Silca makes a lot of great stuff. Their products invariably feature top-notch design, quality materials, and are highly functional. So I was very excited to check out their portable Ti-Torque + Ratchet tool, which promised to be a convenient on-the-go torque tool. It is a very slick bit of design, and although a little tricky to read, provides a very nice on-the-go solution.
The Ti-Torque + T-Ratchet Kit is meant to be a mobile torque wrench, allowing you to execute some fine-tuning on the go. It comes in a nice carry pouch that holds the tool and a wide variety of bits. The tool can be used in T-Ratchet mode, or the ratchet can be used as an extension instead, allowing you to reach some tight spaces if needed. As usual, the part is beautifully-designed, and expertly crafted out of top-notch materials. The fit and finish are what you would come to expect from Silca. The bits are all labeled nicely, for easy access and organization.
The whole concept of the Ti-Torque tool is pretty clever. The core of the tool is a very precisely-machined titanium rod, just over 4mm in diameter. That diameter (actually something like 4.16mm or some similarly-precise number) was chosen specifically because it would twist in a very precise and measurable way across the 0-8 Nm range the tool was designed for. Most torque tools disengage after hitting their torque setting. Instead, the Ti-Torque never disengages, it simply provides you a live reading of the current torque via a laser-etched set of hash marks that show how far you've twisted the inner core of the tool, and thus how much torque you are currently applying. The drawback here is that you can't simply turn and wait for the audible and haptic "click" of a disengaged tool - you have to pay closer attention. Also, since there is nothing to prevent you from exceeding the 8 Nm range of the tool, you could easily damage it permanently, if you overtorqued and permanently deformed the delicate titanium core.
The big advantage, however, is that you can use the tool for any torque setting from 0-8Nm without making a single adjustment to the tool. So when setting something like a stem, for example, you could easily go around the face plate of the stem and achieve 2 Nm on all bolts, then go back to achieve 4 Nm, and then go back for your final torque of 5 or 6 Nm. This kind of progressive torque is best practice for an array of bolts on the same part, but often cumbersome to follow in practice unless you have multiple torque wrenches at the ready.
My biggest complaint about the tool is that reading the torque is very tricky. The hash marks are TINY and VERY close together. I have better than 20/20 vision in both eyes, and still find it difficult to read. They are about as far apart as the grooves of a fingerprint, as you can see in the image above. You can kindof estimate where the torque is ("well, it's about halfway, looks like it might be somewhere near the second or third tick mark"), but it's nearly impossible to get a nice clear reading. However, Josh Poertner, owner and designer at Silca, had this to say:
We did a 40 person Gauge R&R study (we set up a torque calibration rig at the velodrome and had people run thru 5 tool options) during development which showed people could accurately torque within +/-0.7Nm variance at 1 std deviation and 1.0Nm variance at 2std deviations, with a repeatability of 0.6Nm average.
The average person with this tool is about 99% less likely to break their seatpost or bar with this tool than they are with anything else they might have with them at the roadside...and with the size and weight of it, they are 99% more likely to actually have the tool with them.
-Josh Poertner, Owner, Silca
The other important caveat about this tool (or any torque wrench), is that it should only be used to SET torque, but NOT to loosen bolts. For that, use the standard bit extension pictured above. It comes with the Kit and has its own handy pocket alongside the Ti-Torque.
As with most of Silca's offerings, this is a precision tool that deserves a little bit of careful RTM ("read the manual") before use.