I just got these two models earlier today. I know others have reviewed these two, but I didn’t see anyone compare them. If they have and I missed it…my apologies.
WARNING: Another amateur review in progress.
Now where to start?Gerber Radius:
The Gerber Radius is fairly large. It easily dwarfs the Gerber Suspension, and any other Gerber I currently have.
From left to right: Gerber Radius, Suspension, Flick, MP400.
Now one would think that with increased size, one could expect either more tools and/or larger tools. Well don’t get your hopes up. I have to scratch my head at this tool. The designers were out to lunch on this one. The packaging says that its very ergonomic and light. The only way it is ergonomic is if you have the pliers out, and only for very large hands. It is light because the whole thing is plastic with very thin metal. In fact, the folding tools are sandwiched between this thin metal, which is then encased by a lot of plastic and rubber.
The tool selection leaves a lot to be desired. Beyond the pliers with cutter, there isn’t much of a selection. One handle holds a pair of scissors, and a combo bottle opener and flat head screwdriver.
The other handle contains the knife and a Phillips screw driver. The Phillips is very flat and seems like standard Gerber fair.
That is it folks. You just have to wonder what they did with all that space. They filled it with plastic and rubber I am thinking. The tools do open in an interesting fashion. Very much like the Schrade ST1, they open sideways. Sounds like a good idea maybe, but in practice, not one at all. If you decide to use the knife for example with everything closed, you are faced with a very wide and uncomfortable handle. If you decide to open the tool a little, then you are forced with a large unwieldy tool. I just can’t seem to find any comfortable way to deploy the folding tools and feel comfortable using them. On top of that, you have to contend with the locking mechanism. Gerber decided to use very large hard plastic locking levers. For a tool that is touted primarily on its ergonomics, I found these levers to dig into the hand whenever I held the tool. Not only that, it can be rather dangerous also. Because the way the tool is designed, the locking mechanism is right where you would place your thumb if using the knife. It would be easy to move the thumb towards you when using the knife causing the tool to unlock during operation. I have had this happen once already…and I just got this tool today! It all depends on how you hold this giant lump of plastic.
If I sound a little disparaging at this point, its because I cannot see that many redeeming points to this design. Did I mention that the plier handles flex when in use? What is worse, the folding tools move in their births when the handles flex. There is only a very thin layer of metal surrounding the folding tools. The handles are made from plastic and rubber. It doesn’t instill confidence when using the pliers.Gerber Suspension:
The Gerber Suspension is a fairly solid piece. At least it is made of metal. Compared to the Radius, it’s a tank. The handle design is beautiful if not all that functional. Beautiful in that it allows glimpses of the tools hiding inside. Not functional in that it is only decorative as far as I can ascertain (unless your one to get your multi-tool always wet. I would imagine the open design would accelerate any drying process). The Suspension has an industrial feel to it that I like.
The tool selection is also better then the Radius.
One handle contains scissors, a small flat screwdriver, a combo bottle and can opener, and a serrated blade. The other handle contains a blade, a large flathead screwdriver, a Phillips screwdriver, and a saw.
The locking mechanism is also better implemented then the Radius. You have one small metal piece that transects the tool in each handle. Pulling this piece away from any locked tools will unlock it. This design is smaller, less intrusive, and also helps in the industrial look. The only issue that I can see from this design, you can just about unlock a tool with one finger. Its designed to use two fingers, one finger on each side to pull in unison.
Radius on the left, Suspension on the right.
As far as weight goes, it is slightly heavier then the Radius. Time to compare them together.
I am not sure why Gerber decided to go with such a short and stubby knife on the Radius. They wasted all that space. In fact, as you can see, the blade length is almost identical to the Suspension. Now with that said, the design of the blade on the Radius is better then what is found on the Suspension. It is as if Gerber decided to install the blade upside down and sharpen the spine.
The scissors are very similar. Once again, one would think that with all that space, a really good pair of scissors would have been installed in the Radius. Another lost opportunity that. I am not sure why the designers also decided to make the tools deeper instead of longer. This kills me somewhat. Both scissors work the same way, with a piece of steal to act as a spring. One nice touch on the Radius, the scissors has a rubber thumb pad that makes using them very comfortable. The pair on the Suspension has the mounting hole, but no room to put one on.
In this photo, you can see the thickness of the Radius on the left compared to the suspension on the right. Also, you can see the dodgy tool lock implemented on the Radius, along with the elegant tool lock on the Suspension. Likewise, you can see the tool symbols on the Suspension that makes finding the right tool easier. I suppose they didn’t do the same for the Radius..as your selection is limited anyways.
This photo compares the pliers. The suspension on the left, the Radius on the right. For a larger tool, the Radius has almost the same sized pliers as the much smaller Suspension. Go figure that. They both open the same width also.Conclusion:
The only reason why I bought the Gerber Radius is for its odd design. It definitely isn’t a popular one I would imagine. However, as a collector, I couldn’t pass the tool up. I find the Radius very disappointing. It is made in China, but this is one case where the tool feels like a cheaply made Chinesse tool. The handles flex if any amount of pressure is put on the pliers. The tool selection is small. Those that are present don’t use the Radius’s larger size to advantage. The locking mechanism is poorly thought out, and can be dangerous to the user if the right circumstances come up. It takes very little movement of the mechanism to unlock a tool in use. Too many missed opportunities on this one.
The Suspension is a nicer feeling and slightly heavier tool. It is made in Malaysia I believe (not that it really matters. If it was made in China, it still would be the better quality tool). It is also more compact in size. The tool selection is better. I never thought I would say this…but the handles don’t flex when using the pliers…a big plus in my books. The industrial design combined with a more elegant and better implemented locking mechanism means that the Suspension is the better multi-tool of the two. Considering you can get both at almost the same price, the Suspension is the easy recommendation if you wanted to buy either of these tools. From a collecting standpoint, the Radius is a more interesting tool. Now if you compare them to other Gerber designs, like the Flik and the Mp400. either model doesn't stand up very well. I mean, the Suspension is a far better design then the Radius. However, the other Gerber multi-tools I have seem to outclass them in design, portability, and weight. The Suspension IS a heavy tool for its size, and its splayed out handle design makes it just that much less convenient to carry. I won't start about the Radius in that regard.
-Very comfortable handles.
-Can open tools in the closed position.
-Pliers have an internal spring mechanism that opens the pliers for easy one hand use.
-The multi-tool snaps open and shut nicely.
-Large for what you get.
-Tool selection meager at best.
-Folding tools are small for the size of the handle.
-Dangerous locking mechanism.
-Ergonomics are not its best selling point despite what the packaging states.
-Handles bend when pressure is applied to the pliers.
-Better tool selection.
-Better locking mechanism.
-Pliers have an internal spring mechanism that opens the pliers for easy one hand use.
-No way to unlock a folding tool inadvertently during use.
-Symbols on handles tell you quickly which tool is where.
-May require two fingers to unlock a tool.
-Handles have an odd shape that is more of a design element rather than a practical element.
-The multi-tool could have been thinner. There are spacers between the tools.
-The blade design is almost useless.
-Heavy for its size.