I've been working from home ever since we closed the Pinkbike office last year. Which means I've been working in the garage a lot. And not just on bikes, but all of my work. So Vyper Chair's Elevated Steel Max was a welcome addition to the shop.
I'm including this in our Pond Beaver coverage because they're a new company, and this isn't exactly a review—more of a love letter, really. What can I say, being comfortable is truly a passion of mine and something I feel very strongly about.Details
• Made in Green Bay, WI, USA with local materials
• Powdercoated steel construction
• Arms and wheels available in black, red, & blue
• Seat available in black, grey, brown, or custom
• Custom embroidery available
• Adjustable 24" to 32" seat height is made for higher workstations
• 4" industrial grade casters
• 300 lb capacity thanks to high quality foam
• Equipped with a backrest designed to promote good posture
• Comes with quick release seat clamp that locks your height if needed
• Stools start at $299; the Elevated Steel Max version is priced from $579 USD
• More information at vyperchair.com
Vyper Chair is a family business from Green Bay, WI that was started by a welder who was tired of cheap, poorly made, uncomfortable shop stools.
They now make a range of stools, but most bike shops use benches around 35" tall so we went with their updated Elevated Steel Max. Its 24"-32" height range is perfect—there's no issue using a computer at the workbench, and it still goes low enough to be useful for other tasks.
It's comfortable for mucking around with derailleurs on the bench, and it's comfortable when I'm working on spreadsheets. Dropping it down is great for working on the bike or motorcycle. I imagine it'd be an excellent welding stool as they originally intended, and I'd definitely drink at a bar that used these. The backrest is supportive and (you guessed it) comfortable, and the whole thing is super stable. No more tipping the apprentice over. It's built like a tank out of robust materials, and being able to use the QR seat clamp to set the height is a nice detail.
The folks at Vyper kindly offered to embroider something custom for us on the backrest. I asked Taj Mihelich to draw up a version of his Grim Donut goat for the occasion, and I think it turned out awesome. Makes me smile every time.Downsides?
It may be the world's nicest shop stool, but it's also the most expensive. Value is subjective and it's not for me to say what's worth it, but I will say that the quality is excellent, it's made domestically, and there's nothing else out there like it. I looked far and wide to find something similar for less money, and failed; you could maybe try to find a used Steelcase elevated drafting chair to save some bucks (new they're pricier than the Vyper), but they wouldn't roll as well or be nearly as bombproof. Back in my bike shop days we broke the cheap automotive stools pretty regularly, while I'm pretty sure this one will outlive me.
It's not for everyone of course, and it doesn't need to be. You can definitely buy three or four basic, basic shop stools for the same price. Or like a thousand milk crates. The way I see it, an office worker doesn't bat an eye at a $1000 Aeron chair, and I see no reason that bike mechanics shouldn't be comfortable at work too.
Other downsides? It did take me a long
time to build, but to be honest I enjoyed that part. Also, it might encourage you to be the person in the shop who rolls around everywhere for no reason. Don't be that person, please. (Kaz especially gets annoyed by the intra-shop-rollers)Final thoughts
This is the best shop stool available as far as I'm concerned. If you can afford it and you're the kind of mechanic with an Efficient Velo stand, Abbey tools, and Wera hex keys, I can't recommend this stool enough.
More information at vyperchair.com