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Friday, December 2, 2011

Schacht Sidekick and Louet Victoria, Side By Side

I recently became a Louet dealer and one of my first purchases was an Oak Victoria.  Two weeks prior to receiving it I'd set up my first Schacht Sidekick, so I was fairly new to both wheels and decided to do a comparison.  Here are my findings.



Price Range - both wheels retail at just under $800 so in price they are very similar.  Better prices may be found than suggested retail. 

What's in the box?  The Sidekick comes with three bobbins,  a fast and a medium speed whorl (4 ratios total) an orifice hook and a wide carry strap that snaps onto the back of the wheel.
The Victoria comes with three bobbins and a Lazy Kate.  The strap is permanently attached at the top and is used mainly to carry it from location to location.  There is a padded bag with a shoulder strap that costs another $150, slightly less if you buy them together.

Weight:  The Sidekick is definitely hefty, weighing in at 13 pounds, and the Victoria is a lightweight, lighter even than the Majacraft Little Gem.  Total weight is 8 pounds.



Height:  Folded down, the Sidekick measures 21.5 x 15 x 8.5"   The Victoria fold down to 19 x 12 x 5.5"

Ease of takedown:  Here is where the Victoria wins hands down.  There are only a few, intuitive steps to folding and unfolding this little wheel.  It took me longer to get it out of its shipping box than it did to set it up for spinning.

Even after multiple tries it took me more than twice as long to fold and unfold the Sidekick.  I had to refer to the instructions over and over.  This is really embarrassing in front of customers!  (Don't ask me how I know) so I determined to memorize and practice.  That's my point.  With the Victoria I didn't have to practice.

Treadling:  The treadling on the Sidekick is much like the treadling on the Ladybug, set at scotch tension.  The treadles are really big - nice if you have long, or large feet!  Compared to the Victoria I would call the treadling a bit heavy - it required more effort to sustain.

The Victoria's treadling was surprisingly easy.   The treadles are quite small which might be a problem for larger spinners.  Both are scotch tension, flyer-led spinning wheels.

Spinning:  Schacht lovers will feel right at home with a Sidekick.  It feels like a Schacht! Because the flyer and bobbins are the same as those on the LB and the Matchless, the spinning experience is much the same.  Somewhat heavy treadling, finely adjustable takeup, standard yarn hooks to deal with.

The Victoria has sliding hooks on either arm of the flyer, which some people love and other hate but shouldn't be a deal-breaker.  Both systems do what they are supposed to do and I suspect that a lot of wheel makers are moving to sliding hooks because it is cheaper and faster to put together.  It was easy treadling and fast, smooth spinning.



The Carpet Test:  To me, this is really important.  Most wheels will work really well on a level, smooth floor.  But how do they work in real life, on carpet or on a rug?  For carpet spinning, the Victoria won hands down.  The reason is the placement of the back feet.  (See photo below).  The Sidekick's back feet are very close together and on carpet, this acted like a single foot.  The result was that the wheel rocked back and forth.  The Victoria, as lightweight as it was (and at first I thought that was going to be a minus) was as stable on carpet as on the bare floor.



I filled a bobbin with each wheel.  The Sidekick bobbin holds more yarn.  I spun fast, slow, long draw, you name it.  Here are my final conclusions.

SIDEKICK PROS:  Extremely sturdy wheel, made to last, compatible parts with other Schacht wheels.  Maple will not easily scratch or dent.  Will appeal to those who own and love their Matchless or LadyBug.  Definitely a member of the Schacht family!  The wheel is available without flyer and bobbins for those who already own Schacht wheels.  This reduces the price by $120, definitely a bargain!

SIDEKICK CONS: Heavy.  13 pounds carried on one's shoulder is a lot.  Complicated folding with many steps, levers, screws, parts that can get lost.  Did not pass my carpet test.

VICTORIA PROS: Extremely lightweight.  Brainless fold-up and take-down.  Oak is basically unscratchable.  Passed the carpet test.

CONS: To be really portable you need the carry bag, which adds almost $150 to the price.  Small bobbins, not compatible with larger Louet wheels, but are compatible with the Julia. Small treadles, an issue for some people.  (I have size 9 feet, it didn't bother me.)

I hope this is helpful.  And I hope you all know these are my personal opinions and conclusions.  Ask questions if you have them!

3 comments:

  1. Excellent info. Thank you. Have you ever tried an Ashford Joy? Wondering how it compares.

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  2. Thank you so much for the info. You have convinced me that in spite of my 5'9" frame and size 9 shoe that the Victoria is right for me. I need a light weight, stable wheel for demos.

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  3. Great review, interesting about the stability, something I was wondering abou.

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