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Review: DZR Mamba X

October 4, 2012

After my interview with Fabio at DZR, I mentioned how I would love to do a review of the Mamba X shoes from the perspective of a polo player, and he graciously sent a pair for me to try out. I received the shoes back at the end of June and now have played four tournaments and numerous pick-up games on the shoes, so I feel like it is time to give the Mamba X a thorough review. The review consists of three sections that I feel are the most important situations a polo player would find themselves wearing the Mamba X: Commuting, Playing Polo and the After Party. Whether it’s running errands or waking up for a “9 a.m.” start time of a tournament, the Commuting section will discuss the shoe as a daily vessel. In the Playing Polo section, I will discuss how well the shoe handles getting hit by balls or mallets, how it holds up hoping around and all the other polo specific questions. In the final section, I will discuss how the shoe holds up going from an aggressive sports shoe to a shoe that you’d see cutting a rug on the dance floor at a polo After Party.

 

COMMUTING:

Before taking a knife into the sole of the shoe, to prepare it for clipless riding, I wanted to test the shoe as, simply, a shoe. My first thought when putting them on was how they didn’t feel like my old pair of clipless shoes. Yes, they are heavier than the Vans that I typically wear commuting, but these felt so much lighter than the cement brinks that were my old mountain biking clipless shoe. A quick walk around the block revealed the shoes perfectly executed stiff but flexible sole. After the quick jaunt, I hoped on my commuter bike and took the long way around town to run errands so I could get a good feel for the shoes. The Mamba X has a padded upper that allows for great comfort while using toe cages or pedal straps. The stiff sole showed its true self while I did some intensive pedal mashing. The stiffness mixed with the gummy rubber compound allowed for what felt like more power with every pedal stroke. I even took these shoes for some creek exploring before cutting out the bottom, and they withstood the test of walking on rocks for a long distance without losing their comfort. So, whether you are looking to pick up the Mamba X as a polo shoe to use with platform pedals, a stylish daily commuter, something for BMXing/FGFS/mountain biking/etc. these clipless shoes will work great as a normal shoes until you are ready to cut into their sole and reveal their true purpose.

 

PLAYING POLO:

After wearing the shoes around for a week or so, fully intact and falling in love with them, I decided it was time to cut into the sole and see how they held up on the courts. In my old shoes, you had to remove the insoles of the shoes and hold the cleat anchors in place to screw the cleats in. When I took the insoles out of the Mamba X’s I discovered DZR’s brilliance in water proofing the cleat cutout. They have a plastic piece glued to the inside of the cutout that goes over the cleat anchor to prevent water seeping in through the bottom. The plastic piece also held the anchor in place so that it didn’t slide around like the ones in my previous shoes. I was used to running my cleat at the top of the cleat guide (closer to my toes, for more pedal mashing power), but in trying this with the Mamba X’s, I ran into my first problem with the shoes. I found myself having a really hard time clipping into my pedals with the cleat at the top. The sole of the shoe is so thick (for good reason) that it made clipping in during a fast pace situation—like a polo game—very difficult. To fix this, I simply moved the cleat closer to the back of the cleat tracking and now have no problems clipping in and out. The shoe’s metal reinforced Nylon shank allows for intense pedal mashing and hopping around without worry of the shank breaking and the cleat coming off, like I’ve seen with other shoes. Another advantageous element of the Mamba X, for bike polo, is the heavily padded ankle support. Not only is there support to prevent the accident ankle roll while dabbing, but the thick padding protects from the hardest of shots. I’ve personally experienced being hit in the ankle with both a ball and a mallet while in these shoes, and it feels like being punched by an old lady with a pillow wrapped around her fist.

 

AFTER PARTY:

The first thing I noticed while wearing this shoe out post polo tournament or pick-up, is that I didn’t feel that I needed to change shoes for many different reasons. The first of which is the deep sole of the shoe. This allows you to bar-hop, cut rugs, climb into a dumpster party, etc. without wearing down your cleats. Also, there isn’t that annoying walking on broken glass sound of walking on cleats. The shoes are extremely breathable for such a padded shoe. You can wear the shoes for a full day of polo, head to the after party and then back home without accumulating too much foot sweat. This was a major problem I had with previous clipless shoes. Before I felt like I had to take my shoes off after every game I played to give my feet a chance to breath, but with the Mamba X’s your feet breathe easier. The only other disadvantage I’ve seen to these shoes versus other clipless shoes is that the mid-sole pulls away from the body of the shoe. Unlike many shoes, the Mamba X does not have a stitch to connect the mid-sole to the body, and instead relied on glue alone. I’ve had my shoes for four months now and it isn’t too bad, but while at the World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championships, I saw some other shoes that were worse than mine. One person even went through and sewed the midsole to the body himself so that he wouldn’t have any problems. Outside of that, these are not only a practical shoe but a fashionable one as well. In their sexy charcoal blue color, they are something you could wear out and not feel like “that guy” wearing a cycling shoes while not cycling. An added bonus is the reflective strip on the back of the shoe that not only allows you to be seen while drunkenly biking home, but lets your shoes stand out in the strobe lights of the after party dance party!

While I was unable to move the cleat to the top of the shank’s tracks like I was used to, and despite the mid-sole coming slightly unglued where it meets the body of the shoe, I still feel the trade off of having a breathable shoe with a stiff sole that flexes enough for walking, a water proofing over the cleat anchor, heavy duty ankle protection, a thick sole, a sturdy shank that won’t break while hopping, and it is stylish on top of all of that, makes the Mamba X the best shoe on the market for bike polo players. For only $120, this shoe will take you anywhere you and your bike want to go, so no need for a different clipless shoe for each of life’s adventures. I’d give these shoes 9 out of 10 easily!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Culture, Product

Sneak Peek from Fixcraft!

September 18, 2012

For several months now, Fixcraft and Tree Bicycle Co. have been working together to create the ultimate in polo bike gear. They have been working to revolutionize the polo frame, fork, hubs, seat post, cranks, bottom bracket, and who knows what else! Today they released a sneak peek of what is to come. Be sure to LIKE Fixcraft on Facebook to keep up with all the developments.

In the meantime, here is just a taste:

Culture, Media

Vitamin Water goes Bike Polo

September 11, 2012

Heist Projects (a video production company based out of Brooklyn, NY) recently did a piece on bike polo for the Vitamin Water: gamesonlybetter web series. Check out the video on Heist’s website here:

Vitamin Water: Bike Polo

Here’s to hoping that Vitamin Water becomes an official sponsor of bike polo in the near future! And hopefully doing a better job at it than Banana Boat.

Culture, Media, Video

Bike Polo Doc Premiers soon!

June 24, 2012
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I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems like I’ve seen several Hardcourt documentary trailers on vimeo and youtube that never materialized.  Hit ‘Em In the Mouth is challenging that notion by having a real premier, and it’s right around the corner.  If you are in or near NYC GET ON THIS!

“Hit ‘Em In The Mouth”, a documentary exploring the culture of Seattle Bike Polo, the birthplace of the current polo craze, will enjoy a World Premiere, June 30, 2pm in NYC at Anthology Film Archives. We need your help to get as many people in the NYC area to come see our film.

The movie centers around the dominant figures of the scene, including the father of hardcourt bike polo Matt Messenger, the world champions Team Smile, and the up-and-coming players of the city. Their stories intertwine as we follow the drama through the National Championships and a battle with the city of Seattle for a permanent space to play.

“Hit ‘Em In The Mouth” Trailer from Matthew on Vimeo.

Culture, Hot Tip, Reviews

Comprehensive airfare travel w/ bike matrix

June 12, 2012
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The qualifying season may be winding down, but we all know that bike polo travel happens all year round. It seems the cheapest and/or most convenient way to travel to tournaments these days is flying, and since we couldn’t find an extensive list of airline bike policies, we figured we would make one for all of you guys! Please note that with the fluctuating economy these policies can change at any time so be sure to check the airlines website before booking your flight. If you have any updated information or information for an airline that we did not list, please feel free to let the poloverse know via the comment section!

Our top picks for US/Canada:

  • Southwest:  If you can break your bike down into two boxes that are less than 50 pounds and less than 62 linear inches then you will get your bike flown for free.
  • Frontier:  Only $20 to fly your bike and their flights are cheap as well. Just be sure to keep it under 50lbs!

Our top pick for Europe:

  • British Airways:  They will fly your bike for free as long as it’s less than 23kg!

US/Canada:

Air Canada

  • $50 each way
  • No oversize charge applies to bicycles
  • Each bicycle counts as one piece of baggage towards the maximum number of checked bags allowed by your fare type
  • Bicycles are accepted on a space available basis only and should be pre-registered at time of booking

AirTran

  • $20 checked bag fee + $50 for the bicycle
  • No mention of overweight or oversized fees applying to bikes

Alaska Airlines

  • Must weigh less than 50lb and be less than 62 linear inches or charges will be applied
  • $20 for the checked bag, plus $50 if overweight and $50 if too big

American Airlines

  • If it is less than 50lb and less than 62 linear inches, then it’s only $25
  • If over 50lb and/or 62 linear inches, then $150
  • Maximum weight and size is 70lb and 126 inches

Delta Air Lines

  • $150 each way for a bicycle
  •  It cannot exceed 70lb and 115 linear inches

Frontier Airlines

  • $20 as long as it is under 50lb, otherwise there is a $75 additional fee
  • No oversize charges apply (there is a max. size of 109 linear inches)

JetBlue Airways

  • $50 for domestic flights each way and $80 international flights each way
  • Up to 99lb allotted for the bike
  • If less than 50lb and fewer than 62 linear inches than counts as a normal checked bag, and the first checked bag is free!

Porter Airlines

  • The first piece of checked luggage is free as long as it’s less than 23kg (50lb) and 62 linear inches
  • $5 for every kg over 23kg

Southwest Airlines

  • Two free checked bags under 50lb and 62 linear inches (so break your bike down to two boxes!)
  • $50 each way for overweight or oversized bags.

United Airlines

  • For travel between US, Canada, and Puerto Rico there is $100 charge; all other travel has a $200 charge.
  • If under 50lb and 62 linear inches, then normal checked bagged fees apply

US Airways

  • $200 each way for bicycles over 62 linear inches
  • If under 62 linear inches, then normal checked bagged fees apply

Virgin America/Atlantic

  • $50 each way for international flights if under 50lb
  • Add an additional $25 for domestic flights. This does not apply to first class passengers

Europe:

Aer Lingus

  • There is a €40 charge for bikes on flights between Ireland, UK, and Europe. Add an additional €15 is charged if over 20kg
  • For flights to the USA, there is a free allowance as long as it is under 23kg, otherwise a €50 fee is applied

Air Berlin

  • If the bike is registered up to 48 hours before take-off of a flight in Europe, than a €50 charge is applied. If done at check in, then it is €100.
  • For flights to the USA, a €75 fee is charged if registered 48 hours before take-off. If done at check in, then the fee is €125

BMI

  • Checked bags are £30 as long as they are under 20kg in Economy class. An additional £30 will be charged if over between 20kg and 32kg.
  • For Business class, there is no charge is under 20kg, and £30 if between 20kg and 32kg.

British Airways

  • One free checked bag as long as it is under 23kg and less than 130 linear inches

EasyJet

  • There is a £25 fee for bikes up to 32kg

Iberia Group

  • At least one free checked bag if under 23kg and 62 linear inches, unless in Tourist Express class
  • There is a £75 fee if the bike exceeds these dimensions

Jet2

  • For £40, you get up to 20kg and 108 linear inches of allowance. If over weight, it costs an additional £12 per kg

Lufthansa

  • One free check bag up to 23kg, if it exceeds this than there is a €50 charge for continental flights and a €100 for intercontinental flights.

Ryanair

  • If declared when booking online, a €50 charge will be applied for up to 30kg. There is a €20 charge for everyone kg over 30, with a maximum weight of 32kg.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines

  • One free bag checked bag if under 23kg and 62 linear inches, and only €30 if over (up to 32kg and 109 linear inches)
  • Fill out this form when booking your flight http://www.flysas.com/en/unconnected_pages/Ask-Eva/special-baggage/

Swiss

  • One free bag that is under 50lbs and less than 62 linear inches
  • If it is over the free baggage limitations, then it will cost €50 for flights within Europe and €100 for intercontinental

Turkish Airlines

  • For European flights, there are unlimited free bags as long as each bag is no more than 20kg. There is a €30 charge if the limitations are exceeded.
  • For flights to and from the Americas, they allow 2 free checked bags as long as the bags don’t exceed 23kg and 62 linear inches. There is a €60 charge if the limitations are exceeded