is sometimes too subtle to notice, or maybe it is inconsistent. At any rate, I bought a deflecting-beam torque wrench. That sort relies on your eyes to watch a scale. A little more foolproof, but also a large tool.
Along came Silca (purveyors of the greatest tire pump ever made. My Silca Pista is 47 years old. I have replaced the rubber chuck a few times. I have lubricated the leather washer multiple times and may have replaced it once. The hose finally leaked and I replaced it after maybe 30 years. After 40+ years the gauge broke. I replaced it. While virtually indestructible, it is also eminently repairable – kinda like components from that other Italian company.)
The Silca T-Rachet and Ti-Torque kit is a pocket sized ratcheting torque wrench with multiple bits (hex bits: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6mm; Torx bits: t10, t20, t25; 2mm Phillips head bit). The whole thing weighs 220 grams (including case) and measures 120x70x30mm. It fits easily into a jersey pocket or an under-saddle bag.
Need to make a repair on the go and don’t want to guess at proper torque? This tool has you covered. Retail price is $120, which might make you squirm. Shipping is free, it is sometimes on sale, and (if it is anything like the pump) you might be able to will it to your children.
The warranty isn’t bad, either (though it only covers your lifetime, not that of your children):
SILCA LIFETIME WARRANTY
‘Parts covered by the SILCA Limited Lifetime Warranty are guaranteed to be free of defects in materials or manufacturing for the lifetime of the user. In addition this coverage, SILCA Limited Lifetime guarantees all hard parts to remain functional for a period of 7 years beyond the original date of purchase. This coverage includes wear and fatigue related failures or damage to these parts, but does not cover damage related to abuse, modification, or non-use related failures such as dents, impacts, running over with car, etc..’
And no, for the old friends out there, this is not about our late friend, known only to his parents as Tiberius.