Spyderco announced that it has suspended production of their Gayle Bradley-designed Advocate model after Rob Bixby of TheApostleP YouTube channel and others brought attention to issues with the ball bearing pivot. The company says they will begin working on a redesign of the pivot area to increase long-term reliability.
Bixby praised the ergonomics, functionality, and overall design of the Advocate but argued that the steel washers the knife’s bearings rotated against were too thin which made them prone to bending when flipping or maintaining the knife.
A thread on the Spyderco forums indicates that other buyers experienced similar issues. Yesterday afternoon, Michael Janich posted Spyderco’s official statement. “A careful review of the Advocate’s design revealed that the steel washers used in its pivot are measurably thinner than those used in our other flipper models and are therefore vulnerable to the effects of overtightening,” he wrote.
“The vast majority of the Advocate knives currently in use around the world are performing exactly as designed,” Janich continued. “A thorough review of our warranty repair records has not shown a significant incidence of customer issues with this knife.” According to the statement, Advocate knives currently in circulation should function properly if left at their factory adjustment.
Customers experiencing issues can send their Advocates to Spyderco for readjustment or, if necessary a full refund for the MSRP of the knife. Dealers are also able to apply for refunds where knives have been returned. “We have also decided to suspend shipment of our current inventory of Advocate knives until a satisfactory redesign is complete,” Janich reported.
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Bixby tells us that the Advocate’s strong lock bar tension, overall thinness, and the delicacy of its ball bearings combine to pose a seemingly insurmountable engineering challenge. “I’m a bit skeptical, given the small material thickness of the Ti scales, that Spyderco can engineer a ball bearing pivot system that is robust enough to make a solid knife,” Bixby says. “I would prefer to see a phosphor bronze washer pivot, and maybe even in a non-flipper version of the Advocate, similar in construction to a Sage 2 or Slysz Bowie. We’ll keep our fingers crossed!”
Knife featured in image: Spyderco Advocate