This Is How I Roll! P3 – Roller Derby Gear Reviews

I’ve gone and done it again. Yes – I switched skates and plates at the start of 2015!

Best. Decision. Ever.

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Credit: Nico Lightfield, Caen

Continue reading “This Is How I Roll! P3 – Roller Derby Gear Reviews”

Running on juice – wheels that is!

So way back at the start of 2014 I finally got my hands on some Juice wheels, they weren’t readily available in the UK so I ended up purchasing from overseas. I am glad to say that you can now get them in the UK – I personally favor Harlots sponsor and place where most of my money goes – the Derbystore in Sheffield where the owner has even tried and approved Juice Martini wheels himself! And as of this year, we even have our own Juice using rep in the UK – #247 Eves-Ormai of Lincolnshire Rolling Thunder!

Since my original post talking about getting the wheels, I haven’t had chance to actually post a review of these. So here goes!

Juice Martini Cosmo 93a wheels
Juice Martini Cosmo 93a wheels

Wheels : Juice Martini Cosmo 93a

I have struggled to find wheels that work with me and not against me, when I read a blog by Shocker Khan in 2013, on the release of Juice Martini wheels I instantly fell in love with them. At first I wasn’t able to buy them due to an already fresh wheel purchase, however later on I figured I may as well take a leap or I’ll never know! So I did. I couldn’t help myself – a wheel which compressed and worked with your body was an impressive idea, when I found out about them they weren’t readily available in the UK so I had to track some down overseas and have them shipped over. And I was not disappointed!

As soon as I had them in my grasp they felt so well made and different to every other wheel I’d come across. On my skates? Beautiful. The Martini Cosmo wheel is so reactive and allows you to take all the power and energy stored during skating and use it when you need it most. It almost gives you a boost! As a mid sized wheel, it is ideal for anyone who often blocks and jams. As a blocker they give you added strength to your stance and powerbox allowing you to really dig down whether in a wall or giving/taking a hit, as a jammer they react to every lean, every turn, every crossover – the difference they make when you are juking and using quick footwork is unexpectedly incredible!! The best part of the compression of the wheel is that you do not sacrifice your speed for grip. You can continue to skate while the wheel moves with your body to help your stay with (usually) all 8 wheels on the ground!

I am genuinely 100% impressed with this wheel, it really does put a spring in your skate and does everything it says on the pack and more! The only downside? I can’t afford to buy more in the other durometers and versions! The near £60 price tag for just a 4 pack of wheels is fairly steep, I will admit this, however this wheel is worth every penny and more!!

After skating on these for nearly a year, I have barely seen any wear or tear – admittedly having to take in to consideration the 3 months of non skating due to my ankle break! But these have held up so well and I am doubtful I would want to go back to another brand of wheel.

The only thing I would question, is whether or not I should have gone for the 91a Sapphires instead of the 93a Cosmos. As a 5 ft 3 female who tends to vary in weight from anywhere between 9 – 10.5st – it is difficult to judge the set up I should be skating on most of the time. Maybe I will end up with some Sapphires at a later date, but the Cosmos definitely do their job!!

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Juice offers a small but great range of wheels as below:

The Martini series – with a dual pour radial core, available in 91a, 93a, 96a – sitting at 59x38mm. Price range: £59.99 @ Derbystore

The Spiked series – with banded edge technology, available 91a, 93a, 96a – sitting at 59x38mm OR 62x38mm. Price range: £49.99 @ Derbystore

The Jolt series – a hybrid wheel, available in 80a, sitting at 59x38mm OR 62x38mm. Price range: £29.99

The Java series – a high performance and durable wheel at a more affordable price, available in 86a, 88a, 90a, sitting at 59x38mm. Price range: $39.99 @ 2n1SkateShoppe 

So these arrived after I broke my ankle... way back when I was in the back slab cast! Juice Java 90a wheels
So these arrived after I broke my ankle… way back when I was in the back slab cast! Juice Java 90a wheels

I was so impressed with Juice wheels, I entered a competition to win a set of the new Juice Java wheels – somewhat a similar style to the Suregrip Fugitive Mids but in my honest opinion, a much higher quality even just to touch! I won a set of 86a Javas – woopeee!! Thank you Juice wheels!! The level of faith I have in this brand led me to blind purchase a set of 90a Javas from 2N1SkateShoppe to match! The way the Martini wheels work removes the need to use a pusher set up if you used before (which is fantastic!) – but as the Java wheels do not compress the way the Martini’s dual-pour radial core does, I chose to put together two sets of Java wheels which would still give me that advantage on a much slipper floor where I really needed a lower durometer for grip, again without sacrificing speed!

I have yet to fully bed these in so I may end up writing another review on the Juice Java wheels – especially as I would probably say due to the difference in price that these are more their wallet-friendly range of wheels – but this does not mean at any point they are not good quality!

The more I type, the more I feel like I need a set of Martini Sapphire wheels though.. one day!

So I may be a little obsessed. I admit to having a wheel problem. Hopefully this review will have helped others who are considering Juice wheels to take the plunge!

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I love Juice wheels!! I want more Martini!!

Suregrip Isis boot – the aftermath..

So… the Suregrip Isis boot..

IS MINE!!

After going back and forth in my head, bugging people about whether or not to get them or whether to just duct tape my skates back together and hope for the best, I caved.

So I tried my size 5 and my size 6 on, the size 5 fitted ok but was slightly too tight on my toes and restricted movement/bend to push off, whilst the size 6 was pretty perfect! I tested them out size wise by doing a run on the spot to check for maneuverability. Seemed all good! Karat had asked me re pusher setups as she currently runs on Radar bullets 93a and had noticed some slipping under her, so when at the Derbystore it just so happened that they had some other durometers of the bullets on the shelf – all of a sudden she had gone from just getting some Zeronuts to having some matching Radar bullets in 88a – yellow. I am now considering whether or not to get some more Fugitive mids to go with my current ones, this time in a 87a setup..?

It would appear when I got my plates that I may have gone for an accidently shortforward mount… even though I bought my plates in accordance with the Suregrip plate size table thingy. But this still works for me!

In return I booked tickets to go see the Lego Movie for the night it comes out in the cinema over here. Yay! Lego 😀

Lego derby girl

So they had their first outing on our Sunday night session, and I managed an hour and a half before having to give my feet a break. Aparrently stopped at the right time to avoid a blister! Lucky me! I put them back on after our rather awesome derby friendly medic wrapped my ankles up and off I went again. I didn’t skate as much but I rolled around paying attention to what our guest coaches were teaching us.

Karat also had luck with her wheels – response? She had not lost her speed/agility but could feel herself better sticking to the track on crossovers and corners. DERBY GEAR WIN!

We ave our very first bout as a team in two weeks time. I have two weeks to break my boots in.

Thankfully… the only issue I am having is with my left ankle. And I have noticed the more research I have done on the Isis boot, there is a general consensous that the Isis boot is that perfect it doesn’t really take much to break in – if any! So for the next two weeks I will be giving them as much breaky in love as possible!

Fingers crossed and I will update soon!

This is how I roll!

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Today I’m talking skates. Bear with me, it is easiest to start this from last night!

Last week I was back blocked pretty damn hard at a bit of an odd angle which twisted and injured my lower back and shoulder blades. So instead of putting my skates on and causing further injury, I went along to help out at last night’s practice – which I have lovingly nicknamed “scrimmage Sunday” (as opposed to “Train hard Thursdays.) At one point I spoke with skater/coach Little Miss Chief who on Saturday made the move to new Reidell boots and Avenger plates.  Originally she was looking at Roll line plates based on the store owners opinion – now I love speaking with derby store owners as they impart so much wisdom on you, however I have mixed feelings on Roll Line due to feedback from other skaters. I have heard a variety of opinions, most relating to Roll Line plates being generally better for figure and artistic rather than derby, whilst they are sold as being pretty “reactive” they are also sold with a hefty price tag. I must note that I have never tried a skate which uses a Roll Line plate so my opinions on this are subject to change or validation if/when I ever try them. What I have tried however are the Suregrip Mag Avengers – a plate I recommended to LMC based on experience. For whatever reason, LMC ended up with Mag Avengers rather than Roll Lines. Last night was her first time using these and when asked how she was finding them the reaction was exactly the same as my first. Whilst they felt good, something didn’t quite feel right. The problem? The plates had been mounted perfectly, but neither the store or LMC had changed how the DA45 trucks sat in the pivot cup. The way in which you are able to alter the seating of the pivot on these plates is fantastic! And this is something LMC did not know as she wasn’t expecting to get them so did not really look into. After sitting down, looking at and explaining how she can alter the plates to suit her, LMC was up and chuffed with the difference the slight alterations made, the ease in which she could do this said it all for her first real impression on the plate. The main impression it makes is that it is light, reactive, responds really well to your movements and really adds to agility. I had to explain to LMC that when I undertook 27 in 5 for the first time on these plates, I cramped up so badly. Why? I didn’t realise the difference in the level of work you have to put in on these plates compared to the standard probes. I was working myself so hard to get round on the Probes which essentially kept my feet flat and didn’t follow my skating on corners, whereas on the Avengers they reacted so quickly and kept up with the movement of my feet meaning I didn’t need to push as hard as I did on the Probes. I have found them ideal for my skating style and so I thought I would share my skate setup with you all!

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I use a Suregrip Rebel boot in black (size 6) with an Avenger Mag plate (plate size 2). I upgraded from the standard Probe plates to the Avengers – awesome early xmas/birthday gift from MamaCidal/PapaCidal – the Man was wonderful and mounted these for me, whilst they are a standard mount they do sit slightly further into the boot than they probably would, but this was done to suit my weight distribution in the way I skate.

Wheel wise I am a mid wheel girl. I currently own

          8 x Suregrip Fugitive Mids – 90a

          4 x Suregrip Fugitive Mids – 93a

          8 x Suregrip Fugitive Mids – 96a

          Blue Zeronuts and Bones Reds bearings

          I also have custom toe snouts from Derby Vixen

I originally started on R3s which were too narrow for my feet, then I picked up some Suregrip Rebels in standard form. I got rid of the original Fugitive wheels and went to Atom Poison Slims. I liked these but felt they weren’t quite right and figured I’d go for full on mid wheels. When I made the move to mids, there was not a huge amount of choice. Luckily the Man introduced me to one of his friends and generally awesome skater/person – Turbo Pete of Southern Discomfort. Turbo Pete has been invaluable for derby knowledge and has always helped me out without qualm – when playing the Big O tournament I spoke with him in regards to the wheel situation. As he was in the US and was surrounded by derby galore – we arranged to get some new wheels, based on his opinions and knowledge the decision was made to get the Fugitive Mids. From research it would appear quite a few overseas skaters use these, whilst most of the UK girls use Atom as a “go to” brand. Main reasoning for this? It turns out no-one really stocks the Fugitive Mids over here. This sucks. I find this kind of sad because these wheels are fantastic. The quality of the mid is much higher than that of the standard Fugitive wheel (some belief surrounding this is a higher quality material or better mapped out process), and to quote a something I saw on Skatelog forum the Fugitive mids have “much more bang for the buck” (or something along those lines.) I started with the 90a mids which I instantly took to, over time I felt with my skating style and weight etc I required something harder and I called upon Turbo Pete again to figure this whole thing out. I had previously mixed my Poison slims with my 90a as pushers, which were too soft and the mix was not ideal and probably a bit naughty – still it worked. I got rid of the Poisons and purchased more Mids, this time in a full set of harder 96a and a half set of 93a to be able to mix and match to suit the different floors we would encounter. Best move ever. (Well. It’s neck and neck with the Avenger plates.) The 96a suits our practice floor much better (our practice floor = pretty dreamy for derby) and the 93a help me out as gentle pushers when I feel I need a bit more support and grip. But when it came to visit Northampton for a training session and friendly scrim – my 90a mids were my saviour! There is a huge part of me which wants more and more wheels (a common illness in the derby world is “Wheelitus” – which is the over powering desire to buy more and more wheels) – I have heard very positive things in regards to Radar Diamonds for instance! But until I win the lottery this will have to wait. I WANT ALL THE DERBY!

When speaking with fresh meat about what they want to buy, I have highly recommended getting sturdy pair of boots to start with as they are fully able to upgrade the plates and wheels as they find their feet and figure out what kind of skater they are. The best thing about a huge majority of leagues is the fact we all have a variety of wheels, whether brand/hardness/size, and we are always more than happy to help other girls (spend money) try out our wheels for size.

The difficult thing to get across is the general idea that just because it works for someone else, it doesn’t mean it will work for you. You can spend days (even months) researching kit and speaking with various people but you have to remember that some brands have a bigger following than others whilst some brands are easier to get a hold of here and so become the norm. If I had listened to everyone else I would have gone out and bought some Atom Jukes or Heartless – both brands have their pitfalls, increasing feedback about wheels chunking too easily or wheels wearing down far too soon. But I listened to Turbo Pete and took a risk on a wheel which maybe wasn’t so loved – I don’t feel loved is right turn of phrase exactly, I would say that it is a wheel which isn’t so known and is sitting in the wings when it could be centre stage. Biggest isn’t always best. But again – this works for me, maybe you derby person sitting there reading this may go and try a fugitive mid and have your mind blown, or you may laugh at the idea of using a Suregrip wheel that isn’t the very much used Zombie wheel.

Kit wise I have a mish mash of pads – I would love to have matching pads but this is just not realistic! I have Scabs Pyscho knee pads, Anarchy elbow pads, some other wrist guards and a SFR helmet with awesome stickers. Also a variety of mouth guards (none of which ever seem to fit properly) and a team colour water bottle complete with stickers.

Kit bags – make sure your kit bag is big enough for what you need it for. But not too big that you can’t carry or pull it along. Pockets and sections are dreamy – separate your clothing/scrim tops from your kit – separate your skates from your pads where possible (you don’t want the sweat and condensation to mess with your bearings/plates).

My last bit of kit wisdom? Wash your kit. Air your kit. Love your kit. It will make it last longer and you won’t stink out your teammates the way I do – I will wash it… after our last session on Thursday. Promise Misfits.

Stinky pads award hands down.

Little Blue x