Over the past few years, the amount of Spydercos I’ve reviewed has dwindled. A lot of this is due to the relative high cost of the new stuff (Mamba anyone?) or what I would define as thoroughly uninspired designs (Polestar… what where you thinking Sal?!), but every once in a while Spyderco releases something that screams Spyderco through and through. The Roadie is one such knife. It’s so utterly quirky that I just don’t see any company other than Spyderco releasing an EDC like this.
In practice, this knife comes from a logical space. In 2013 (correct me if I am wrong) the TSA decided to work on loosening the air travel rules and allowing knives to be EDC-ed aboard inter-USA air travel. Spyderco worked on a knife that would meet the TSA’s guidelines for an air legal knife and the Roadie is what emerged. You maybe be wondering why you haven’t been able to EDC a knife on a plane since then. Well, it’s because in typical TSA-fashion, they stepped away from reason and doubled down on government interference (/libertarian rant, sorry). But despite the 180 change in policy, it was already too late for the Roadie, as Spyderco already had it ready to go; ready to launch.
So here we have it, interesting origins for an interesting knife.
As a side note, this isn’t the first time Spyderco designed an “air travel” knife. Remember the Spyderco Co-pilot? If I recall correctly, it never found much commercial success. I suspect the Roadie will face the same fate, as it’s just too weird for mainstream consumption, sadly, despite its flexibility with utilitarian tasks and its sheeple-friendly looks. A damn shame if you ask me.
Right off the bat, let’s be real here – this is a 28 gram sliver of a knife. I personally have no real issues with carrying it around as my only knife in an urban environment but I suspect for many of you, it would be relegated to the “church” or “backup” knife category. It seems size does matter after all.
I don’t say this as a criticism because I totally understand. It’s jarring to depend exclusively on a knife with a total of 1.8 inches of edge on the blade, especially if you are used to 4 inch folders. I get the concern, but honestly, for day to day use, I never really had any issues using the Roadie. With that said, your mileage may vary.
Deployed, the blade is just as weird as you imagine. Substantial choil, as is customary with most Spydies, as well as a weirdly pronounced wharncliffe blade. I think I will call it a humpback wharncliffe – pretty accurate description in my opinion!
Made in Italy out of the standard N690Co, which is seen on knives from all the Italian giants like Fox, Lion Steel, Extrema Ratio, and Maserin. Nothing to complain about; keeps its edge nicely and I would compare it favourably as the European equivalent to VG-10. The blade stock thickness is interestingly thick, however. Nearly 3 mm, which may not seem that beefy, but when you think about how little blade you get is – its pretty drastic.
Thankfully, Spyderco saw fit to marry that relatively thick stock with a pretty aggressive full flat grind. Cutting performance is Spyderco approved(tm)!
The deployment system is seriously weird for a slip joint. I can’t think of any folder with such a feature and after using it for nearly a year, that’s a damn shame. This double-dent concave milling is awesome and works very nicely (pinch and pull). The Spyderhole is there purely for branding/aesthetic reasons and whilst some people have commented on its potential for getting stuff “caught” in it, in my experience it’s completely fine. Wouldn’t be a Spydie without a Spyderhole after all.
The lockup on the Roadie is very slick. The retention isn’t as strong as the Pingo (or the Lanksy World Legal) and I am pretty happy about that as I always found those two knives required an excessive amount of torque to close. The Roadie offers a nice middle ground between security and ease of use. Notice also the jimping on the spine. Nicely executed, but I must admit I prefer the sharper jimping on the UKPK. Just preference at this point, though, as both are perfectly viable.
I know, I know, it looks really weird when deployed, but I promise that it doesn’t feel weird. The ergonomics are spot on taking into account how small and anaemic the handles are.
The feel is very neutral and the smooth FRN scales are nicely sculpted with no unexpected hot spots, unlike the Pingo. I should mention that the relative size (13 cm fully opened) does mean that choking up is the standard. You pretty much 100% of the time will have your pointer finger on the choil. I consider that quite natural, but I know some of you dislike choils, so I figured I would mention it.
Obviously, as a tactical knife, the Spyderco Roadie is lethal. Terrorists would take one look at that sliver of steel emanating from your grip and run away in sheer terror, 10/10!
All kidding aside, this is a light utility knife, with sub 2 inches of cutting blade (admittedly, very sharp) and no lock. This is designed to be as inoffensive as possible whilst offering top tier utility and I reckon Spyderco hit the nail on the head with this one.
To reinforce my point about light utility and general “back to basics” approach: the Roadie features no pocket clip, is held together with 2 pins and 1 pivot (taking it apart would prove a challenge) and the only option Spyderco gives you is to thread a paracord lanyard through the hole. Not a biggie for me, as its size makes it perfect to keep in that lighter pocket in my jeans, but once again, your mileage may vary. Going from a Benchmade Osborne 940 to this will require a shift in attitude, no doubt about it.
But ultimately, it’s just a small, cute knife that’s very nicely made with way, way above average utility and cutting performance. I sporadically EDC-ed it until Elise stole it from me (sadly, something I am used to with Spydercos), and now it lives in her purse. It’s remarkably friendly looking despite its cutting power and when I think of the term “little-big knife,” this is a great example. This is a folder that cuts way above its weight class and looks damn good doing it.
I know aesthetics will always come down to personal bias, but honestly, it’s refreshing to own something so unique when we are drowning in a sea of black G-10.
As you know, catering to the sensitive folk who view all knives as dangerous weapons has never been a primary concern of mine. I give zero shits about social perception and happily carried my oversized Cold Steels with a smile on my face in Canada.
With this little tyke, I have to say I fell in love with it. I don’t think I am submitting or giving up just because it’s teensy and has no lock, but rather I appreciate it on its own merit. For a lot of you reading this, the idea of a tiny slipjoint screams of compromise. The thought that society would prefer you carry this over a Cold Steel Recon 1 is a valid argument for carrying the Recon 1 because you can, but then again I would invite you look at the Roadie on its own merits.
The Spyderco Roadie is a damn fine knife, despite its origins as a legislative compromise, and I choose to view it as such.
Frankly, if you like the Spyderco Roadie – you will buy it. It has no real alternatives in the marketplace and that’s ultimately what it really comes down to.
For those of you who simply won’t consider a slipjoint- fair enough. If you had asked me 10 years ago if I would ever wax poetics over a tiny blue slipjoint, I would have called you crazy, but then again times change and after owning God knows how many knives, it’s just nice to have something different. The Spyderco Roadie is, broadly speaking, a pleasant tool to own with very few compromises insofar as performance goes (once again, relative to size), and I just don’t see myself ever getting rid of it.
The question for you is if you can see a space for it in your life (this sounds like a commercial for adopting kittens!).