The continued review of the Arius plate.

The Arius plate is astonishing, and frankly difficult to describe.  Even though a DA-45 plate will turn easier the Arius has a lot of turn to it.  More importantly it had a lot of control.  It was a snap to change direction laterally whereas in other plates there is a small fight to get back to center.  When sprinting around the track at top speed the plate will dig into the corner, but will return to center without any trouble.  I have never felt this in a plate before where I aim for the apex, turn hard and get more traction, then let off the turn and the plate immediately responding.  Below is an account from three test subjects.  We all had some different opinions because of course your mileage will vary when it comes to skate gear.

I texted some folks who wear a similar size boot as me with different plates for a last minute skate lab session.  We ended up with three subjects, myself Kacha, Deadie Page, and Trudy Bauchery.  My last plate was an Avenger Magnesium and before that a Roll-Line Variant.  Deadie is just now on a Pilot Falcon Plus after a couple years on a Revenge and Trudy has spent her whole derby career on an Invader with DA-45s.  For the sake of science I’ll divulge that I am 5’6″ and 155.  Trudy and Deadie are much lighter but similar heights.  You can ask them how much they weigh if you want.  This is about where science goes out the door since we had more differences than simply plates.  Trudy’s setup had some technical problems, and it isn’t really fair to compare the performance of a $100 plate to two $300 plates.  Also we all had different wheels on and our boots all fit us differently because of course our feet aren’t identical.   We discussed the caveats and agreed to a warmup, obstacle course, and a speed test each of us trying each skate setup for comparison.

Warm up

We skated around the track in our own skates and then traded.  This in and of itself was an eye opening experience.  I highly recommend getting together with folks who are similar in size to you and trying out their skates.  The Arius plate comes with four sets of cushions in 83a, 86a, 89a, and 92a.  There are two more cushions that PowerDyne makes for the plate an 80a and 95a, but those are sold separately.  The plates come equipped with 89s so that’s where we started.  Immediately Trudy and I wanted something softer.  I swapped out the 86s for 83s and was immediately happier.  This was what I wanted for ease of turning.

Kacha – The light blue cushions were much better.  It has decent laterals, but not as much movement as a plate with DA-45 trucks.

Trudy – The Arius got squirrely, I liked the Pilot more, felt like I could go really fast.

Deadie – I liked the Arius more.  It was really agile and responsive and stable.

Obstacle course

We set up an obstacle course with nearly impossible crossovers, a minefield of cones, backwards weave, very tight cuts, and one footed weave.  We ran it three times per skate.  Here’s what everyone thought.

Kacha –  The Arius was awesome.  Cutting and crossovers were a snap, I was able to cut when I wanted to but go back in the opposite direction quickly.

Trudy – Loved the Arius.  Cutting was super easy.  I could wiggle my feet into the little spots between the cone and the rope.  I had more control.

Deadie – I felt wobbly in the Arius while crossing over, possibly because I was so mentally engaged.  I was maybe concentrating too much.  It was much better with cutting.

2 Minute Drill

We then did three back to back two minute drills with plenty of rest in between.  All the same by the time we hit our third 2 minute drill I was gassed.  We all agreed that the Pilot seemed to be faster but for different reasons.  The wheels that were on the setups (80s on the Invader, 91 Bullets on the Pilot, and 92 Turbos on the Arius) had an impact.

Kacha – The Arius was really interesting in the corner.  When I lean over going fast (and I never go quite as fast as when I’m trying to “win” a speed drill) the traditional plates had a moment of no return, like a dead spot where I’m too far over and then I’m losing momentum.  That never happened with the Arius plate.  I had total control entering and leaving the corner.  It held the corner really well.

Deadie – With the Arius I felt like my left foot wasn’t able to push through on the crossover.  Sticky skating I feel the agility, but I was faster in the Pilot.

Trudy – It was harder to push with the Pilot, even so the Arius was fast but not as fast as the Pilot.  I felt more in control on the Arius.

That’s our first ride test review.  Please, keep in mind that all skaters here have different styles, different positions, and different skating backgrounds so naturally we have different opinions.   Tell us what yours is.

I received the anticipated Arius plate yesterday, the latest offering from Riedell’s brand, PowerDyne. The box itself is rather nice. I’m not one for unboxing pictures but I couldn’t help myself.

Fancy packaging

First why the fuss? The Arius plate is a modified Adonis plate introducing the technology seen in long board trucks to major skate plate manufacturing. The plate lacks a traditional kingpin. A butterfly cushion is wedged in the truck which flexes against a tab where the kingpin would be. In a traditional plate design the cushions spin around the kingpin. There’s no spinning in the Arius.

I pulled off my Avenger and slapped on the Arius in record time and just waited for a chance to skate in them. I did have the presence of mind to take some measurements before everything was fastened. The Arius is light! Assembled with the trucks but no axle nuts it weighs 11.6 ounces. To compare the Avenger Magnesium weighs 15.9 ounces with 7 mm axle trucks and no axle nuts. There is far less steel on the Arius. Not having a traditional kingpin makes a difference in weight. The distance from the axle to the sole of the boot is almost a centimeter shorter than the Avenger bringing the skater closer to the ground.  The Arius is about 1 mm lower than the Roll-Line Variant as well.   Not enough to notice.  The distance on the truck itself between the wheels is a little wider than most trucks, the Roll-Line comes in at 42 mm, the DA-45 truck at 44.5 and the Arius is 46.3 mm.  So the distance between the wheels makes the assembly feel a little more stable.

In the box

Because there’s no kingpin that means there is also no action nut for setting your trucks.  No microadjustment.  The trucks are set with different hardness cushions.  This is a blessing and a curse.  You won’t get the trucks to some magic sweet spot, but then you won’t be fussing with them either.   It’s set and forget which I know is music to some folks’ ears and a nightmare for others. As long as I can get a cushion that feels the way I want it to then I’m happy about it.  Less things to go wrong is better for me. There are six different cushions four of which come with the plate stock.

Stay tuned for Part II – the ride test.

 

Here’s the latest pictures of what we’ve got going in the workshop. Here’s a picture of the plate.

Tough to get a good angle on the plate, but it's interesting.

Once more with feeeeeling, we are selling gift certificates online. I hope you’re sipping on coffee in some comfy slippers while you make your purchase. Put the recipient’s name in the note portion and let us know if you want us to hold the gift certificate at the store or mail it to you.

Buy your gift certificate here

Just in time for your holiday shopping to begin – Vital is now offering the option to purchase gift certificates online through our website, via paypal. It’s just what the favorite skater in your life wants, we promise!

UPDATE – We’ve had some problems with the button. We have to take it down for now, but we are working on correcting the problem.

Pivot Marketing is our friend and neighbor in Fountain Square.  Check out this video they made about Vital Skates.

 

Hey – great news! You made our first two First Friday celebrations super awesome so we will be open until 8pm each and every First Friday from here on out….just because we love you. And we want to be sure you have time to say hello to Ms. Belch (seen here with some skaters from Columbus, IN).

Dec 22

Vital Idols

Check us out in Carcino Jen’s Examiner article:
http://www.examiner.com/roller-derby-in-indianapolis/vital-idols

Thanks for thinking of us Jen!

Hey – check us out in the Indy Star today. We are incredibly honored and stoked to be a part of this great group of new businesses entering Fountain Square (the best neighborhood in Indy). The article features a super duper photo of Katya Lookin’!

December 20th – 29th 2011 we will be extending our hours until 8pm each night with the exception of Christmas Eve (we’ll close at 6pm) and December 26th (we’ll be closed).  Get in to buy the last minute derby items for you daughter, husband, derby wife, junior skater, etc. etc. etc. OR shop after the holidays to use up your awesome Vital gift certificate!