Note: this post is a combination of previous three, every one of them about three wheeled skates. I’ve removed two latest posts because I’ve felt some info in them was no longer relevant. Here are all my thoughts about three-wheeled skates combined in to one post that should make more sense… First, original post stays on the blog because it was shared a lot and I don’t want to left people with dead links.
If you closely follow current trends in rollerblading, you’ve most likely noticed that from some time Powerslide brand strongly bets their money on three-wheeled skates, and in many different disciplines, too: from fitness and freeskating to speedskating. This particular trend is absent only in aggressive skating, for obvious reasons. Powerslide even created new logotype, which is a nod to original Rollerblade logo, but with three wheels instead of four, more dynamic and modern. Coupled with rather bold marketing campaign it for sure does feel like they are shouting „Here comes a new era in inline skating!”, or something along these lines.
Their flagship model is a speedskate called Double X 3 Wheeler, but there are also offerings aimed at people who look for equipment dedicated to fitness, freeskating and even speed slalom, in form of complete skates, framesets, or frames alone. You can choose two flavours of your ride: 3x110mm or 3x125mm.
Before I get to the point of this article, I feel obligated to remind you, that three wheeled skates are nothing truly new. Of course, 125mm wheels are novelty, but frameset dedicated for 3×100 and 3×110 setups were present on the market (with some periods of disappearance) for a long time. Powerslide themselves made Venom Double X frames for 100mm wheels few years back – frames were strong enough for adults, but were aimed at children who practice speedskating. Shorter wheelbase and lower weight simply works better with their anatomy than even 4x90mm setups. There also was a fitness skate called Phuzion Open Air, that was made before „3x” idea was expanded on to other skates. Speedskating frame companies like FOX and dMb also made their own 3x110mm frames for quite some time.
There are many more examples, but it’s pointless to list them all here. What matters is that idea gained enough momentum and we will most likely see much more three wheeled skates, made by various manufacturers, on people feet in the upcoming years.
Maybe while reading this, you’ve asked yourself a question:
Why Powerslide, out of sudden, decided that „3x” skates are future not only in speedskating, but also in fitness and freeskating? Why other brands that didn’t had such products in their portfolio, now make those also?
From my perspective, it’s pretty much obvious that for some time, rollerblading market was rather stagnant in one of key branches – fitness skates. Nothing truly new, exciting or revolutionary hit the market for years. All that was released, were new versions of old softboots with frames that could fit anything between 4x80mm wheels and 4x100mm wheels, and honestly, some of them were worse than what came before due to philosophy of cost-cutting. For example, two-piece, riveted on frames in skates with 100mm wheels were something unheard of few years back, but in 2015 we have examples of such abominations.
On the freeskating side of things, most popular models are still bearing a resemblance to their granddad, Tecnica Twister, and when you look closely, they haven’t evolved much from custom setups put together by freeskaters in France at the beginning of this century.
It’s not surprising that companies look for something to revitalize the market and wow the masses again. Powerslide went three-wheeled skates route, and in my opinion, it wasn’t a bad choice.
Latter part of this article is focused on Supercruiser frames that were taken off Vi Fothon, because that’s what I’ve came in to possession first when trying three wheeled skates. I’m sure my experiences of skating them can be extrapolated to other 3x frames to some degree and be useful to anyone who is looking to get such setup.
Before you’ll read further, do yourself a favor and watch this video:
If you are already after watching it, maybe you want to learn more about skates with one wheel less?
I’ve bought my frameset second-hand, for cheap. It’s basically a previous version of frames that are currently sold in Megacruiser framesets – the only difference is a fact that Supercuiser frame does have a longer front bridge, to allow 195mm mounting. Because of this, you can’t use them with 125mm wheels – not without mods, at least. Remove 195mm mounting with a hacksaw and you have a frame that is almost identical to new version.
Frames are 255mm in length, and they are quite high for 3x100mm setup – but on the other hand, they are (probably) lowest possible frames for specification: 255mm length, 3x125mm wheels, 165mm mounting. For now I do not plan to mod my pair to fit 125mm wheels, at least not until decent ones of this size become more widely available and less expensive.
At first I’ve used these frames with my „frankenskates”, a hybrid of doop baseplate and Xsjado parts. Reason was simple – that was my only pair of boots with raised heel, all other skates I owned back then were UFS and thus, were unfit to work with these Supercruiser frames.
It turned out, I got myself in to worst case scenario. It isn’t about how these skates fit – Xsjado/doop skeleton helds foot in place very firmly, especially in ankle area. Problem is how flexible such setup is with such tall frame. Of course, skates weren’t bending so much that I should be worried about hurting my ankles, but support wasn’t really adequate to what I’ve got under my feet. Below are height comparison with 76mm frame skate (Xsjado), 80mm (red themed Fusions) and 84mm (yellow themed Fusion):
I’m sure that Powerslide R&D guys realized the same and tried to make newest versions of doop Swift skates a bit more supportive by using buckles in place of Velcro straps (there’s even micrometric buckle in place of toe strap). That for sure makes whole boot a bit more stiff, but I would be really surprised if difference between Swifts and my customs was huge. I look at such skates as „fitness+” ones, that are more durable than regular ones and more adequate for urban skating, but nothing more. I really felt there was wasted potential here, especially at higher speed and with stronger pushes, when boot bent just far too much for my taste.
If quickly became obvious to me, that I need a harboot to gain full benefits of this frame. At first I went for Roces Veni boot, because it is basically an ultra-cheap rec skate that shares the shell with Roces X35 freeskates. This boot is also used in Vidi and Vici fitness skates, and thus, it does have shell shape adapted to fit frames with both 165mm and 195mm mounting spacing. That means you won’t be able to use it with 3x125mm Megacruiser setup, there won’t be enough space for the front wheel. Also, mounting points are placed in such position relatively to the boot, that you can’t centre the frame properly under it. I could use 195mm mounting with good results, but with Megacruiser frameset there’s no such option and frame would be placed too far to the front. It would most likely be the same with shorter, 110mm max frames.
Veni boot gave me a good fit and enough support and was huge improvement over Xsjadoop one. But after a while a problem emerged – the plastic started to „give in” to the metal frame, and whole connection started to be unreliable and flexy. I don’t know if it was my fault of overtightening the screws, or if it happened because of forces that are applied on the boot during skating – but it doesn’t really matter. This setup was compromised and I couldn’t skate it like that – it was risky and took away the fun. I recommend to avoid Veni boot if you want to put together a tall-frame custom. I don’t know if X35 skate shares similar problems, but if Roces is using the same plastic on both shells (and most likely it is the case) I would be cautious with them, too.
I hit a bargain on used Imperial shells in decent condition and put a new setup together. Imperial boot is by far the hardest skate I own right now, without a doubt, so there’s plenty of support. Frame and boot connection is solid thanks to metal plates of X-Slot. Powerslide is selling complete Imperial Megacruiser sets, and it’s easy to see why – boot and frame work together very good. I use superb USD Phoenix liner and I’m quite happy with this setup, even if they could be a bit wider in ankle area.
Wiser from experience with three different boots, I can say your best bet is to get a hard plastic boot with metal plates for a frame mount (or carbon slalom skate, they are also stiff enough). I think, because of increased height, forces that work on frame and boot connection are stronger than in case of 4x80mm frame, for example. Metal plates in boot give you confidence that this area won’t fail and provide better energy transfer, and thus more fun from skating. Some skates might require slight modifications to use Megacruiser set, but I think all most popular models should take 3x110mm frames without any. Generally speaking, if you have a boot with v-type 165mm frame mounting, chances are you are good to go.
My experience of skating these frames? It is great fun, and even during the time when I’ve used my first, most flexible setup, I’ve enjoyed it. Period of adaptation to such tall skates was surprisingly short and I’ve felt confident on them in no time. I’ve even played a game of Frisbee with those on and forgot what I’ve got under my feet. I think frame length of 255mm helped here, because I’m used to it – my trusted setup of 4x84mm wheels is the same. Comparing the two, there are many differences, though.
Obviously, these frames aren’t made of magic, and won’t make you ten times faster on your blades. Skates are a bit harder to control, not only because of distance from the ground, but also because of one contact point less and losing some grip with it. It’s really noticeable when rear and front wheel wear down from skating a bit – on sharp turns they can lose their grip, especially if you are skating on really smooth surface. Of course, wheels play a huge role here – I’m using PS Infinity wheels, which are budget ones. But there are many models of 110mm wheels with superior grip to choose from.
While skating on flat ground, 3x110mm setup isn’t much faster than 4x84mm one – maximum velocity is similar, but to be honest how fast you are going depends more on you than on your skates (if you have decent ones, that is). But bigger wheels for sure help in maintaining the speed for longer periods of time and make skating at high speeds less tiring. Downside is, acceleration is worse and 3x110mm is less forgiving on uphill. But to sum it up, I’m skating through city faster, because higher speeds consume less energy and larger wheels give me a better roll on surfaces where 4x80mm and 4x84mm clearly struggle.
Jumps are possible but it’s clear these frames weren’t made for them. Especially if you want to do really long and high jumps, you’d be better off with more traditional setup, because height plays a huge role here. Chances are you are not Dustin Weberski or some Canadian mushroom wizard that can jump on those without a sweat.
I’ve always thought (not literally always, but after experimenting with various setups) that frame length of around 255-260mm gives best compromise between stability and agility in urban skating, and it applies to Supercuiser frame too. They feel stable during pushes but don’t give „on rails” sensation that is common with 4x90mm to 4×110 setups.
Here in Cracow we have a long slope that is rather steep and you can go really fast on it. You don’t even have to push, and you are at the bottom in no time. Skating downhill on those frames was faster than on other setups I regularly use, also when I was on flat ground already, wheels rolled for longer. But I got a „shimmy” effect in one skate and had to tense the muscles in that leg to counter it. It was uncomfortable sensation and I wouldn’t take this setup on extreme downhill, mind you.
Supercuiser/Megasruiser frames are quite simple and low-tech, but they are quite ok. There is one minor flaw here, with male part of axles – it’s really easy to damage them, they are quite fragile. Other owners of these frames I know, have the same problem. I hope PS fixes it eventually.
Because frames are pressed, not extruded and CNC machined, they are made with less precision. First and rear wheel can be put easily and I even have to press frame walls together to tighten the axle properly, but middle wheel is really hard to put in. It’s nothing compared to Level 2 frames where I’ve used actual hammer to put middle wheels in, but still, a bit annoying.
If option to go with 125mm wheels doesn’t interest you, and you want shorter frames, right now you can choose from these 3x110mm ones:
-Powerslide Pleasure Tools, 243mm length (like 4x80mm freeskate frame!)
-Seba 310, 247mm length
-Flying Eagle Supersonic, 251mm length
It’s almost like three companies agreed that each one of them will make a frame that is 4mm longer than what came out before, haha!
They are all made in extruded aluminium, so they should be more durable in the longer run than pressed frame, but alloy quality plays huge role here, too. More frames are about to come, and lately Powerslide made more expensive Triple X Megacruiser that is used on shiny Megacruiser Pro skate. Fila is planning to launch their own „speedslalom” skate on 3×110 setup next year.
It’s worth to note, that in most cases, a pair of good 3×110 frames will cost you about the same, or even more, than a full Megacruiser frameset with wheels and bearings included. One can’t deny great value here, and the fact it’s right now the cheapest way to put together a three-wheeled setup.
To sum it up, my experiences with 3x setup are generally positive. Skating on these frames is pleasant and a bit different, and while I’m sure they won’t change anybody’s view on skating, it’s worth trying the thing. Especially if you are looking for skates that are both fast and manoeuvrable, that are fit for urban skating but for long distance cruising as well, it’s worth investing in frameset at least. Many skaters say it’s just another fad, a marketing play to increase sales. I’m not a fool to think whole buzz around three wheeled setups is for nothing and money are not at the stake – Powerslide wants to be ahead of competition and that’s what every company out there should be after, because it’s what brings progress. It doesn’t change the fact idea is worth trying at least. 3x skates already earned their place among my favourite setups and I think I’ll still skate them years from now on.
Go, get them and have fun!
P.S. It’s worth to check out Thias’ blog, author did a short review on Powerslide Pleasure Tools frames:
Thias’ Blog 3x110mm FSK Frames review
Even though he doesn’t post much content nowadays, it’s worth visiting his blog from time to time – it was huge help for me when I got in to skate modding and I’ve learned quite a few useful things from here. It does seem his general impressions of skating 3x110mm setup are close to mine, even though he uses shorter frames.
This is older, first version of the article. Much more recent that includes more info and insight on three wheeled setups can be found here: CLICK
This one stays only so people who re-posted or shared this post won’t be left with dead links!
(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.