During past weeks rollerblading community pretty much get on Seba hype train, starting with Seba-CJ Wellsmore partnership announcement. It seems many people see Seba as some kind of savior, that bring superior quality, revolution, money, professionalism and “proper” skater-owned bussines in to the game.
The problem is, emotions sparked by having another brand entering the market and giving popular blader pro-boot and opportunity to took part in designing the skate, took over cold reasoning and rationalism. Seba is no doubt influential company, but giving them more credit they deserve is a bad thing. The same happened numerous times with other brands, and you people learned nothing. Few months ago, Shima Skating Manufacture hype machine was so successful, that many people called them “revolution” in aggressive market and expected that Shima will lift popularity of rollerblading from depths of abyss called “place where mass media won’t go”, save it, and who knows what else. And how this turned out? If you don’t know, ask Montre Livingston…
This article isn’t written to slander Seba company, but to present my point of view and some facts about their policy and products. I’m simply tired of reading lies that are repeated by everyone, everywhere, without second thought. If someone wants to discuss with this article, please leave a comment. Keep in mind I won’t respond to any aggressive attacks and will delete any insulting comments. Rational discussion, based on facts is always welcome.
Iwould also want to remind you all, I’m not associated with any inline skating brand, and at the moment I’m not even working with any other people on skating-related projects. And no, nobody pays me anything under the table and “free” skates or parts aren’t on their way to my home. Treat text below as a outsider point of view, as a remedy to pandemic of “love Seba” disease. Maybe I’m one of those men who just want to watch the world burning, maybe I’m simply allergic to sweetness in overdose.
YES, SOMETIMES I AM HELL OF A KILLJOY.
Myth number 1: Seba have superior quality.
For years this was one of most repeated lies among freeskating community. I’m not saying Seba skates are of poor quality – no, they are respectable piece of equipment and many users are happy with their skates. But these products aren’t perfect and superior as marketing presents them to be.
Seba quality is simply inconsistent. While they excel at making some parts, like liners, they fail in other departments. “Sebas are indestructible” myth came from freestyle slalom community, where Seba is probably still most popular brand, and most skaters have very “light” skating style. Let’s face it, cone slalom isn’t a way to test skates durability. Especially freeride ones, which are commonly used in it, as they are more affordable than Seba High and more expensive, slalom dedicated models. Slides/shuffles and jumping over the tape isn’t a useful stress test too.
Many actual freeriders who take their skates to the streets found out that claims about superior quality of the brand are far from truth.
FR series is best example of this. As a freeride skate, it gets treatment most closely resembling what any aggressive skates are going through. I personally know many users of FR series blades. My friends know even more. And feedback is consistent: Seba skates do break, like other skates.
Number of issues include: cracked cuffs, cracked shells, holes in the shells, too fast plastic wear in color versions of FR shells, loose frame mounting blocks in shells, ripped liners, cracked frames (even their best frames, “Deluxe”), cracked rivets in FRX budget model, extremely fragile buckles.
Get over it, these things happen. I know a guy who bought FRX skate and managed to crack one shell, one cuff, frame, Seba buckles he put on the skate instead of Velcro, and cuff rivets. Sure it is a budget model, but still many people (especially those who have/work in skateshops that sell Sebas) present it as an excellent quality, underestimated skate that is superior, for example, to Powerslide Metropolis, because it have the same liner and shell as more expensive FR models.
Seba skates do break, they aren’t of any superior quality to other major companies offerings, so do not expect Seba Street skate will be worlds apart in terms of quality from what we have on market right now.
Myth number 2: Seba will revolutionize rollerblading with their skates.
I don’t know where this one was born, but probably in heads of fanboys that do not know anything about rollerblading, and pay little attention to brands other than Seba.
Point is, up to this point Seba didn’t revolutionized anything. Not even in their primary field of interest, freestyle slalom.
For a company that lives from selling freeskates, they are suspiciously late to most things.
Seba did not invented one-piece, linerless, carbon slalom skates, Powerslide did with S3 and Hardcore Evo, and put them on market when best what Seba got was High Carbon model, a version of plastic High model, but with carbon shell. Slalom owe it to Powerslide, that gear was further evolved. Now all top freestyle slalom skaters ride boots of such construction. It proved to be a major leap in terms of control and weight saving.
Seba based their first model (Igor) of such skate on existing High Carbon shell, and after that developed slimmer skate, KSJ, which was quickly scrapped (triangle carbon cuff broke far too easily) and replaced by superior version KSJ II. Now they made cheaper version of KSJ II, called Trix.
Thing is, Seba carbon skates aren’t heat-moldable, which takes away one of great advantages of used material. Forget semi-custom fit and eliminating of pressure points. Carbon and resin used in them aren’t of right kind, and skins material isn’t resistant to high temperatures and can shrink in oven. And basically, whole skate can de-glue. Meanwhile HC Evos are perfectly heat-moldable, allowing custom fit. So you can say, even though Seba copied their competitor idea, they failed to do it 100% right.
In terms of frames designed for “banana” rocker setups, company were late to the party too. Again, Powerslide released their own sooner, and both brands were beat in the race by smaller Asian manufacturers.
In terms of freeride, what revolution did Seba pull off? None.
Their FR skate is just a Chinese, open-mould copy of old Tecnica Twister shell (Rollerblade have rights to original and modified it to create modern RB Twister shell). Now with more open space at the top, but it’s a controversy if this change is for better or for worse (some people don’t like it, others do). They do not make true-to size shells, like RB does with Fusion line for example. Buy EU43, and you’ll get boat of a skate with too much space inside.
Was Seba first to expand their FR line with 84mm and 90mm wheel options? NO! For years they released only 80mm versions with 243mm frames. Then Rollerblade took the risk and introduced (now scrapped)Fusion X7 and (still in production) Fusion 84 models. Greg Mirzoyan proved that 255mm frame and bigger wheels is very good choice for freeride, and market eventually accepted that. Then, Seba did their own FR skates with such wheels and frames.
We’ve heard rumors that FR-A soulplate were in development for years. Really? Then why they were released after emergence of Kizer Powerblading frames and USD/Xsjado PB setups?
It looks like Seba waited for other company to took the risk of developing a products, marketing it, and for skaters to get more familiar with “freeskate+grinds” style. So they won’t have to took any risk… If pb movement was to fail, I think we wouldn’t see FR-A soulplate any time soon. But as it proved to be successful, they can jump out of nowhere and say “we too!!!”. Yes, you too… with your soulplates mounted on boot without UFS and grindplates that don’t even protect whole frames.
(By the way, 90’s called, they want their grindplates back)
So tell me, why anybody should expect revolution, when Seba failed to bring any to existing freeskating market? All I see them do is copying other companies ideas. Sure, they are doing this right and pick ones that have some potential, they care about quality as much as other major brands, but copycats do not push industry forward – inventors do!
Myth number 3: Seba will bring more professionalism to the industry.
Yes, because Anthony Finocchiaro is an epitome of professionalism with his habit of going to every skating-related fb fanpage/rollernews/other forums and arguing with people about what is freeskating and why it isn’t powerblading (I’ve decided to write separate article about it, it will be posted few days from now on).
I’ve discussed few times with people related to Seba. And no, this company isn’t more professional than others. In many countries they do not have proper distribution chain. They do not respond to emails, or respond late. Sometimes using hard to understand English mutation (Frenglish?). Long time ago, when I was still part of FSKnews, someone wrote an interview, I translated it, and then it was sent to Seba. For almost a year they didn’t care to respond, maybe we were too small fishes in the pond for them? Finally they said we can visit one of events and they’ll respond our questions.
Well, keep in mind Greg Mirzoyan didn’t had any problems with responding to our questions via mail. He did even put link to interview with him on his personal blog…
For a skate company they are extremely lazy in terms of media. Freeride Seba edits are few and far between. Slalom ones too. It is really bad when Polish PS FSK slalom team alone creates more media than whole company, and when Powerslide and Rollerblade put out (separately!!!) more freeskating edits than a company that creates their financial backbone around this type of skating.
Myth number 4: Seba will bring more money in to the game, and they are skater owned.
First of all: do you people never learn? Why do you have this sick fetish of skater-owned companies actually?
It doesn’t matter. Look at current skater-owned companies (specifically “well known aggressive skater owned companies”). Do their products are any better than what bloodthirsty “corporations” make? I haven’t noticed anything like that. Please, enlighten me!
Seba is skater-owned in kind of the same way Valo is.
They have central in Europe, they design their products here, whole forefront is in France, but skates are made in Asia, and brand is part of larger Asian company, Micro, from Singapore. Micro make and distribute number of sports equipment.
And now, special delivery for all those who are enraged by the fact Razors (specifically: Sunshine) “make scooters and put rollerblading money in to scooter industry”:
Micro make scooters too!!! Proof:
More breaking news: Powerslide make scooters too. And Rollerblade (Nordica) make …skateboards. Roces make both, isn’t Jon Julio deal with them suddenly a bit fishy? Burn the heretics!
About more money: tell me why do you think they’ll make difference, while aggressive skating will be only an side-business? Do you really expect brand created by a slalom skater, focused on slalom skating, to make any difference because they paired with one well known aggressive blader and are developing one skate?!
Myth number 5: CJ choose them, and will have Seba pro-model, that means something.
Rollerblading industry teach me, among few other things, that who rides for who means little to nothing.
How many times pro-bladers switched sponsors? It happens so frequently that I’ve lost track of it.
Don Bambrick on Razors! Don Bambrick off Razors. Don Bambrick on USD! Don Bambrick off USD.
J Bah on Rollerblade! J Bah off Rollerblade. J Bah on Razors! J Bah off Razors. J Bah on Adapt! J Bah off …just wait for it.
Brian Shima eventually ran out of companies to switch to and had to create his own.
The history repeats itself over and over again. Few pros stays loyal to one brand for their whole “career”. In case of boot companies it is frequent to switch sponsors, and even more in case of wheel and frame companies.
Truth is, pros are pros, because their skill (in most cases) excels what other skaters achieved. They would shred hard no matter what is on their feet. Talented skater can easily adapt to any skate, as proved numerous times.
Take Franky Morales for example: RB TRS->Remz->Remz OS->Throne UFS->Throne Classic->Carbon III
It doesn’t matter what he got on his feet, his skating never fails to amaze.
Hell, I could not mention Adam Żurawiecki and Nick Lomax, bladers who used USD Realms, cheapest USD model, as their skate of choice, for some time. And while having them on their feet, they managed to pull off jaw-dropping tricks.
I personally would never buy a skate solely because my favorite pro ride it. Recently I’m very impressed by Jon Bolino skating, I like the fact he is a metalhead in this hipster-gangsta rap polarized industry.
But I think I must take part in some accident involving my head, concrete, and high velocity, and then never fully recover, to buy butchered, overpriced Cult shell in skin, sitting on top of a boat… sorry.
The same goes for Valo. If I would want to skate old shell with raised heel, I would choose Throne Classic, at least they cost roughly the same for a full setup as Valos/SSMs cost for a boot only, don’t have ridiculous looking boats for a souls, and aren’t wrapped in unnecessary skin. Oh, and they come with much better liners.
But I would probably still choose complete Solo Troopers or Razors Genesys as they are in the same price range, and I do not like skates with lifted heel. Well, even USD VII are better suited to my taste.
Same goes for Seba. If you won’t like the skates, don’t jump on the hype train just because CJ skates them. That’s stupid reasoning. You should always choose blades that give you most control, comfort, and confidence at the same time. That’s why there are so many boots out there. So bladers can have choice. Maybe you’ll love Seba Street. Maybe you’ll hate them and ride another boot. It boils down to this.
I’m not saying Seba will release bad skate, that they should be boycotted, or that their products are of low quality. I’m saying they aren’t better than other brands, and there is no reason to expect their skates to be next step in skate design.
If you expected revolution, earthquake, “rebirth” of rollerblading, and flood of money, you will be disappointed. Seba is simply another company that make good skates, nothing more, and won’t change the whole game by releasing one new boot. But this boot may be best boot for some people, just because everyone have different tastes. Isn’t that enough? Isn’t the fact that CJ found sponsor that allows him to travel and participate in comps, the fact there will be one more boot to choose, the fact Seba will be now interested in sponsoring aggressive comps alongside other companies, the fact they probably will create a larger aggressive team and support more bladers, enough? Do you really need to glorify them, and give them credit for things they never did?
Cool down people. Seba coming to aggressive market is a good thing, but certainly not the best thing that ever happened to rollerblading.