Recently I helped a friend put a brand new mallet together. I won’t name names but the shaft still required a drop-nut type of assembly, and the head didn’t come predrilled. I know there can be something cathartic about building your own mallet before a big tournament, but I felt like I was in the dark ages have to align a drop-nut perfectly, having to line up holes in the head so that the shaft sites at a perfect 90 degree angle. It was a comforting reminder that Fixcraft has brought us into a golden age of bike polo equipment. Here is our review of the amazing pieces that make up a complete hardcourt bike polo specific mallet:
It seems to be standard these days for blogs to receive a product, test it for a couple weeks and then write a review about it. We understand that a lot of people in hardcourt bike polo don’t have a lot of money to spend on products, and it is for that reason that we choose to thoroughly test all products before posting about a review. So here it is, our one year review of DZR’s Marco bike polo shoe:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!