17 April 2008

bikefix Exclusive Review: Salsa Flip-Off skewers

Sometimes, there's really no justification for a bike-related purchase. We may tell ourselves (and our significant others) that a part is better, lighter, safer or faster than the one that it replaces, but the fact of the matter is that some things are just plain cool. Take Salsa Flip-Off skewers. CNC machined, anodized and laser etched, there's little question that these are good skewers. The long, gracefully curved levers are largely lacking an sharp edges and provide plenty of grip. They've been around for ages, too, since someone named Ross headed the company and they were made by DKG in the USA. That was ages ago, and monster parts distributor QBP now owns the brand, but thankfully they've changed little since the early '90s.

The vaguely pepper-like profile is part of the attraction, but for most folks, it'll be the color. Available in black, silver, red, blue, green or 'Rasta,' Flip-Offs are usually bought because they look good. And that they do. A bit of coordinating or contrasting color probably says more than most folks would like about their bike geekiness, but we still find it hard to resist. Despite having perfectly good Mavic skewers on my bike, a bike shop credit last fall brought me these blue lovelies. Did I mention that little about the Flip-Offs had changed since the early 1990s? Compared to more modern skewers from FSA, Shimano and Mavic, the Salsas lack the reversal on the cam that signals proper engagement. While the longer throw may be an advantage to some, it gives up a bit in terms of mechanical advantage as well to more modern designs. Will they last as long as a Shimano? Probably not. The Delrin (plastic) cam seat is essentially sacrificial and doesn't take long to start to show wear, especially if your bike rack requires wheel removal (thankfully, it's shared with just about every cheap Taiwanese QR out there). Have my wheels fallen off? No, nor do I expect them to. While the action may be a bit dated, the skewers work just fine. Adjust the knob end until the lever just begins to engage when pointed straight out, push them in as far as they'll go and you'll be OK.

Running about $50, the Flip-Offs are hard to justify. That's not the point though. Since when is jewelry (bike or otherwise) considered objectively? If you'd like to gain some points with your lady and make your friends jealous, you could do far worse. Just don't forget pick up something for your significant other while you're out.



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