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.)

Filling my tires since 1974

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.

T-Ratchet and Ti-Torque kit in case (tape measure for scale)
Case open to see parts
From bottom: ratchet mechanism, attachment to make ratchet handle a T, main body, extension
Handle and body assembled – the attachment goes on the left
Torque scale – there are markings for 0-2-4, 0-3-5, 0-4-8 on different sides

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):


‘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.

The Last Round-up (Take One)

Tonight was the last Wednesday Night Bike Ride. It being October, sunsets are coming pretty early. There isn’t much time for after work rides.

Tonight’s ride was on a toll road – the Capital City Trail. The county website says the trail is closed for repaving ( though the same site says it will reopen mid-September, so there are no recent updates). Multiple other sources assured me that the paving is complete and the trail is open.

They were wrong, as evidenced by the “trail closed” signs at each road crossing/ trail entrance. The crossings are being redone and have six inch deep cuts, with gaps of 1-3 feet in the pavement. Trying to jump them would result in damage to more than a tire if one missed.

Due to the 25 mph wind, the trail was covered by debris including leaves, twigs, branches, and (concealed in the leaves) black walnuts. For those unfamiliar with black walnuts, they are a little bigger than golf balls, green, and slippery.

Due to the 85 degree temperature, the new asphalt attracted dozens of snakes 6-24 inches long (15-60cm for the Canadian readers) basking in the heat.

I forgot my phone. That it was momentarily distressing stuck me as odd, as I’ve had a cell phone for only six months. Still, it was with me every day for 4400 miles this summer, and its absence meant no pictures of this ride. Early on there were a couple of detours due to underpasses that were underwater. Later there were multiple stream crossings on a trail that isn’t supposed to cross any streams. It does run through marshland and the wet weather this summer meant a couple of dozen areas where we crossed running water. The wind was from the south and the last few miles we returned north. The tailwind was pretty nice.

In Praise of Quality Stuff

Long time readers of this blog know that I have a couple of bikes nearly 29 years old. I 78F06685-4188-4375-ACE7-5958C9105B0Dbelieve in buying good things and using them for a long time. When I returned from a 2 month trip this summer I discovered that the gauge on my tire pump had failed. I bought this pump in 1974. Ten or so years ago I replaced the hose, as it had begun to leak. I’ve had to replace the rubber chuck a few times. The leather washer in the barrel needs occasional re-lubing. I am happy to say that, after nearly 45 years a replacement gauge is still available. The pump and new gauge worked fine tonight. I think it will outlive me. Maybe I’ll will it to one of my kids. I don’t often plug specific products, but this pump is still available, in an updated version. It costs more than most, but is serviceable, repairable, and durable. Why buy anything else?

This may be the last Wednesday Night Ride, but it’s not the last ride. Stay tuned for theBOM2019_160x150_1535470767904_12972535_ver1.0 Ocooch Fall Ride and the annual Blue Spoon to Little Village ride. And you still have until October 15 to vote in Madison Magazine’s “Best of Madison” awards for your favorite local blog (in the “Arts and Entertainment” category).