It's no secret that I love machined pens. I've backed them on Kickstarter and bought even more of them from pen shows and eBay and forums. There's just something really cool about a pen made of metal. Especially when they're made right here in America (you'll see a recurring theme with me in that I like things made Stateside).
The Ti2 TechLiner Shorty from Mike Bond at Ti2 Design in Pearl City, Hawaii (ALOHA! Am I right?), is not a pen that I originally backed on Kickstarter. I don't really know why. It wasn't that I didn't like the pen at the time, but I just missed out on it. And I hate that I did because it's fantastic. So fantastic, in fact, that I've got two of them and one more on the way at the time of this review.
Don't roll your eyes... It's not just another machined pen. Oh no, my friend. This is the TechLiner. It's machined from Titanium (with copper, bronze and brass versions as well) and, if that's not awesome enough for you, topped off with neodymium magnets. Pshaw! Magnets, y'all! It was originally created to work with the Signo 207 RT Refill by Uniball, which I'm a fan of, but there are known hacks about the interwebs for other refills and I have it on good authority that Ti2 Design is working on magnets for different refills as well. This is awesome for two reasons:
- It shows that Mike and crew are committed to this design and will continue to service it and provide support for it, unlike many Kickstarter projects, and;
- If you don't like the 207, there's bound to be a workaround for your most favorite refill sometime in the near future via an updated magnet from Mike (I've already found a workaround for the Energel refill so boom, there's that).
So, back to the pen. It's totally modular and symmetrical. Both end caps are the same, albeit with a pen tip sticking out of one end (duh) and there's an optional clip. I love clips on my pens so I went with clips on both (all three) of mine. Mike offers a couple of different clip options and there are a few special editions of the pen with even more clip options, although you'll have to pony up for the special edition pen if you want the specific clip as not all clips are sold separately.
And that brings me to my next point. He offers this thing in a crazy range of colors and funky anodized patterns. If plain ol' tumbled titanium doesn't tickle your fancy, he's got everything from polished titanium (can we say 'BLING!') to olive drab cerakote and Gonzoflage, which is a blue anodized pen which then undergoes laser etching to remove the anodizing in a digital camo pattern.
THE DUDE USES LASERS AND TITANIUM AND MAGNETS! How could you not want this pen in your pocket!? Oh, because of your wallet? Well, my friend, I've had mine near my wallet a LOT (because I'm a front-pocket wallet kinda guy unlike my grandfather who carries around a 4" slab of paper and leather in his back pocket) and all my plastics still work juuuuust fine. Magic magnets.
These pens are a bit narrow and the Shorty is, well, short, but with the cap securely (and magnetically) posted on the back end and the slightly rounded knurling on the grip, I can write for days and this baby feels fine. I hacked mine to accept the awesome Pentel Energel Refill in 0.5 (basically, just whittled off the little tiny step on the end of the refill to allow the magnet to seat flush) and it's a dream. I love the Energel refill and now I love it even more that I don't have to only use it in their ugly plastic pen bodies.
In case I haven't mentioned it, the TechLiner is solid. No wiggling or creaking. No plastic (save for the refill). The magnets are strong and the cap snaps on with a very satisfying thunk. I love the sound and sometimes find myself capping and uncapping the pen just to hear it thunk.
So, with all the good, there has to be something bad, right? Mmmm... Not really. I mean, when you get more than one together, they get a little wonky with the magnets pushing and pulling all around. And, magnets tend to stick to anything ferrous so they'll attract a fork on the table or get stuck to a filing cabinet which is slightly amusing, but can be frustrating when you go to grab your pen quickly and it's stuck to the table. This isn't really a con, per se, as it's part of the design. I mean, it's a pen with magnets. Deal with it or go buy a pen without magnets.
Some people complain that they don't care for the look of the pen with the stub nose and the refill sticking out. Personally, I think it's rad. Like the A-10 Warthog of pens. Kinda ugly, but fully functional and totally bad to the bone. And let's just take a second to talk about that signature A-10 Warthog sound while it's bustin' tanks... BRRRRAAAAPPPP! What!? If you don't like the looks, get a different pen. I love the looks, though so it's not a negative in this review, but it is something I've come across on more than one occasion.
The threads feel a little bit gritty to me. They're definitely not as smooth as those on some other machined pens, but you only unscrew them to change the refill so it's not something you'll notice very often and a small nitpick.
Also, they're not cheap. They range from $55 for the Clipless Tumbled Copper Shorty to $130 for the clipless PVD Blackwash Coated full size pen. Clips add $10 to the price when purchased with the pen or $12 when purchased separately. And you'll be on the hook for shipping (either 1st Class Mail or Priority 3-Day from the island). I think for a well-made pen designed and manufactured right here in the US, it's a bargain. Especially considering these things are all but indestructible and so fun to carry daily.
Would I recommend them? Ummm... Given that I've now got three (two with one on the way), I'd give that a resounding yes. Check out what he's got. Head over to Ti2Designs.com Find your favorite color or style or metal and snag one. I'd recommend one with a clip for an extra few bucks. And upgrade to Priority Shipping as 1st Class from the Pineapple Palace can take a bit and there's no tracking.
Hope you found this helpful and a bit entertaining. If you have questions or comments or concerns, definitely reach out.
Thanks for reading,