There are many things about bike polo equipment moving out of the DIY world and into the business world that gets me excited. Seeing how a company or entrepreneur approaches a certain problem and solves it, or compounds it. Seeing how the players determine what sticks and what gets left behind. God, the trends and how quickly that info is traded coast to coast and turned canon by the end of a week. That’s not to mention the financial aspect and what the future holds for our sport as money is gravitating towards core suppliers and away from street hockey companies that could give two shits about us. So listen, I’m a fan of companies and individuals making things specifically for polo. From capriotti caps to the first 1/8″ mallet head, I look at every piece as worthy of my polo museum I’ve building upstairs at work (ok so it’s just a box of junk).
Then there is Malletheadz, a company as relentless as they are confusing. If nothing else, they are the most tenacious company in polo today.
Like most other folks who follow #bikepolo on twitter, I saw many, many tweets by them late last year. Very earnest, and very protective of their “proprietary mounting system”. There were no pictures of the mallets anywhere to be found, and if any player or blog asked for one for review the answer was always a firm “NO, Buy one”. The sleuth in me had to know more about this mysterious mallet system that was ground breaking yet still undiscovered by any single person I know on the internets. Please understand that I fully expected to get this Malletheadz, and see that it’s an OEM ski pole on some hdpe. No harm in offering that. As many mallets as I’ve made for folks, I can see how there is a market for a finished piece. I fully expected to review it as such and move on. But what I got, it was so not that. At all.
After I came to terms that I was going to have to pony up some money to write you this review, I contacted the folks at Malletheadz. They quickly directed me to their site, and I filled out my order. After contacting them when I couldn’t find a way to pay online, they notified me that they ONLY accept personal checks (they now accept paypal). I thought to myself “kiss this money goodbye homie”, but my curiosity was too strong. I wrote a check and put it in an envelope like I was ordering Dischord vinyl back in 1990. The folks at Malletheadz were super fast with communication, let me know when to expect the mallets, and I was relieved that I had no problems. I ordered the Malletheadz special, which is 2 complete mallets for $29.95 and it came in about a week just as promised.
Now what I got was unfortunately really bad. It was so bad that it separated during testing in the most dangerous of ways. In my attempt to get clarification on how a customer is to take advantage of the lifetime warranty Malletheadz offers,I was eventually greeted by the of the owner of the company. My question was clear “What do I tell our readers to do when the head falls off”. I’m a little more than amazed that I got a response saying that they see now there is a fatal flaw in the design and that they are suspending all orders until they get it resolved. I would even get an updated model asap for my patience. What did I expect really? Nothing. So, I’ll be damned if they didn’t actually suspend sales for almost 3 weeks, and just the other day my new Malletheadz rig showed up in the mail. It’s clear that they want to make a quality product and be involved in this sport. I’m just not convinced that they actually play the sport and understand how a mallet is supposed to play, look, or even feel in your hand.
Let’s start with everyone’s favorite polo talking point…
WEIGHT: One of my favorite things to listen to, is people complain about how heavy a super light set up is. I sometimes wonder if the vocal weight weenie even has complete control of their faculties. I think, “do these people cut the sleeves off their hoodies because it’s too heavy to lift their arms?” Now, I want to be clear, I am NO weight weenie, but the weight of the completed Malletheadz polo mallet is 1 pound 1 oz. That’s almost twice what a standard competing pro set up weighs (average 10 oz or less) . It’s completely unusable in a competitive or even comfortable pick up situation. There’s just no other way to put it. The coupler bolt is where most of the weight is, and then add on 1/4″ wall un-drilled UHMW at 6″ and you can imagine what kind of behemoth we are talking about here.
CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN: The mallet head itself is a small 2″ diameter UHMW head that has a type of coupler through it. One end of the coupler is inserted into the straight aluminum pole and attached with small rivets of some sort and then covered in heat shrink. The other end is screwed into just one wall of the head and then pinched with a cotter key just on the other side. Now the previous model was bolted through the bottom of the mallet head which added strength, but this new way now puts all of the pressure on the area where the shaft meets the head. After a couple of hits the head became extremely loose, and with a little jiggling the head dislodged from the shaft completely. It creates what I call the dyson ball effect, when you shuffle you can twist the shaft and the head will turn in the direction you twist just like the high end vacuum. So the V2 actually doesn’t fix the problem that V1 had, it only moved the part that fails up the product half an inch. Now, it’s one thing to make a product that isn’t what you prefer, but it’s quite another thing to make a product that would launch a 1 pound UHMW head and bolt at someone because of bad engineering. Because of this fact in itself, we feel that the Malletheadz system is still extremely dangerous and shouldn’t be used until you use a different mounting system.
One other thing about the inside of this head, there are caps glued into the head with little logos glued onto the caps to hide the mounting system. I get the feeling that the folks at malletheadz are protective of this system. They really shouldn’t be. Nothing about it warrants secrecy in any sense of the word. This is what is so frustrating about this product. There are at least 5 solid ways that are pretty light, to mount this head to this pole. It is free knowledge and detailed on this site, league of bike polo, and many others. It just makes no sense to me that they would be so committed to such a heavy and dangerous mounting system when 1 search would profit them many better ideas. Did I mention FOR FREE?!
I want to admit to you right now that I have this habit of grabbing a shaft and pretending I’m the hulk and flexing them a little bit. They never bend, they just flex and go back. Fixcraft, MKE, Northern Standard, I own one of every mallet shaft and they all just flex like they are supposed to. I don’t even know why I do this, don’t ask, it’s probably embarrassing. So as I’m grabbing one of the mallet shafts to move it, I do the same bit. No joke, I bent it in the most horrible of ways just fucking off, taking it from one end of our work to the other to take pictures of it. Now, I would love to believe that I’m just some kind of awesome human version of Bender Rodriguez, and can bend shit to my will, but I know for a fact this isn’t the case. The shaft has to be some sort of plumbing or hardware grade aluminum. It’s just of really low quality. There is no way this would last past the joust in real competition without breaking, bending, or separating. I also want to point out that it’s spray painted. Why is this bothersome? Well because a finished product is powder coated (Mke), anodized (northern standard), or dipped (Fixcraft, eighth inch). Spray paint looks and smells terrible. I just have to say that it does.
DRAWBACKS: The mallets were of such poor quality we couldn’t even test the mallet in normal pick up play. Just everything is still wrong about this V2 product. There is not one single part in the sum of the parts making this mallet that don’t have a major problem or flaw.
Head: diameter way smaller than accepted norm. Unrealistically heavy.
coupler: does not stay attached to head. Heavy.
shaft: low grade aluminum. Bent while screwing around.
DIMENSIONS: In an effort to be thorough…
Head: 2″ outer diameter UHMW, 1/4″ thick wall, 6″ long
Shaft: 38.25″ total length from tip to tip.
Grip: It’s an amf bike grip.
WARRANTY: Malletheadz also has a lifetime warranty advertised on their website. After some back and forth trying to find out exactly what that covers, I was left with a simple “the head only”. I could not get clarification if the head falling off the shaft was covered, but my common sense guess is no. Also I want to point out that competing brand, eighth inch, offers a real deal lifetime warranty on breakage and normal use. So the claim on Malletheadz site of “the ONLY bike polo mallet manufacturer that offers a lifetime warranty” is actually in error. It’s not like anyone would ever wear out the thick wall UHMW ever even if it stayed on the shaft anyways though.
CONCLUSION: We feel it’s the most dangerous mallet system on the market and suggest that Malletheadz make sure their insurance is up to date. We can NOT recommend this product on any level. We encourage the owners and designers of Malletheadz to do a little digging on League of Bike Polo and come out with a much better V3 product soon.
Visit their site by heading over HERE.
DISCLAIMER: 321polo.net ownership was recently transferred to Blue Collar Distro, which also makes bike polo products. We feel you should know since it’s a pretty new development and want to be completely transparent. We approach every review as a fan of Hardcourt and continue to run the site independently.