About a week ago I’ve received a package from Polish Powerslide distributor. It contained: Wicked Abec 7 bearings, 110mm Matter Image F1 wheels and pair of Pleasure Tool frames. This article is about frames, as you should deduce from the headline.
Frames are package in a nylon web bag, and come with a set of mounting screws, axles, spacers and a Torx key, which is standard in PS skates. Key isn’t particularly well made – it is a bit too fat at the head to fit in to axles properly, so I’ve got to use my trusted tool. No big deal though, nobody buys frames for a key anyway.
Frames are making great first impression – they are made of strong and lightweight 7005 series aluminium. In terms of build quality they are at the top class of fsk frames and one can compare attention to detail to that known from superb PS Alpha frames. There’s a huge difference compared to pressed (and much, much cheaper – do not forget) Supercruiser/Megacruiser frames. Frames are solid and you don’t have any doubts about their durability. You know it’s a piece of metal you can trust.
Frame structure does have two internal bridges, and walls are curved below mounting ones. That makes them very rigid. Axles that are included are also of great quality – and I had rather bad experiences with Powerslide axles in the past, so that’s saying something. Design is symmetrical – both frames are the same, there is no distinction between left and right one, and even prints on the frame are placed on both sides. Sharp, firm lines of the frame and good finish make them a good looking pieces of aluminium. Industrial style comes to mind when looking at them.
Frame is 243mm long – much shorter than Supercruiser one. Like their competition, Powerslide decided to place two rear wheels closer together. There’s even a print on the frame that informs you that rear axle is placed 112mm from the middle one, and front axle is 131mm respectively. That wheel placement is used to make frame more agile, especially in speed slalom and works well. Indeed, frames turn very easily.
So far so good, but there’s a little problem with these frames. Mounted on a plastic boot they are too far to the front – even on Imperial boot that does have X-Slot system. I wear EU43 size boot and last axle weren’t even directly under my heel when I put them on my skates for the first time. It seems this problem isn’t as bad in smaller shell sizes, as I’ve seen some photos in social media and 3x3wheelers tumblr so if you have small feet you are lucky. In my case, thought, setup was barely usable when I first put skates together.
I know it’s much better in the case of Hardcore Evo, where front mounting block is taller and shorter, leaving more room for the first wheel. Thanks to it, you can position this frame under the boot properly. I guess Pleasure Tool frame was actually designed around Hardcore Evo as a point of reference – it is a speed slalom frame, after all.
You can read a very good article about these frames here:
Author used HC Evo boot, and probably haven’t tried the frames with hardshell skate, so he didn’t bumped on to the same issue I did.
I think Powerslide simply hit the limit of what is possible with standard 165mm v-type frame mounting, again – it happened before when Fila introduced 195mm standard along with 4x100mm fames. There are limitations of two-point frame attachment so if you are aiming to make frame shortest and lowest, natural consequence is that it won’t fit on all boots properly.
If they would make this frame higher or longer, it could be more suitable for hardboots, but I understand the decision to not go this way, as this is obviously a speed slalom piece of equipment first and that’s where priorities are. What we get is what is best given 243mm length, 110mm wheels, 165mm mounting and height as low as possible. I think a good remedy for such problem could be the new tri-point mounting system that will come next year in skates such as Kaze or Tau – that way front mounting screw won’t come in the way of first wheel, and whole setup would be lower.
But there is one thing I would still change in the design of Pleasure Tool – number of mounting slots. There is only one at the back and one on the front – there is also another, larger hole on the front but I think it’ here to make frame lighter and more rigid, because 180mm would be one weird frame mount spacing.
By making mounting bridges a bit longer and adding another set of slots Powerslide could make frame more universal. In their skates that have X-Slot, frame placement is not an issue, but in boots that do not have such system, or even mounting blocks with multiple holes (for example RB Twister, Adapt Hyperskate Zero, Seba WFSC/KSJ/Trix) there could be problems. With only one pair of slots you are either lucky and frame sits centred under the boot, or it will be pushed too far to the front, or the back – which would make it unusable in some cases.
It is actually strange oversight considering the speedslalom market, where many people would buy these frames because they are a lot cheaper than Seba 310, and more available than cheaper and longer Flying Eagle Supersonic.
How setup with such sub-optimal frame placement skates? Rather badly. When I put my skates on for the first time, they felt like somebody hacked last wheel of a 4x110mm speedskating frame with a saw. Sensation of “falling back” was very strong. After a while I’ve got used to it a little, but it was still uncomfortable and skate was very unstable – I was, to put it simply, afraid to skate like that.
But still, I did about 50km of urban skating with such setup. Because frames were placed so far to the front, turning was very easy. Body weight is placed mostly on two rear wheels and sometimes front one felt unnecessary! Sometimes I forgot it sticks out at the front so much, especially during crossovers – I was lucky to not fall because of this. When I wanted to skate faster, to take advantage of this setup I was forced to shift balance more on to my toes – only that way I was able to get even push with all three wheels.
It all felt very wrong and I couldn’t really skate it, or give these frames justice that way.
I had three options:
–trying another boot, preferably Hardcore Evo – but I’m not crazy to drop that amount of money just to test frames properly…
–skating it that way with hope I’ll get used to it – but a vision of my head hitting concrete after a fall to the back was so suggestive I wouldn’t risk it…
–do something to place the frame in more suitable position – it turned out to be easy enough with some tools
I bought a 3mm thick aluminium bar and made spacers that go between frame and the boot from it. It works very well – I could place the frame more than 2cm to the rear compared to setup without the spacers. Front wheel isn’t sticking out so much anymore, balance is good and whole setup is much more stable. Sensation of falling back is gone.
Additional height is not an issue, I do not feel it at all – maybe because I’ve skated higher Supercruiser frames for a few months. I think Powerslide should actually consider adding such aluminium plates to these frames as a standard – it would make life of owners of bigger sizes hardboots easier.
Alternatively, you can grind down plastic in front of the shell a bit, making more room for first wheel – but it would give you less than 1cm of difference. Maybe an option to consider if you have EU42 or smaller feet, or want to centre the frames on a boot a bit more if plates aren’t enough.
I must say that combination of Pleasure Tool and Imperial but gives a very unique feel during skating. It is very different sensation than on Supercruiser frame – setup is very agile, taking turns is much easier, I would even go as far as saying these are more manoeuvrable than flat 4×80 243mm frame setup!!! Skates are so fast and easy to handle, even with additional height, you’ll find yourself doing all kinds of weird manoeuvres just because they are suddenly easy and fun. There are no problems with stopping too. Frame is definitely very good choice for urban skating, where sudden stops and turns are sometimes required to avoid danger.
Short frame and 110mm wheels give you a considerable boost, and switching back to 4x80mm feels like your bearings are seized. I can’t remember when I’ve had so much fun just cruising the streets.
I’ve read/heard opinions that such setup is too tall and unreliable for urban skating, harder to control and that cuffs of skates are too low to give enough support – a bunch of rubbish, I say!
If you are a half-decent skater you’ll won’t have much problem adjusting to the height. Of course, a rigid boot is a must, but unless you’ll use flexible fitness softboot you should be ok with standard cuff height. Not once during skating I’ve felt I have too low support in ankle area.
Skates equipped with Pleasure Tool frames are fast, agile and it’s a pleasure to ride them. They really feel like cheating sometimes. I had no problems keeping up with Mateusz Stępnikowski (probably the best freeskater in Cracow and a Powerslide representative), even though he usually skates so fast it’s hard to not fall behind – literally, he is so fast like he just answered the call from someone saying his house is on fire. He was skating new PS Khaan with worn down 80mm wheels that were about 76mm by then, so he had it worse haha ;)
Would I recommend Pleasure Tool for urban skating? Yes, because they are awesome. But not without some warnings.
If you have skates without any frame placement regulation in the boot, be cautious and try how these frames will fit before purchase, if you have an option to do that. Even if you have a skate with X-Slot or the likes, be prepared that some modding might be required to make these frames fit properly. You might have to hop through some loops along the way, but it’s worth it.
Last thing about these frames – their price. At around 120-130 Euros they are much cheaper than Seba 310 and most longer, three wheeled speedskating frames. Flying Eagle Supersonic frames are cheaper option, but aren’t as widely available in Europe yet, so it may turn out shipping cost of those to your country will even out the difference – choose wisely.
It’s true that amount of money needed to get Pleasure Tool pair and good 110mm wheels is enough to buy decent hardboot freeskate, but you are paying for a high quality product here. It’s a shame that Powerslide haven’t made these frames a bit more compatible with different boots, but still, they are certainly one of best options out there if you are looking for 3x110mm setup for speedslalom or urban skating. Bar is certainly raised high, but let’s see how Flying Eagle Supersonic will compare – they should arrive at my door in a couple of days!