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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Ok so I understand our bikes require a specific torque measurements to tighten certain parts. I have been scouring the net for a decent low cost 1/2" torque wrench. I found one at Harbor Frieght for $15.99, but that seems way to cheap and many of the reviews are good and some say the thing is cheap junk.

Does anyone have a a cheap Torque wrench from Harbor frieght? Is it sufficient or should I invest a better quality torque wrench? Could you recommend a torque wrench that is less than $100 and decent quality?


This website says a cheap non-torque wrench will be just as good and says stay away from Harbor Freight's cheap torque wrenches.:

Torque wrench buyers guide

I've seen some bad reviews for even the most expensive torque wrenches. Your recommendation would be appreciated.....
 

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If you plan to do your own wrenching on the bike, car, etc., you will likely need more than one. Just changing the oil? A 3/8 drive will do. Taking of the wheels? You'll need 1/2 in drive. I've had some pretty poor Harbor Freight hand tools. I'd go to Sears or Lowes.
 

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The H-F wrench should do the job... I have Snap On torque wrenches, both 3/8" and 1/2" drive. I've owned them since about 1990, and they are as accurate today as they were new. I would think that the Craftsman units sold today would be a good choice for a decent wrench without breaking the bank. Like anything else, you can pay very little and "get what you pay for" in terms of quality and useful life. If price were no object, and/or you were earning your living as a technician only a Snap On tool would do.
Tools are among those things where the price is not necessarily the same as the cost. If your going to use it a lot, buy the best. For infrequent use, pay less and handle with care as it likely won't stand up to hard use, let alone abuse. If you go the ultra low cost route, get both sizes, as you will want the 1/2" drive wrench for axles which require higher torque values, while the small bolts, like used on the oil filter housing, call for very low torque settings. On a typical motorcycle most fasteners, except axles, call for tightening at torque values in the range of 8 to 24 ft.lbs., so you need the 3/8" drive for those. A 1/4" drive is the preferred size for the smallest bolts. Which leads to another essential tool... a Honda Factory Service Manual. This can be bought or stolen, which method of acquisition is entirely up to you.
 

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When it comes to drive sockets, wrenches, and screwdrivers nothing less than Snap On tools will touch the fasteners on my bikes. Cheap sockets and wrenches have ruined many nuts and bolts. It's a terrible thing to see. The hardware manufacturer's love crappy low quality tools, they are good for business.

Yeah, I know... I'm a snob where tools are concerned. Snap On, hands down are the best.
 

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Buy once, cry once. Why not get something you know is accurate. You definitely want a wrench that "breaks" at the set torque rather than one where you watch the indicator. There is not enough room on this motorcycle.

CDI Torque Wrench 752MFRMH

Low torque (the one I use most. Multiply ft-lb by 12 to get in-lb): 3/8" drive 20-150 in-lb. This will do mirrors, drive gear bolts, engine bolts, oil filter bolts, all hex bolts, chain adjuster, clip-ons etc.

Medium: 3/8" drive 10-100 ft-lb. Oil drain plug, pinch bolt, maybe brakes, but I think the small one covers those.

Higher: 1/2" drive Craftsman only used for axles and steering stem nut so far. Craftsman is used for higher, less accurate, torques.

Did you know that most of your engine bolts are designed to snap somewhere, slightly after the required torque? Guess how I found out...

You can only truly appreciate the low torque wrench if you snapped off the valve cover bolt during your 600 mile maintenance at slightly greater than 7 ft-lbs of torque :( 7 ft-lbs is what I would say is "snug."

The CDI wrenches are my favorite tools. Just get 'em! ;)
 

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Sears has a decent in-lb 3/8 wrench that has the handle "break" when you reach the torque value. It was around $50 IIRC. I got it for the head and cam bolts when I was re-shimming the valves on the NX250.

Usually there will be some bolts that you can't get to with a torque wrench anyway. Get the "feel" on the ones that you can do with the torque wrench and then use the same leverage and force on the ones you need to get with a box wrench.
 

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I have the Harbor Freight 1/2" torque wrench I use for car wheels. For higher settings above 50 foot pounds it feels accurate but the ratchet skips sometimes. My co worker took two back for skipping. I have a Snap on 3/8 for medium jobs but I wouldn't trust even that below 10 foot pounds for something like the oil filter cover. One guy posting here already yanked the threads out even while using a good torque wrench. To be honest I don't use them much as I generally prefer to go by feel. Even the best click type torque wrenches can drag and fail to click. Using one is not a license to turn off your feel.
 

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One that does 88Nm /65 ft/lb for the rear axle nut.

So a 3/8 may do if you have the adapers or socket to go to 24mm.
Problem with 1/2 drive is on the small stuff they are just not accurate.

I'm a Mechanical fitter so I'd never use a torque wrench on any bolt/nut with a 10mm head or smaller, you soon learn the right feel.

EDIT- beaten by Sendler,
Ideally we'd have 3 torque wrenches.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks everybody for your recommendations and feedback.

I learned my lesson with tools when I parted out my 178cc scooter to sell the parts after the engine seized after 788 miles (Chinese POS Scooter - lesson learned).

I broke two 3/8" adapters and a ratchet. There were a couple bolts that would not budge and stressed the hell out of me until I found a 1/2" break wrench, that sucker cranked it off like nothing. Now I'm a big fan of 1/2" sockets and the break wrench.

I also learned my lesson on over tightening the oil drain bolt, I broke it off into the drain but without damage to the scooter.

I have a coupon that expires today for 20% off at HF, I'm going to pull the trigger on that torque wrench, if it sucks it's only $16.

Btw, that rear bike stand for $24.99 from HF was solid but the swing arm support interferes with the muffler. I had to rest the one side on the muffler in order to get the wheel off, otherwise, the swing arm support sat right next to the Axl bolt head. What a PITA!
 

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As always, my opinion...

I believe the words "decent" and "cheap" are incompatible for things like torque wrenches, where the potential cost of inaccuracy is much higher than the most expensive tool you can buy. I've seen the results - broken head bolts and dropped connecting rods, just to name a couple.

There are three types of torque wrenches - beam, spring and deflecting beam. The cheapest, simplest, and least accurate one is a beam wrench, with the second rod that deflects when you lean on it. I have never seen one of these in any mechanic (that I know) toolbox. Having said that, if all you're looking for is something to tighten non-critical bolts, a beam will work provided to use it carefully and take care of it.

The spring wrenches use a coil spring that is compressed when the setting is dialed in, and increases the pressure on a ball detent. This is how most torque wrenches are made - they're usually round and have a micrometer-like scale on the handles. You twist the handle to set.

These can be good quality, but it's important that you back off the setting to zero every time you finish using it - else the spring will take a "set" and the torque applied at a specific setting will start being low. Even with a good wrench, you should have it recalibrated every 5 years or so, as the spring will lose rebound over time.

Deflecting Beam-type wrenches are the best - They don't need to be reset to zero after using and they tend to be more accurate for much longer. They're also much more expensive - the 1/2" Snap-On retails for over $300 US. On the other hand, mine is over 10 years old, used regularly, and still going strong.

Unless you use a torque wrench a lot (or on engine internals), I think you'd be fine with a good quality spring wrench - but I freely admit that I've never seen any tools at Harbor Freight (or Northern Tool's house brand) that I would consider "good" quality. Craftsman makes decent stuff, as does Park Tools, that isn't as high-priced as Snap-On and Mac. If you're a HF or NT fan, more power to you - if the tools are doing what you want, then you bought the right tools.

If I'm coming across as a tool snob, apologies. In another lifetime I made a living as a mechanic, and learned the hard way that trying to do things on the cheap often costs a heck of a lot more than doing it right.
 

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I've found that the cheaper torque wrenches don't do so well below 35 ft lbs, as in they don't click which can lead you to believe you need to torque more making you strip out bolts.

I would buy a cheapy click style torque wrench for you higher torque needs and buy the needle style torque wrench for things that need below 35 ft lbs of torque.






I bought a Summit Racing torque wrench and built my 383 V8 engine with it. My dad brought his torque wrench that's calibrated with him, which he uses for work, during the engine build and the Summit Wrench was pretty spot on.

Summit Racing SUM-900042 - Summit Racing® Torque Wrenches - Overview - SummitRacing.com

Just be sure to never drop the wrench and to loosen the torque settings while it's sitting up. These things can contribute to the settings being in accurate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks for the feedback. I will get the HF one to use to put my motorcycle wheels back on and get one those cheap scale torque wrenches for smaller stuff. Amazon has those for $15 shipped.
 

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Harbor Freight ones are decent I use them all the time to torque the clutch in my cars. Tighten engine bolts and spec other things. They are accurate and will last if properly taken care of. You do not need to spend over god who knows for a Matco or Snapon. I got a 3/8 and 1/2 from H-F.

PS. DO NOT GET CONFUSED WITH in/lbs with Ft/Lbs. You will be crying!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Harbor Freight ones are decent I use them all the time to torque the clutch in my cars. Tighten engine bolts and spec other things. They are accurate and will last if properly taken care of. You do not need to spend over god who knows for a Matco or Snapon. I got a 3/8 and 1/2 from H-F.

PS. DO NOT GET CONFUSED WITH in/lbs with Ft/Lbs. You will be crying!
I agree, I did get the HF torque wrench and it worked beautifully for the front and rear wheel. Even on the lower settings it works fine, you just have to listen acutely for the lower torque settings.

GREAT BUY!!
 

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I'm glad to see very little support for the Crap-sman brand torque wrench here. I bought one a couple years ago. The locking mechanism was a little finicky from the get go and I'm realizing I should have dealt with it right away. It imploded on me sometime last fall. I only used it six times.

I brought it back to Sears and they said it's only warrantied for a year and that I could buy another if I wanted.

Right... I'm getting a Snap-on.
 
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