We first learned about the Sprung chassis on the forums of modsquadhockey.com, and ever since then we couldn’t wait to get our hands on a pair of them. Keith over and sprung-inline.com seems to really have a passion for his product. He is constantly looking for ways to improve the design and we are eager to see what he comes up with next. I volunteered to review this product and let me just say it was a pleasure. I’ve never skated on anything like these before.
I’m not gonna lie… I was pretty excited to review this product, so I decided to mount them to my size 12 Mission HE3500 roller hockey skates myself. The job required the following tools:
- A drill
- A titanium bit (to drill through the metal rivets)
- Needle nose pliers (for removing the rivets)
- A small hack saw (for cutting the four copper rivets),
- Two wrenches (or socket wrenches).
- Mounting hardware: 20 bolts, nuts, and washers totaling roughly $7.00
Luckily, I already had all the equipment with the exception of the nuts and bolts. I was a little disappointed that this chassis didn’t come with mounting hardware, but I’ve never purchased a chassis before so I didn’t know what to expect. Maybe every skate is so different it would be impossible to provide the correct parts for every scenario.
The Sprungs were shipped with mounting instructions that are also available online. The whole process took me roughly two to three hours and didn’t end up being as difficult as I originally anticipated. It involved:
- Drilling out and removing the original rivets (which was the worst part of it all)
- Lining up the chassis on the boot and marking the holes for drilling
- Drilling new holes (at an angle) for the new bolts
- Removing the insole and laces from the boot in order to reach the rivets towards the toe
- Placing four screws (two in the front and two in the back) in the chassis and gently tightening them
- Inserting the remaining six bolts through the boot and into the chassis then tightening each corresponding nut firmly
- Positioning the insole over the bolt heads to make sure it felt comfortable
- Re-lacing the boot then mounting the wheels accordingly
After going through this laborious process I couldn’t wait to give them a try. Unfortunately, it only took four or five games before my boots ended up ripping away from the sole. I’m not sure why this happened but I can think of a few reasons. First, the Mission boots were originally from my old, very used inline skates and I think this weak boot was far too flexible for the chassis. Second, the head of the bolts had sharp edges so they ended up ripping through the inside of the boot. Perhaps a round head bolt or a set of washers would have remedied this. Third, the bolts ended up being far too long, making them difficult to tighten all the way. Last, the bolts on the toe were very hard to reach in order to sufficiently tighten them.
I figured after mounting the chassis myself, and [probably] messing it up, I would turn it over to a professional. Since the Mission roller hockey skates were now garbage, I chose a pair of used CCM ice skates. Player’s Bench in Murray, Utah removed the ice holder and replaced it with the Sprung chassis for me. They charged $40.00 ($1.00/rivet in parts + labor) and took about a week to finish. I should have specified how I wanted the chassis mounted on the boot because it ended up sitting slightly too far towards the inside of the boot. In addition, the left chassis was placed closer to the inside than the right one.
The first pair of boots I used was an older model of a Mission HE3500 roller boots, and well, you know how that went. Here’s what my setup included:
- CCM Rapide 101 ice boots
- Sprung chassis, model A8
- Labeda Addiction XXX 225 – 80mm/84A
- Pleasure Tool ceramic ABEC 7 sealed bearings
I weigh about 205lbs, I’m 73 inches tall, and I am very abusive on all of my gear. My skating style resembles ice more than roller, but my stick handling is closer to roller. I preferred an ice boot over a roller boot because the ice boot was much stiffer. I did not feel as comfortable using a roller boot when taking sharp turns or stopping. The legitimacy of my fear was confirmed when the sole of the boot ripped off! The ice boot offered a more secure feel and more accurately resembled the sensation of skating on ice. However, unlike the roller boot, the ice boot did not have a hard plastic toe and does’t seem like it would withstand the abuse of an inline playing surface. This seems like the only downside.
I would absolutely recommend a hard wheel like the Addictions because they allowed the Sprungs to absorb the initial impact and rebound whereas a softer wheel seems to “dampen” the ride. The ceramic Pleasure Tool bearings were perfect because they have almost no rolling resistance so they were able to simulate the gliding motion of ice skating. Seriously, I don’t think a better wheel/bearing combo exists.
There are many different aspects of the chassis that compare to skating on ice. Among the many different aspects namely—turning, stopping, push off, and skating style—are as close as I’ve ever felt to ice skating with a roller skate. Backwards skating, more specifically cross-overs, are not as similar to ice as I thought it would be. I’ve noticed when switching from ice to roller, my skate style remains very similar.
My stride remained the same as it was before. However, I noticed that I didn’t pick up my feet as much as I used to and, with the rocker arm, my front wheel can pretty much remain on the ground at all times. I also feel like I skate a little faster than before. The bearings helped out a ton in that I glide across the pavement better. The chassis also helped my speed by limiting the amount of work my feet and legs had to do when turning, and even more when pushing-off. In fact, I think this more efficient push-off has increased my acceleration because I find myself winning the puck more frequently when chasing it.
Turning is quite a bit different from the other two pairs of skates I used to skate on. The turns and cuts are much more sharp. I can “cut” into the pavement the same way I would as if I was on ice. It feels like the flow of my skating is more natural and my feet and legs have to do less work when turning, cutting, or stopping.
Skating backwards took a little getting used to. Since the front rocker arm flexes with a moderate amount of pressure placed on it, I tended to lean and almost fall forward over my front feet. This is not similar to ice. The blade on ice doesn’t have any flex and rarely digs deep enough into the ice when skating backwards (especially in circles). A good way to combat this was to keep my back a little straighter than usual or focus more on putting the back two or back three wheels on the ground first, rather than placing the front two or three wheels down first. However, turns are a lot easier when skating backwards and maneuverability is a lot better when switching from a left turn to right turn or vice versa.
My transitions are smoother on Sprungs than any other chassis I’ve skated on. Again, the front rocker arm places the front two wheels firmly on the ground making the transition from forwards to backwards -or backwards to forwards- a lot easier mainly because of the push off. The chassis also gives the feel of an ice blade (or “rocker” style roller chassis) making it very easy to pivot the skates when transitioning.
The way I stop on roller skates has changed a great deal ever since I started using the Sprung chassis. I used to stop by either “carving” side-to-side (like skiers do), turn stopping, t-stopping, and dare I say it, but I also used my brake. With the Sprung chassis I pretty much rely on a “ice hockey” stop. I tried this style of stopping on a pair of Mission Hi-Lo’s and I kept on sliding out even with using wheels with a lower (78A) durometer rating. I don’t know what the technology in the Sprung chassis makes it grip better (my guess is the rocker arms), but it does a great job of keeping me on my feet even when I use a higher (84A) wheel.
I wanted to make sure to do a thorough review for the chassis, so I tested them out on four different surfaces: an indoor roller rink, an outdoor roller rink, a tennis court, and asphalt. The main factors I wanted to observe were how they would affect my stopping, turning, transitioning, skating backwards, crossovers, and wheel wear.
By far, my favorite surface to skate on with these chassis is an outdoor roller hockey rink. The surface of the rink was basically smoothed, painted concrete. It had the closest feel to ice on this surface and all the previously mentioned factors performed at their best.
The worst surface was the asphalt. The surface itself is kind of unpredictable, which made stopping, transitioning, and turning a little more difficult. Also, this surface gave the most wear on the wheels compared to any other surface.
The tennis courts performed better than the indoor roller rink, but only when comparing the skating feel to ice skating. When playing on an indoor rink I slid out so many times someone even asked, “You usually play ice hockey huh?”
The tennis courts provided a little bit more grip for the wheels, but unfortunately sacrificed their longevity. Labeda does make a wheel for the street, it’s part of the Gripper series and I believe it’s called the Asphalt which probably would work better than the Addictions in this situation.
Contrary to the way they look (plastic), the chassis are very durable. I took slap shots from a hot weather roller hockey ball as well as a roller puck and there was no sign of cracking, fracturing, breaking, etc. There was also no evidence of flexing, snapping, bending, etc no matter how much pressure I put on them. In order to flex the rocker arms, I had to put a good deal of weight on them (at least half my body weight). Interestingly enough, I was not able to flex the rocker arms with my hand which suggests that they move only when needed. The one complaint I have is that, because I am doing an ice hockey stop, the very bottom (where the axle bolts are) wears quickly whenever it contacts the ground. This is not a huge issue, but I would be curious to see how a light weight aluminum/alloy chassis with the same technology would perform.
The big question: Are they worth paying $135.00? Yes and No. The reason why I say no is that if you are a beginner or not playing competitively/seriously, you may not want to fork out the dough. Also, the chassis don’t come with any spacers (and from what it sounds like are hard to find, even online). Mounting will cost at least $25.00 and if you choose to mount them yourself, you will have to purchase your own mounting bolts/hardware.
However, if you are serious about playing, want a similar feel to ice, and/or want to improve your skating skills in any way, get them! It’s hard to express how much of a difference these chassis make.
There are other options out there that give a similar feeling to ice and may help in certain ways. For example, an aluminum Hi-Lo chassis (sells for under $100) mocks the feeling of ice skates by changing the angle/slope of the skate by using a pair of smaller wheels in front and larger diameter set in back. Tri-di from Reebok uses a similar setup. Other chassis are designed with a rocker, meaning the first and last wheel don’t hit the ground when standing straight up; only when the skater rocks forward or backwards do they touch the floor. However, Sprung chassis are the ONLY chassis, that I am aware of, to offer both types of technology in one. The Sprungs are made to accommodate all the same wheels size too, which is nice for rotating and when it comes time to purchase a new set. Compared to any other chassis in its price range I think the choice is clear.
If something ever happened to them, I don’t know that I could ever go back. A guy I play roller and ice with tried them on for about 10 minutes and said “I can see why you like these. It’d be hard to go back [to a normal chassis].”
I didn’t realize how much I would actually like the Sprungs. In short, I would be very willing to pay the price for this kind of performance. They are in a class of their own.
Sprung skate frames retail for $135 + shipping, they currently come in three different sizes and two different colors: black or white. They can be purchased through PayPal at www.Sprung-Inline.com