Powerblading is still a fresh, new thing, and hasn’t matured yet. Many people, including those working for skating brands, oppose the term, saying this is freeskating under Powerslide coat of paint. Too bad they fail to realize advancements to gear, skating style, and possibilities powerblading bring to the table.
Yes, I know, there were fsk frames made for UFS boots before. Yes, I know about Salomon one made out of plastic, and with little groove. Yes, I know about K2 Soulslide skate.
Thing is, until Kizer released Advance and Arrow frames, nobody did it right. No company really cared to expand the idea of freeskating by allowing grinds. At best it was “yeah, you can even do little grinds with these…”. Powerblading frames are intended for such purpose. They are directly marketed as piece of equipment allowing aggressive tricks on big wheels, without sacrificing mobility. They are made to serve this purpose best as possible, and evolve rapidly.
Powerblading started with pretty “rough” Advance frame, and little more tuned Arrow, people started to mod them with custom h-blocks, and few months later we are waiting for Level 2, which are major upgrade on the whole concept. And don’t forget Roll Line SKIL PB frames with additional h-block are on the way too. These improvements will push the boundaries of what is possible on powerblading setups, no doubt.
Above: Kizer Advance frame. Simple, yet functional.
With powerblading frames you don’t have to worry if they’ll do the job, if their walls won’t crack or wear down too much because of grinds. They are designed for grinding. They slide better and are more durable than any UFS fsk frames before. Kizer Advance is strong and cheap, and you won’t have to spend fortune on another set of frames when you wear them down. And this, nobody can deny it, is something all new.
It’s also worth to note, that powerblading sparked creation of better wheels. For years, there was little choice when it came down to more stable, round profile ones, with stronger cores. Basically, only wheels like that were Hyper Pro 250 and Hyper Concrete. Other fsk wheels had more elliptical, speed profile, and often their cores were too weak to withstand stress that skilled freeskater or aggressive blader put on them. Powerblading bring Undercover Full Radius and Roll Line SKIL Thunder Demon wheels, and probably more to come. Both of them have more stable profile, and strong cores. I can’t help feeling these wouldn’t be made if pb wouldn’t emerge.
There is also one important thing that differentiates “powerblades” from freeskates. PB setups are universal in function! Get cheapest setup possible – Realms, Kizer Advance, ABEC3 bearings and cheap fsk wheels, and you have skates that will allow you to do the same tricks that top of the range setup made of CIII PB, CIV or Adapt boot with Kizer Arrow, Undercover PB wheels, and Swiss Ceramic bearings.
Whatever setup you’ll choose, be it budget or premium one, you won’t miss on anything. Sure, Realms in PB setup won’t be as durable and comfortable as powerblades based on better boots, but still, you’ll be able to do the same things on them.
How does it look in freeskating sector? Most freeskates do not give you any ability to grind. Exceptions are rare. Fusion line with mini soulplates on the outside of boot, no longer made Salomon FSK skates, and K2 IL Capo. All have frames hardly any good for grinding (especially ledges), very small soul area, and basically as a whole aren’t suitable for grinding anything other than copings in skateparks.
Above: Roll Line SKIL powerblading frame with replaceable H-block and Thunder Demon wheels.
There is also Seba FR-A model, and soulplate add-on, but even by going with minimum option: FR2 with souls – you’ll pay the same amount of money as for mid-tier aggressive boot with pb frameset. FR-A cost so much, that you can buy Razors Cult Street in PB setup for almost half of its price, and still, you’ll get a skate superior in function (no insides on FR-A!!!). And you can get yourself a PB set even cheaper. After-market is flooded with used, aggressive skates in good condition, and often you can get premium skate in mint condition for a bargain price. From no longer made Salomons ST, to still young USD Carbon III. Many aggressive bladers already had older, unused boots in their closets, attics and cellars, and all they needed to invest to start powerblading was price of frameset.
Powerblading setups do offer greater possibilities in trick vocabulary, but also, they give rollerbladers more options to put together pair of skates best suited to their likings and budget. “Entry fee” to a sport lowered drastically, and it is possible to get great PB setups for the same price as cheapest freeskates, namely RB Fusion X3, Seba FRX, Powerslide Metropolis and Fila NRK BX. A setup that allows you to do more than any of these skates.
Above: Dustin Weberski Xsjado 2.0 PB setup with Level 2 frame
Take a look at gallery at powerblading.org, skaters use all kinds of boots, and no two are the same. You are no longer limited to few freeskates, you can choose from more than 20 boots. From entry-level Bladerunner Furys, to expensive Adapt Harmanus Ones. You have freedom of choice. Harboots, softboots, carbon shell skates, Xsjados… you simply get what you like the most. And it’s highly unlikely you’ll meet anybody with skates exactly like yours. And that’s always a plus, as feeling of individuality is important to any human being.
Powerblading succeed where freeskating failed, namely: in re-introducing aggressive skaters to skates with big wheels. No, these guys don’t want to sacrifice ability to grind. Many of them is having fun when bombing down the streets, but to put it simply, freeskates, for years, put too many limitations on their creativity. Not to mention the fact, freeskates are constructed in a different way than aggressive skates, and many people didn’t like slim hardshells with little toebox space.
Aggressive skaters, or at least big portion of them, hunt for adrenaline. They pull off tricks that are rarely made by majority of freeskaters, and this put more stress on skates. These guys need stronger gear, and were unable to find such for years. Yeah, there were UFS freeskating frames before, and some of them of a truly great quality, but always in limited availability and quite expensive. Kizer Advance costs significantly lower, do the same job and even more, and is designed from ground up to take lot of abuse. That’s important thing, that powerblading brought to the table: confidence. Skater who have his proven boots on feet, and a frame that he can be sure of, won’t be limited by fear of doing stunts on powerblades. Not when he have history of lacing tricks on his boots in aggressive setup. He trusts them, he knows aggressive skates are made to not fail him.
Above: Sorry, but I haven’t seen any freeskaters doing front farvs on their Twisters, FRs, Salomon FSKs etc… feel free to prove me wrong.
From freeskaters side, pb did brought something new too. Few people attempted grinds on their freeskates. Now more and more do. It literally, exploded. People who freeskated for years, after buying pb setups learn stalls, grinds, cess slides. They expand their tricks vocabulary. Many of them buy aggressive framesets, to learn even more, because, why not? They already have most expensive part of the skates, boots. Buying used, aggressive frameset in good condition on ebay or the likes is not a big investment after all.
You can say powerblading brings more people to both freeskating and aggressive skating, at the same time! It’s a win-win situation, what’s not to love?!
To some people apparently, term “powerblading” is irritating like sun is to vampires. I’ve heard and read numerous times, that this is marketing tool of Powerslide, as the name is created from words “powerslide” and “rollerblading”. In the beginning, I thought the same, I must admit.
But “powerblading” IS NOT copyrighted trademark. Yeah, it may don’t appeal to some companies that new skating style was named using word “rollerblading” that is derivative of Rollerblade® (if you do some research, you’ll see most companies oppose using word “rollerblading” too and use blading, skating or inline skating instead), and portion of trademark Powerslide®, which is probably largest company in industry at the moment.
But you know what? Who cares? “Powerblading” is not THAT similar to Powerslide, so even if they had sneaky plan to smuggle some marketing in, they basically failed. Mostly because there is none powerblading product labeled directly under Powerslide brand!!! Kizer, Undercover, USD, Xsjado, yes. And now Roll Line SKIL frames and wheels. So you can be sure most skaters won’t see straight connection to PS.
I wonder if the same people who hate on powerblading name also refuse to use word powerslide to describe one of basic slides, and popular stopping technique…
And even if name was clearly intended to ring bells, with powerblading products labeled “Powerslide Advance and Arrow” or “Powerslide Powerblading wheels” it wouldn’t be unfair to be honest. PS after all did refined whole concept of “freeskating+grinds”, made whole range of dedicated products, and support new movement with media. From my point of view, they had right to name powerblading however they wanted to.
Also, name makes sense. It’s rollerblading, with more power. Aggressive skating with more speed and mobility. Freeskating with ability to grind. Name it as you want. “Powerblading” suit the style and focus on possibility to expand you skating, no matter if you are aggressive blader or freeskater. In both cases, with powerblades on, you can do things you weren’t able to with your old pair of skates.
Hate all you want, but you won’t put a spell on reality. Name already was accepted by skating community, it represent something new, and nobody cares that 20 years ago people skated TRS Lightnings with 76mm wheels, or that few guys in France grinded ledges with their Salomon FSK freeskates. You know why? Because, none of these things were perfected, polished, refined, and in the longer run, companies dedicated to aggressive/fsk abandoned these ideas. Until now, when Powerslide made it right for the first time in history. Powerblading is fun, simple as that. And it’s here to stay.
This post is also available in Polish on wrotkarstwo.pl: http://wrotkarstwo.pl/forum/viewtopic.php?f=115&t=6650#p73263