Thursday, July 28, 2011

Brief Thoughts on The Schact Sidekick: A Review

Ever since the Schact Sidekick was announced, I've been really looking forward to giving it a try. The Sidekick looked very nifty and the preliminary reviews were excellent. But, since I like to try wheels out first, I wasn't ready to pre-order it.

If it worked out for me, I had plans to sell my Ashford Joy for the Schact Sidekick. So, when my LYS finally got one into their store, I gave it a test drive.

My Initial Impressions:

* It's a very cute wheel, and looks to be well-engineered
* It is very small, and would travel very well.
* It treadles beautifully. However, being of a shorter stature, I do have to be in a slightly taller chair for it.

Then my wonderful spinning guru at my LYS showed me how to break it down, and this is where I started noticing problems. I'll be listing the advantages/disadvantages as I saw them.


* They use some nify handles to loosen a lot of parts (much like bikes).
* The Sidekick is very light to handle, albeit an awkward shape.
* Treadling is very smooth and very easy.
* Nearly everything has it's place.
* The orfice is of a good size, and you can probably do some art & bulky yarns with it.
* It's very well engineered (although I think it might be a little *too* over-engineered, see my notes below.)
* This wheel is tiny with a SMALL footprint. It'd fit nicely in a small apartment. You can probably take it on as carry on luggage on a plane (provided you don't carry anything else)
* It comes with two types of whorls (medium & fast). Also you can get an additional slow whorl (4.25:1/5.25:1) and the High speed whorl (12.5:1/15.25:1)


The following are some of the disadvantages that I found with the Sidekick. These are based on my personal preferences, and not something that is a "deteriment" to the wheel, but basically some things that might annoy me.

* It's not exactly easy to fold down the Sidekick. There are screws to be loosened, removed, then parts are rejiggered, then screwed into their proper places.

Unlike my Joy, where it's a push here, fold this, then zip into the bag and you're ready to go, the Sidekick takes a bit of doing. I'm sure that once you get used to breaking it down, it'll get faster. I'm just comparing it to the Joy where it was easy to fold up out of the box.)

* There's no place to put the flyer that would secure it well once it's folded down, nor is there a place to store extra bobbins.

* There's no handle by which to heft the Sidekick when it's folded, but there's plenty of real estate on the wheel to put something there. So, I don't know why Schact didn't do this one thing.

* There's no built-in kate (not a deal breaker for me, but something I noticed).

* The travel bobbins are PRICEY ($30.00 apiece). If you don't already have a Schact Matchless or Ladybug, you'll be investing in additional bobbins.

* I'm not sure how much I like their Scotch tension design that puts the spring on the wrong side of the nut, which causes it to lose a little bit of finer tension control as with other Scotch tension wheels. I really have to crank the nob to get a change in tension (unlike my Kiwi or Joy where a small twist to the spring provides additional tension)


This is a very nice wheel that I would buy if I already didn't have the Joy. But this is a wheel that I would highly recommend people to consider IF:

* you're looking for a wheel that could serve as a home & travel wheel, I'd go for the Sidekick.

* you don't have a lot of space in my home/apartment, and needed something with a small foot print, I'd go for the Sidekick (although I think breaking it down repeatedly would be a hassle.)

* you're travelling and am going to be leaving your wheel set up for an extended period of time, I think this is an excellent wheel. If you need to constantly setup & fold up your wheel, this might get annoying, depending on your own personal preferences.

* you don't already own a travelling wheel.

I don't think I'll be selling my Joy for the Sidekick. I think the Joy is a little bit more "travel" friendly than the Sidekick; it's certainly easier to break down and I like the extra bobbin storage. Also their bag allows me to put fiber and other tools easily.