Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Poison write up from one of the best!

THis amazing write up on the Poison was done by none other than the FABULOUS DayGlo Divine. Check out what she had to say! She also has a bunch of other good write ups that you might be interested in!

Atom Derby

So last week, I got a spiffy new set of Atom Poison wheels to test. I had every intention of testing them out at last night's DC Rollergirls' practice at the DC Armory. That floor is notoriously slick, and during my tenure as a DCRG ref, I would regularly do eight-wheel slides and even wipe out on G-Rods. Last time I went, I jam reffed with Stinger pushers and G-Rod non-pushers and felt like I barely had any traction. So it would be a perfect test floor for new hybrid wheels. But last night, I found myself so exhausted from a weekend with a bridal shower sandwiched between back-to-back doubleheaders that my practice plans morphed into an 8:00 disco nap. As I was pondering a wheel swap on the skates I used to jam ref this weekend, it occurred to me that I didn't have to go anywhere to at least get a feel for the wheels. The laundry room in my building is about 20x30, with a grippy, painted concrete floor, and it is directly downstairs from me. So I took my Poisons and Sugars for a spin. Pun intended.

Test 1 -- Atom Poisons (new), VXB ABEC-7 Bearings, Riedell Carrera (old model)/Sure Grip Probe
Last week, I scored a pair of mint-condition Riedell Carreras off eBay. Not the shitty new ones, but the ones that look like -- and basically are -- slightly stripped-down 125s. I have plans for them. Big plans that involve a spare set of Reactors, which are currently on a pair of boots too flimsy for derby. But those plans have not happened because I need help in un-riveting the current plates from the boots. Having not skated in them before, I took them down to ye olde laundrye room. I felt like I had little control on them. Could T-stop and turn-stop just fine, but tight turns -- the only ones I can do down there -- were tough. Doing a crossover in them made me feel like I took a time machine back to 2006, when I first started skating again, and the wheels just seemed to roll and roll and roll. One look at those skates on my feet, and I knew why I was having issues: the plates were mounted improperly. The right plate is off-center and turns inward. Bad. Back upstairs.

Test 2 -- Sure-Grip Sugars (used for 9 bouts on unfinished concrete), VXB ABEC-7 Bearings, Riedell Targa/Sure Grip Probe

My Targas are my outdoor skates, such as it is. Ugly and comfy, with plates that are not ideal but mounted correctly and perfectly skateable with the addition of 79a Sure-Grip "super" cushions. I could skate a bout in them and not miss a beat. My Sugars were already on them, so I took them downstairs and did the same type of things. Tight turns with lots of lean and big crossovers, with T and turn stops thrown in for good measure. They felt sluggish. Not to the point where I couldn't skate on them indoors if I absolutely had to, but I'd have to work for it, because they would stop rolling if I started coasting. And I wasn't T-stopping on a dime like I usually do on grippy floors. They're really closer to true outdoor wheels than hybrids. Great for rebound on rough surfaces like asphalt and concrete floors with a lot of seams and cracks and gates, but not really what I'd use for uber-grip if ever I needed it.

Test 3 -- Atom Poisons (new), VXB ABEC-7 Bearings, Riedell Targa/Sure Grip Probe

After rolling around on the Sugars, I realized that Atom's claims about the Poisons are not the usual advertising hyperbole. They feel faster than the Sugars do, and are probably more suitable for how derby skaters typically use hybrids -- on slick indoor surfaces where they want or need extra grip. At the same time, despite having the same plates as my Targas, the Carreras handle so poorly that I felt like I wouldn't really have a true basis for comparison until I put the Poisons on a different pair of skates. So I put them on my Targas and went downstairs yet again. Did a few hard T-stops on both skates to eliminate mold-release slippage as a factor, and went to work. They held up to my initial impression. They skate a lot like my Stingers, which I regularly use as pushers on slick wood floors, but yet feel softer than my Sugars when I use my "calibrated feelers" on them (i.e., when I squeeze them). I will very likely put these through their paces at practice this week; we're at Putty Hill, which hasn't seen a fresh coat of Roll-On since about the time I started reffing. But so far, I am impressed.

I'll start this by saying I did not get a chance to do a side-by-side comparison with my Sugars at tonight's scrimmage. A double-booking on the rink's part meant we all had to stand in the parking lot for 90 minutes and wait around till some big party full of annoying kids left the building. This meant that practice was stripped down to the bare bones of what it needed to be -- enough time to assess a group of freshies and skaters returning from injury for bout readiness, and one big scrimmage with no break. Having said that...

Test 4
Gear: Atom Poisons (new), VXB ABEC-7 Bearings, Riedell 125/PowerDyne Reactor
Surface: standard-issue wooden rink floor that has not been resurfaced in 3 years and is pretty slick
Typical Wheels for Surface: Atom Stinger pushers with G-Rod non-pushers
Position: Head/Rear Inside Pack Referee

The fact that scrimmage was 2 hours shorter than usual meant we didn't switch teams or divide it up into periods with 5-minute breaks. That meant I couldn't switch between wheels. It also meant I was assigned to one position and stayed there for the duration of the scrimmage. I would have liked the chance to use these wheels for jammer reffing, where I prefer grippier wheels for control and agility, and especially outside pack, as that's where I feel it the most when my wheel configuration is too grippy for the floor. But inside pack is a good place to test slow wheels as well; since it involves a lot of slow, deliberate skating, wheels that are too grippy will tend to slow down or come to a stop pretty quickly. During my impromptu laundry-room test, that happened with the Sugars, but not the Poisons. It didn't happen with the Poisons tonight, either. They are softer than I really need on that floor; for that matter, so is the Stinger/G-Rod combo. But I didn't feel like they were holding me back. Everything I needed to do, I could do. When I wanted them to roll, they rolled. When I leaned hard into turns, they did not break loose, nor did I find that I had to push harder going into the straightaway. If I were blindfolded, I wouldn't have been able to tell them apart from my usual wheels on that floor. This is a good thing. Too often, people use grippy wheels to overcompensate for something they're doing wrong. I didn't feel like these changed my form in any way. I just went about my business as usual, and after a few jams, I wasn't even really thinking about my wheels. And when you're not second-guessing them or doubting whether they will be there for you if you push them, that's the sign of a really good wheel.

Next up: the great outdoors. Hoping I can make it to Lake Montebello or that sweet outdoor hockey rink at Overlook Park this weekend.

DayGlo Divine


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