Resembling something from a 70's martial arts flick, the Lifeline Performance track chain whip is essentially two tools in one designed to liberate 1/8in or 3/32in fixed sprockets.
Pity these poor creatures, throttled inconceivably tight by beefy chains and rider effort. Those serving on winter hacks/trainers are also subjected to a cocktail of wet, silty roads without seeing so much as a lick of marine grease from one season to the next.
Leverage is what's required to grant them absolution and with a handle measuring a colossal 35cm, there's no shortage of it here. Its 3mm thick, heat treated steel construction feels reassuringly solid too, overcoming fears that such giraffe-like stature might turn to blancmange under Herculean effort.
Then of course, we've the range's signature rubberised handle, which is designed for comfort and optimal control, even in hot greasy palms. This accounts for 15cm of the overall length and theoretically relegates grazed knuckles, power-lifter grunting and agricultural outbursts to the stuff of folklore.
However, so-so machining meant the lock-ring remover head's engagement with many lock-rings was sloppy. This was easily countered by wrapping the head around the farthest spline while simultaneously applying incremental force. With the exception of one particularly crusty example, none required penetrant spray and all spun free within 90 seconds.
Sprocket removal proved more rewarding, the riveted chain links meshing handsomely with all our sprocket selection. Bound tight, the serrated handle and sheer mechanical advantage vanquished even the scabbiest within thirty seconds and using moderate force.
Ultimately, there's a lot on offer here for home mechanics who want a convenient functional tool for occasional use but passionate track riders and road fixers regularly experimenting with ratios would benefit from spending a bit more.
Serviceable staple that gets the job done but would benefit from more precision.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Lifeline Performance Track Chainwhip
Size tested: Black
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
'A high quality bespoke tool for removing/installing fixed gear and track bike sprockets. With a lock-ring removal head, chain whip and grippy moulded handle, the LifeLine Professional Track Chain Whip is for essential track bike builds and ratio changes'.
Essential yes, but bespoke is gilding the lily somewhat.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Compatible with 1/8" and 3/32" Track Bike sprockets
Fixed gear lock ring removal/installation head
Comfortable, Grippy moulded handle
Durable corrosion resistant black finish
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall performance is reasonable. It gets the job done and is fine for periodic use. However, the lock-ring tooth's imprecise fit complicated removal of long established/weathered examples.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Imprecise fit with some lock-rings.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? On the whole yes, for occasional use.
About the tester
Age: 40 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)