2014 has been the year of Kickstarter pens for me. There have been a crazy number of campaigns to support. Great for feeding the pen beast; not so great for feeding the wallet. If you have ever backed a Kickstarter project then you know makers can have trouble meeting shipping deadlines. With one exception that still has not delivered my award some 10 months after the expected date (I won’t name names), I’ve had good luck with Kickstarters meeting delivery goals. The folks who made the Ti2 TechLiner were particularly impressive with their Kickstarter campaign. It closed in mid-November and fulfilled (defined by me getting my pen) just a month later. The folks at Ti2 Design seem to know how to run an online business.
I have the Ti2 TechLiner Shorty in Gonzodized Titanium. That’s a bit of a mouthful. Suffice it to say that the TechLiners come in two sizes (the 5.75″ regular and the 5″ shorty), several materials (Ti, Cu, bronze, brass) and a variety of finishes (black, tumbled, hand-brushed, polished, acid-washed and gonzodized). You want choices, you got choices. The Kickstarter I supported introduced the copper, bronze and brass materials along with the shorty size. Other machined pen makers have played around with copper, brass and bronze as of late and I’ve learned that copper is just too heavy for a pen. Brass and bronze are a touch lighter so depending upon the style and balance of the pen, they’re worth considering. That said, I think Titanium makes a great choice for a pen as it finds the sweet spot between lightweight aluminum and hefty brass, bronze and copper. Additionally, I have not seen the gonzodized finish from any other pen maker so titanium gonzodized was my choice.
There are two design features that set the Ti2 TechLiner apart from other machined pens. The first would be the use of magnets at the tip and end of the pen. Is it a design gimmick? Maybe. Does it work? Absolutely. The neodymium magnets are short, fat rings which allows the tip of the refill (ships with Uni Signo 207 black in 0.7 mm) to slid through their centers. There is a third ring magnet in the cap to allow the cap to close over the tip or post on the end with a fair amount of force. Titanium is a non-ferromagentic material, so the cap magnet is essential to the design and function of the TechLiner. A non-scientific comparison of the force needed to uncap the TechLiner versus a plastic Uni-ball Vision stick I had lying around suggests the TechLiner requires about 80% the force to uncap a common plastic stick pen; not a rock solid fit, but plenty strong enough. There is also a satisfying metallic slap/snap sound produced as the magnets grab the cap during closing or posting.
The second design feature is the chunky knurling found on the grip and the end of the TechLiner. The designers at Ti2 call it a grid pattern and I’m a fan. It is great to see machined pen makes like Ti2 Designs and Tactile Turn come up with novel takes on the grip section of pens. There may not be much left untried in pen design so makers coming up with new twists on the grip is great to see. That the tip of the TechLiner ends rather abruptly with a nozzle-like look thereby leaving about a centimeter of the refill tip exposed is another clever feature. Most pen makers, in my opinion, leave too much of the refill tip covered by the pen body. The TechLiner may go a bit too far in the “naked” direction but I like their thinking. Overall, the minimalist body and gear-like appearance of the grid grip gives the TechLiner a 21st century steampunk look.
As I said before, the TechLiner ships with a Signo 207 refill. The 207 is solid but less than ideal for the south-pawed as it does not try quickly enough. I spent a few minutes playing with other refills and found that the innards of a Uni Signo RT and a Pentel Energel (albeit very tightly) fit the TechLiner. Additional refill exploration will likely yield more options.
I do need to mention one minor issue with the writing experience. There is a tiny amount of play in the refill tip. I would compare it to the small amount of wiggle you get in gel multi pens like the Coleto. This wiggle is certainly not a deal breaker, but it does belie the robust design and feel of the pen. If I were grading the TechLiner, the minuscule wiggle would take a straight A pen down to an A-. I paid $70 (+ $10 for the clip) during Kickstarter for the pen. The Ti2 Design webpage will soon be selling it for $75 (+ $12 for clip). Certainly not a no-brainer purchase but the design and quality makes $75+ a reasonable price.