Best Torque Wrenches

Evans Brasfield
by Evans Brasfield

The most important specialty tool you can buy for your motorcycle

As motorcycle technology has advanced, the tolerances to which they are manufactured have gotten ever tighter. While torque wrenches have always been important, modern motorcycles, and particularly their engines, depend on the exacting tightening specifications allowed by a torque wrench. Every motorcyclist should have one to assist them in their home-mechanic efforts.

When looking for a torque wrench, it’s easy to get lost in the woods of specifications and prices. To ease your buying decision, look for these attributes: brand, size of ratchet drive, type of wrench, quality, and price. When choosing a brand, go with one that has a good reputation. You may save some money with a no-name brand, but the quality and durability may be suspect. The size of the square drive on the ratchet will determine what sockets can be mounted to it. Larger, higher-torque fasteners will usually require a 1/2-inch drive, and smaller, a 3/8-inch drive. (In my toolbox, I have both a 1/2-inch and 3/8-inch drive for foot-pounds and inch-pounds, respectively.)

As you choose the type of torque wrench you buy, stay away from the cheap bar-type, which is hard to use and easy to misread. While I have always used click-type torque wrenches, which briefly release with a click when the specified torque is reached, digital torque wrenches, which use a beep and/or vibration to let you know when proper torque is reached are increasingly popular. Since quality and price often go hand-in-hand, you should avoid the cheapest ones but the average user doesn’t need to go out and buy the most expensive one, either. Look for calibration accuracy of around 4%-5%.

Below, you will find a listing of some of the best torque wrenches we can find, based on the manufacturer’s reputation, specifications, and reviews.

Table of Contents

1. CDI (Snap-On) 1503MFRPH 1/2-Inch Drive Adjustable Micrometer Torque Wrench

While you may not have heard of CDI tools, if you know anything about mechanics’ tools, you’ve heard of Snap-On, and CDI is a subsidiary owned by Snap-On. Consider this click torque wrench for those who want quality tools but don’t want to sell their first-born child to get them. Depending on the motorcycle you own, you can buy a 20-150 lb-ft or 30-250 lb-ft model. You’ll get a 25-inch long wrench to assist with higher values, while the ratchet itself allows for use in either direction. The laser-etched scale is easy to read, and the setting has a positive lock with spring-loaded pulldown lock ring. A calibration certificate is included with the wrench. CDI also makes torque wrenches with 1/4- and 3/8-inch drives.

Bottom Line

  • For those who want Snap-On tools but don’t want the Snap-On price

2. GearWrench 85077 1/2-Inch Digital Torque Wrench

This digital torque wrench offers five different torque unit measurements: Nm, ft lb, In lb., kgf m, and kg cm. Once set to a value, the “Target torque alert” warns as you approach the target torque, and tells the user when the value is reached with a vibrating handle, buzzer, and solid LED light. The 72 tooth ratchet allows for ratcheting increments as small as 5°. The certified accuracy is an astounding +/- 2% between 20% and 100% of the wrench’s minimum and maximum torque values.

Bottom Line

  • 2% accuracy!

3. TEKTON 1/2 Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench

As the name implies, this 26-inch torque wrench uses a click to tell you when the desired setting is reached. The 1/2-inch drive wrench includes its own storage case. The desired value is set via a high-contrast dual-range scale. Although the ratchet rotates in both directions, torque is only measured for clockwise rotation. The all-steel wrench is calibrated to +/- 4% accuracy.

Bottom Line

  • A value-focused torque wrench

4. ACDelco Tools ARM601-3 3/8” Digital Torque Wrench

Torque wrenches with a 3/8-inch drive are ideal for smaller bolts with lower torque requirements. This 12.25-inch torque wrench measures values between 2-37 lb-ft with an accuracy of +/- 2% clockwise +/- 3% counter clockwise of indicated value within a range  of 20% to 100% of full scale. The LCD screen displays kg-cm, N-m, in-lb, and ft-lb. The built-in buzzer notifies the user when the desired value is reached. Meets or exceeds ASME B107.14-2004, ISO 6789 standards, individually serialized with matching certificate of calibration traceable to N.I.S.T.

Bottom Line

  • Ideal digital torque wrench for smaller fasteners

5. eTORK Click-Style Torque Wrench (3/8-Inch Drive)

This 3/8-inch drive torque wrench features a 45-tooth ratchet that allows for torque measurement in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions. The wrench is calibrated to +/- 3% accuracy in a clockwise direction. The hardened alloy steel housing features a soft-grip handle for comfortable use. A lifetime personal use guarantee is included with the eTORK wrench. Meets the requirements of America National Standard ASME B107.300-2010.

Bottom Line

  • An inexpensive 3/8-inch click torque wrench

Torque Wrench FAQ

Do I really need a torque wrench?

In a word, yes. Over tightening or under tightening fasteners on your motorcycle can get very expensive very quickly – and that’s before we even consider the potential risk you would put yourself under with improperly-tightened bolts. Have you ever seen a bike with a missing rear axel nut? It’s not something you want to experience first hand. However, having a quality torque wrench is only half of the equation. You also need to know what values to set it to. So, you should also buy your motorcycle’s factory service manual.

Is it OK to loosen bolts with a torque wrench?

Again, in a word, no. A torque wrench is a precision measuring instrument, not a breaker bar. If you use a torque wrench to loosen fasteners, you run a very high chance of knocking it out of calibration and effectively rendering it useless. So, don’t throw away your money.

What happens if you don’t use a torque wrench?

Basically one of two undesirable possibilities await an improperly torqued fastener. First, if you over torque the fastener, you can feel the sudden looseness of stripped threads or a broken bolt – both of which set you up for potentially time-consuming repairs. Second, if the fastener is too loose, it could spin free, leading to potential component failure. Think for a moment about a cylinder head that is not torqued down. Do you really want to take your engine apart again because the head gasket is leaking. Now imagine the dire consequences of a loose nut on the bike’s suspension or wheels. These can easily become life-or-death hazards.

Additional Resources

MO Wrenching: Why You Need A Torque Wrench

Must Have Motorcycle Tools For Productive Wrenching

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Evans Brasfield
Evans Brasfield

Like most of the best happenings in his life, Evans stumbled into his motojournalism career. While on his way to a planned life in academia, he applied for a job at a motorcycle magazine, thinking he’d get the opportunity to write some freelance articles. Instead, he was offered a full-time job in which he discovered he could actually get paid to ride other people’s motorcycles – and he’s never looked back. Over the 25 years he’s been in the motorcycle industry, Evans has written two books, 101 Sportbike Performance Projects and How to Modify Your Metric Cruiser, and has ridden just about every production motorcycle manufactured. Evans has a deep love of motorcycles and believes they are a force for good in the world.

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2 of 14 comments
  • TC TC on Aug 30, 2020

    What Mike Simmons said. I made the mistake of buying an electronic inch/pound torque wrench, and had to send it back for a replacement as it was defective. I need the feedback of a solid click to tell me when the torque value has been reached. The electronic ones are too vague to know for sure when the setting is reached. And then there's the battery issue. For the die hard Luddites, there are still millions of beam and dial indicator wrenches out there.

  • Tony W Tony W on Sep 07, 2020

    Forget the cost and buy a proper non electronic Snap-On torque wrench. I've had mine for 25 years and it has had a lot of use. Amortized over many years it is worth buying the best