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We love it when Prestacycle releases new products, and their TorqRatchet and T-Handle Ratchet are no exception. These two new tools are great for anyone who regularly works on a bicycle. Even better, they have plenty of uses outside of bicycle maintenance. I’ve had the original Prestaratchet since 2012, and it’s come in handy for a variety of tasks. Cordless drills and screwdriver-handle type drivers are great, but there are some places they don’t fit or aren’t easy to use. And that’s where Prestacycle tools really shine. With that in mind, let’s get to the reviews.
First up is the TorqRatchet. Back in the days of steel bikes, any ham-fisted mechanic could work on them. Because overtightening was not an issue. When aluminum became more common, torque specs became more of a concern. With the introduction of carbon fiber and other composites, proper torque is critical. Now, I’ve had $100 and $300 torque wrenches at my disposal. But does the average cyclist want or need a tool that expensive just to swap stems or adjust their levers? Nyet, comrade.
So how about a $49.95 torque wrench, or $59.95, with 20 bits? That’s more reasonable. Even better is how the TorqRatchet addresses certain torque wrench concerns. If you drop one of those expensive “click-type” torque wrenches, you’ll forever wonder if it’s now out of calibration. So the TorqRatchet uses a variation of the “pointer-type” design, where tension on a bar moves a pointer along a calibrated scale from 2-10Nm. And it’s good for 5,000 cycles before you need to have the calibration checked. Just as important, at 5.25 inches, and 68 grams, it’s light and compact. If you’re taking a new bike or components for a test ride, touring, or doing an epic MTB ride, just take the wrench with you.
Using the TorqRatchet is super easy, as it takes any standard 1/4″ drive bit. Do yourself a favor and spend the extra $10 for the cycling-specific 20 bit set though. Either way, they don’t fall out – there’s no magnet, so I’m sure it’s magic. Patented magic. You can start things with the thumb wheel, then tighten up to 60Nm with the handle. Switch the lever for loosening. Pretty standard stuff. For torque-critical fasteners, partially tighten them first. Then grasp the black knob on the end of the wrench, and holding just that, tighten things down. You’ll see the white arrow move across the scale. When it points to the desired torque, you’re done. No dials to twist, nothing to set. Less moving parts means less things to go wrong.
Pros and cons
Obviously, the pros here are numerous. Price, weight, flexibility, and utility top that list. For far less than what I paid for my somewhat delicate torque wrench, I can get the TorqRatchet with a full set of bits. And it’s a fraction of the size and weight. I’d have to use the TorqRatchet on 100 fasteners per week for a year before it would require calibration again. For the home mechanic or enthusiast, this tool would probably pay for itself the first time you swap out your bars yourself, rather than paying your local shop. Not that I discourage you from supporting your LBS – I just feel we should all know how to work on our own bikes.
Prestacycle T-Handle Ratchet
What if you work on your bike, but don’t need a torque wrench? Maybe you’ve already got one, or like me, your all-steel city bike lacks carbon fiber parts that require extra care. Well, Prestacycle has you covered there too. Their T-Handle Ratchet is a regular ratchet, with a twist. (See what I did there?) It functions just like a regular 1/4″ bit driver. Same thumb wheel for starting or loosening things. Same lever for reversing the ratchet action. The difference is the extension bar – it’s not just for hard to reach spots. Push it through the ratchet head, and then you’ll realize why the ratchet handle has a hole for bits on the bottom. Now, you can use it as a t-handle wrench.
Have you priced a good set of “T” wrenches lately? You’d be in over $100 for your hex and torx sets. But the T-Handle Ratchet sells for $39.95 with the extension and 20 bicycle-specific bits. If you’ve already got a good set of bits, it’s $29.95 for the ratchet and extension. And what about portability? Who wants to carry that set of wrenches? Two of them probably weigh more than the 88 grams of the ratchet with extension. Throw in your bits, and you’re still nowhere near the weight of the wrench set, but you’ve got the same amount of utility.
Pros and cons
Like the TorqRatchet, the pros here are numerous and obvious. For instance, I recently installed a front rack on one of my bikes. This required two bolts on the underside of the rack, just above the front wheel. Sure, I could have removed the front wheel (nutted 15mm bolts on the axle) and used my old t-handle wrench. Instead, I was able to slip the ratchet under there, get it started with the thumb wheel, and snug things down. I like saving time. Which brings me to the one and only con I could find. In my old workflow, t-handles and 3-way wrenches are readily available. So swapping bits does slow me down. But we’re only talking about a few seconds here and there. And the portability more than balances that out.
To see all the cool tools available from Prestacycle, including their awesome tire levers, visit their website, Prestacycle.com.
I’d like to thank David at Prestacycle for providing their latest tools for this review. I’ve been using various Prestacycle tools for over 6 years now, and their continued innovation always impresses me. I don’t think there is a better value out there, and certainly, nothing as portable.