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(After a very long break)
If you are following current trends in rollerblading world, you most likely noticed that Powerslide is pushing tri-wheeled skates, and basically in all branches (aggressive inline excluded for obvious reasons). They even made new logotype of tri-wheeled skate which is basically a nod to original Rollerblade logo, but of course more dynamic and modern – it’s almost like they are shouting: It’s a new beginning for inline skating! Or something along these lines.
Their „poster child” is new 3x125mm beast of a speedskate called Double-X 3 Wheeler. But they also offer other solutions dedicated to fitness skaters, freeskaters and even slalom skaters (of course not for freestyle slalom, for speed slalom) in form of complete setups, frames or framesets. They come in two flavours – you can get yourself 3x110mm or 3x125mm ride.
To be honest, tri-wheelers aren’t anything truly new. Yup, 3x125mm setups are first of their kind, but frames for 3x100mm and 3x110mm wheels existed for a long time. Powerslide themselves made Venom Double X 3x100mm frame years ago, and while it was able to withstand usage by adult bladers, it was for the most part dedicated to children who speedskate (lower weight than 4x100mm setup, shorter frame better suited for smaller feet etc.). They’ve made Phuzion Open Air fitness skate with 3x110mm before they decided to expand the concept to a broader range of skates. Companies like Fox and dMb also made their own 3x110mm for quite some time. There are more examples but it’s pointless to list them all here. What matters is that trend is coming back, and it isn’t Powerslide alone that is on board. This wall of text will focus mostly on their product, because that’s the one I’ve came in to possession lately.
Do yourself a favour and watch this video before reading further:
Some people might wonder – why Powerslide, all of sudden, decided that tri-wheeled setups are a way to go not only in speedskating, but in fitness and freeskating too?
From my perspective it is obvious that rollerblading market was pretty much stagnant for a while, especially in fitness range. Nothing truly new or exciting was released for years, just another versions of softboots with frames that could take 4×80 to 3x100_1x90 wheel sizes. Current, most popular hardshell freeskates are basically all Tecnica Twister clones, tweaked and tuned, but you can clearly see where their roots are. Nobody wants to follow Salomon design school in FSK world and even RB is slowly killing off my favourite skates of all time, Fusions. It’s a no-brainer that companies would look for something to revitalize the sport they are make money from. To wow the masses again.
Recently I got myself a pair of frames that were taken off Vi Fothon. Bought them second-hand with wheels and bearings for a decent price. These are basically first version of frames that are sold with new, super yellow Imperial Megacruiser skates. Only visible difference is early model have front bridge extended to allow for 195mm frame mount. In the new one, hole for 195mm mounting is not present to allow for 125mm wheels – it is possible to mod older to allow for the same.
Frames measure 255mm in length and are quite tall for a 110mm frame – but on the other hand, they are actually lowest possible frames for 3x125mm setup with 165mm boot and 255mm wheelbase.
I won’t hack my frames to put 125mm wheels in, at least not until I’ll have some other boot to use them with, because as you can see, my hybrid Xsjadoops won’t allow for such large wheels anyway.
Yeah, I’m using those with my „ghetto” doop skeletons. Reason is straightforward – those are only boots in my possession that actually have raised heel! All my other skates are UFS and won’t work with those frames.
To be honest, this boot is probably one of worst case scenarios if you think about using these frames. It’s not that it is bad – Xsjados and doop are holding your feet very firmly if you tighten up buckle and straps properly. It’s about how flexible it is – they offer just enough support to not worry about twisting ankles on a ride of that height, but not much else.
I think Powerslide R&D team also realized that and that’s why newest version of doop Swift model ditches straps completely in favour of buckles – yes, there’s even a micrometric buckle instead of toe strap. That solution certainly adds some rigidity. I don’t know about 2.0 cuff, because I haven’t used it. But I really doubt that experience of skating doop Swift version 3.0 is worlds apart from skating my hacked, bastard child of Xsjado parts and doop baseplate. It is „heavy-duty” fitness skate at best. I really feel that there’s wasted potential, especially at higher speeds and with harder pushes, when boot flexes too much.
But saying that, I’ve had tons of fun skating these in last few days. Adaptation period to setup so tall was surprisingly short and I feel pretty much confident on them now. It helps that frame is 255mm – which happens to be length of my favourite freeskating frame, 4x84mm RB Fusion.
Compared to 4x84mm setup there are many differences, though. Be aware that those frames aren’t made of magic that will make you ten times faster. If you look for something like that, get a racing motorbike or a sports-car instead.
For starters, skates are a bit harder to control – not only because of increased height, but also because less grip three wheels give when cornering. Of course, stock Powerslide Infinity wheels aren’t Matter Juice, but it’s more about a sensation that three wheels do not „hold” the surface you skate on as good as four.
3x110mm isn’t really that much faster than 4x84mm setup – truth is, speed you can achieve mostly depends on you. Larger wheels help to maintain high speed for longer, with less effort, but your maximum velocity is arguably more or less the same on both setups. 3×110 helps a lot when you get to your maximum (or desired) speed. This setup have slower acceleration, but also slower deceleration rate. So skating at higher speeds is less tiring and you can do it on longer distances.
You can even jump on those, but lest’s be perfectly clear – this is not what you should be looking for if you want to do large gaps. Setup height plays huge role here and those are extraordinary tall. You are probably not Dustin Weberski or some Mushroom Wizard who can handle setup so high without a sweat, so more traditional 4x80mm or 4x84mm frames would be better if you jump a lot. Below are pictures to give you idea how much difference is between 3×110 setup and 4x84mm setup (yellow Fusions), 4x80mm (red Fusions) and 72mm (Xsjados with Level 2).
Considering length, 255mm frame is perfect trade-off between stability and turn-ability, in my opinion, and it works well here too. It’s just enough to have stable wheelbase while pushing, but you do not feel like „on rails”, sensation that is common with 4×90, 4×100 and 4×110 setups.
But, if you still want more agile blades and large wheels at the same time (and 125mm option doesn’t interest you) Powerslide got you covered. They are selling 243mm 3x110mm frame called Pleasure Tool. It is of better build quality – machined 7005 grade aluminium while Super/Megacruiser frames are made from 6063 grade aluminium sheets that have been cut and pressed in to a shape. But Pleasure Tool frame alone cost more than full Megacruiser frameset, with wheels and bearings included!
To get most out of 3×110 or 3×125 frames you’ll want at least a hardboot freeskate. Powerslide is making Vi Supercruiser for those who look for a high-end fitness boot (110mm setup), but Imperial Megacruiser is better option for those who want to abuse their skates a little more.
Outside of Powerslide realm I’ve already seen megacruiser framesets coupled with boots of RB Twister, Seba FR and even more exotic Flying Eagle Falcon skates. There are of course many other hardshell freeskate boots that will do the job just fine – Roces X35 (or Veni, Vidi, Vici), Fila NRK, RB 80 to name a few. If it does have standard 165mm raised heel mount then you are set to go. Some may require light modification to the underside of the boot at the front mounting point, to fit 125mm wheels, but that’s nothing that should stop you in your pursuit of a three-wheeled experience.
Still, 3×110 and 3x125mm belong more to a realm of speedskating than freeskating. That where they came from. Low-cut carbon boot is out of equation if you are looking for reliable urban skating setup. Best thing to do is using those frames with slalom type boot. High cuff will get you support needed in urban environment, while rigid, tight and responsive construction will allow you to skate with maximum efficiency.
There are many such skates nowadays, most common ones are made by Powerslide and Seba. There are also other brands. And there’s Adapt Hyperskate Zero. Which costs 375 Euro for a boot alone.
Personally I would love to put together setup with those boots, but dropping that amount of money is not an option while I’m saving for other, more important things, than a fifth pair of skates. I think I’ll hunt for second hand HC Evo or wait for after season sales, as especially Powerslide S4 skates tend to drop price heavily during those. They’ll do the job. Maybe not in a handmade, carbon-kevlar weave, natural skin, heat-mouldable fashion, but still, they’ll do the job.
To sum it all up – yeah, I’m happy with my Supercruiser frameset. I’m sure that Megacruiser frameset would be 15mm of fun more. If you want to try something that skates differently, or simply want fast, agile setup for skating longer distances, it’s worth investing in those. Some people say it’s just a gimmick, but it is a gimmick that skates good. Worth trying at least, to see what all the fuss is about.
Be sure to visit official Powerslide site to learn more about their three wheeled skates.