Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Buyer's Guide to Skates: Riedell Minx
 with PowerDyne Reactor plate upgrade

20110123_norma

This lovely lady is ALL-STAR Norma Lee Wright of the Double Crossers, and those lovely skates are her Pink Ladies. These are an upgrade on the Riedell Minx package, which comes with PowerDyne Triton plates. Tritons are a pretty low-end and rather heavy aluminum plate and if you ask me, not really worth getting with these nice boots. Instead Norma and a number of the Double Crossers have 965 boots with the much better PowerDyne Reactor plates, which are very light and have excellent action for agility.

Norma is famous for having hardcore skated for two and a half years on the R3s that she tried out in. That's a long time for a vinyl boot to see heavy action! I think she got the right order of business, though. Don't look at packages so much for your first pair of skates, just start with R3s and then dress them up with toestops, wheels, and bearings to your liking. Then don't look at packages so much for your next pair of skates, just pick the right boots and plates for you. More about boots and plates TK!

What is your current skate setup?

Boots
I've got the 965 boot, which I am totally in love with. It feels like I'm putting my foot into a pillow. When I got them, I was upgrading from my starter R3's. I could feel an immediate difference, and maybe it was the Dumbo + feather effect, but my skating improved a lot very quickly once I got them! I love them and have recommended them to many of my teammates, who have gotten pairs of their own too.

Plates
I have the Reactor plates and can't complain about them at all. I love that the toe stop has a little tightening screw; gone are the days of losing my toe stop mid-drill! Even though my current setup has metal plates, the skate is much lighter than my previous R3 with nylon plates. It was worth the investment.

Cushions
I am using whatever cushions were in my skates when I got them. I haven't felt anything wonky so I haven't messed with them.

Bearings
I use China Reds. I don't ever clean my bearings - I just skate in them until they are gross and barely spin and on their last leg and then get a new set. They are cheap enough that it works for me to do that. I would like to someday upgrade to nicer bearings, but that would require cleaning them, and I am a little bit lazy...

Wheels
I am a huge fan of G-Rods and D-Rods. When we got our sport court and I upgraded from my 88s, I went to the G-Rods and FELL IN LOVE. Like hearts shooting out my eyes, oh this is what it's supposed to be like, where have you been all my life, love. I skated on them for a long time, though I cheated for a few weeks with Jukes (which kept knocking me on my butt at random times, so we broke up and I went back to G-Rods). Once my skating skill improved, I decided I should get something a little harder, and decided to try D-Rods since they seemed so similar to the Gs. They have the same feel to me as the Gs, just with a little extra roll, so they were easy to get used to. I love them.

Toestops
I love the webbed toe stops. I've tried the rectangle ones, the smaller circle ones, and everything in between, and nothing works for me as well as the webbed ones.

What skates did you have before?
I had the skates a lot of derby girls start on - the R3's. I skated on them for almost two and a half years! WAY too long!

What were you trying to improve from your previous setup?
In buying these skates, I was trying to get a pair that would last me a while and allow me to improve my skating ability without clunky, hole-y skates getting in the way. I had worn my skates out way past the point when I should have retired them. I needed boots that were not too high in the ankle - I tried on the 265's and was only able to take one lap around the rink before I hobbled back to the front office - something about my foot/ankle anatomy makes taller boots cut into my achilles very painfully. Luckily, I found a low-ankled boot that could pass for a cloud. It feels so good putting my feet into my skates, and I couldn't be happier!

When I first got these skates, the only issue I had was that I felt like I was falling forwards. The plate is a size or two smaller than the plate on my starter skates, which is supposed to lend more maneuverability, but from the start it just meant that the ball of my foot was supported further back than I was used to. Those first few practices were interesting!

If you don't mind, what is your height and weight?
Ugh, you have to ask? I'm 5'7" and I have no idea what I weigh these days. I haven't weighed myself in years. It says 150 on my drivers license, though I have put on quite a bit more muscle since then!

How would you describe your skating style?
I have what my captain has described as a power stride. I don't take a ton of steps when I sprint but I try to put as much oomph into each one as possible. I skate pretty high but I'm trying to skate lower! Work in progress...

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