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The 2001 Salomon TwinMetal frame and the Rivets Issue.

April 2002

The Issue

The details are that for what appears to be relatively few customers, the rivets holding the magnesium and aluminium parts of the frame together have come loose after generally (but not always) extensive use.  So far this issue has been found only on some 2001 model Salomon skates with the twinmetal chassis.  A few users have also complained about the magnesium part of the frame cracking.

As reported on the Salomon Screamer 2001 inline skate review last year, this is a contentious issue for some customers.  Sometimes the failed rivets result in a clicking noise as the frame moves, but also occasionally bent frames as these rivets form an essential part of the strong and light structure of this frame.  The clicking noise is normally a precursor of a lost/broken rivet and should be regarded as a warning sign.


Chassis from the Black Edition Screamer from the 2001 line
Photo by Marc Garland

As you can see from the photos, the rivets form an integral part of the chassis, so rivet failure will require frame replacement.

Salomon's official take

I contacted Salomon UK, who told LondonSkaters.com that the problem was fixed last year.  Salomon are so confident in the twin metal frame technology, that not only are they using it this year, they will also be using it on the 2003 TR skates.

Last year the rumour was that only a few early batches of skates from 2001 were affected, and that it was rumoured to be because of a problem on a particular rivet machine sometimes not riveting the frame parts tightly enough.

Details found on the Internet

I've come across about 19 people who had a frame problem, and as far as I could tell nearly all quickly received either a refund or a new pair of skates.  Of these, a couple had both the rivet issue and cracking frames, but most had only failed rivets.  An additional 2 people had a cracked frame, but did not experience the rivet problem.  One person experienced some trouble getting his skates replaced when his skates failed more than a year after purchase, but they were eventually replaced.

That's not an exhaustive list by any means, but simply the number of people I found via looking through rec.sport.skating.inline and the Salomon forum posts, and via people emailing me as a result of this and the screamer article.  I don't think this is particularly many given that:

  • Salomon sell thousands and thousands of skates with the twinmetal chassis.
  • People with a failure like this are likely to make their feelings known, perhaps because they're outraged.
  • There are likely to be quite a few people who haven't complained visibly on the internet.
  • I came across quite a few skaters who've spoken out and said that they haven't experienced the rivet problem, some after extensive skating.

 

Based on this, I think that Salomon's assertion isn't too far out.  However, it's also true that there's no smoke without fire. Of those 18 people at least two had multiple replacements, which also failed.  Perhaps they were just unlucky, but it does make the problem appear more serious.

  • One skater had three replacements, each of which failed.  His fourth pair of TR Mg Elite's 2001 model is now being used with a custom 5 wheel frame, and the original Salomon twin metal frame is sitting in his cupboard.
  • The next skater had the frame cracking problem on his original pair of skates, and also on the replacement.  He also experienced the rivet problem.
  • Another skater's replacement pair of Screamers also failed after some use.

 

As far as I know Salomon and the retailers were really on the ball last year with any problem skates, offering the customer an exchange or a refund.  That means that if you're very unlucky and do experience the problem, you won't be out of pocket, but you might be left without skates for a short period during replacement.

2002 model Salomon Skates

I've yet to see comment on broken rivets or cracked frames by anyone owning a 2002 model skate with the twinmetal chassis, so only time will tell whether this year's skate models are also affected.  I did take a close look at the frames on the TR Mg Elite 2 skates I reviewed here, and could detect no play at all in the rivets.  You may recall that Marc Garland's Salomon Screamers showed signs of loose rivets right from purchase.

I'm sure that Salomon are confident that they have fixed the problem, as it would be pretty foolish of them to bet the inline skate part of the business on a frame that failed, if even occasionally, last year by re-introducing that same frame this year.


Chassis from the TR Mg Elite 2 from the 2002 line


View on the inside of the frame...

Have you got any comments on this issue?  If so, please contact me!

Why TwinMetal?

Given that Salomon's TR Vitesse 2001 and 2002 models, and the X-TR and FSK range have a one piece frame, it's interesting that these fitness skates come with a twinmetal frame.

  • The X-TR range is about quality for good value, so it's understandable that simpler frames would be used in this range.
  • The FSK range are about tough urban skating, so have a super strong frame to take the punishment dished out to them.
  • The Vitesse skates are all about high performance fitness skating and are a stepping stone to a true low cut speed skate.  While there is some comfort to be gained from the lower cuff, there is still a requirement for high stiffness and thus high performance from the frame.

 

The TR Mg Elite 2 skates are aimed at serious fitness skaters who still want quite a bit of comfort.  That's why the boot is full of comfort features and a thick liner.  I suspect that Salomon have designed the twinmetal frame to have good properties of lightness and vibration absorption, and that these benefits outweigh the complexity of having a riveted frame that has previously shown failure.  The Mg Elite 2 skate that I reviewed certainly is comfortable and doesn't transmit much vibration from rough surfaces into your foot.  My impression is that the TR Vitesse does transmit somewhat more vibration than the MG Elite 2.

P4120010a.jpg (101898 bytes)
Salomon TR Vitesse one piece extruded frame.

Frame stiffness in Salomon's measurement scale:

  • TR Vitesse 2001 - DR200
  • TR Mg Elite 2 2002 - DR150
  • X-TR Wave 2002 - DR120
  • FSK 247mm frame - not rated, but extremely stiff.

 


Internet posts on the Rivet issue

A search on Google groups (the usenet archive), and the Salomon forum brought up the following relevant messages.

Posts in rec.sport.skating.inline:

Post 1

Post 2

Post 3

 

Salomon Website Forum:

http://www.salomoninline.com/trainer/uk/response.asp?id=14&id_link=0

http://www.salomoninline.com/trainer/uk/response.asp?id=15&id_link=0

http://www.salomoninline.com/trainer/uk/response.asp?id=398&id_link=0

 http://www.salomoninline.com/trainer/uk/response.asp?id=423&id_link=0

http://www.salomoninline.com/trainer/uk/response.asp?id=546&id_link=0

http://www.salomoninline.com/trainer/uk/response.asp?id=635&id_link=0

http://www.salomoninline.com/trainer/uk/response.asp?id=1226&id_link=0

http://www.salomoninline.com/trainer/uk/response.asp?id=1498&id_link=0

http://www.salomoninline.com/trainer/uk/response.asp?id=1948&id_link=0

 

 

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