Thursday, March 21, 2013

One Hit Wonder?

My Orange S-One Lifer Helmet in Action

There is some confusion as to "one hit" versus "reusable" helmets. There are el-cheapo helmets that are not good for much of anything, there are multi-use which provide some protection, then there are high impact helmets. High impact helmets have layer of hard Expanded PolyStyrene (EPS) foam lining, which if you hit your head hard enough will act like a crumple zone in a car.  Some cheap helmets will have a hard foam lining that may look like EPS, but look for the Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) sticker on the inside of the helmet to make sure it is going to protect your brain.  The CPSC certification means the helmet has been proven to protect your head in bicycle crashes (think how fast you go on your bike!), so they translate well to Roller Derby.  Here is an illustration of a CPSC certified Lifer helmet:

Both S-One and Nutcase brands have CPSC certified helmets with a layer of hard EPS lining followed by a soft foam pad. They are made for multiple lower impact hits to the head and if you happen to take a hit hard enough to dent the hard EPS foam lining (you will be able to see this), it's time to replace it.  So basically these helmets are reusable helmets at low impact and single use at high impact.  You can replace dented or cracked S-One helmets for $20 through the manufacturer or $35 through 2N1 Skate Shoppe, which is a pretty sweet deal.  I also heard a rumor that Nutcase likes to replace broken helmets when you send them an awesome story about how it saved your brain from catastrophe.

Non-CPSC Certified Helmet

Helmets that only have a hard shell with a thick terry cloth liner (see picture to the right) used to be the most popular helmet in Roller Derby, and this may also be why we were seeing so many concussions or traumatic brain injuries.  These helmets are not CPSC certified and are even illegal to sell in some states because your head is the crumple zone instead of a hard foam liner. Doesn't sound like much fun, does it?

The Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) has recently taken the helmet issue a step further by recommending HECC certified helmets. These are (imho) ugly hockey helmets that run about $150 (from the models I looked at), but are tested to even harder hits than the CPSC helmets.

Nutcase Modern Dots CPSC Certified Helmet
Some skaters I've met want to keep their helmets forever...personally, I think it is better to look at all of your protective gear as being easily replaceable after it has done its job. Hopefully no one ever hits their head hard enough to need to replace their helmet, but I don't think that worrying about having to get net stickers should be a reason you get a lower rated helmet.  Besides, with the awesome color selection S-One has and super cute Nutcase designs, who wouldn't want to switch it up every once in a while?

Chris from Nutcase sent me a helmet to try out and review, as well as one to give away to a G Spot reader!  While I'm testing mine out, let's hear some of your helmet stories...  Post your tale of woe, near-miss, or triumph in the comments for your chance to get your own brand new Nutcase helmet.  We'll announce the winner April 15th.

Sweet Atom Backpack
 Speaking of giving away stuff, you have less than 2 weeks left to enter our Atom Backpack giveaway contest!  Just post a pic of you showing your 2N1 pride on the 2N1 Skate Shoppe FaceBook page and you may be carrying around all your derby stuff in style!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Serious Case of Vertigo

The first pair of skates I had were some used Sure Grip Rebels that barely made it a year before they were literally falling off my feet.  I was having to use Shoe Goo after every practice/bout just to keep them was rough.  But what was even rougher was when I got my shiny new Riedell 1065's.  I wasn't prepared to learn how to skate all over again, and even though I had thrown out my old skates, I wanted to just go back to them, go back to what was familiar.

It took a couple weeks (felt like years!) before I was able to go through a whole practice without having to concentrate on my skates, but after I got used to them they felt more like an extension of my body than tools used to get around the track.  It was wonderful, yet it was nothing compared to when I got my new Vertigo boots.

Vertigo Series of Boots
If you have been skating for a while, you've no doubt heard of the Atom and Bionic brands.  If you have been around the speed skating circuit Luigino should be a familiar brand to you as well. All of these are related to each other, and while it can get confusing at times exactly how they interrelate, what's not confusing is the quality of products produced by these companies.  In the past few months, Luigino has finally made their way to the Roller Derby track with the new (and much anticipated) Vertigo boots and Pilot plate systems, and the quality is just as high as expected.

When you get these boots, they come with special bags which are used to heat them up in a pot of boiling water before molding them to your feet.  This unique system makes it so there is little to no break-in period.  When you couple these boots with the Pilot plate system, you get a super light weight and responsive pair of skates.

The hardest thing for me to get used to with my new Q-6 skates with Pilot Falcon plates was that it felt like I was skating with nothing on my feet.  Think ballerina slippers with Juke wheels and Bionic Super Stopper toe stops...glorious.

Vertigo Q-4 Boots with Pilot Plates and Atom Lowboy Wheels
Not only are these new boots and plates pretty awesome, but Luigino has come up with the "Create a Skate"  system where you can get up to 20% off a complete skate package when you build your new pair of skates using all Luigino/Atom/Bionic components.  Since these are generally mid- to high-range skates, 20% off is a pretty sweet deal.

2N1 Skate Shoppe just received a huge shipment of Vertigo boots for skaters to try on or purchase.  Vertigo boots are sized about half a size larger than women's shoes, so if you normally wear size 8, you will most likely need size 7.5 Vertigo boots.  If you are not able to make it to the shoppe and want to try the boots on before you buy, 2N1 has been known to ship boots to skaters to try on (with collateral, of course).

Atom Backpack
While you're drooling over your next pair of skates...why not take a chance at winning an Atom backpack to carry around those new babies!  Take a pic of yourself flashing the shocker, sporting a 2N1 Skate Shoppe temporary tattoo, or showing off gear you got from 2N1 and post it on the 2N1 FaceBook page and you could be carrying around your gear in style.

Now I know you keep coming back for my witty take on Roller Derby gear, but I know giving away stuff also helps to pique your interest...I don't plan on letting you down.  We have a few items stashed in the shoppe to give away and are working on getting more.  Right now a helmet, bearing tool, wheels, and bearings are just waiting to be given away...all in due time.

If you are interested in a product, whether it be brand new or something that has been around the track a few times, let me know and I'll not only test it out and review it, but also try to get some to give away.  The more readers I have, the more items I'll be able to get to give away so please share this with your friends.

Until we skate again,

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

How Could You Be So Heartless?

You say that like being Heartless is a bad thing!  If you're talking about Heartless wheels, it's definitely a good thing.

Heartless wheels are made by GRN MNSTR, maker of B'zerk, Reckless and Envy wheels, Spyder, MG2 and AR1 Antik boots, Gumball toe stops, Moto bearings and Astro Nuts.

Heartless Wheels in Order of Hardness

As you can see, Heartless wheels come in a wide variety of colors, with each color equating to a specific hardness.  In the photo above, the softest wheel is the purple one on the bottom at 86a and the hardest is the white one at 96a.  They are available inbetween these durometers in intervals of 2, which means there is a hardness for pretty much any type of floor.

At 35mm wide, Heartless wheels are some of the most narrow wheels on the market.  Being more narrow makes it easier to cut accross the track and juke around pesky blockers and they are light enough to notice a difference when jumping the apex.

Quite a few skaters on my league love to skate on a combination of green and yellow (90a and 92a) Heartless wheels with the green ones on the left side when looking down at your skates when you are wearing them.  Personally, I like to skate on purple and yellow (86a and 92a) which gives me a little more grip for when I have to quickly push off with one foot in order to close the door on the jammer.

There were only 2 downsides that I could find to the Heartless wheels.  The first is that they tend to go bald quickly; however, after they are regrooved, the new grooves stick around for quite a while.  The second drawback is that these wheels can feel slicker than wider wheels with the same durometer.  This is due to having less surface area to grip the track.  This can be adjusted by going down a durometer than what you would usually use. 

In summary, here is a list of pros and cons...

  • Less hitting of other skaters' wheels
  • Easier to juke
  • Weighs less than standard wheels
  • Regrooves easily
  • Grooves last a long time when regrooved
  • Wide variety of durometers; there is something for all types of surfaces
  • Go bald quickly before they are regrooved
  • Can feel slicker than other wheels with the same durometer
We will be giving away a set of Heartless wheels in the near future, so stay tuned to the G Spot!

Atom Backpack
Speaking of giveaways, right now 2N1 Skate Shoppe is having a contest and will give away an Atom Backpack to one lucky fan.  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.  They are giving away a backpack to the most kooky, crazy, silly, nutty, or screwy 2N1 enthusiast during the last week of March so you have a little time to post something...shocking.

Until we skate again,