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Product, Reviews

Review: DZR Link Lime

January 17, 2014

Last year was hard for me and shoes, which I’m blaming on just getting too rad. In March, I came back from New Zealand with my DZR Link Charcoal looking like this:
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After only 8 months or so, I needed to use tape to make sure my foot did not blow out the front. The vegan glue of the Link Charcoal didn’t hold the sole onto the shoe body, just like Aaron’s vegan DZR Mamba X. Then in the Spring another tragedy struck when my Chrome Midway Pro shoes broke on me during a training ride:
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Bummer after bummer in the rad looking shoes department lead me to the DZR Link Lime shoes. I was a bit skeptical after the glue on my Charcoals turned my shoe into a foot puppet but I was ready to give the Link Lime a go since they didn’t have the vegan glue. Here’s a fresh pick when I got them in early April:
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Recently DZR released the Marco, which unfortunately does not come in female friendly sizes (although a champ on the inside assures me that we can expect smaller sizes this spring). In the mean time, the DZR shoe that can be considered their bike polo shoe for women, is their Link Lime (LL). After over 9 months of playing on the LLs, they are looking and feeling way better than the Charcoals, and the following is a quick review of things that I find important in a polo shoe:

Durability:
Unlike the Charcoal, the LLs glue has hung in there pretty fantastically, particularly where the sole meets the material of the shoe around the toe. I have actually had no glue issues with this shoe aside from the area around cleat, which as of yet has had no affect on my riding or playing. So far it has been pretty durable as a shoe; I’m not worried about it coming apart under my feet while I’m playing polo. The only real issue I’ve had is with the material on top of the shoe where the grey leather has started breaking off, which only really affects the aesthetic look of the shoe and not the shoe performance.

Handle the Elements:
After one rain, my Charcoals started deteriorating in a bad way particularly around the air vent holes on the top of the shoe, which was due to the synthetic vegan material they used for that shoe. The LLs are leather with suede lining, which has held up better in the elements, but I also live in the Bay Area where it seldom rains so maybe I’m not an expert with this.  

Polo Friendly:
What I’m looking for in a polo is a high quality shoe that can handle my  plentiful falls and general getting rad when necessary. These shoes have been great for this so far. The extra padding on the sides helps to protect my ankles for the most part, but we all know that there is no real protection against shots from Jake Langdon now is there?

As most cycling shoes aren’t super comfortable to stand around in, I am usually looking for shoes that are comfortably off the court as well, and the LLs certainly are. At first, they were a bit snug but with after a couple wears, the LLs fit perfectly. They stay tight around your foot while giving you plenty of room for your toesies.

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Here are what some other polo ladies are saying about the Link Limes:

Oleha Riden – “The Links were on my wishlist for awhile. Even though I purchased some snazy leather DZR Kowloons to bomb around the city in style, I was still longing for something more durable that I could use for polo. Thanks to Shelley not fitting in size 37, I got to capitalize on her mis-fortune and snag a pair early on last season. Overall the shoes were a win for me! The ankle support, Velcro strap to cinch laces in place, and thicker sole contributed to comfortable performance on my bike, especially when I was still learning how to function “clipped in”. My only quality critic would be the laces; they sort of disintegrated within a few months, and as much as I liked to think I have crazy arm muscle strength, I think it was more poor quality of the laces. My easy fix was just to swap a pair of laces from some Nike skate shoes that I had lying around.”

Jillian Browy’s review can be found here: http://dogsoccerenthusiast.com/reviews.html

To try out a pair for yourself, head over to DZR’s Link Lime page!

Party On Wayne.
Sam

Product, Reviews

2013 Product of the Year!

December 31, 2013

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2013 was a great year for bike polo products, especially mallet heads. We saw so many new mallet heads hit the market this year that it’s going to be hard to even name them all. While some companies (mostly PBJ, BOON, and arguably Arena and Portland Bike Polo) came out with heads this year and economically dabbed before gaining any real ground in the polo market, most of the big household polo brands produced heads that thrived this season.

This year Northern Standard busted out their first production run head with the Hourglass (although, I’m pretty sure they don’t officially call it the Hourglass). In the same vein, Modifide Bike Polo Equipment unleashed their Arc polo head, in it’s four and five inch versions. Following the two new heads in 2013 trend, Milwaukee Bicycle Co. dropped their Small and Large Mouth hammers to accompany their King’s Crown connection system (our favorite product of 2012). We saw small changes from companies like Fixcraft, who transformed their classic 2500 head into a light Tournament edition, to huge changes from Milk Bike Polo and Magic Bike Polo. Both companies dropped nearly 100% new lines for the 2013 season.

With so many new heads out this year, how could we choose just one to stand above the rest? All of the heads have an equal place of importance in the polo market; some are great for tournaments, some are pick-up perfect, some are meant for newbies looking to learn ball control, some are used, for good reason, by World Champions. That is why our product of the year isn’t a head at all. And while I was very tempted to grant the title to a clothing item (like Modifide’s sick 5-panel hat, Magic’s Mosquito baseball hat, or Fixcraft’s hard-to-keep-on-the-shelf Means hoodie), I felt it was best to give it to the only non-mallet head product that was 100% designed for bike polo. Not only that, I wanted to give it to the biggest game changer to come to the polo market since last years product of the year. And must like last years product of the year, it is also a mallet attachment system.

The Fixcraft Connect system is hands down the best product to hit the courts, ever. The whole Fixcraft team has spent years trying to perfect the mallet head mounting system (check out this Instagram photo for proof), and I think they’ve finally done it. Unlike last year’s product of the year, the Connect is non-proprietary system that can work with any shaft on the market (watch Fixcraft’s promo video for the Connect to see just how this is possible). Not only is it universal, but it’s light as hell too! The cleat weighs in at only 3.5 grams; add in a 1.5 gram aluminium bolt and you are ready to slay with only five added grams to the end of your mallet. If that’s too light for you, Fixcraft also includes a 4.3 gram steel bolt. Which ever bolt you choose, the complete Connect system weighs less than Milwaukee’s Kings Crown and won’t pull through the bottom of your mallet, like in the drop nut mallet head attachment method.

Us at 3-2-1 Polo! (and I’m sure the rest of the Poloverse as well) owe a huge “Thank You” to Sean, Jim, Sam and everyone else over at Fixcraft for using their time, money, and patience to bring such an amazing product to the Poloverse. You all are helping this hobby of ours actually become a sport, and we appreciate it. We can’t wait to see all of the great things that you come out with next year!

Editor’s Note: I want to point out that I excluded DZR’s Marco from this list because I was unable to try them out this year. So while they came out this year, I’ll add them to my “Products of 2014″ list.

Product, Reviews

Review: Mamba X 2.0

October 3, 2013

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At the beginning of June we introduced to you the new Mamba X 2.0 (check that out HERE). The Mamba X 2.0 was the result of DZR sending the original Mamba X back to the drawing board after the outer sole’s vegan glue starting giving out. For the 2.0, DZR decided to add a stitch that connected the body of the shoe to the outer sole. This allowed them to still be able to offer a vegan shoe but in a new and improved way.

After four months of playing on these shoes at tournaments and in soggy Portland, Oregon weather, the Mamba X 2.0 get the official 3-2-1 Polo seal of approval! When we reviewed the original Mamba X after four months (see that review HERE), the outer sole had already started to peel away from the shoe’s body. 3-2-1 Polo was still ran out of the Midwest (where we rarely play polo in the rain) at that time, so for the Mamba X 2.0 to not show any signs of coming undone after a bout in Cascadia, is a huge accomplishment for DZR.

Another problem that I saw in my old Mamba X’s was that the Achilles Notch started to split down the center from putting the shoe on, but there are zero signs of this happening in the new shoe. I don’t believe that anything was changed here, design wise, but since this is something that is doing much better for the new 2.0 Mamba X, I figured it was worth pointing out. It is also worth pointing out that the laces strap on the new Mamba X shoes no sign of damage. As you can see from the first link that we shared, the stitching came off of the strap and the layers started to split. Again, there is nothing different about the straps design (that I’m aware of) from the original Mamba X to the 2.0 version, but I feel that it’s worth noting all of ways that the new version is outlasting the original.

One minor problem that we found in both versions of the Mamba X, is that the ankle protection on the inside of the shoe is too puffy. Actually, this problem only persists on the ankle protection of the right (drive side) shoe. I’m not sure if this has to do with it being on the drive side or not, but it is worth bringing attention. As you can see from the pictures below, no real damage is being done; it is just rubbing the surface of the fabric away. After a year in my original Mamba X shoes this problem never advanced past cosmetic damage, so I imagine that will be the same case for the 2.0 version as well.

All in all, the new Mamba X 2.0 is perfect animal friendly clipless polo shoe. It is shaping up to outlast it’s predecessor and with the stitched outer sole, it could even outlast the horse hoof glued Mamba Blacks. As my good buddy LeVar Burton would say, “But don’t take my word for it,” so pick up a pair for yourself and see how they hold up!

Head on over to the DZR website to snag a pair!

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Product, Reviews

MKE Small Mouth Review

September 20, 2013

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Last spring Milwaukee Bicycle Company sent us their Small and Large Mouth Monoheads. Since we received these heads at the beginning of the tournament season, we wanted to hit the court with the Large Mouth (tournament head) first. After falling in love with it, we pumped out that review HERE. At the end of the qualifying reason, 3-2-1 Polo found it’s review moving from the Midwest to Cascadia, thus leaving the Small Mouth review on hold. Now that we are all settled in at our new home in the Northwest, we are ready to bring you out Small Mouth Monohead review!

For the Small Mouth review are we doing something a little different. With so many awesome heads on the market, we want to standardize the reviews so that you, the reader, are able to distinguish which products you want to try. Here is the template that will be seen on all head reviews from here on out:
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- Head Name and Info:
MKE’s Small Mouth Monohead, 83 grams, 5″ long, 2.5″ outer diameter, 2.05″ inner diameter.
– Did you make any alterations to the Head?
Nope.
– How long have you been using it?
Three months of pick-up twice a week.

1) Shooting
1 – – – 2 – – – 3 – – – 4 – – – 5
The capped end’s shooting power is on par with a bicycle kick from Liu Kang. Shots come off head straight and level so no worries about shooting over the net.

2) Ball Handling/Control
1 – – – 2 – – – 3 – – – 4 – – – 5
I rated it three, not because it has poor ball handling abilities but because all cylindrical heads control the ball the same way. It’s not any worse than any other cylindrical head.

3) Scooping
1 – – – 2 – – – 3 – – – 4 – – – 5
The lip makes it a lot harder to scoop the ball than it’s Large Mouth brother. If you are one that hits the court on your own to work on scooping skills then I’m sure this head will be just fine, but for your average Jane, this head does not make scooping easy.

4) Receiving Passes
1 – – – 2 – – – 3 – – – 4 – – – 5
When gliding the head across the court, you can tell that they didn’t skimp out on cheap material. This high grade UHMW allows for smooth catches of the ball as well. No chips or misshapen sides to worry about.

5) Longevity
1 – – – 2 – – – 3 – – – 4 – – – 5 
The only word that comes to mind when thinking about the longevity of this head is “WOW!” I’ve been playing with this head for just over three months now and I’m still on the first rotation in the head. Mind you, I’ve been using this head at pick up with a rough surface, twice a week, without a need to rotate. That’s hard to beat.

- Are there any specific faults/defects that you’ve noticed?
I’ve found no faults or defects in this head thus far.

- Would you recommend any changes in the next version of the head?
The only thing I can recommend is that they add three rotations to the head. Right now they only have holes at 12 and 6, and then 3 and 9. With two rotations you miss out on usable parts of the head.

- Would you use another one of these heads? Explain.
I would definitely use this head again. It is going to be my go to pick-up head from now on. Lightweight and will last so long that given the right pick-up surface, you could use it for a year. That sounds like $22 well spent.

– Would you recommend these heads to a friend? Explain.
Definitely, for the same reasons as why I would use the head again.

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Head over to Ben’s Cycle and pick up a Small Mouth Monohead!

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Product, Reviews

Mamba X Gets a Facelift

June 19, 2013

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Last October I wrote a review of the Mamba X shoes by DZR (you can find that review HERE). At the time, the shoes had gone through four months of pick up twice a week, as well as four different tournaments and they help up very well. I didn’t experience the problem with the outer sole like I had seen on other pairs of the shoes. How quickly things changed though. About a month after the review was posted, the glue on both soles started to come undone. To save the shoes, I took them to a local shoe repair shop and had them re-glued.

Jump to today, one year after receiving the shoes, and the story has changed 10014_4931296242448_1225402707_ndrastically. The re-glue job on the left shoe has held pretty well, but the right shoe is another story. All of the layers of the sole have come apart, and they are barely wearable. One hop while clipped in could result in sole ripping off completely. I brought this problem up to Brian Dillman at DZR, he informed me that the company was well aware of the problem and had actually already fixed it!

The reason it was happening was because the vegan glue used on the Mamba X couldn’t hold up in a high octane atmosphere, like on a bike polo court. DZR wanted to keep the Mamba X a vegan shoe so changing the glue was out of the question; instead they simply added a stitch around the outer sole. This is such an easy solution to a major problem, and we are glad to see DZR facing the problem head on and fixing it. It’s always great when independent companies recognize problems in their products and fix them, instead of putting the blame elsewhere. Kudos DZR!

If you moral beliefs guide your shoe shopping or you just want to support an awesome company who does things right, then head over to DZR’s website and pick up a pair of the new Mamba X shoes. Be sure to tell them 321Polo sent you!

We will be posting a review in the coming months.

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