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Tecnica Twister Plus

 

(Translator’s note: This is an edited translation of a review of the Tecnica Twister + that originally appeared on the Rollerfr site. I have condensed and re-structured it for brevity and to allow for the absence of extensive photographic evidence illustrating, in particular, the frame position. The original review is on the Rollerfr site: http://www.rollerfr.net and is reproduced here with their permission.)

Here it is, then, the Tecnica Twister +, successor to the Twister. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, the Twister rules on Planet Slalom. It is the skate of choice among top slalomers and has attracted many fans from other disciplines. Over the last year, it has also demonstrated its flexibility, with the boot providing a base for high-performance custom free-rides. So we have felt privileged to be able to test this skate.

We’ll start by describing the skate itself. Then we’ll examine a crucial difference from last year’s model.

The skate

The skate that Tecnica were kind enough to send me is, as in previous years, orange (specifically, the same orange as the 2002 model — a bit washed-out compared with the earlier fluorescent colour). Those who, like me, want a Twister, but not in orange, will be delighted to know that a black version is expected shortly.

The Boot

The Twister’s highly-regarded boot is the basis of the skate’s reputation. It is very rigid and feels great when you’re rolling. The lowness of the cuff (just above the ankle-bone) gives tremendous freedom of movement.

It’s still orange, but has been given a minor face-lift since last year. A buckle has been added in place of a strap, to secure the foot across the instep. In practice, however, the buckle is very short, so that if you fasten it beyond the first notch it can quite quickly feel over-tight.

Worse still, the buckle is made of plastic and we can’t really see it lasting very long (one botched slide and goodbye buckle!). What is even more bizarre is that this buckle is identical to that on the CT7 – except that on the latter, it is made of metal.

The Liner

The liner, like the frames, is coloured gold. Its cuff (the “spoiler”) fits over the outside of the boot and, as before, is secured with a screw. This system has the advantage of allowing you to stiffen the skate by adding another cuff (made of plastic and with a decent buckle) over the original – for example, check out the TTR or TKR customs described (in French) at http://www.rollerfr.net/article.php?sid=66 ...

The liner must still be screwed to the boot, which is a nuisance when you’re assembling the skate or taking it apart. Fortunately that isn’t something you have to do every day. Still, it’s comfortable enough. The sizing comes up small, however, so be careful when buying.

(A tip from Vince: if the liner is tight, wear it around the house and it will adapt to your feet more quickly. You can also walk or even stamp around in the boot to soften it.)

The liner doesn’t seem to cushion the ankle as tightly as last year’s model. Maybe a layer of foam has been taken out, or the liner is better shaped around the ankle. Either way, with less material to compress, you’ll have to tighten the skate up more.

The Frame

This is the skate’s real innovation. Unlike earlier versions, it is gilded and its strength has been increased through the use of a new material, aluminium 6060 (although I’d have my doubts about doing jumps on the Twister +…)

A round piece of metal has been inserted to make it easier to screw the frame to the boot and adjust its position. The profile of the frame has been modified, but the base is still the same size – a significant reassurance for precision skating.

However during our tests we noticed something that has been confirmed by some members of the Tecnica team: the frame’s fore/aft positioning on the sole of the boot is problematic. More on this later...

Screws and wheels

The axles are one-piece, threaded at one end which screws into the frame.

The wheels (maximum diameter 80mm) aren’t great and you’ll want to upgrade them fairly quickly for a better ride.

The bearings are ABEC 7 (yes, an improvement on ABEC 5). Not that most skaters will notice the difference…

Other parts

The Twister + shock absorber is the same as on the 2002 model. It isn’t very big, but then these are not street skates and aren’t designed to take a huge amount of punishment. The insoles, also unchanged from last year, are rigid and comfortable and stand up to wear.

The lacing system has been updated and has fewer eyelets than previously. Actually, these are too far apart, making it difficult to tighten the skates. (Mathieu Prudent tells me that he improved things by adding a threading point between each existing eyelet)

The ride

The instant you start to roll in the Twister +, you’ll recognise its potential for precision skating. The boots aren’t as comfortable as those of other Tecnicas, but they are very immediate. Because your feet are in close contact with the boot, you feel the ride better. The skates are responsive, (although you’d be advised to put different wheels on).

As far as slalom is concerned… hey, they’re Twisters. THE skate.

In fact, everything would be for the best in the best of all possible worlds if we hadn’t run up against a MAJOR problem when we compared these skates with their predecessors.

When I got moving in the skates, I had no difficulty balancing on the back wheels – but considerable difficulty on the front wheels. At first I thought I just wasn’t up to it, or maybe that old age was kicking in, but then the penny dropped…

The problem

The old Twister was a great skate for slalom because it was perfectly balanced, with the frame precisely centred on the boot. And that’s exactly what’s changed on the Twister +.

It all depends upon your shoe size:

  • with small sizes (37-40, up to UK size 6), the frames (according to Séverine Thomas) are set too far back
  • with medium sizes (41-43, UK 7-9), they are too far towards the front (our review pair were a 41.5)
  • with large sizes (44, UK 10, and up), they are fine!

 

The solution?

Some people will hardly notice that the frame is set forward. The issue is only likely to affect those who have got used to skating in the old Twisters.

There’s no way you want to make holes in the boot, so to solve this you’ll have to drill the frame. The best way is to position the frame under the sole of the shell, mark it with a pencil and drill a hole. Careful, though: the bigger the hole, the more it will weaken the frame.

The alternative solution is to fit 2002 frames to the Twister +.

Conclusion

So now you know all there is to know about the Twister +. In conclusion, I just like to say that this skate still is and always will be the reference for slalom. Just thank your lucky stars that it’s available in France, because this isn’t the case everywhere and a significant number of skaters from other countries have to make the pilgrimage to Paris specifically to buy them and take them back home!

Text: Walid and the RollerFR team

Thanks to:

  • Vincent Vu Van Kha for the frames, the ideas and for his time
  • Mathieu Prudent for his observations on the skates
  • Xavier Sermont for checking the original text
  • Tecnica France for sending the skates so quickly and for dealing with my questions.

 

Edited English translation: Donald Hounam

 

 

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