The modern spinning yoyo was invented in the late 1920’s by Filipino immigrant Pedro Flores, thus it is fitting that Spyderco’s Filipino balisong-inspired spinning pen is named the BaliYo. Both the yoyo and BaliYo take practice and patience to learn, but each can be a handful o’ fun. Really!
We all realize that it is a no-no to twirl a butterfly knife in public, but sometimes you just need to stretch the fingers and mind. While I’m not good with the stringed instrument, the BaliYo is a good choice for absentminded flippery when I am out of the homestead. The BaliYo has pocket clips and is supremely portable.
There is a caveat. A BaliYo is ultra light, so manipulating this machine takes some stick time. Although it is weighted on the ends of the handles, a BaliYo needs thoughtful inertia to complete its maneuvers. You must provide concentrated impetus.
As the BaliYo spent extended time in my hand, I was able to slowly replicate the modest roster of tricks I know. But more importantly, I can practice anywhere. I’m guilty of flipping while driving to and from work. While I would not recommend throwing aerials on the highway, there is something relaxing about the click, click, click while transiting.
A trip to Spyderco’s BaliYo website will lead you to a half-dozen instructional videos showing some entry level moves with the pen, in case you are new to the platform. You might also surf around YouTube for balisong videos. Many of the tricks done with the bi-handled knife can be done with a BaliYo.
BaliYo’s come in two species. Heavyweight USA-made ‘Yo’s are made of “advanced polymer” construction, have brass weights, and contain a premium Fisher Space Ink Cartridge. The lightweight BaliYo’s are built offshore, less robustly designed, and stoked with a refillable ink cartridge. Prices are $34.99 and $9.99, respectively. I found the more expensive one online for about twenty Tubmans.
I own both Spyderco versions. While the heavier BaliYo has better quality, its handles are a bit slippery. The premium BaliYo also has slightly more rounded handles than its cheaper cousin. I think the lighter one has a positive tactile feel and flips more smoothly for me. A little texturing with sandpaper on the USA model’s handles gave it a tackier touch, which improved it.
Either pen writes as advertised, with the Fisher cartridge possessing a nicer ride across the paper. Both eject blue ink, if that detail is important to you. At first, I was trying to write with the handles open. After twisting the pen tip out, you are supposed to scribble holding the BaliYo closed. Duh.
The American-made BaliYo comes in blue/green, red/black, and glow in the dark “white.” That luminescent one would be cool for nighttime spins and an example so happens to be en route to me right now. The standard BaliYo has black or grey options and substitutes steel weights for the brass ones.
I’ve seen some internet griping about the cheaper BaliYo’s durability, but this is just a plastic toy that gets subjected to quite a bit of centrifugal abuse when swung about. Tie two Mont Blancs together, swing vigorously, and see if they don’t occasionally lose pieces!
My work “briefcase” has MOLLE on the exterior. The BaliYo clips nicely into the loop field and looks interesting when surrounded by the ballistic nylon. Having a Spyderco BaliYo on hand at all times can equate to repetitive motion ecstasy or maybe an overdose of amusement! You have to get one.