The C242 Ikuchi is unlike any other Spyderco folding knife. Not because it is a flipper, or even a front flipper (The C42 Viele was first in my opinion). It is unique because it has such a narrow profile. The Ikuchi is also a fidget fan’s dream, but it is a true working pocketknife that also carries as easy a pocket lint.
The first generation of the Ikuchi was a disappointment to me. I read reviews from people complaining that the wheel was too tough to operate. This was not a problem in my sample. What was a serious problem, was the fact that this very sharp up-swept tip rode too high in the handle when closed. I’d poke my hand frequently when trying to pull the knife from my pocket or waistband. My CQI-ed sample of the Ikuchi solved this problem. I no longer get cut by the closed blade. The wheel does need a deliberate push/pull (depending on your technique) to operate, but it’s also very smooth.
I’ll admit the fidget factor of the front-flipping Ikuchi is high, very high actually. To date, I haven’t been able to handle this folder without ‘spinning that wheel’ at least once. But the slender curvy blade works great too. It’s very easy to work that tip in the crease of the flap on an envelope, to cleanly slice it open. Another advantage of such a narrow blade (compared to most spydies), is that it offers increased control for detailed cuts in an edge-in grip. Peeling fruit is a joy with this blade.
There is one disadvantage to a slim blade like this. A narrow blade doesn’t offer a whole lot of ‘real estate’ for that full flat grind to come to a really thin edge. The blade on the C242 is by no means some kind of blunt chisel, on the contrary. But there are thinner blades and edges in Spyderco’s line-up.
S30V is a well-known entity. It cuts well and doesn’t rust in my suburban use. I barely developed a little dull spot on the edge, from breaking down a lot of thick cardboard boxes. It was child’s play to bring the edge back. Just a few swipes on the white stones of my Spyderco Sharpmaker was all that was needed.
The handle features a slight curve that really helps make it a very ergonomic folder to carry and use. I’m not a huge fan of the G10 & Carbon Fiber laminate, but it does offer a bit more grip than full carbon fiber. Don’t get me wrong, if this one is ever offered in a full carbon fiber version, I’ll go for it. But I will admit this laminate looks nicer than black G10 for this particular design. A nice design touch is the hole in the handle. It lines up perfectly with the hole in the blade (which is there purely for trademark purposes).
The wire clip is the perfect complement to this thin classy folder. It almost makes it look like a pen in your pocket. As with all wire clips, there is a little flex or play when you move the clip from side-to-side. It’s inherent to the design and doesn’t affect the clip’s grip on your pocket or waistband. This side-to-side play is also the reason I am not a big fan of wire clips. However, I was happy that the clip was easy to switch to my preferred left-handed carry position.
I usually stay away from labeling a particular knife as a real collectible or a good investment. Mainly because I feel that you should only buy a knife because you really like it. That way, you’ll never be disappointed. The C242 however, does offer a few unique features. The Ikuchi is perhaps the second design in Spyderco’s line-up to be designed as a one-hand opener without a functional opening hole. The C27 Jess Horn was made with a depression in the blade for one-hand opening. The Ikuchi has its serrated wheel for one-hand opening. The absence of a functional opening hole allows the blade to become a lot narrower. At least a lot narrower than most other spydies. I will admit the C27 Jess Horn, as well as his other designs, the Des Horn and most of Frank Centofante’s collaborations feature very slim blades as well. The C242, however, takes this slim profile and extends it all the way through it handle design. The combination of the front flipper wheel, extremely narrow profile and the absence of a functional opening hole, make the Ikuchi a really unique folder in Spyderco’s production history.
Overall, the Ikuchi is a wonderful folder. I also think it’s remarkably versatile. If you’re a die-hard Spyderco collector, get one. The C242 only features a trademark hole in the blade, and has a slim and narrow profile that is rarely seen in Spyderco’s line-up. If you mostly use your knives to fidget with, that serrated wheel on the C242 is just what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a gentleman’s knife? The Ikuchi is a very stylish and low-key design that will ride nicely in your suit pocket. If you’re just looking for a practical EDC folder that’s both compact and full size at the same time, the C242 can fit that role really well too. I mostly like the Ikuchi because of that unique -to Spyderco- slim design. And that front flipper is just plain fun to fidget with.
Check out the SpydieWiki page for the C242 for more information on its specifications and production history.