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.

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