Titanium spanners are, I’ll grant you, a niche product. They’re unlikely to feature in your first tool kit, although if you’re in the market for a McLaren F1 (Rowan Atkinson, aka Mr Bean, recently sold his for a very reasonable £8,000,000) you’ll get a set thrown in free.
You probably wouldn’t want to leave them lying around though, as a new set – assuming you can find one – will cost you about £1,500…
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It's all about saving weight
For men of a certain age, the McLaren F1 is the pinnacle of car design and the Facom titanium spanners that formed part of the onboard tool kit are as much a part of the appeal as the beautifully crafted pedals or screaming V12 engine; in a car where saving weight was the over-riding principle, shaving a few grams off a spanner was worth any financial penalty.
So it is with anyone who takes their cycling, motorcycling, or driving seriously; weight is the enemy, sapping power and performance and agility. If you are an obsessive – and most racers, no matter what discipline, are fanatical about the detail – shaving grams is a very worthwhile pursuit.
Which is why I’ve just bought myself a set of titanium spanners from Zen Overland. Weighing just 78gms, the set of four weighs less than one 14mm steel spanner.
It’s not just about the weight: they won’t rust or corrode like steel and if you ever find yourself in an environment where sparking is an issue (diffusing bombs, for example, or fixing a gas leak) they won’t spark either.
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It's a matter of opinion
The truth is (and most of you are way ahead of me by now) no one needs a set of titanium spanners but some of us are sufficiently obsessive that we have no trouble in convincing ourselves that £79 is a small price to pay for something so utterly beautiful and bewitching to hold.
The smaller sizes in particular, almost float in your hand in a way that helps you forget the cost. That they give us almost unlimited bragging rights in the post-race analysis is a bonus and we live for the day that someone asks us if we have a spanner that they can borrow.
If you ‘get’ these spanners, there is nothing I can say or do that will sway you in your single-minded pursuit of them.
If the appeal escapes you (and I suspect that bewilderment and sanity are linked, in this instance), there is similarly nothing I can say that will change your mind; they are a polarizing First World toy that sits at the very top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Engineering Needs.
Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m off to find something to undo and then tighten again. I may be some time.
9/10, or 0/10 – you decide.
You can find out more at http://www.zenoverland.com/ or by calling 01749 679018.
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