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Let’s talk cycle torque!

13 Aug, 2015 | Return|

We spend a lot of time on this blog talking about torque in applications as diverse as aerospace, construction and automotive. But we don’t spend nearly enough time talking about torque in relation to cycling.

This is a shame and it ends today, because cycling is a growth sector in the UK. Whether it’s because of Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Chris Hoy or Team Sky at the Tour de France, cycling traffic has increased every year since 2008, roughly about the time that the British first realised we were getting quite good at it. What’s more, in 2014 the number of miles cycled altogether was 3.8% higher than in 2013, according to research by the CTC, the national cycling charity. More miles, in fact, were travelled by bike than either motorcycles or buses. However, like cars, buses and planes, torque is important for bikes, because there are many screws and bolts on bikes that require controlled torque, from brakes and cranksets to derailleur gears.


In recent decades a revolution has taken place is in the materials used in cycle manufacture. Heavy steel frames and components have been replaced by aluminium, carbon fibre, titanium and ultra-thin section steel tubing. Bikes that are as light as those ridden in the Tour de France are now within reach of many amateur racers and keen leisure cyclists. One of the results of this is that there is now very little margin for error in bolting. Bike components are now lighter, but much more expensive. Whereas in the old days you could get away with quite wide tolerances in bolting your bike together, that is just not possible today. What’s more, cyclists put huge trust in the equipment. However, our roads in the UK are in a shocking state and cyclists are putting huge trust in their 7kg road bike as it hurtles downhill at 40 mph plus.


Some are not even riding on tarmacked roads. The Paris-Roubaix road race is ridden in part on cobbles which puts massive stresses on both bike and rider. Cyclists certainly don’t want bolts loosening off due to the vibration. Off road, a little bit of desk research revealed that the downhill speed record on a production bike is 102.5 mph down the side of a volcano. Extreme yes, but if you are doing that kind of thing you really don’t want your handle bars coming loose! Even for amateur riders traveling at much more modest speeds, the stresses on off road/mountain bikes are enormous.


So, my advice is that if cyclists are purchasing a modern high-tech bike, bear in mind that you are placing a lot of trust in it and obtain a good quality torque wrench to ensure that all joints and bolts are fastened correctly. Norbar wrenches are accurate to within ±3%, and are backed up with a calibration certificate uniquely tied to each wrench by serial number. This means that cyclists can have complete confidence in the work they are doing with the wrench. This should result in optimum bike performance. You may not win the Tour de France but you will be safe in the saddle.


Philip Brodey

Sales and Marketing Director

Norbar Torque Tools