This review was reprinted with permission from XC Ottawa.
Today, for one day, I had the opportunity to test the newest product to come from one of our terrific supporters, Canadian Wintersports. They sent us the newest rollerski from Elpex, the Team Carbon A.R.M. (Advanced Resin Matrix), and I was able to take them for a spin tonight. I was so excited I had to write a product review about them.
The Team Carbon A.R.M. is a classic rollerski. It is manufactured using some kind of high-quality carbon composite frame. The entire frame, including the wheelwells and rain guards, is a one-piece carbon construct. I found it significantly lighter than my current classic Elpex rollerskis. The Team Carbon has 7 millimetres of camber, and is intended to flex like a normal ski to give a bit of a ski sensation. It has the same wheels as the normal Elpex classic rollerskis. The pair I tested had Salomon Pilot Classic bindings on them, forcing me to borrow my brother's duathlon boots so I could ski on them.
Enough of the details: about the test . . .
These are, without a doubt, the best rollerskis I have ever skied on. I took them for a quick one-hour jaunt directly from my house (Sandy Hill), through the U of O and down to the bikepath, up through the NAC and under the bridge by the locks, and down the locks by the Parliament Buildings. I did a sprint workout on the parking lots behind Parliament, and on the uphill road out of the parking lots. I tested these, therefore, on just about every kind of surface except sand and loose gravel; they were exposed to inlaid red brick and stone, cobblestone, cracked pavement, rough pavement, smooth pavement, sidewalk, cement, concrete, metal grills and sewers, curbs, etc. I also tested them at slow and fast speeds, explosive and smooth tempos, and uphills and downs. They did great. They were smoother than any ski I have ever skied on. The carbon ate up the bumps and flattened out the ride far better than I expected.
Yesterday, on the same paths to start, I did a 2.5 hour skate rollerski with aluminum shaft skis; my legs were sore from the vibrations. Not here; no vibrations to speak of. The skis tracked like a dream; none of the sketchy side-pulls I am used to from classic rollerskis. These were dead straight. Control was beautiful: they were easy to turn, forgiving on tough turns, consistent and predictable, and easy to slow.
They were particularly impressive on the sprints; when I leaned into the doublepole and powered off the legs, I could feel them flex up and down, giving a bit of ski-jump. When I moved into my classic stride sprints, I was impressed with how easily they came forward. Usually on rollerskis, my pushoff and landing is jerky because the skis tend to bounce with the force I'm applying; these took the road smoothly and pumped off it well. I could feel the flex when I compressed.
In short, I've never skied on a better pair of rollerskis, skate or classic. Usually I'm grumpy about rollerskiing, but honestly, these skis make rollerskiing a whole lot more fun. Even enjoyable, in my contrary opinion. I could cruise on these skis for hours, and feel good about it; I would love to do a time trial on these too. And another bonus: they look wicked space-age.
The only drawback I can think of is the price. At more than twice the price of a regular classic ski, these are expensive pieces. But, for the serious racer with a bit of spending money, something to seriously consider. After all, our winters aren't getting any longer... Check 'em out at Canadian Wintersports or Fresh Air Experience.