A Motorcyclists’ Most Important Tool
Posted by Jonathan Handler
Steel Will Bruiser 500 and Gekko 1505 Knife Review
Besides the keys to my bike, the first tool I put in my pocket when taking a long ride is my pocket knife. Sure, there are many important tools one ought to carry but none is as utilitarian as a good blade. If you’ve got a serious bike, and go places, you should have a serious knife.
If you want a knife that’s as classy as your BMW, sexy as your Ducati, and rugged as your Indian, then look no further that Steel Will’s Bruiser 500 and Gekko 1505. I’m a hardware kind of guy. Bikes, guns, tools and knives are more than just implements. They are tangible pieces of functional art that can be examined and caressed, even when not being used. The two knives I am reviewing here fall into the category of fine blades and either would be a perfect candidate to be a rider’s first and most important accessory.
There’s no doubt that we all have a folding knife, or several, stashed in a drawer somewhere. Any of them are worth having, rather than no knife, when one is needed. I prefer a knife commensurate in quality with the bikes I ride. If you’ve got thousands of dollars invested in your pastime and a bike that can go anywhere then consider a good knife. If you’re a tool and hardware guy, like me, then you may find the look, feel and action of a superior knife is downright sexy.
Steel Will knives are made by Sport Manufacturing Group, Inc., founded in 2010 and based in Forest Hills, New York. They build many different tactical, urban and outdoor use knives with fixed as well as folding blades. They hired some extremely talented knife designers in 2012 to produce their top offerings which are made in Italy and it shows. For now, I want to focus on two folding models as, I think, fixed-blade knives are too big for motorcyclists to carry, unless you tuck one in your pannier.
Gekko 1505 Review
The Gekko 1505 is a medium-large-sized folding knife and a brand new model for the Gekko family, introduced in 2015 by Steel Will. It is elegant to look at, lovely to hold and solid as any folding knife I’ve used. As one might expect from the Italian origin, every line is perfect and build quality is superb, right down to the blue Loctite I found on the screws when converting the pocket-clip from right to left handed.
This knife is equally comfortable in either hand. The pocket-clip can be mounted in two different positions and the lockback blade lock, along the spine, is easy to locate and operate. The lanyard hole makes this knife more versatile not only in the field but in everyday use. That lanyard hole is drilled through a glass-breaker located at the end of the handle, which is a nice feature to have in an emergency.
The scales, or handles, are micarta, which is a mixture containing resins glued together with a variety of papers and fabrics. Originally popular in the 1950s and now coming back into fashion, it’s durable and moisture resistant. This pattern is linen micarta in a subdued maroon color and totally gorgeous to hold and behold.
Steel Will knife blades are created with many different types of tool steel, even within the same model range. I’m not an expert on why one type is chosen over another but they, typically, are Rockwell HRC in the 60+ range. The Gekko 1505 drop-point shaped blade is D2 steel that is perfectly ground and arrived razor-sharp. D2, I’ve read, is one of the best knife materials available today. It is a high carbon, high chrome tool steel which is often used for cutting dies. With a content of 1.5% Carbon, 1% molybdenum, 12% chrome, and 1% vanadium, this air hardening steel takes a razor edge, and holds it
The blade to frame alignment is perfect, as are all components, and the action is silky-smooth. Just a nudge of the thumb-stud and a flick of the wrist and the blade is ready for most any job. It has a matte-black PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) coating which provides excellent resistance from wear and corrosion. It is non-reflective and very popular in tactical knives. This is not a small knife but is worth carrying for its sweet cutting power, excellent feel and handling comfort.
Bruiser 500 Review
The Bruiser 500 is a relatively large folding knife that looks a bit more like a tactical blade than the Gekko. It fills the hand and tells you instantly that it means business. Its drop-point blade is K110 tool steel and, like the Gekko, is made in Italy, razor-sharp, perfectly ground and PVD-coated. Some of Steel Will’s other models have a more traditional chrome or silver-satin finish if that strikes your fancy but I prefer the black blade for no reason other than personal preference. They all work.
This knife utilizes a liner lock and has a flipper on the back of the blade to allow quick and easy opening. Just light pressure and a wrist-flick (or not) is required to work the buttery-smooth action. The flipper, when the knife is open, becomes part of the handguard and there is also an arrowhead-shaped stud on the back edge of the blade to assist in opening if you choose not to use the flipper.
They state, “K110 is a cold work tool steel from Austria. Analogue K110 is better known as D2 tool steel. It is a dimensionally stable, high carbon, high-chromium (12%) steel. Particularly suitable for air hardening it also has good toughness. Due to its strength and durability, K110 has excellent characteristics for a blade. Although high in carbon, K110 is not easily oxidized and does not corrode.”
As with the Gekko, the blade is PVD coated. The scales are 3D machined black G10 which, not unlike micarta, is a fiberglass based laminate, soaked in resin then compressed and baked. The material is hard, lightweight, strong and provides for excellent ergonomics. The textured handle’s grooved overlay also contributes to a slip-proof grip, wet or dry. Also, like the Gekko 1505, there is a lanyard hole through the glass-breaker at the back of the knife.
The scales are pre-drilled and tapped to accommodate mounting the pocket clip in four different positions, on either end of both sides of the knife. Included is a Cordura case with options to hang it from a belt, strap or Molle rigging.
Both these knives are commensurate in quality to the finest motorcycles built anywhere and either would be a good addition to your kit. Steel Will’s commitment to quality can be seen on their website, printed materials and packaging. It really is all about the knife but I get an extra good feeling about a quality box that I can tuck into my knife drawer and a manufacturer’s total commitment to customer satisfaction.
I can’t review a knife as well as a professional specializing in these thing but I can tell you as a motorcyclist who uses tools often, and has many knives, that the Steel Will blades are finely-crafted instruments. They are well-built in such an artful way that if you leave one on a table in the house you will want to pick it up every time you pass by and see it. Others will do the same. Make sure they don’t disappear.