Sunday, November 22, 2009

DC Tweed Ride: The Beginning of the Greatest Century

My friend called me and told me that we should do a fancy bike ride with a newly formed social and fashion group. Well my first thoughts about a bike ride in fancy classical attire were: first, I didn't have anything to wear and second, that I didn't have a bike. We briefly discussed wardrobe ideas, and we figured out something that I could do my eclectic clothing. Of course I figured I could run it on stilts... I checked the route and would probably be able to keep up with the bikes or at least take shortcuts if needed. I reluctantly agreed to attend the 11AM meetup.

Wow there were hundreds of riders in dapper and elegant attire at the start line. Many photographers and reporters had shown up, amazed at the crowd, and it completely stymied the organizers.

Of course the stilts were a big hit. Of the 300+ dandies and quaintrelles participating, I was the only dandy on stilts. The pace was exceedingly leisurely so I initially kept pace with the very front of the group and although many came whizzing past me on the downhill, I never ended up behind.

As Noted by NPR (Slide #7):

"This fellow had no trouble keeping up in his special jumping gizmo"

The Examiner even remarked that:
"One particularly exuberant dandy even jogged the route wearing power stilts crafted out of what appeared to be bicycle components."

(Not a sophisticated reporting piece... at least they got the type of stilts right)

Some video was taken by ReadSetDC, It shows vintage style with power stilts at about 1:42.

Yes, it was fun. People also really liked the hat.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

PowerStrider CZ series: Part 2

Getting straight to it today. Here we are with my continuation of my review on the PowerStrider CZ series. If you have not read my initial impression I would recommend you do so before continuing.

But for those that have. I've made a brief video review in the video below. (Click the view original post button if you're viewing this from facebook) Please read a more detailed article following the video.

After getting some more in depth time on these powerstilts I have really taken note of their aspects that shine and the ones that leave you grumbling. Let's take a closer look at what I've discovered!

On one specific outing. I put on my powerstilts in front of my apartment. My end destination was the park across the street by the Mississippi River. I sat on the front step to my apartment building to gear up. I ended up struggling to get everything fastened correctly. I think I sat there for a good 5 minutes focusing on my foot straps alone.

Needless to say the frustrating nature of having plastic bindings was really becoming apparent. But after I put them on correctly, got up and went on my way. I was again very pleased with the weight of this set. They simply disappear on your feet. This made my quick jaunt across a cross walk, and down a small bike path to my end bocking destination very painless, and simply fun.

I ended up deciding to see how well they'd hold up in a serious jumping session. So I went at them for as long as I could. Again, very pleased with the fact it really seemed the height I was reaching was well OVER what I could on other models.

However, in putting some serious effort and work into the springs. I noticed something else fairly annoying. That again, went back to the bindings and now the foot pad.

I noticed that under heavy forces my heal would slide to one side or the other. This resulted in my landings being uneasy, unbalanced, and at times down right scary. This is due to a variety of factors.

The removal of the support rods.
The Removal of the plastic foot plate.
The Plastic Bindings.

In other models the support rods ended up holding my heel in place. I'd wedge it in there, and it would never move. By having room to move combined with the plastic heel of the foot pad. My foot never went anywhere. But with these I ended up at times feeling like I was walking like a duck. Even nearly clacking my springs together when landing. This was simply annoying!

I'd imagine that this could be rectified by tightening down the bindings even more so than normal on the rear strap. But again, the stock bindings are to frustrating. I kept having to sit back down after a few minutes to readjust so my heel would not slide.

I will admit that the new design certainly looks appealing. It's sleek, and sexy. But in use, I find myself already wanting to modify it. Deal breaker? Not quite, but something everyone should seriously consider before investing a lot in these? YES.

Moving along. I was very pleased to find that in my rough sessions. I did not have to readjust the cuff mechanism. Which had been a major worry of mine. They hold up great, and are very convenient to adjust for other users or to remove to store. This is something I hope other brands take note of. It seems to be in the direction of where others should go.

I absolutely love that the bushings are SILENT. I said it before in my last review, but the only noise I've heard while using these stilts. Is the noise of my hooves hitting the ground. I've been waiting for them to make a noise. But even after being rough on them. They remain completely silent.

However, I wish the nuts and bolts on this model could hold up to similar wear and tear claims. So far I've found myself readjusting and checking bolts after every use. Not out of good habit, but out of necessity. Because sure enough, after a couple hours I can feel something come loose.

In this phase of testing, I've had to tighten the hoof assembly on the spring. I've had to tighten the bolts from the support arc to the spring. I've had the stopper that's designed to keep the spring from bashing in the back of the foot pad come clear off. Due to the bolt coming loose.

Yes, it's good to check all your nuts and bolts after each use. But with other models, I've never actually had to adjust them as often as with these.

So to recap, the things that still shine to me are this;

The weight. They're light and feel great.

The height I can get. less energy for more height. Outstanding.

The no noise factor. No annoying CLACK CLACK.

The Cuff Mechanism works great. Adjust for yourself easily, then adjust them for a friend with as much ease.

Now the things that make me grumble;

The bindings! Cheap, annoying, ugh!

The slipping heel. Give me good bindings, or something to keep my heel from sliding around!

The nuts and bolts. I don't want to have to adjust these EVERY time I come back in from a session.

Now that I've had some time on these my opinion is that they are still a decent design. They are still worthy of maybe one day purchasing. The negatives aspects for the MOST part weigh less than the positives.

I get about another week on them before my review is done. I feel at this point that my opinion will remain the same. But time will tell all. Please come back here later for my conclusion.

And for an added bonus here is a video of XDbockerChris on them. Ignore the audio in this, it was windy so you can't hear anything I'm saying. xD

Sunday, November 8, 2009

PowerStrider CZ series: Part 1

Continuing from the first initial review here. Your local Davenport, Iowa affiliate has received the new PowerStrider CZ series also known as the olympics, or the jumper pros. I will have them for an intensive three weeks review. My first impressions are as follows.

These Powerstilts have had a noticeable design change. First glance you'll notice an absence of the support rods to the foot pad. The removal of the plastic footpad. To be replaced by a simple aluminum one. A new cuff tightening mechanism, the frame being directly bolted to the spring at the lower diagonal rod, and the removal of most of the metal for the hoof assembly.

Close inspection reveals that the length of the spring is actually longer than what other models in the past has offered. In theory this should allow for greater return, translating into greater height.

Upon first picking them up. The first thing that's apparent is the weight. Due to the stripping of other past design parts, these are noticeably lighter than any past stilt I have used. The night I received them, I put them on and ran around for about 20 minutes. The difference in weight might be slight. But the feeling is HUGE. They feel great on your feet.

Now whether the changes to the frame are positive and whether the new lightness comes at a price are yet to be seen. But as of now in my first impression, and a few hours use on the stilts. They seem to hold up fine.

The change to the foot pads certainly look a lot sleeker. In actual use however, I've found that my heel has room to slide slightly. Due to the fact there is nothing there to hold it in place as the old support rods, and footpads used to do. Now I have large feet (size 16 US) so I'd imagine users with smaller feet would have similar if not worse problems. The remedy to the issue is solved by tightening the straps even more so than normal. But this is difficult in the rear strap. The toe strap however, seemed fine.

The bindings on a whole on the other hand are perhaps my largest complaint thus far. They're painted metallic, but are cheap plastic. This results in the user having to struggle to get the straps tight enough. Due to the plastic teeth not "biting" hard enough. Are they usable? Yes. Brand new they get the job done. They don't come loose once tightened. But an advanced user may become frustrated at the annoyance of the bindings and opt to upgrade once they start to wear.

Looking down the stilt. You'll notice that the lower diagonal frame from the footpad to the spring has been changed. To a new aluminum curved bar design. Which instead of clamping around the spring, bolts directly through it. This design has been done before in the past and has always brought much worry from the powerbocking community. But in my initial use. The design seems to be solid. The new bearings are absolutely smooth and silent.

In use I have gotten no "CLACKS" or frame wobbles. The only noise I have heard so far is the sound of my hooves hitting the ground. The bolts through the spring have so far remained tight and secure. I have not needed to readjust them.

I'm actually very interested in this portion of the stilts design. I am regularly a poweriser advanced user. I use 90120 springs, and can get full compression at will. The powerstriders I have received for review are 70kg springs. They're nice and responsive and give back great energy return. Yet, either due to the new method the spring is attached or from the added length of the spring. I have to put considerable effort to reach the bottom 90% of the spring.

I have also been able to reach very good height with less effort as my previous stilts. Now, will this design hold up? Will the bolts wobble through the spring? Will the springs wear to fast? That is yet to be seen, and more testing is needed. Luckily, this review will have 2 more parts over the rest of the weeks I have them.

Continuing on down the stilt you'll spot that the hoof assemble has completely changed. It no longer goes up the bottom quarter of the spring, and instead just sits very simply at the bottom. This has proven to be a major weight reducer.

The newest change to this design is that instead of replacing the entire assembly. The rubber hoof pads can just be unscrewed off by themselves and replaced. As mentioned in the initial review. This may be a good thing, or proven to be a weak point. So far I have put the stilts through a 2 mile run down a bike path to purposely test hoof wear and they held up fine.

The only negative aspect that has shown itself thus far. Is that the assembly that remains attached to the spring worked itself loose by a hair resulting in a slight vibration as I ran down the bike path. This was easily rectified by readjusting the bolts. I'm paying close attention to this portion of the stilt in my future tests, and plan on putting it through another intense run, followed by a jumping session.

Quickly popping back to the top of the spring. You'll notice that the cuff attachment mechanism has been changed. Initially I was very skeptical at the new design. But it has so far held up without need to readjustment.

Overall my initial thoughts of this new model are;

I like them. The design is sleek and sexy. They're uber light and nearly disappear on your feet. The springs are smooth, and the energy return is impressive. The height I've attained so far has surprised me. I remain skeptical at the cuff mechanism. I am also keeping a close eye on the hooves. I dislike the bindings, but they are not a deal breaker.

If they survive the rest of my testings, and are reasonably priced. I would say this model is the next on my list of things to buy.

As an added bonus. Take a look at the following video of my first test run on the stilts. Keep in mind that the video was taken on a windy day, and from my cell phone.

Keep an eye out for the following portions of my review. I'll be sure to include a more detailed video, and tons more information.


Poweriser Authorised USA Dealership PowerStrider Authorised USA Dealership
jumping stilts and spring stilts