“Excited about Seba Street?” – supplement

What you can read below is a supplement to „Excited about Seba Street?” article. I put it together after some people provided input regarding first article, and directed me to places where I could get more information regarding the subject.

In my opinion journalism, even in form of a blog, should spark discussion. It would be foolish to not listen to what other people say, and correcting any mistakes I’ve made, especially when, as a “freelancer”, I have no business in building or defending any company image. I admit I’m often harsh in my opinions, yes. So other people views can act as a remedy to my, sometimes, a bit too “razor edge” sharp opinions.

Technical things: what Seba introduced in terms of technology.

I haven’t mentioned metal plates acting as a frame mount in first text, as I do not see it as a Seba invention. I knew speedskating boots used this technology before, starting from late nineties. That wasn’t a new idea, Seba simply adapted it in other field of skating. But yes, I do admit it brought some changes to the game, especially in slalom boots. Thank you people for pointing that out.

The thing it incorporates is eliminating flex between plastic sole of the boot, and metal frame, creating more rigid connection, and allowing better energy transfer. Similar thing is used in Metro (in 2012 version known by “Metropolis” name) freeskate, but for example, Rollerblade Twister do not have it. New Powerslide Hawk skates that are coming in 2013 will apparently have this solution too. Seba included this from the beginning of the brand, in their very first High and FR models. These were first hardshell boots to have this feature.

As a freerider, I never worried about frame bending much. I actually had pair of Powerslide Metros before, and I hated them. Their shell is very hard, and addition of metal plates under your feet create extremely stiff feeling. Yes, you gain reactivity and lose less energy when push, but at a cost of comfort. Metros were in fact so stiff, that simply skating them, on rough streets we have here, murdered my knees and spine.

That’s why, in my opinion, this isn’t any groundbreaking technology in freeride. Many freeriders use their Twisters just fine (see videos of Ben Brillante), even though frame-boot connection do bend. UFS mount do bend too, yes. But in this case, it can be limited by smart construction of the frame. For example, frames like Kizer or Roll Line SKIL PBs, have top surface of frame, including walls and bridges, supporting boot underside, on their whole length. Contact surface is larger, and frame bending to the sides is limited that way.

From a slalom skaters point of view, where tricks are purely dependant on control and responsiveness of whole skate, this was much more important advancement. I gave skates more “precise” feeling. But keep in mind, slalom skater do limit their skating to flat, smooth surfaces most of the time, and super-rigid setup puts less strain on their body.

As for freeskating/powerblading, simply skating around  in such skates is noticeably less comfortable. I’ve switched my Metros to a Fusion 84 skates, UFS mount, huge shock absorber, and I can skate for hours without feeling any pain. I simply love how “soft” they are on my knees. It was a world of difference in my case. So yes, I gladly sacrifice rigidity and ability to skate slightly faster, for a rational amount of comfort.

I give credit to Seba for introducing this frame mounting system in freeskates, and admit that it was major upgrade in slalom skates. I simply do not feel that’s ideal solution for everyone likings. Also, keep in mind introducing something doesn’t equal to inventing it.

Another issue are frame lengths. I got feedback, that Seba brought variety of them as novelty. Since beginning, Seba made frames of 219, 231, 243 and 255mm lengths. 273mm ones came later. But not all of these were available in stock setups from the start.

For example, 219mm frames were factory mounted on Seba High 06, but then abandoned, and available only as a separate part for a few years, until comeback two years ago.

255mm frames weren’t factory mounted on any Seba skate until 2011/2012 lineup, and actually Salomon, Powerslide and Rollerblade released their skates with such frames sooner, so Seba did not brought anything new in this department.

It’s true that Seba had numerous frame lengths while other companies were stuck to one of two sizes, and that is true. And any good pro-shop could swap frames for desired lengths, when you were buying the skates. But we aren’t all that lucky to live in countries where there are such skateshops or where Seba have good distribution chain. For example, in Poland, Seba skates and parts became widely available somewhere in the middle of year 2010. Before there was no way to get, for example, FR with 84mm wheels setup. Our choice was limited to 243mm frames in FRs, and to 231 and 243mm frames in slalom Seba skates. So it was very much like with other companies skates. Now we have the similar situation with Rollerblade. Many shops still carry 243mm and 273mm Fusion frames, but you can’t say company offers Fusion skates with 243mm and 273mm setups anymore. Making certain part isn’t the same as making stock setup equipped with that part.

For the record, Seba now offers most frame options in their stock setups.

Regarding usage of carbon in slalom skates, Powerslide introduced one-piece, carbon boots before Seba, in form of limited series C8 boots with freeskate frame. There were also prototypes of S3 Skali made out of carbon fiber instead of glass fiber (never made it to production, and were available only to team riders). I must make it clear that actually the first carbon-fiber based slalom skate were 07 Seba High Carbon, but these aren’t one piece boots. They are basically Seba High skates made out of carbon instead of plastic, have removable liners and share all parts with older brother (it’s worth noting that carbon fiber cuff was introduced there – I totally forgot about that part, Seba is the only company to have carbon cuff on their skates).

First mass-market available, linerless slalom skate was Powerslide S3, and first of such type skates made out of carbon material were PS Hardcore Evo 2008. PS skates had shells modeled after speedskating ones, since company was already making such skates. And that’s nothing strange, considering Powerslide basically created whole new concept of a skate using experience from their speedskating products. You have to start somewhere. Main difference from first HC Evos and later iterations, but also from Seba Igor and KSJ/KSJ II and Trix were low cut shell walls, and more flat heel. It wasn’t perfected idea yet. Seba Igors that cam some month later had noticeably higher sidewalls of the shell, providing better support, and giving slalom skaters higher heel position, which they usually prefer (it makes “sitting” tricks easier to perform).

So it’s fair to say while Powerslide introduced linerless carbon skates first, first Seba skate of such type was simply more polished. Both companies made adjustments to their skates over time, and you can clearly see current Hardcore Evos are very similar in structure of the shell to Seba ones.

I saw pictures of silver-skinned Igors that de-glued in the oven, with flakes of resin falling of the shell. This, and the fact that Seba do not encourage people to heat-mold their skates, and do not even mention this possibility, made me believe these aren’t meant for it. Clearly over the years technology has changed, as some people were in fact successful with heat-molding their KSJ IIs. Or simply the guy I spoke with about the issue two years ago did something horribly wrong (well, he said he was careful, but you never know…).

Strange thing is: if there is such option, why Seba do not care about telling skaters they can do it? Speedskating boot manufacturers, Powerslide and Adapt market semi-custom fit as a feature, and skaters are for the most part fond of it. It would be logical step to let people know there is an option, and I do not understand why they hesitate to do it. But why am I even surprised, most skating companies fail to present strengths of their products all the time.

Be aware that heat-molding may not be safe for all Seba carbon based skates, so try it at your own risk, until company provide any official info and/or tutorial how to do it.

Another thing I left out is KSJ II/Trix triangle cuff. I simply always thought of it as a weirdly shaped cuff, nothing more, and certainly not a ground breaking invention. But apparently, some skaters see it as an advantage, as it gives them more freedom of movement in ankle area, while still providing support. It should be mentioned though, that Igors provide option to skating them cuffless to get similar feeling, and it is possible to do the same with Hardcore Evos (or using lower cuffs from USD Carbon, which give you more forward-backward flex but still provide support on the sides).

I must admit, I never looked at this triangle cuff as a major step forward. Maybe because only KSJ II owner I see frequently never mentioned it works like this, when we spoke about technical specs of the skate, and reviews of KSJ II/Trix failed to mention it makes significant difference.

Skates durability:

I wrote a line: “Let’s face it, cone slalom isn’t a way to test skates durability. “. I must clarify something: in original text I referred to case of freeskates (specifically FR series) that were, and still are, widely used by slalom skaters, as they provide the same frame mounting options (at least FR1), are pretty rigid, and cheaper than cheapest Seba/Powerslide slalom skates.

As these are hardshells, and with rare exceptions, people who use them for slalom are beginners or intermediate at it, there is not so much stress put on these. Freeskates are intended to do jumps, slides, going fast on the streets, and slalom is pretty “safe” activity in comparison.

That’s where myth of superior FR durability was born – among slalom skaters who used FRs and simply weren’t able to push their skates to the limits. From their point of view these skates are “indestructible”. But that’s not true if you’ll consider their intended application.

When freeskating became more popular, and large amount of people started doing “hardcore” things on Seba FRs, it became apparent these skates aren’t by some miracle indestructible and in fact break/wear like many other freeride/aggressive skates. They aren’t made of titanium. They are pretty standard plastic shells, prone to damage as much as others.

As always feel free to comment.

If you want to learn more about Seba skates visit:

http://www.sebaskates.com/

and

http://www.sebanews.com/

If you want to know more about Harcore Evo skates and other Powerslide skates mentioned in the text, visit:

http://www.powerslide.de/sports/powerslide-freeskate-section.html

also, worth checking out is personal site of Guillame “Skali” Barbaz, freestyler who ride for Powerslide. He put there  video presentations and tests of HC Evo skates:

http://www.skaliweb.com/roller

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2 comments

  1. Pingback: Excited about Seba Street? « Że co, przepraszam?!
  2. Jesse K

    No offence, but most of your arguments are rendered pretty much void now the skates are out. CJ is pushing some serious boundaries now he has a proper team to support, he’s No.2 in rankings (and Pottier is No.2 – see what a bit of support does) and I’m riding the skates and they are the best things I’ve ever ridden in 20 years of blading. Why a “free rider” with no experience aggressive skating is weighing in on something you have not much knowledge about is beyond me.

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