Silca T-Handle Folio Review
It's impossible to discuss Silca's well-designed and superbly executed products without touching on the price points. With floor pumps at $500 (or $800 for limited run "artist editions") Silca's products certainly do not fall in the value category and at times have been marked for mockery on social media.
But there is a difference between expensive and overpriced and based on my experience with the Silca T-Handle Folio hex toolset over the past twelve months my sense is that it falls in the former category. It is a premium product at a premium price point but with beautiful craftsmanship and design it justifies the big asking price.
Silca T-Handle Folio Review
Let's start with the basics: the T-Handle Folio packaging is a waxed duck canvas that is designed to be draped over any horizontal element - a bike top tube, a work stand, a bike roof rack, etc. It is as durable and fashionable as you would expect from Silca, down to the classic diamond knurl pattern that is used on many of Silca's various bike packs and wallets.
Once flipped open the folio provides easy and immediate access to each of the hex tools that come with the T-Handle Folio. Each tool has it's own labeled slot with the stitching all done to size to insure the tools stay in place - for the most part. While the folio is well designed I have still managed to spill a tool here and there while opening the folio. Apparently even Silca's well thought out designs are not entirely foolproof.
As for the actual tools the enclosed hex set is really a thing of beauty. The T-Handle Folio includes the following sizes: 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm, 10mm, T25, T30. What is particularly notable is that each tool is single forged piece of metal, giving it a sense of weight and sturdiness in your hand. The tools are also designed around a long reach, ensuring easy access to hard-to-reach bolts that would be painful to adjust with a mini tool or standard length hex set.
In addition the tools all feature sliding T-Handles (hence the name). This allows the handle to slide to one end when maximum leverage is required or to center lock when more precision is called for. Silca claims that their center lock is relatively unique amongst T-handle hex tools. I don't know if this is true but I can say that every time I have needed to break out the T-Handle Folio I have been impressed by the build quality and the toolset has certainly done everything I have needed it to do.
Silca T-Handle Folio Review: The Company
A note on Silca the company and in particular their customer service. I have had cause to reach out to Silca customer service on three occasions: once because an HX-One kit was delivered with a duplicate bit, once because a part on a floor pump failed and once because a part of a frame pump fell off mid-ride. While this is perhaps a relatively high failure rate given the price points of the products involved I would note that in every single instance customer service was extremely responsive and in each case they resolved the issue to my utmost satisfaction. Which is another way of saying that in my experience Silca stands by their products in a manner that definitely helps justify the premium price point.
Competition: The Silca HX-One Home Essential Kit
While there are a wide array of tool manufacturers (the vast majority at lower price points) the stiffest competition for the Silca T-Handle Folio may be another offering from Silca: the HX-One Home Essential Kit. With 8 steel hex keys (2mm-10mm) and an additional 10 steel bits that work with the included bit adapter the HX-One Home Essential Kit is actually a bit more versatile than the T-Handle Folio, at least when it comes to range of tools included, all at a lower price point of $125.
That said the T-Handle Folio really outshines the HX-One when it comes to portability. As noted the T-Handle Folio is designed to be draped over a frame or tool stand, keeping all 10 of the tools within reach without fear of tipping over the Folio and sending all of the bits flying (as has happened to me a number of times with the HX-One). In addition the T-Handle Folio seems to be built with heavier duty wrenching in mind. Be it a stubborn pedal that won't release or a difficult to reach bolt, the T-Handle Folio's length and oversized construction distinguish it from the HX-One. Ultimately it's hard to go wrong with either and we have found the HX-One Home Essential kit to be more useful for wrenching at home (hence 'Home Essential Kit'?) whereas the T-Handle Folio has found it's niche wrenching on the road.
The Silca T-Handle Folio Review: Conclusion
The simple reality is that no one NEEDS a $185 hex key set. But for the most part Silca's products are not designed with basic needs in mind. Instead they are crafted around maximizing performance through keen design and careful materials selection. This, combined with a serious investment in customer service, lends itself to a hefty price tag.
But if you want a tool set that will last a lifetime, manufactured by a company that stands behind their products, all in a thoughtfully designed package the Silca T-Handle Folio definitely fits the bill. The finished product is impeccable and while the price point may make your eyes water in the twelve plus months that I have been using the T-Handle Folio it has performed extremely well and moved front and center in my tool bag.
With cyclocross season looming it now permanently resides in the trunk of our car where it will continue encountering all of the grit and mud (and occasional dog slobber) the East Coast has to offer.