Ratchet/Breaker Bar size & length for bikes

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maxglide
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Ratchet/Breaker Bar size & length for bikes

Postby maxglide » 26 Mar 2019, 9:30am

My tool box needs a Ratchet/BB update. I'm deciding between going 3/8" or 1/2" (already have 3 sockets in 3/8", 13,14,15, and a long and short ratchet.)

Is 1/2" overkill for a bike and more suited to car work? And what shaft length is good (in either size) - wouldn't too long risk overtightening and stripping threads?

hamster
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Re: Ratchet/Breaker Bar size & length for bikes

Postby hamster » 26 Mar 2019, 9:40am

There are very few bolts on a bike these days. I use a little torque wrench for most things, which has a 1/4" drive. The only one needing a big socket usually is the bottom bracket. That has needed a 1m bar on occasions!

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foxyrider
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Re: Ratchet/Breaker Bar size & length for bikes

Postby foxyrider » 26 Mar 2019, 9:42am

hamster wrote:There are very few bolts on a bike these days. I use a little torque wrench for most things, which has a 1/4" drive. The only one needing a big socket usually is the bottom bracket. That has needed a 1m bar on occasions!

I can beat that, once had to use a 6ft scaffold pole and two mechanics on the end to remove one!
Convention? what's that then?
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Brucey
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Re: Ratchet/Breaker Bar size & length for bikes

Postby Brucey » 26 Mar 2019, 10:01am

required torques on bikes vary considerably. Arguably there are three categories

a) 1-15Nm mainly M5, M6 screws, etc
b) 20-50Nm, e.g. track nuts, cassette lockrings, pedals, M8 crank bolts, M8 seat pin bolts, freehub bolts
c) >50Nm, eg BB cups, removing stuff.

A good 1/2" drive will do b) and c). A good 3/8" drive will not give enough torque to remove stuff that is seized.

ideally you would have 1/4" drive, 3/8" drive and 1/2" drive stuff to cover all bases. I have even used 3/4" drive stuff on a (very) stuck BB before now, and I needed it; a 1/2" drive would have failed at the torque values I was using.

Quite a lot of lockring tools and BB tools come with a 1/2" drive fitting in them, so I would recommend that you get a 1/2" drive breaker bar. You can use this with 3/8" drive sockets by using an adaptor.

Re overtightening things; if you are worried about this, get a torque wrench or two. No-one can say that 'using a handle XY long you will definitely not over/undertighten stuff'; it doesn't work like that.

cheers
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maxglide
Posts: 178
Joined: 19 May 2013, 5:35pm

Re: Ratchet/Breaker Bar size & length for bikes

Postby maxglide » 26 Mar 2019, 6:24pm

There are very few bolts on a bike these days.


There are plenty on mine, since they're mostly 90's MTB's made of iron.

From the comments, surprising a bottom bracket could be so stubborn. It looks like it's going to be a 1/2" breaker, then, about 2ft in length. Ta.

keyboardmonkey
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Re: Ratchet/Breaker Bar size & length for bikes

Postby keyboardmonkey » 26 Mar 2019, 6:42pm

maxglide wrote:My tool box needs a Ratchet/BB update... Is 1/2" overkill for a bike and... what shaft length is good... wouldn't too long risk overtightening and stripping threads?


I have a mishmash of 1/4” and 3/8” ratchets that live in my toolbox, and a 1/2” drive breaker bar I bought for a friend’s seized BB, together with a Halfords 32mm socket in to which the BB tool fits. Nothing smaller than the breaker bar would have done the job. It’s just a cheap Premier AK730.

Oh, but at 600mm it doesn’t fit in any toolbox of mine - and neither does the 1/2” drive beam torque wrench I might use for snugging things down.

I wouldn’t use the breaker bar to tighten up, but I do have a shortish 1/2” drive sliding T handle that fits in my toolbox, although it would have been useless at getting out two of the most recent BBs I removed.

fastpedaller
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Re: Ratchet/Breaker Bar size & length for bikes

Postby fastpedaller » 26 Mar 2019, 6:58pm

The extending 1/2" drive car wheel nut wrenches can be useful (to at least fit in the toolbox :D ), however they are angled which can be a nuisance when applying the torque.

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Gattonero
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Re: Ratchet/Breaker Bar size & length for bikes

Postby Gattonero » 26 Mar 2019, 11:02pm

maxglide wrote:My tool box needs a Ratchet/BB update. I'm deciding between going 3/8" or 1/2" (already have 3 sockets in 3/8", 13,14,15, and a long and short ratchet.)

Is 1/2" overkill for a bike and more suited to car work? And what shaft length is good (in either size) - wouldn't too long risk overtightening and stripping threads?


If I was you, I'd get a decent 1/4" ratchet&socket kit (you can find Clarke ones for £20 at Machine Mart or similar places) and a 4-20Nm ratchet in that size (to be used mainly for stems, seatposts, the likes).
Leave the 3/8 and get a 1/2" breaker bar and the relevant BB tools. Useful to get a 1/2" square to 8 or 10mm hex, for using heavy-duty hex inserts, priceless when removing stubborn pedals or cranks.
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