Why don't I use Marsblade?
The conclusion early after experimenting with the original frame (O1) was that Marsblade wasn't for ME or for 'roller hockey' in general.
As a year-round roller player coming from Hi-Lo setups for the past decade+. Marsblade's initial offering was heavy, unstable and seemed to make skating harder.
Others who play more ice hockey were enjoying it and seeing some performance benefits, but I ultimately went back to my Vapors/Hi-Lo and didn't look back. It seemed like Marsblade was made for ice hockey players.
I'm a gear nerd, the general buzz and advertising that surround the company was always unavoidable. I believe they were clear about it being an off-ice tool, so initially my expectations were low. Eventually getting wooed by the marketing, I placed my order. The final straw was the kids at a roller hockey tournament saying how buttery smooth these new frames felt. How 'it feels like ice'. I'm not sure why but those in person demo's were very effective!
Room for Error:Anyways, the first few skates on the frames were not a thrill. Kept feeling like I had to exert a lot more energy just to stay up straight. The motion in the toe towards the end of my stride made me feel like I was hitting a rock with my front wheel and I might face plant.
I was able to adapt and play, but my brain couldn't stop thinking about the setup which is usually not a good sign.
But again, was it the boot? the install? bushing tightness? wheel hardness?
I give it the benefit and am expecting that my lack of enjoyment could mean that I messed up somewhere... There are so many variables that could be off in a setup like this.
-We installed onto an old used pair of Mission skates we had at the shop. (Lower end skate than what we're used to, not a great fit)
-Bushing Tightness (we had it cranked as tight as we could go and it still felt unstable, not smooth)
-Frame install alignment (straight, centered vertically and horizontally..)
-Smaller wheels (76mm maximum)
I passed it on to a few friends after my trials. Some were higher on it than others but in the end they all but one went back to their typical Hi-Lo skates.
Ice Hockey Players:
I might play ice hockey once a year... I very rarely have to 'transition' from inline to ice or vice versa. I understand it can be quite difficult to adjust as the edgework is close, but not the same.
From what we've heard from trusted sources Marsblade absolutely makes this transition easier. That's neat, but wasn't a bonus for me. Next! I'm so selfish.
To be clear, I never gave it a chance in my indoor league, so I can't really speak for its efficacy there. I've seen maybe 2-3 guys using it in the leagues and remember one guy slipping around on the stock wheels, but for the other they made it look pretty normal.
The thoughts that prevented me from trying there were, it's heavier, the wheels are smaller and the plastic parts were at risk of breaking due to a puck shot. It was very rare to see the Pro players using them for competition as well.
We were using it for outdoor roller hockey and cruising. The wheels being smaller (slower and wear out faster outside) and the frame is at risk of getting shredded on the rough asphalt. Was not able to get used to that dipping feeling in the toe and kept getting scared back to resting on my heels.
I felt that the rocking motion in the frame would reduce responsiveness. I didn't believe that it would have a rebounding effect like a composite stick does when you flex it. A load / unload, flex to load power, snap to release stored energy.
A few guys I skate with have said they do get a bonus from it, I have yet to feel it. Just feels like I'm riding a teeter-totter by myself. Where compared to when using Sprung frames I DID feel there was a bit of snap back when I would compress.
Another factor... I hope I can explain what I'm sensing here - The gap of time from when you touch your front wheel to the ground to when you can put your full body weight on the skate and push, is longer with Marsblade than it would be on any standard metal chassis. In the standard chassis, when I touch wheel to ground, I know there will be no more give and no energy lost, so I can dig in right away.
Not a professional skater or student of the perfect stride so I could be technically wrong a bit there...
Where I was COMPLETELY Wrong
We are a roller hockey shop and when we consider new products, we try to be sure it's going to benefit to roller hockey players. We decided not to carry the Marsblade O1 frames based on the fact I was only seeing it benefit ice hockey players.
While the original product might not have be good for our competitive roller hockey players, it's definitely good for the sport of roller hockey or the lifestyle of skating outside on wheels. It took me too long to see that. Fairly short-sighted in hindsight!
A HUGE positive - Marsblade and it's adopters have encouraged thousands of ice hockey players to try skating outside. This is probably the strongest movement any roller or ice company has started in the past 20 years. Combined with the terrific hockey innovations like Green Biscuits and Hockey WrapArounds raising the bar for the outdoor game, street hockey is poised for another breakout.
I used to see this as a product that was bad for roller hockey. Oops. I can see a fuller picture now. It's a great stepping stone into bringing hockey outside for every ice player. Just being on wheels is a step closer to roller hockey, outdoor or indoor and then sharing what we love.
If easing the transition back and forth from ice to inline is the access point, that's great. We support that.
Another little detail, Marsblade is the only company currently pushing the envelope on skate frame technology. Very little has been done here in the past 20 years. Sprung frames were on to something. Mission tried a couple things over the years, but nothing has stuck. Marsblade frames can drastically affect skating, so we hope this steers the ship into a new direction of innovation where other companies might compete with their own idea.
We hope to carry Marsblade products soon! We'd love to be in the position of introducing ice hockey skaters to outdoor hockey. That's our thing!
Roller hockey IMPROVES your stride
The myth of roller hurting your ice game can now be considered busted. A long list of NHL players, including superstar Connor McDavid, have touted using roller blades as a tool to improve their game.
Back to current times, the new R1 frame is out.
Big claims again! Roller Hockey is about to change!
Their new hype video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F99nmpNxs3U
So yes, I'm interested. Especially now that they have 'solved' some of the issues with wheel size and by using metal at least on half of the frame... I fell for it last time. I'm a smarter consumer now.
So, I've ordered my R1 and I'm excited to see if I notice any benefits. Without having them, some interesting pieces already..
Early Impressions of the R1:
At this point we've received them and just started playing around with them.The frames still weigh 2-3x more than a high end CNC frame.
But hey, maybe weight isn't everything...
Ordered frames to install to a True TF7 skate for myself. But the Medium frame feels too small for the 8.0 True skate. So will be ordering a Large frame soon.
In the meantime, recently received my Alkali Revel 1 / Marsblade R1 Combo and have played a few games with that. (wanted to remove the install variability and test it as they intend, as far as mounting positions).
Interestingly you can see it is set back to the heel more vs being equally balanced (toe wheel is recessed slightly). Which is one of the questions you have to ask when you are mounting the frames unless they are on the PERFECT size boot. Ensure the back-most axle is under your heel or have it symmetrical with the front.
First impressions, not much room to skate in the shop.. I couldn't even feel the rocker, so, no risk of face-planting off the hop... way better!
Game 1 I had to take the skates off mid-way to deal with some hot spots but the next game there was no issues bootwise. I also had hardly thought about the frames which was another good sign.
I've made it through a few games and not only am I not dying to go back to the Hi-Lo, when I did put on my Vapors, a little part of me was missing the smooth motion of the R1 frames. Still need more testing!
More R1 install experiences:
We've installed a handful of the R1 frames for customers and have noticed they are far easier to install than the O1 frames.
A few things to sort out with frame sizing and placement as referenced above...
Pavel Barber asked us to get his R1 frames setup. He was in a 6.0 True skate.
The Marsblade size chart recommended a Medium size frame for those. We started there but the frame overhung on the front and back of the boot a bit. In the name of experimentation and with his approval we went for it. We later noticed his O1 frame did this on his current outdoor skates as well. Doesn't look super clean, but the install still felt solid and he can benefit from the larger wheels.
So we brought in another Small frame. We thought the small might be a more ideal for his foot size and what he's used to skating on. He mentioned he preferred to have shorter-than-stock ice blades installed onto his skates, so this 68mm/72mm setup might be ideal.
Pavel Barber's R1 (size small) on True Custom Skates
Looks a lot more proportional. He filmed his R1 Initial thoughts video with us in Langley. That will pop up on his youtube channel eventually.
Next Experience Ramble
Another interesting one was this size Large R1 frame on a size 10.0 True TF9 Skate for our friend Tony Headrick
This was a Large size frame, on a size 10.0 True Skate size.
The blue lower arm of the frame (metal) is the same size as it is on the Medium frame. Notice the gaps between the wheels are the same. The only difference in the Medium R1 frame vs Large R1 frame is the black plastic mounting plate is larger.
This results in a less stable experience as your wheel base is getting proportionally smaller, the larger your skate size is. Imagine a size 12.0 with the same wheel base as a size 6.0 skate is using.
So you have a person at 5'6" skating with the same wheel base a someone who is 6'5". Less than ideal. Plus, makes it harder and more important to nail the center mount.
In Hi Lo Skates, when you hit size 9.5 or 10.0 you the frame goes from Small/Med to their Large size frames, which uses the same wheel sizes (80mm/76mm) but increases the gap between the wheels, to space them out more for a more stable experience. At size 11, 11.5 and 12.0, even this gets a little out of whack. Too small for the giant folks with large feet.
I'm sure they are aware of this and keeping the same size blue arm was a cost savings. I hope they'll make an XL size, with a larger plastic mounting plate and a longer frame length for some extra stability.
Otherwise I'm not sure those people will enjoy the experience as much as others.
To be continued...
We'll do a more thorough Part 2 to follow up and compare the R1 to my O1 experience and Hi Lo frames. Eventually...
In the meantime - If you read this and wanna share your experience with me or ask questions, I'd love to hear from you. Email is best - firstname.lastname@example.org