Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Torque Touch: the Effetto Mariposa Giustaforza Torque Wrench
Chances are your very first bike tool was a 4, 5 and 6mm Park Y-Allen wrench. It was mine, purchased the same day as my Silca floor pump, both of which I still have. I spent slightly less than $40, which seemed an extravagance given that neither item could be ridden. As a relatively new cyclist I had a lot to learn about what constituted necessary.
The bikes most of us ride have changed a lot in the last 10 years, let alone the last 20 years. Some of these changes—better-made clothing, improved hood and saddle shapes and more sophisticated shifting systems—have made incremental changes to our riding experience, but other changes—namely carbon fiber—has changed the cost of bikes and the care required to maintain them immeasurably.
As evidence, I offer exhibit A: the Effetto Mariposa Giustaforza bicycle torque wrench. It wasn’t that long ago that a $185 tool was strictly the domain of bike shops. My truing stand didn’t break three figures. But with the number of riders riding carbon fiber frames, seatposts and (most especially) handlebars, far too many user-errors have been called defective products.
I recently did a little checking and realized that every product I’ve come in contact with in the last year came with torque ratings. For this, I’m glad. However, I also found myself profoundly frustrated; most of the torque wrenches out there don’t offer particularly detailed readings in the range bicycle parts require. Tighten a bolt to 6.2Nm? On some wrenches it can be difficult to tell the difference between 6 and 8Nm. While the Effetto Mariposa Giustaforza may not offer decimal-point gradation, the scale is far easier to read than most of its competitors’ wrenches. Dial in the desired torque and tighten until the head of the wrench twists sideway with a loud click, indication the desire torque has been reached.
With its 17-bit tool selection, the only bolt on a bike I haven’t been able to tighten with this thing is the 10mm bolt on the Campy Ultra-Torque crankset. I’ve found myself under-adjusting the torque at times just to make sure I bring up the torque gradually.
The shame of this product is that its price tag is so much higher than the average cost of normal home bike tools that many riders may balk at investing this much in a torque wrench. The reality is that every rider who has a carbon fiber frame, fork, seatpost, stem or handlebar (which is virtually every rider who owns a bike equipped with Dura-Ace, Record, Ultegra or Chorus) needs to purchase one of these, even if they aren’t prone to doing much maintenance on their own. Save a floor pump, I can’t think of another tool more necessary for today’s bikes than this thing.
Our bikes are becoming more complicated, fragile and high performance. It’s an inevitable nexus in our quest for speed. The good news is that we still have the ability to ride bikes just as good as the pros are on; that simply isn’t the case in most other sports. In the case of cycling and some of the UCI Continental teams in Europe, many of us are on bikes better than they are racing.
While it’s PRO to have a trick bike, what’s even more PRO is having a tool that will allow you to do no wrong. That it’s small enough to travel in checked luggage is just icing on the cake. Given what many of us have spent on our bikes, the cost of this tool is a small investment in peace of mind.