We can do better: CarbonLite carbon fibre wrenches

May 22, 2014

Any bike folks care to jump in?

That'll be $140, please.
That’ll be $140, please.

Q: Do the wrenches float?
A: No.”

When we recently caught Core77’s “Lightweight Tools of the Future” headline, we expected to find a set of sexy, pricy, lightweight tools for motorsports use.  What we found was a set of rather crude, pricy, lightweight tools for motorsport use.

Clearly cut from layered sheets of carbon fibre, CarbonLite’s five-piece imperial/metric box-end wrench set is said to weigh 190g- as little as a single 15mm steel wrench. Hardened steel twelve-point inserts take the brunt of the torque and is tapered to fit more tightly the deeper it sits on a bolt head.

Mmm... carbony.
Mmm… carbony.

Truth be told, the issue with CarbonLite’s wrenches isn’t the $140 (£83) price tag.  Lightweight specialist tools (with a lifetime warranty, no less) will always be expensive.  No, it’s that the wrenches are so plainly awful.  Not only are the sharp edges terribly uncomfortable-looking, but the company recommends wearing gloves due to the “small possibility the carbon fiber can leave splinters in your hand if the carbon fiber is damaged.”  The decision to locate adjacent-sized metric and imperial sizes in the same wrench is also an easy recipe for stripped bolt heads.

Given the wide range of beautifully-sculpted carbon fibre bars, stems, cranks, linkages, and even tools in the bicycle industry – many incorporating metal inserts – it’s painfully clear that we could do better.  CarbonLite have left plenty of room for improvement in terms of construction, ergonomics, and error-proofing.  If there are any composites engineers out there in the Singletrackworld looking for a side project, this could well be your chance.


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