Monday, February 25, 2013

A Tale of Two Blocs

For the past few years, I skated with Gumball toestops.  They were the only toe stop out there that fulfilled the needs of Roller Derby skating...they are thick and long enough to reach the floor in pretty much any skate setup, they never pop off the stem, and they are gummy enough to stop on any surface.  Some people think they wear out too quickly, but that is a small price to pay if you've ever experienced your toe stop popping off during a bout!

Well, Gumball now has some competition...specifically Crazy Skate's Big and Li'l Bloc toe stops.

Crazy Big Bloc Toe Stops
 I first tried out the Big Bloc after RollerCon 2012 and it didn't take long for me to appreciate the already flattened surface area.  I didn't have to do TATS (turn around toe stops) over and over again to break them in, although doing TATS did help to rough up the surface for better traction.  The Big Bloc was quite stable at 57mm wide and the material made stopping quickly effortless and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get the stop to pop off the stem.  I gave them to Deuce Gunner (2012 Alaska MVP) to try out and now I can't get them back! 

I skated on the Big Blocs for about two months and during that time I didn't notice a substantial amount of wear, so I expect they would last a relatively long time...I've had to replace my toe stops monthly during peak training season but I bet I could get through a season with 2 pairs of these.

After raving about the Big Blocs to Amy at Skates US, she convinced me to try out the Li'l Bloc toe stops.  The Li'l Blocs are a smaller version of the Big Bloc measuring in at 45mm wide.  I was very apprehensive at first, I mean, I was used to having a solid base on which I could run, jump, and stop without worrying about being unstable but I didn't even notice that I had changed my stops at all in this regard.  I did notice my skates were a tad lighter and I didn't hit the toe stops during crossovers at the spots where I normally would (barely) hit.  I was only able to wear them for about 10 hours during a weekend boot camp, but I really didn't notice the smaller surface area at all during that time.

Now, I haven't been able to try the Big or Li'l Bloc out on every surface or have every type of skater try them, but from what I've experienced so far I would recommend these to anyone looking for something new.  The G Spot will even be getting a pair to give away, so stay tuned to your favorite Roller Derby Gear blog for your chance to win.

To sum things up, here are the Pros and Cons:

-2 Sizes to Choose From
-Already Flattened and Ready to Stop
-Slowly Wears Down
-Won't Pop Off (unlike Tanisha, amirite?!?)

-Pre-Flattened side means more work for those with toe stop nuts.
- Having to choose between sizes

Atom Backpack
Speaking of giveaways, right now 2N1 Skate Shoppe is having a contest and will give away an Atom Backpack.  All you have to do to enter the contest is post a picture of you showing your 2N1 pride on the 2N1 Skate Shoppe's FaceBook page.  We will give away a backpack to one lucky fan during the last week of March so you have a little time to post something...shocking.

Until we skate again,

Monday, February 18, 2013

Catching Up With the Undead

I was finally able to test out Sure Grip Zombie wheels for the past few weeks.  They are a recently introduced (within the last year) roller skate wheel available in three sizes; Max, Mid, and Low, and three hardnesses; 89a, 92a, and 95a.  All the wheels are a nice sleek black urethane and the hubs are colored are the stats: 

  • Zombie 58mm Low – Smaller 58mm outer diameter and slimmer 38mm width wheels provide instant acceleration and increased lateral response.
  • Zombie 62mm Mid – Slimmer 38mm width for increased lateral response.
  • Zombie 62mm Max – 42mm full width wheel design for maximum grip and stability.
  • 89A Purple Core – Polished concrete and other slippery surfaces for insane grip. Can also be used as a pusher wheel.
  • 92A Black Core – For use on coated surfaces and tile. Loaded with an insane mix of grip and speed.
  • 95A Red Core – For use on sticky surfaces, track, or soft skate court where a hard wheel is desired for increased roll.

These wheels look sharp, but how do they perform?

Normally, I wear wheels that are about 90a hardness for practice, so I tried out a combination of 89a/92a in the Low size.  Aluminum hub wheels are usually reported to be less grippy than those with nylon hubs so I was prepared to slide all over the place-this didn't happen.  I was so stuck to the track I didn't dare try a hockey stop at full speed for fear of snapping an ankle.  Aluminum hub wheels don't flex under a skater's weight like nylon hubs, thus making them roll faster, have a smoother ride, and (usually) gives the skater less grip.  This can be especially helpful for us skaters with a bit more heft.

Once I got over how grippy these wheels were, I was pleasantly surprised at how these rolled around the track.  The ride was smooth, I didn't feel any noticeable weight difference, and even though I couldn't slide at all my speed wasn't compromised.

Some of the wheels had little pieces of urethane coming off of them.  It looked like some of the urethane had gotten onto the aluminum hub during production and ended up coming off after the wheels were used...none of the pieces I saw coming off would make a difference in the way the wheel worked, it was just aesthetically unpleasing.

Another item skaters have contacted me about is that sometimes bearings do not want to stay in the wheel when changing wheels out...this is something that occurs with a lot of aluminum hubs due to the rigidity of the metal.  This is actually not something to worry about as long as the bearings aren't moving around in the hub.  It might be a little annoying, but it's worse to get a bearing stuck in a wheel!

We have sold quite a few sets of Zombie wheels in all sizes and hardnesses and almost all of the feedback has been positive.  I would recommend these for skaters who are ready to step things up from a nylon hub but may not be ready to spend a lot of money.  At $55 for a 4 pack, Sure Grip has produced a decent wheel just about every skater can afford.

To sum things up, here are the Pros and Cons of the Sure Grip Zombie wheels:

Fast, smooth roll
Light in weight
Cool looking
Relatively inexpensive

Grippier than expected
Small amount of peeling may occur
Bearings may slip out when changing wheels

Have you tried these?  If so, tell us what you think in the comments...

Until we skate again,

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Crazy at Play

Have you ever rolled on a new set of wheels and thought to yourself, "I'm in love?"  When I tried out Play wheels by Crazy Skates, that's exactly what I thought, and not just for the first week either.  The more I rolled on these, the more I loved them.

The first thing I noticed was how light the Play wheels are.  I haven't actually weighed them to see if they are in fact lighter, or if I just felt lighter skating around in them, either way they are a wonderful experience.

When I put the wheels on, I thought I would be slipping around everywhere.  I usually skate on 89a and 92a wheels at our normal practice space, so the 93a hardness made me a little apprehensive.  After a few laps this apprehension quickly turned to joy as I was able to grip around the corners and had no problem skating some of the quickest laps of my life.  The true fun came when I went to stop, specifically hockey stop...then hockey stopped again, and again, and again.  I'm still not sure how a wheel can make hockey stops not only easy but enjoyable, but these certainly found a way.

Out of all the wheels I've tried in the past 4 years, these are hands down my absolute favorite.  These wheels come in 90a (Rewind), 93a (Play), and 96a (Fast Forward) hardnesses, so if you skate on an uber slick or sticky floor, there are wheels for you as well.  You can purchase them here for around $80 a set.

The only con I have about these wheels is that I had to take them off to try out more wheels!  If you have tried these as well, please let me know how you like them.  I'd like to know if I'm loony, or if these really are made of spun unicorn hair.