I've always loved the equipment side of sports whether its the new line of leg pads Reebok rolls out for goalies or helmets designed to reduce head injuries for football players. I was recently offered a pair of MLX Skates in exchange for a review. MLX is the brand of skates endorsed by Mario Lemieux. The skates are designed by a former speed skater but are meant for hockey players. If you want to head on over to the website of MLX Men's and boys' hockey Skates, you can do so here.
Now I must disclose that I received this pair for free in exchange for the review but here's the part that should keep you interested: they just want an honest review, not for me to sit here and glorify them only. I'll be offering up some pros and cons in the actual product review but for today, let's just take a look at them before the test run.
Take the jump for my pre-test thoughts on the skates
Yeah, I had that reaction too. $799 made my wallet shriek in pain initially but I also thought if they're charging close to $800, they've got to be pretty good quality. I also figured that Mario Lemieux and a former speed skater would know what they're doing in designing a skate for hockey players.
They feel about the same as any other skate--maybe a tad bit heavier in my opinion. I think some of that weight comes from one of the skate's best features, which I'll talk about next.
See that strip of metal with the three bolts? You can use that to adjust the way the blade is set up underneath your foot. Not everybody has the same stride so I like the fact that you can adjust the blade to suit your needs. Its pretty easy to adjust too with the tool they provide.
One of the cool things about these skates is that you get to bake them. I popped them in the oven to heat up the inner boot material to set up the molding process. After some time in the oven, you take them out and (carefully) lace them up and sit with them while the innerboot material cools down. You can see in the picture below how the material is now contoured to how my ankle/foot is--specifically, look at the top side which is the out wall of my right foot . If I were smarter, I would have done a before and after...but I'm not.
Let me preface this part by saying that I have some funky shaped feet and that I have never really had soccer or baseball cleats that properly fit my foot. The same definitely goes for hockey skates. I've always felt that my foot was too loose in some areas and way to cramped in others. These skates eliminated that problem for me. I took them off after the material had cooled and out of boredom/curiosity, I popped them back on a few hours later. It felt like putting on your most comfortable pair of shoes, except you could go skate in them later. I've never had a pair of cleats/basketball shoes/skates fit like this. I think that's pretty much entirely attributed to the custom molding. They also offer some solutions out of the box in case the skates are a bit loose in some areas as they include some custom fit inserts that you can attach inside the boot to make up for any gaps.
I have to say I was pretty impressed with the quality of the skate itself. The skates are made by hand and you can see some of the cosmetic signs of that on the skate. However, I think knowing that they're hand-made outweighs any of the minor hang-ups I had about the cosmetic imperfections (see on the toe cap below).
Instead of the traditional leather/plastic combo most skates use, the MLX skates use composite materials and leather. The composite materials also help with the protection of the skater's foot from slapshots, so it serves as more than an aesthetic purpose. The skate's not as flashy as some other skates on the market as far as looks but I think it looks pretty nice and maintains a clean design.
Pre-skate grade: B
I couldn't have been happier with the fit that I got out of these and they seem like a very high quality skate. I'm excited to try out the adjustable blade on these things and see how that changes my balance and power. I've held off for now on giving it an "A" because of the price and that adjustable blade as well, not sure if I'll like that or not yet.
Check back later for the post-skate review of them.
[Editor's Note: I had to sit on this post for a few days so that I could find my cable for my digital camera. I originally had this written like the day after I molded them.]