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Head to Head, Canada Style!

June 12, 2013

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To start off, I want to show you a statement that was posted on the Northern Standard Facebook page:

A note on Modifide and Northern Standard:
Some of you may have recently noticed that products from Northern Standard and Modifide bike polo look remarkably similar. Well. Here is why…

Northern Standard and Modifide are 2 canadian companies who are working to raise the bar in bike polo equipment. As such, we have collaborated and shared resources on a couple recent products. As Northern Standard searched for a reliable mallet head manufacturer, Steve from Modifide lent us a hand by sharing his resource and helping facilitate the production. As for the similarity in designs, this was purely coincidence and just shows that we were on the same page. Since Steve was nice enough to share his mallet head supplier, we returned the favour and made a batch of Modifide shafts using the NS Feather shaft platform. We are confident that you will love all the new products from Modifide and NS.

We dont know what’s going to happen going forward but we are always happy to try new stuff and collaborate when we can. We (bike polo companies) talk to each other and share ideas all the time… it’s how companies evolve and industries are built.”

As admitted by Northern Standard, both companies made similar heads, yet we were944277_10101452151149410_472822027_n still able to find a few differences that set the heads apart  from each other. Both heads are made from 2.5” UHMW and have roughly 2 1/8” openings. They both also weigh pretty much the same (the Arc at 93g and the Hourglass at 96g). Due to the same size, shape, and material, the two heads wore down in pretty much the same fashion. Let’s get to the differences though. The Arc, much like its name, has a smooth curve from end to end while the Hourglass has a double taper. There are only two negatives (besides opinion) I have found with these heads.

603749_10101452151264180_842105030_nFirst, because of the shape of these heads there is a gap between the shaft and the ground, when leaning on your mallet. When you tripod the force is focused down the shaft into the center of the mallet, which could potential lead to problems. Out of the two I give this one to the Arc; the distribution of force is better across an arc than a flat raised surface: that’s just science. You can see in the pictures that the Hourglass already stated to bubble around the shaft base, but both are susceptible to this problem more so than the classic cylindrical head.

Secondly, with a thinner center you would expect that the hourglass/arc shape would create a catcher’s mitt for a ball rolling toward it, but sometimes this wasn’t the case. Every once in a while the shape would act more like a ramp; allowing the ball to pop over the head.  Ball speed was not the causing factor here; it was just the way the ball was sometimes sucked into the thin center of the head.

For the scoopers and ball jointers out there, the Hourglass is the better option.308568_10101452151244220_1883859254_n It has a longer chamfered edge on the open end, which allows for more control. The open end on these mallets needed to be reinforced because the shape yields only two points of contacts with the ground. For this reason, we would not recommend cutting out the inner lip to create a wider opening. Although, we have not tested this, it is just an educated guess.

Finally, let’s get down to the point that these heads were designed for: ball control. When I played with both these heads I noticed some additional control cradling and catching the ball. The ball seems to center itself on the head when carrying it around the court and allowed for a natural defense against opponents trying to strip the ball from you.

So in conclusion, neither one of these is better than the other; they both are a good option for anyone looking to try out this shape. I would not recommend them over the classic cylindrical head, but it is all preference. Look at Chris Williams! That guy won Riverside this year and he still plays with uncapped yellow gas pipe more often than not.

To try them out, check out the Modified store HERE and the Northern Standard store HERE.

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Product, Reviews

A Large Mouth Preview!

May 22, 2013

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Milwaukee’s new Large Mouth Monohead surprised me.

Scoop moves aren’t really my game, but now that I have the bigger mouthed head in my arsenal, the moves feel that much easier. The first thing I tried was scooping the ball from my dominant side and taking it parallel to my bike on my non-dominant side, to pass the ball behind me. It worked. And it was easy. This was something I had never been able to do, and to be able to do it first try with the Large Mouth head says a lot about its scooping ability.

1It feels like I’m more in control of the ball at all times, too. This could be a placebo effect, but I doubt it. The ball reacts faster when you use the open end to pull the ball toward you or dish it away from you, with a slight fling of the wrist. I allowed me to start leaning more aggressively when I was charging the net and to get around defenders more easily on one-on-ones.

The head is light (weighing in at 83 grams), in large part because of its thin wall throughout. At the middle of the 25-inch head, there is a thicker wall inside. This gives the King’s Crown a little more plastic to bite (keep in mind that the thicker middle is nonproprietary to the King’s Crown and the head can be mounted using many different methods). But the thin wall makes the head pretty malleable. If somebody rolls over your head, it’s going to need to be reshaped, which is easy to do by hand, but probably not easy to do mid-game.

Overall, I really dig the Large Mouth head. It is the lightest head of its size on the market and the bigger mouth can be a game changer. It’s encouraged me to try new things; It’s helped me get more comfortable doing them and I’m slowly incorporating them into my game. It’s surprised that I can do some of these things so quickly, but it’s a nice surprise.

Milwaukee Bicycle Co. says these new Large Mouth heads will be out in two or three weeks, so keep your eyes and ears peeled. You’ll want these heads in your arsenal!

Product, Reviews

The Heat Is On

May 15, 2013
Most of the time we call him Dick Kruse for a reason, but sometimes Nick does cool shit; here is one of those times. Check out his thoughts on the new Fixcraft-DGel NAH Hard Durometer Tournament ball:
balls

It’s 87 degrees in Columbia, Missouri today. Aaron and I went out to the park to hit around and gee whiz, it was a sure reminder of what playing in the heat is like. There’s no such thing as a mild summer in the Midwest these days, is there? The idea of a 20 minute competitive game in the middle of the day at the qualifier doesn’t really get me excited, I have to say. Wah wah, Nick. Wah.

Anyway, before we left for the court Aaron grabbed the new Fixcraft-DGel NAH Hard Durometer Tournament ball that Sean threw him last time he was in Lawrence. We had it on the court along with a HOT ball from 2012 and the ‘Canadian orange’ as well.

As expected, around the 5 minute mark, the old HOT ball and the Canadian orange got mushy. We all know what it’s like – sucks, man. But the new Fixcraft Hard Durometer ball seemed to be holding up. As the others became unplayable, we pushed them aside and continued to pass around and work on a few things for about an hour. The new little orange guy remained pretty snappy. When leaving the court, I collected the balls and they were all warm to the touch. Squeezing each one in my hand, I could feel and see the difference. The ball was playable the entire time we were there, and considering the conditions I was really impressed with it.

I don’t mean this to be a conservative radio style advertisement where all the sudden crazy-dude is talking about the gold standard and giving you the phone number for how to buy gold coins and canned foods because “he believes there will be AN ECONOMIC MELTDOWN!!!” I just really think Sean and the Fixcraft crew have been working towards a solution for awhile now, and invested a lot of time into this ball. I am excited to see a real improvement come to fruition.

Although, maybe it’s some divine being’s way of leveling the playing field to prevent us here in Columbia from being TOO good (zing!), summer is surely settling in to sap your skills all over the northern hemisphere. Do yourself a favor and try these suckers out! I think they’re really tight!

-Kruse

Product, Reviews

A Complete MILK Review

April 29, 2013
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Bike polo mallet

Review of the Simple 1.2 head: Their name for this head couldn’t be any more accurate!

Mounting MILK heads to Milk shafts is pretty much as simple as 1, 2, 3 (they even send instructions on how to do it). Put the shaft into one of the pre-drilled holes on the head, make sure the slot in the shaft lines up with the ridge on the head, put the screw through a pre-drilled hole opposite the shaft entrance, and screw down.

That is how simple it would have been if the shafts sent to us were long enough for me. Sadly, it costs extra to ship them at the length I need. Honestly though, this ended up not being a problem. Spending just a few minutes with a hand file, I was able to cut a slot into a Fixcraft LT shaft and it ended up working just the same.

I was happy to be able to review the 2.5″ Simple 1.2  head. I wanted to try out the head that put MILK on the map. After using it at a couple major tournaments, I have to say that I love it. These heads have the best wear I’ve ever seen. The design of the heads allow for more wear on the corners to prolong its life. With three different rotations, you can easily make this head last for a year or longer; through pick up and tournaments alike.

While shipping from Switzerland can be expensive, the longevity and simplicity of these heads are definitely worth the extra few bucks. They will last you longer than other heads on the market and take you a fraction of the time to set up.

Support these awesome Swiss dudes!

 

Reviews for the Ninja 1.1 head and both Shafts: The boys and gals at MILK must know how lazy I am.

Within five minutes, I took the Ninja head and TOUGH shaft out of the box, secured the head to the shaft with hex wrench, put tape and rubber stopper on top. Boom. My mallet was ready to go. I was lucky that the MILK crew cut the shaft exactly to my preferred length, which is the same length they cut shafts to save on shipping. (Shafts in paid orders will come longer than what we received for the review.)MILK bike polo

MILK NinjaBut you’ll definitely have the convenience of a mallet head already cut to 5 inches. And the convenience of having six holes drilled for three rotations. And the mounting equipment already secured in the shaft. Overall, you’ll experience the most convenient assembling process you’ve ever had with a mallet. This is where I see MILK’s prices worthwhile (shipping costs aside). I’ve said before that I’ll pay for convenience, and MILK’s stuff is the epitome of just that.

Not only is the product convenient to set up, it’s perhaps the best stuff to play with. The MILK folks hooked us up with a LIGHT shaft too, but the length was too short for Aaron. So my tournament mallet became the Ninja 1.1 with a light shaft. Holy hell, is it light. The head has been great on all kinds of surfaces, from tennis courts to partially-sanded curling courts. At the latter, there was a ton of dust on the surface, but a few pieces of hockey tape on the bottom kept the head from slipping without affecting my play.

MILK NinjaThe LIGHT shaft stood up well to the likes of some serious Midwest games. Dents are abundant and there’s a slight bend, but nothing that makes it unplayable. The TOUGH shaft is standing the test of time and hacks even better. Fewer dents have shown up and there’s no sign of any bend.

When the funding is available, I’ll be going for more Ninjas. But that begs the question: Why hasn’t MILK set up a U.S. distributor?

If nothing else, we would happy to set up a store for them :)

Until then, go buy MILK Products!

MIIIIIIIIILK!

Product, Reviews

King’s Crown review

April 23, 2013

Crown Nut web

Our review of the Milwaukee Bicycle Company’s King Crown has been long over due, but like I’ve said in the past, we like to make sure we thoroughly play with products before reviewing them. We want to make sure they hold up over time and live up to our initial reactions. Before even reading the reviews, I will say that the King Crown did hold up and it became one of our favorite products to date. When you first see the product on their site you’ll think “$11 for one screw and one nut?!? OMG R U 4 REAL?!?” but I promise you, it is worth your money. Here are our official thoughts:

Review 1: The King’s Crown is a pretty innovative little piece. I originally purchased mine to use on the Arena Alchemy head, but it’ll work well on any thin-walled head. I still have about 36 inches of old, uncapped St. Cago piping that will work perfectly with the Crown. It’s harAlchemy open enddly a complaint, but it can be a bit tricky to get my meaty fingers inside my mallet head to thread the crown on the shaft. It gets easier with practice.

I’d also suggest keeping an eye on the bottom of your mallet to ensure it’s not wearing so much that the teeth poke all the way through. I haven’t had this happen, but be cognizant of when you need to rotate your mallet head. Now that the piece comes in the Monohead complete package, it seems pretty worthwhile. My only other concern is the Crown outlasting the shaft. Once your shaft gets a serious bend, you’ll need another threaded shaft on which to put the Crown. So if a threaded shaft is spent, you can put the same Crown on a new threaded pole.

Overall though, I’d get another one. Hell, the Monohead package is a pretty sweet deal.

Review 2: Is it too late to deem a product as the best of 2012? If not, I’m going to go ahead and say that the Milwaukee King’s Crown attachment system is hands down the best thing to hit the polo market thus far. Most companies are just doing various forms of drop nuts which still leave the problem of the head loosening from the shaft and still leave the potential for nuts putting through the bottom of heads. MBCo reinventing of the wheel allowed for both of these problems to disappear.

I attached my King’s Crown to the first generation Magic Emerald (this head did not have a center ridge like the new ones do). It allowed for secure attachmenIMAG0642t without worries of the bottom of the head bubbling out or the nut pulling through the thin wall. MBCo only sent me one King’s Crown so when I tried to build up a second Emerald Head without the Crown, I had the hardest time. The King’s Crown was a saving grace in this instance.

One concern I could see popping up is that over time the teeth of the crown may poke through the bottom of the head. Natural mallet head wear could cause a tooth or two to start poking through the bottom (it hasn’t happened for me yet and I’ve been using my mallet on it’s first rotation for several months now) so be sure to check it and rotate the head as needed.

The only other concern that comes to mind is the extras that you need to buy with it. By this I mean that for me the King’s Crown worked so well because I had a threaded Milwaukee shaft that would screw into it. So for this crown to work it’s best you need to either order a threaded Milwaukee shaft with your Crown or buy a tool to thread the end of the shaft of your choice. Since some shafts come without the tapered end (i.e. MILK and Northern Standard), you are left a smaller market to choose from.

That being said, I absolutely love my Milwaukee shaft as well. It feels light and I’ve played many tough games in several tournaments using this mallet and the shaft has zero dints. The combo of the shaft, King’s Crown, and the new Small Mouth Head could put Milwaukee Bicycle Company back to the top of the bike polo market.

As Jim Cramer might say on Mad Money, DON’T BE AN IDIOT AND BUY NOW!