Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Professional Review of PowerStrider Olympic - Aluminum

This is Bacchanal Promotions' review of the new PowerStrider Olympic - Aluminum (CZ Series) stilts.

Our first impressions of the new stilts were positive, the most noticeable differences from our other stilts (Poweriser Advanced) were the weight and much more elegant design. Putting on the stilts for the first time, we were very happy with the quick-adjust cuff mechanism, however the plastic bindings were definitely a downside. Walking on them for the first time felt much more comfortable than our other stilts, not only because of the weight but also the streamlined design. The feeling that we might hit the foot-plates together was much less since a lot of the excess materials have been removed, including the stability rods on the side of the feet. We didn't experience any difficulty with the heel sliding out of place, although when our friends tried them on, some expressed difficulty at the lack of lateral support on the heel.

When we were able to test the stilts side-by-side with the Poweriser Advanced model, a number of things became shockingly clear. The difference in weight is extremely substantial. After wearing the CZ series, jumping on the Powerisers made it feel like there were weights attached to our feet. In addition to the weight the streamlined design made it much more comfortable, and the easily adjustable cuff made it simple for each user to customize them quickly for optimal comfort.

Heights: Perhaps the least obvious but most important difference between the two models was the height of the footplate. It seems as though the two-inch increase in standing height also gave the spring extra room to move, which allows for increased response from a softer spring. Though we are able to easily push our Poweriser 90-120 springs to their limit, the Powerstrider 70 springs seemed to have endless room to gain height. The soft PowerStrider 70 springs felt much softer while running and bouncing low, which made jogging and hopping comfortable and less stressful on our bodies. When jumping high, we originally thought we would bottom-out the soft springs immediately, but were pleasantly surprised when we discovered how difficult it was. It requires much more power to bottom-out the Powerstrider springs, and we seemed to also increase our maximum height by at least six-inches. We look forward to further testing to prove that we are actually jumping higher than we ever have before, but initial tests have been difficult due to winter weather conditions.

Our last test was indoors, which made yet another difference abundantly clear. There was almost no noise while walking or jogging on the Powerstriders, and while jumping high the noise was reduced by at least half from the other stilts. The only noise we heard was of the pad hitting the ground, which was of course louder depending on how high we went, but there was no noise from the parts shifting or rattling. This is one of the biggest selling points for us, as we use the stilts professionally, and particularly when we're doing shows indoors it can be quite distracting to have loud clanks while jumping.

The pair we are using has already experienced several hours of use in another test, so it is easier to spot possible durability issues than with a brand-new pair. We noticed of course that the hoofs will need replacing more often than the Powerisers', but since replacement hoofs will be about 1/3 of the cost and are much easier to replace, we find that this is still a better option than the Powerisers. We did notice a slight squeak in one of the stilts, not loud, and can likely be fixed by adding oil to one or both of the pivot points, but we feel it should be mentioned. Also, the top of the spring on ONE of the stilts has a very small amount of wiggle-room. This is nothing compared to the wiggle on each of the Poweriser joints, but we definitely hope this isn't the beginning of a larger issue.

Flipping and other acrobatic stunts are easier on the new models not only because of the weight difference but also the reduced bulk. The Olympics feel much smaller around the feet and legs, and seem to allow easier variation in leg positions.

Bottom Line:
The PowerStrider Olympic - Aluminum (CZ series) moves this sport to a new level, the increased performance and ease-of-use far exceeds anything we have seen in stilts before. The few flaws are tolerable and minute when compared to the benefits of upgrading. We highly recommend these for new stilters, and also for anyone who uses jumping stilts regularly to consider upgrading.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

PowerStrider CZ Series: Conclusion

If you haven't already read the first two parts of my month long review of the PowerStrider CZ series. Please take a moment to do so Part One and Part Two.

Which brings us to the final portion of my review. After using this for a few weeks and really getting a solid feel on them. I can confidently measure performance, and now wear.

One of the most commonly modified aspects of all Powerstilts is the hoofs. As they wear down the quickest. When you run, jump, leap, and just walk. Your hooves slowly wear down as what ever surface you're on comes into contact with them. Most PowerBockers typically end up adding bits of bike or car tires to their PowerStilts referred to as "Tire Socks". Is this still required with the PowerStrider CZ Series?

I'll invite you to take a look at the photographs of the hoof wear after a couple hours of use. As you can see there is noticeable wear on the bottom of the soles. There is also a nice size chunk of rubber missing. This is typical of hooves from this brand, and not much different than the others currently out there.

I achieved this wear after a good couple mile run down a bike path. I believe the chunk came out due to stepping on a rock in the path. Overall I'd consider it normal for hoof wear. Not great, but not horrible.

Here you can see a side by side comparison of a brand new hoof, and my worn ones. The hooves at the time of being photographed had some good life left in them. So I'd estimate out of regular use of a few hours a week, you'd get 3 to 4 weeks before being required to switch.

Luckily, swapping hooves are a snap with the PowerStrider CZ Series. Instead of having to remove the entire assembly as pointed out in my previous reviews. All you need to do is remove four bolts, and swap out just the pads themselves.

In the picture on the right. You can see the pad being completely removed. This was really simple to do. The Powerstilts themselves actually came with the allen wrench to get the job done and it worked just as good as any I had in my own personal tool box.

In my opinion, if pricing is fair for the replacement pads. Modifications such as Tire Socks become a thing of the past with this new easy design.

As for the spring wear. I noticed the this series of stilts have no spring covers. They're just painted over, and in my normal use. I managed to take some tiny nicks, dings, and scratches throughout it. I'd highly recommend that if purchasing you should immediately cover them with tape, or another means to prolong the life of the spring. The springs lacking covers are a fairly negative aspect of the stilt, but not something that general powerbockers don't end up modifying anyways.

Overall my conclusion is;

They're light, sexy, and responsive.
My original skepticism over the cuff design is gone. It works great.
The bindings are poor, and need replaced. I'd recommend the Poweriser Bindings.
Hoof wear is normal.
The Springs need better protection.

The PowerStrider CZ series overall is a viable powerstilt to consider purchasing. I'd recommend them.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Is My Kid Too Young/Small for Poweriser Kids?

Q. My child is a little younger or under the weight range, but very athletic and energetic. I'm sure he'll grow into it... Should I buy him the Youth stilts?
Poweriser Kids 3050 are listed for ages 8 through 12 (66-110lbs)

In my experience even the small kids have a blast walking on stilts. Young kids usually pick it right up after a few mins, so balance and coordination is not a problem... but the main issue is fitting.

The ages and weight ranges on the Poweriser Kids 3050 is really just an estimate. The minimum size needed for kids to fit into the Poweriser Kids model stilts is mainly determined by the length of their legs. Fitting on the kids stilts requires a minimum of about 13 vertical inches between the bottom of the shoe and the bottom of the kneecap. The age and weight recommendations are less important than this particular dimension for fitting.

Make Adjustments using a Foam Insert
The 13" dimension requirement of kids stilts can be slightly adjusted by adding foam padding underneath the shoe. If you place a foot shaped piece of stiff foam under the shoe it will lift kids up, and this adjustment may be needed if the foot straps don't fit well with the tightest settings.

Adjusting the Cuffs of the Kids Stilts
Most kids will need to have the leg straps unscrewed and placed in the tightest position (smaller hole). Often even with this adjustment smaller kids will need wrap something such as padding or a towel around their calves to make a snug fit into the top two bindings.

Should you buy if the kids are too small?
My suggestion is to ensure that the kids properly fit the stilts. If the stilts don't fit right when they are first opened and adjustments are not made, it will be hard for the kid to use and uncomfortable as they are learning a new skill. Uncomfortable fit also pretty-much guarantees that they will lose interest in the sport. Fitting and comfort is one of the things that I emphasize, because powerbocking is supposed to be enjoyable!

Whatever you decide, the kids will definitely grow into the stilts before you know it.

As a reminder to parents: An adult should hold their hands and "spot" for the first 10 mins while the kids are first learning to balance.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Recommend: PowerStrider Olympic Aluminum Stilts

DC Power Stilts officially endorses the PowerStrider Olympic (cz) - Aluminum Stilts.
"The newest, most modern stilts offer a minimalist, lightweight design that makes it more fun and less tiring to use. Innovative features have been added: The traditional 'clack' with each step has been cleverly eliminated. These are not THE perfect pair of stilts and the main downside is their higher price. They do work safely and we highly recommend them for regular bockers and first-time buyers."
-David, DC Power Stilts

While we were initially excited by the pretty look of the stilts, we were skeptical of the performance and durability of this new design. DC Power Stilts put them to their paces to see if they would hold up on a variety of real-life conditions. We of course found some room for improvement, but the stilts performed well overall.

You can put your order in at our web shop... shipping is next business day.

Thank you to everyone on my team who has provided feedback on this model, and especially to DJ for his videos and tests.

Click here for all blogs about this model, including critical reviews and some ideas for improving them.

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