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Thanks to Pedro's Vise whip, from now on my battered and unloved chain whip stays in the toolbox! Retailing at a cool £50 and backed by lifetime warrantee, it definitely falls into the (MARKETING SPEAK WARNING!) prosumer category-hardy enough for the rigors of a busy bike shop but within the reach of home mechanics. On the downside, track and urban fixer aficionados will cry foul since it doesn't entertain 1/8th sprockets and letting slip you've bought one will see the world and their club-mate camped outside begging to borrow it...
Designed with input from maintenance guru Leonard Zinn, the Vise whip is made from hardened forged steel, topped off in tasteful matt-black powder coat. Sharing striking similarities with the humble Mole grip, it works to the same principle- a set of precision machined jaws adjust via a knurled screw secreted in the left handle to fit sprockets between 11 and 23 teeth-as close to a universal fit as you'll find. Holding the cluster steady with the handles, freeing the lock-ring is simply a question of inserting the correct tool and turning this counter clockwise.
Having performed more cassette swaps in three weeks than the past three years I can confirm it's every bit as good as the hype suggests, largely eliminating grazed knuckles, frayed tempers and agricultural language when tackling the most weathered examples. Reassuringly hefty at 507g, it sits nicely in the palm without requiring Herculean strength to hold everything steady-my son, Joshua's eight and he managed just fine. The powder coated finish is remarkably hardy; will keep it looking fresh for a very long time while improving purchase into the bargain-even in greasy, sweaty palms there's been no hint of slippage.
Our test sample's adjuster screw benefited from a drop of oil but that's about as much maintenance as it's needed. Managing 3/32 sprockets, I took the lazy mechanics' route and set it to either 11 or 13teeth (road and tour/mtb respectively) with little cause to move it.
Answer to a mechanic's prayer but fixers will need to look elsewhere.
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Make and model: Pedros Vise Whip
Size tested: Chain Whip
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"Vise Whip- Heat-treated tool steel construction for long life. Non-slip, locking jaws fit 11- to 23-tooth cogs. Compact design for easy use and storage. Lifetime warranty".
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Locking jaws that won't slip
Fits cogs from 11T to 23T*
Compact enough for the toolbox
Heat-treated steel tough enough for everyday use
*Not designed to work with 1/8 track cogs.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Vise grip works to the same principle as a common or garden Mole grip and is simple, yet so well executed it's a wonder why it hadn't been thought of before. Spelling an end to juggling acts and grazed knuckles, tool quality is bang on and should withstand many, many years daily service. Frankly, with the notable exception of touring/roadside emergencies, I won't be giving the humble chain whip a second thought.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Precision made-a delight to use.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Unreservedly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Without hesitation-so long as they weren't fixer purists.
Age: 37 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)