Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Buyer's Guide to Skates:
 Riedell Vandal vs. Wicked

riedell vandal skates

If you're interested in the next skate up, probably the classic skate for derby girls is the Riedell Vandal; but these days, Riedell seems to be promoting the Riedell Wicked upgrade package.

Let's compare:

boot265265 with combo last
platePowerDyne ThrustPowerDyne DynaPro
cushionsPowerDyne white/backPowerDyne white/black
bearingsKwik ABEC-7Kwik ABEC-9
wheelsRadar Tuner blueRadar Mojo pink
toestopsPowerDyne RoundPowerDyne Round

265 boot
The 265 boot is leather, as are most high-end skate boots. It laces all the way down to the toe so you can adjust the fit just right, it closes at the top with a velcro strap that you can also adjust as you like, and it has tongue elastic that keeps the tongue from sliding around. It has the advanced interior support of the 695 boot that will hold your foot, heel, and ankle in hard leans and hold the boot's shape for miles around the track. Finally, it is built with a plate mount that is a step up from a beginner mount and is meant for an intermediate or advanced skater who can lean around the track.

A not uncommon complaint about the 265 boot is the fit of the heel, as women often have narrower heels than men. To address this, Riedell has introduced the combo last with a D-width toe and a B-width heel. You can order this, actually, as an upgrade on the Vandal package; it's standard on the Wicked package. Not everybody urgently needs that combo last, but some do.

PowerDyne Thrust nylon vs. PowerDyne DynaPro aluminum plate
The Vandal comes with the PowerDyne Thrust nylon plate, the same plate that comes on the R3. The Wicked comes with the PowerDyne DynaPro aluminum plate. Nylon plates are lighter and more prone to flex than aluminum plates and, of course, less expensive. Aluminum plates, in general, are heavier and stronger­­­—and thus less prone to flex, which can translate to more power and more precision control­—and are also more expensive. Now a lot of engineering goes into the highest-end aluminum plates to make them both light and strong, and more expensive yet. But between a Thrust and a DynaPro, it’s basically about light weight versus strength with your body weight and strength as considerations.

PowerDyne white/black (88A) cushions
Again just so you know, these are medium cushions; the red cushions that come with the R3 are soft cushions. You don't really have to mess around with your cushions until they wear out, which won't be for a while yet.

Kwik ABEC-7 vs. Kwik ABEC-9 bearings
I will just say for now, ABEC-9 bearings are more highly rated than ABEC-7s, which in turn are more highly rated than the ABEC-5 bearings that come with the R3s; and they are all priced accordingly. Whether this makes a difference to your skating or just to your pocketbook is up for debate and to be discussed in The Buyer's Guide To Bearings.

Radar Tuner sky blue (93A) vs. Radar Mojo pink (88A) wheels
Tuners are good wheels, and certainly in the ballpark of what's good for the WCR skate court. Mojos are probably a little too soft for skate court, but they're very good wheels.

In any case, you can certainly start playing around with bearings and wheels at this point. You can order any combination of Riedell boot, PowerDyne plate, Kwik bearings, and Radar wheels from their Minnesota factory. Or you can just order the boot and plate setups and put on other bearings and wheels. Or you can just order the boots and put on other plates, but let's not go there yet—

PowerDyne Round Black toe stops
I think this little round stop is better than the Midi Gripper, at least. Toe stops are a matter of taste, and this little round stop is too small for me. Others like it, though. In any case, they're cheap and easy to swap out.

(Sure-Grip Web Stops!)