Skate technology has come a long way since the first patented version of roller skates from the 1760’s. Things like polyurethane wheels over steel wheels, strap on skates over lace up boot skates and four wheel inline over the quad version skate. So, where’s the next big improvement? The Cardiff Skate Company thinks they have found it with their S1 and S2 skates
Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.
As you can see from the opening picture and the box picture, the Cardiff S1 and S2 skates are not only unique in design, but also in the approach to skating itself. The Cardiff Skate Company sent me a pair of the S1 model to test. The S1 and S2 models are essentially the same in design, but the S1 model will accommodate a larger foot size.
The S1 skate is a unique three wheel designed skating system designed to be worn over your shoes. The S1 has the following features listed from The Cardiff Skate Company web page:
- Patented, spring-loaded automatic size adjustment system (ASA™)
- Engineered, with maximum stability Tri-Skate Technology™
- 100MM/85A side wheels, 90MM/85A front and brake wheels (using premium inline skate wheels for maximum performance and wear)
- ABEC 5 chrome bearings and aluminum spacers
- Anodized aluminum rails and brakes
- Cushioned front strap made of EVA Foam, designed for superior comfort and durability
You may have noticed that I said that the S1 has a three wheel skating design, but as you and I can plainly see the S1 has four wheels. I too was confused at first until I did a little research and actually put on the skates. The rear wheel is actually the brake for the skates.
A top view of the S1 skate shows the foot pad, brake and the top strap. On the foot pad of the skate you will see a rectangular button that is used to engage the ASA (Automatic Size Adjustment). The ASA is one of the unique feature of this skate. With the S1 open you can get a glimpse of the aluminum rails (the orange parts). At the rear of the skate S1 you will see the brake with the S1 logo.
The main straps for the S1 skates are how you keep them attached to your feet. They have a nice ratchet system that closes the straps and keeps them tight to your feet. The padding under the ratchet mechanism is a nice touch that adds some comfort for long-term use. Using the straps was a simple as feeding the front end of the strap into the ratchet and tightening it down, to loosen you lift up on the inner catch. The straps look and feel heavy-duty, like they can take a lot of abuse.
The side profile of the S1 skates are pretty similar, closed you can see the wheels and straps, opened you can see the orange aluminum rails. You may notice that the side wheels are slightly bigger than the front and rear wheels which give the S1 an aggressive stance. The front and rear breaking wheel are both 90mm/85A wheels while the two side wheels are 100mm/85A wheels.
A look at the front of the S1 shows the toe guard/foot pad stop and front wheel. The stop allows the S1 to slide snug against the front of your shoe.
At the rear of the S1 you can see the braking wheel and braking mechanism. The rear wheel does not make contact with the ground under normal use, only when you tilt the skate backwards will it make contact and start to slow you down.
The bottoms of the S1 skate is where you can really see the aluminum rails of the ASA system. Besides, the rails the bottom has the product information and serial number of the skate so it can be registered with The Cardiff Skate Company. The bottom also has the rear wheel assembly that holds the back side wheels as well as the breaking wheel. This assembly has some up and down flex that allow for the braking mechanism to engage with the rear breaking wheel.
Putting on the S1 was a pretty simple affair. You slide the skate open all the way until the stops engages, place you foot under the loosely opened front strap and then slide your heel into the back of the skate. When you step down you should hit the button that locks the skate open, this will allow the skate to close letting the front toe stop to fit snugly against the front toe of your shoe. You may have to slide your foot back a little to get a snugger fit. After getting your foot into the skate simply tighten down the front strap and repeat for the other foot. Although, I may be making this process sound a little involved, it is actually pretty simple and intuitive. At this point, I will throw out a word of cautions, shoes do make a difference. What I mean here is the type of shoe you wear will make a difference in how the S1 fits and stays on your feet. I tended to have the best results with a running type shoe as opposed to my skate boarding shoes or a deck type shoe. I think this was more from the fact that the running shoes sole extends out a little beyond the shoe itself.
A nice accessory that the folks at The Cardiff Skate Company sent me along with the S1 skates was a pair of their Accessory Straps. The straps hook to the heal section of the S1 and go around the top of your ankle as you will see from the next picture. The straps seem to be made of the same material as the front straps of the S1 so they seem solid and durable. The straps hook onto the S1 by means of steels clips that slide onto the heal support. The fit was snug and the straps did not slip.
The Accessory Straps are secured in front of your ankle. They have he same ratchet and unlocking system as the front strap. I actually found that I was much more comfortable using these straps when skating. I felt as if my foot is locked into the skate firmer and did not have the fear of my heal slipping out of the back of the skate. I am sure that this was more from the fact that I am a novice on these skates than any real true issue, especially when I found the right shoes for me to wear. I do give The Cardiff Skate Company high marks for understanding that this could be an issue and providing an easy solution.
Now for what everyone wants to hear about, my medical status after using the skates. I mean how the S1 skates perform. I have skated in my youth and up until my late 20s on various types of skates. I did use strap on steel wheeled skates in my youth (left overs from my mothers childhood preserved by my grandfather), laced up boot style skates with polyurethane wheels at the skating rinks on Saturday nights and even the more modern inline skates (although I had hockey style inlines). The one thing I will say is that as I got older skates became less comfortable to wear, especially inline models. First, I will say that since you use your own shoes finding a pair that are comfortable for you to wear while skating will make your outing more enjoyable. From a design point of view I like the fact that the S1 has taken the two back wheels and moved them outside of your ankles giving in my opinion a more stable platform to stand on. The downside of this move will be in speed and performance. I did find turning on the S1s to be a little more labored and this would be expected. In addressing the speed issue, I did some research prior to receiving the S1 skates and from everything I saw online and read the S1 is more of a cruising type skate as opposed to a high performance skate. That to me is actually a good thing for skaters because not everyone needs to be weaving in and out of traffic on a busy city street. Although, I did not get to skate as much as I would have liked to before this review, I did do enough skating to know that even with my ankle and foot issues, I could still use these S1 skates comfortably.
So, what’s my bottom line here? If you are looking for a pair of skates that offer flexibility and decent performance, I don’t think there is anything on the market that will compare. With flexible sizing, good design and a decent weight you can tote the S1 skates around easily when not in use. With a good list of accessories and replacement parts on The Cardiff Skate Company website you should be able to use your S1s for a long, long time. The S1 tested and S2 skates will run you $159.99, but if you are budget conscious you can find refurbished S1 and S2 models for $99.99. If you are looking for skates with flexibility that more than one person can wear, the S1 from The Cardiff Skate Company should be at the top of your list.
Source: The sample for this review was provided by The Cardiff Skate Company. Please visit their site for more info.