If you would tell me three years ago that I’ll be excited for Flying Eagle product in 2015, I would call you crazy. I knew the brand to be some Asian business specialized in making skates that looked strangely similar to Powerslide, Rollerblade and Seba offerings. I thought they were only a cheap knock-offs, that Flying Eagle won’t ever release something that would be worthy of attention. In the longer run, this proved to be untrue and I find Flying Eagle more and more surprising – in a good way. Stereotype that says skates made in China are cheap and low quality is very strong among experienced skaters and I admit I was “infected” with it, too.
My point of view started to change when Oli Benet bet his money and reputation on them, starting his own business, Roex skateshop. I have huge respect for the dude, he does have years of experience working in rollerblading industry and even more years of experience on skates. When someone like him does something so crazy as trusting relatively unknown China brand, you should at least have a spark of interest in his reasons. Especially when a growing number of skaters in Barcelona and whole Spain claim Flying Eagle brand products are good.
Earlier this month I’ve received a package sent by Oli from Roex. It included custom Flying Eagle Falcon setup, with still fresh Supersonic frames and 110mm 85A FE wheels. As far as I know, wheels are still not up for sale – I’ll write more about them in another article. Boot has been on the market for some time and it deserves another piece, too, especially as I want to give it a proper, honest review.
This article will focus only on the frames and how they compare to Powerslide Pleasure Tool, their main competition – leaving absurdly priced Seba 310 aside – in 3×110 freeskating frames market. Supersonic are a “special case” for me, because I had an eye on this project since the very beginning and saw early designs, had my expectations – and was actually waiting for their release.
Supersonic frames come in four colour variants: black, blue, red and purple. That’s a nice touch as you can choose a colour that will match your skate. Personally, I would also add yellow/gold and green to the rooster, but most frames come in only one colour, so FE is already generous with four. I got blue one, as that’s my favourite colour.
Frames are of 251mm length, so 8mm longer than Pleasure Tool frame. That’s nothing to worry in case of urban skating. Of course, there’s a difference, but it is so slight that frame length should be least important factor when choosing between the two – at least in urban skating case.
I haven’t experienced any problems with sharp turns, stopping, transitions from front to back etc. It’s all very similar to skating on Pleasure Tool frame and there’s no time required to adjust after switching between the two – both frames use the same wheel placement, two rear wheels close together, first wheel a bit further apart. Shifting your weight to the heel a bit makes turning almost independent from first wheel, so additional 8mm don’t play much role here. Supersonic works perfectly as 3x110mm frame.
I can’t give a fair opinion on how these are suitable for speed slalom, though. I don’t skate freestyle slalom and probably wouldn’t be able to speedslalom my way out of a paper bag, but I know freestyle girls and dudes are obsessed over length of their frames, and they have good reasons – so I think it’s safe to say PT have advantage here due to being shorter.
To be honest, I think it’s wrong to compare these two frames in single category, it being either “urban skating frame” or “speedslalom frame”. Obviously, Pleasure Tool were built with speedslalom in mind, while Flying Eagle opted to make Supersonic an urban skating frame first and foremost. Priorities were different and both ways bring different consequences: Pleasure Tools is less compatible with harboots but shorter and lower, Supersonic is more universal but a bit longer and higher, to fit most skates better – especially hardboots.
If you were wondering, you have an answer – yes, these frames fit on my skates without mods and are centred properly. On both Powerslide Imperial and Flying Eagle Falcon. There are no balance problems, no need for additional spacers. That’s always a huge plus.
Flying Eagle equipped these frames with two mounting slots at the front and three at the back, giving people with boots that lack any option to change a frame position a choice – limited – but still, better than nothing. It also means Supersonic are a safer bet than Pleasure Tool in such cases, if you can’t really try how frame will fit on your boots before the purchase. That’s something I felt was missing in Powerslide product.
As for the frame structure – it is a bit less complex than Pleasure Tools. They are also extruded and CNC machined, of course. As in the case of Powerslide frame, there is no distinction between left and right one – they are symmetrical, with allen key slots in axles placed on your right side.
Differences, apart from shape, are subtle – Supersonic frames aren’t curved near the top, internal bridges are also a bit simpler. But truth is, you’ll most likely won’t notice any of it in urban skating – frames are rigid enough for it and there’s plenty of “headroom” left. Not once I’ve had impression they are soft or too flexible at the ends.
More complex design and usage of certain tricks to increase rigidity in Powerslide competitor might play a role in speedslalom, giving it an upper hand, but if you are looking for a freeskating/urban skating frame, they do not make real difference in how whole setup handles while cruising.
Finish quality is good and frames are very pleasant to the eye. Their surface is slightly less smooth than of PT, giving them a bit of glossy look. Aluminium compound used here is a 6065 series one, like in many other freeskating frames. Metal is of similar feel and quality as in my old, trusted Rollerblade Fusion 84 frames that are also made with 6000 series. These are nearly indestructible, still, after all those years, so I’m not worried about Supersonic, too. Powerslide frames are made of harder 7005 alloy, which further increases their rigidity – again, it should give them advantage in speed slalom.
Frames come with regular aluminium “racing” axles, the ones that have deep slot for allen key. Over the years of experience with various axles I can say, you’ll most likely won’t be able to round the slot, because of that depth. It’s the most trustworthy axle type in my opinion and I use it in other skates as well – never had any problems. It’s also pretty much standard axle type for many manufacturers, so in the need for the replacement you shouldn’t have problem finding replacements.
I’ve removed the frames off the skates few times to change boots, switched wheels between both my 3x110mm setups and Supersonic threads don’t seem prone to damage. To give you a perspective on how quickly such problems can surface – two threads in my Powerslide Gamma 4x80mm frames broke during second wheel rotation. Axles don’t seize and don’t unscrew during ride. Everything works as it should be.
There is only one, and rather surprising, issue with these frames. Because Flying Eagle – in case of Falcon at least – uses thicker bolts to attach the frame to the boot than most other brands (with exception of Seba – they use similar ones), Supersonic could use a millimetre or two of additional clearance in mounting slots. I would move them slightly or make them a bit larger, because right now, when mounting the frame on Falcon boot, bolt thread rubs against metal of the frame, damaging it a bit. While this doesn’t affect the frames in any significant way, I’m worried that bolt thread can get damaged too.
I’m actually amazed that Flying Eagle haven’t made these frames to work with Falcon, their poster-child, without such issues. Of course, if you will use another boot, most likely you won’t notice it – especially if you have skate equipped with X-Slot. I don’t know if the same issue surfaces on Seba FR1 boots, but as they are way more popular than Falcons and use similar bolt size, I felt I need to warn you.
How do they skate? Fast, agile, fun – just like in Pleasure Tool case. Not much else to say, really, no revelation. 3x110mm setup became my “go for” choice for urban skating, taking the mantle from 4x84mm. To be honest, after switching back and forth between between two 3x110mm setups, I still don’t have a favourite – they both skate almost the same to me. In my opinion both Flying Eagle and Powerslide made great 3x110mm frames, even though their products were developed with different principles in mind.
Powerslide product does have advantage in speed slalom application, and if you want a frame to put on your carbon fibre slalom boots, it’s a frame to go for – shorter, lower, with more reinforcements and made of harder material. If you want to shave down precious milliseconds from your personal record, that’s fair to say it’s your first choice.
But if you want 3x110mm setup for general freeskating, and have zero interest in speed slalom, Flying Eagle Supersonic emerges as a winner – because of better compatibility with wider range of skates. Especially if you have feet that are far from tiny and use hardboots – Supersonic just works with these out of the box, without any additional mods. Last, but not least – the cost. For 99 Euros Supersonic is a good deal considering how well this frame is made. I think it is, at the moment, best and most universal choice for urban “triblading” on 110mm wheels, taking all factors in to equation.
Creators of Supersonic should be proud of themselves – they delivered a product that is up to the task. Powerslide raised the bar high with Pleasure Tools, and while Supersonic design is a bit simpler, it’s still a great product I wouldn’t regret spending my money on. Definitely a strong competitor on three-wheeled market and a product worthy of recommendation.
Not much else to say – go, grab a pair of 3x110mm frames of your choice and enjoy, they are truly a game-changer in urban skating.