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.


Ryan said...

Can you easily swap out the foot-straps? I figured if the straps were problematic then one could simply purchase a more ideal pair. Also, I've heard that hammering both ends of the heel plate inward remedy the issue of a swiveling heel during use. I don't know how anxious anyone would be to start clobbering their new striders though.

XDvandalDJ said...

Belated reply.

But yes foot straps are an easy switch.

Also hammer in the heel section seems to be the most ideal solution to the problem. I've also since seen some users tossing down some grip tape on their footpads.


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