I think that having some sort of torque wrench is a necessary tool for the home and shop mechanic, especially when dealing with lightweight and fragile frames and components, and materials such as carbon fiber and titanium. Tightening fasteners to components without a torque wrench relies on an innate ‘feel’ and wizardry that the correct torque has been applied, and it’s more of a guesstimate than anything else. When using a normal torque wrench, whether it’s beam or click type, it requires proper technique and usage, otherwise over-tightening can occur. If the user slowly applies the torque, and doesn’t force things and stops immediately when the wrench clicks or reaches the needle mark, then the settings should be close to specs. Some of the ultra-expensive electronic wrenches, like CDI’s Computorq3 (retail $720), use a solid-state electronic force transducer, which allows very precise torque application, since they remove acceleration and other factors out of the picture.
The CDI Preset Torque Limiting T-Handle effortlessly gives you the calibrated torque to the fastener you are tightening, and once it reaches that setting, you can’t apply additional force. Call it making a tool idiot proof or dumbing down? You can click, click, click to your heart’s content, and the torque limiting clutch prevents any more tightening. The tool has a life expectancy of around 5,000 clicks, and then it would need to be factory re-calibrated. For a home mechanic, it would last an extremely long time, while a shop would either send it back or replace it in perhaps a year’s time? The tool is only meant for normal right hand or clockwise tightening, and isn’t to be used to break loose fasteners. Neither of those constraints were an issue when I used the T-handles, as I always used them for final application and assembly scenarios.
The tool has a nice ergonomic feel in the hand, with a big and bulbous shape, and works the best by fitting it between your middle fingers, and cupped in your palm. The shank is magnetized, and the tip has a socket to hold generic hex bits, and each version comes with a 4mm as standard. I do wish it came with a set of hex bits, like 3, 4, 5 and 6mm, instead of the meager 4mm? I got used to the color coding, and usually knew which ones I needed for a particular task, although I wish, they had big bright numbers on them for my brain-dead days, or when I had tools strewn around everywhere. Since they only come in 4, 5 and 6Nm settings, you can’t use them to tighten something to 4.5Nm, although I didn’t find that issues since most parts generally have a small +/- range around their torque specifications. On the back of the packaging that the tool comes in, there’s a calibration certificate for validation of their torque settings.
At $30 a pop for the CDI T-handles, they are more expensive than the other small wrenches, like Ritchey’s Torque Key, but you get a better, more robust and ergonomic tool.
The CDI Preset Torque Limiting T-Handle is an incredibly useful tool, allowing one to apply exact torque settings to fasteners during assembly and adjustment of frames and components. The tool is idiot-proof, and the clever torque limiter only allows the calibrated application of force, and no more. It clicks when that setting is reached, and will keep clicking without letting any further torque to be applied. The CDI T-handle is a well-made and robust tool that has a great ergonomic handle, and a useful magnetic shank for easy bit swap-outs, and is color coding for identification purposes.
It’s not meant for breaking or removing fasteners and only works for normal clockwise tightening. I do wish it came with an assortment of hex bits, like a 3, 4, 5 and 6mm, and that it had big bright torque numbers on the handles for easier identification.
The CDI Preset Torque Limiting T-Handle is a convenient, tough, and accurate tool meant for low-torque applications and assembly of bike components and frames, especially with regards to precision carbon fiber and titanium parts.
- Color coded
- Ergonomic T-handle
- Precise torque settings
- Well-made and tough tool
- Easy to use magnetic shank to change bits
- Needs additional hex bits – 3, 4, 5 and 6mm (4mm standard)
- Only works with clockwise or right handed tightening
- Not meant for breaking fasteners
- Needs bright large torque numbers on handles for easier identification
Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
Follow Brian Mullin at www.gramslightbikes.com
CDI Preset Torque Limiting T-Handle Specs:
- Torque limiting technology to prevent over-tightening
- Magnetic shank to interchange bits as needed
- Rounded T-handle grip for added comfort
- Color coded
- Certificate of Calibration
- Not meant for breakaway or left handed threading
- Include 4mm hex bit