Alright, so the first 400 words of this review are really just a quick little lesson about making yourself available and interested in ALL opportunities, not just the ones you already think are cool. If you want to get right into the review, scroll down to the bolded “Quick Torque Cam” headline.
Near the end of last year, I made my first trip down to the PASIC convention in Austin, Texas. It was totally overwhelming, and I spent two full convention days just floating around the floor, and staring at what amounted to half a football field full of beautiful toys. Most of the major manufacturers were there, of course, but I spent a lot of my time checking out smaller companies and retailers, because many had intriguing, but seemingly unnecessary little gadgets to help improve sound or gear function.
That last sentence may have seemed a little harsh, but I think it’s appropriate. When you’re in a room full of some of the most incredible equipment in the world, why would you need to drop even more cash on some little knick-knack to make that great gear even better? And, if all of these gadgets are so effective, why aren’t the engineers at larger companies already using them?
Well, the answer to that last question really depends on each product individually, but it’s safe to say that it doesn’t always have to do with the quality or value of the item. Regarding why any of these upgrades or add-ons would make a good investment, all I can say is that you have no idea how much something will impact your playing until you really give it a shot (not a great answer, but I’m hoping the review will back it up).
All of that prattling leads me to my first Eccentric Systems product review (we’ve got another one coming, so stay tuned). ES was one of the companies I checked out at the PASIC show, and I’ll be totally honest: I looked at their lineup, watched a demo, said “thank you”, then walked away and completely forgot about it (I’ll have to chalk that up to being overwhelmed).
Fortunately for me, Lucas, the CEO of Eccentric Systems, was nice enough to give me a call after the show to talk about a review (Note: If you’re doing anything ever, make business cards – you can get something like 250 for $10 through Vistaprint – it pays off), and one of the products he wanted to send over was the Quick Torque Cam. I told him I’d give it a go and that I’d have a review up before Christmas (my fault man, really sorry).
So now, I’ve spent some good time with this “seemingly unnecessary” add-on, and I feel like I may have learned a little lesson about keeping an open mind.
Quick Torque Cam
Modeled after the cam on a compound bow, the Quick Torque Cam is an after-market add-on that can be installed on just about any pedal without any permanent modification. In summary, it uses a unique, adjustable design to maximize the efficiency of any force you apply to the pedal. Rather than try and break down the physics of it (read: over my head), I’m going to let the video below do the talking for me.
As you can see, the Quick Torque Cam streamlines both the forward and backward motion of each stroke, creating a smoother, faster and more powerful pedal. At first glance, it may seem a little snake oily, but – and I can really sum up the review with this one statement – it actually works.
But, let’s start from the beginning. When you order a Quick Torque Cam through Eccentric Systems, you select your model based on the kind of pedal you’re playing. Because certain pedals have unique drive mechanisms, there are a few different QTCs available to allow for better compatibility. I ordered the unit compatible with the Tama Iron Cobra.
So, when the product for today’s review arrived, I popped it open to find the necessary parts and tools, detailed installation instructions and a CD-ROM with more instructions and info about other Eccentric Systems products. Not a bad spread.
Now, all of the literature from ES says that installing the Quick Torque Cam takes only a few minutes. I’m fairly handy, but awful at following directions, so I figured I’d be a perfect candidate to test that out. Well, it took me about 10-12 minutes, but to be fair, I was also trying to tell my fiancé how to make cous cous while doing it. Here’s a quick video from ES detailing the install:
Overall, the installation was much easier than I’d expected. The Cam assembly included two hex wrenches, and required just an additional screw driver. The process required loosening only a couple of screws, sliding on a pair of spacers, then tightening the Cam in place. The only step I found troublesome was actually tightening the unit. Holding the pedal at your desired angle (where the pedal should be when at rest) while dropping a very small hex wrench into a tiny set screw was a tad bit tedious. The current design wouldn’t allow for it, but if there was any way to replace the recessed set screw with a larger knob-top bolt, I think the installation would be much easier.
So, with the Quick Torque Cam in place on my Iron Cobra, I went about my regular rehearsal schedule. The first time I used my modded pedal was at a practice that required a lot of dynamic, nimble footwork, which seemed like an excellent opportunity to really put the QTC through its paces.
At first, my regular double strokes felt a little stymied by the updated action. I quickly tightened the pedal spring and double checked to make sure the torque setting was still at the recommended level for my pedal, but still saw no improvement.
Then, it hit me. The Quick Torque Cam was designed to increase efficiency of motion, so maybe easing off the pedal just a bit would make a difference. Bingo! As soon as I realized that I could let the pedal do more of the work, everything sounded smooth as silk. Double and triple strokes were a breeze, and I was using noticeably less energy to play everything.
Since first trying the Cam, I’ve spent some time tooling around with its adjustable components. Eccentric Systems recommends setting the torque toggle at 99% and leaving the tension spring fairly loose for Iron Cobra pedals. After lots of experimentation, I’d have to agree. Reducing the torque made the pedal feel just a little more sluggish than I would have liked.
Finally, to make sure I wasn’t giving too much credit to the idea (rather than the actual function) of the Cam, I removed it and returned my Iron Cobra to its original settings. No question; I definitely missed the rapid, smooth feel of the Quick Torque Cam. I’ve played the same pedal with mostly the same settings for more than a decade, and this proved to be one of the rare examples of when a change felt right. Pretty cool.
So, after all of that, would I say that the Quick Torque Cam is absolutely essential? No, I probably wouldn’t. However, I can say that it made a genuine difference in the feel and playability of my trusty Iron Cobra, and that I’m happy using it. I will also say that it’s not the most handsome design, but it’s not hideous, and it doesn’t take anything away from the look of the pedal.
At $40 per unit, I think the Quick Torque Cam is a pretty reasonable investment for the payoff. Make sure to check and see if your pedal is compatible on the list at near the bottom of this page, and see if you can find a way to try one of these guys out. I’m glad I did.