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Time to Tighten the Bolts…


April 2015

So, I’m getting close to 1,000 outdoor miles for 2015 already, in fact I should cross that hurdle tomorrow morning.  It’s time to tighten the bolts.  This isn’t a metaphor.

It’s literally, time to tighten the bolts.  On the right is a most excellent tool, Bontrager’s 5 Nm 4mm torque Allen wrench.  Did you know that on most newer bikes, a lot of the important bolts are 4mm?  Ah, yes.  Also, carbon fiber bikes, especially ones that you have closing in on $5,000 invested in, require the use of a torque wrench and between 4.6 and 5 Nm of torque.  In other words, it’s a perfect tool.  The stem bolts and seat post bolts are 4mm…

I’ve read articles suggesting tightening the main bike bolts before every ride but if you lube the threads correctly, every now and again should suffice.  Here’s the reason we lube threads…  Dry threads give you a false “tight”.  They’re “sticky” so what shows as tight on a torque wrench, isn’t always.  When the threads are lightly lubed (with bike grease), there is no “stick” – you get a proper tight that will remain tight.  It might seem counterintuitive, but it works.

Still, I tightened up today and I got an 1/8th of a turn on the saddle bolt, 1/2 turn (!) on the seat post bolts and 1/8 turn on the two lower stem bolts.  I lubed and tightened all of those myself…  In other words, they’ve loosened over time.  Not much, but enough.  I also got 1/8th turn on the brake mounting bolts by the way.

The physics are pretty simple when you think about it a minute.  On a normal, jaunt around the park bike, the parts aren’t under all that much stress.  On a race bike that sees heavy action and ridiculous torque, everything is under a tremendous amounts of stress.

So, folks, every now and again, take ten minutes to tighten your bolts.  It’ll take the creaks out of your bike and maybe even give you a more solid ride at speed.  Just don’t overtighten them.  That’s bad too.


  1. Kecia says:

    I would LOVE to have 1000 outdoor miles in so far this year…if it would JUST.STOP.RAINING. Glad someone is getting outside 😉

  2. PedalWORKS says:

    I’m at 1,400+ km for this year, most of those on my commuter and training bike. Went out on the carbon bike for the first time this season today. I would have been out more but I had trouble with the cranks (the subject of an upcoming post). I actually tighten my bolts more regularly, every few weeks when I have the bike on the stand. It is probably too often but I just want to make certain nothing comes loose on the fast descents.

  3. MJ Ray says:

    Ah but which grease? Lithium, copper or organic? 😉

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