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Birzman's Digital Torque Wrench is as the name suggests a torque wrench from specialist bike-tool manufacturer Birzman. I know I shouldn't be seduced by appearance - especially on something as mundane as a metal stick for tightening bolts - but I can't help it. With its comfortable black handle, slender metal neck, neat little LED screen and control buttons, plus a dash of Birzman's trademark lime green plastic for good measure, this is a truly lovely-looking piece of kit.
How things have changed. In the old days, all you needed to fix your bike was one of those dumb-bell spanners, which you simply leaned on until the nut felt tight. Today, it's all different. Not only is nearly everything allen key fitting, but with specialist materials like carbon and titanium, applying the correct torque is increasingly important. Such that no self-respecting home-workshop should be without a torque wrench.
And that's where the Birzman Digital Torque Wrench comes in. Use this little baby next time you're changing your stem, tweaking your saddle height, or simply giving your bike a check-over before a race or sportive, and there's no danger of applying too much elbow grease and stripping threads in a vital fitting. At the other end of the scale, there's no danger in under-tightening in the more serious areas such as bottom bracket or chainwheel bolts.
The wrench comes with six allen key sockets: 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm and 8mm, plus a T25 torx (aka 'star', not to be confused with torque). The 'drive' (the square bit the sockets clip onto) is quarter inch - a standard size - so other socket types, eg for good old-fashioned nuts and bolts, can also be used.
Once you've put the appropriate socket onto the wrench, and insert the socket into the bolt, the Birzman wrench works in two main ways: First, you can simply look at the little LED screen on the handle and when you reach the required torque, you stop pushing. Or you can take things a stage further by pre-setting the required torque, and when you reach it a buzzer sounds and a light flashes. This is handy when you're working in areas where you can't see the screen, such as saddle clamp bolts.
As well as the Newton Metre (Nm) unit most commonly used in torque settings, and often printed on the side of components, the wrench can also be calibrated in kg/cm, kg/m, in-lb, and ft-lb. The wrench's range goes from 3 to 30 Nm, with a claimed +/- 4% accuracy. Other features include the ability to store your favourite torque settings in a memory. How exciting is that, tool fans?
So it's lovely, and you need one. But here comes the crunch. The Birzman Digital Torque Wrench retails at £179.99 - and that's a lot of money for a fancy spanner. There are cheaper torque wrenches available, but most of these don't have the same wide range of torque settings nor the digital LED screen to ensure pin-point accuracy. (On other models, you swivel the handle to set the desired torque, and the wrench clicks over on a ratchet when you reach it. Or you simply look at a large needle moving across a gauge.) The Birzman Digital Torque Wrench is by far the easiest and - frankly - the most enjoyable torque wrench use. Whether you can justify spending a penny under £180 depends how much fancy kit you've got on your bike, and how much of a sad old tool nerd you are. I can't be the only one. Can I?
Top-quality piece of kit for the workshop, ideal for keeping the bolts on your bike in perfect condition. Not for the frugal though.
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Make and model: Birzman Digital Torque Wrench
Size tested: 3-30Nm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Birzman website says 'With the latest in digital tool technology design and engineering, Birzman's new digital ratchet comes with all the necessary functions you would expect while maintaining an over-all eye-catching, streamline appearance that remains true to Birzman's brand value.' However pretty a piece of equipment may look, it's useless if it doesn't work. Without doubt, this Birzman torque wrench looks nice AND works perfectly.
I haven't been using this tool for long enough to comment on durability, but the construction is excellent so I'd expect this it to last for a very long time.
at 180 quid, it has to be said, this is an expensive item. It's still good value for the quality and ease of use it provides, especially if you have a lot of bikes to fettle or you enjoy fettling the few bikes you have a lot, but it can't be called a bargain... unless you compare it to the Effetto GiustaforzaII Ratchet Torque Wrench with a list price that's the thick end of £220 and isn't even digital - £180 doesn't seem so bad now
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I'd take a deep breath and go for it. Or, more likely, put it on my Christmas list. It's the perfect gift from a wealthy lover to the cyclist who has everything.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but I'd mention the cheaper options as well.
Age: 50 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,