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.

Editorial

Frontier Airlines Falls Through

December 30, 2013

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Over the past three years Frontier Airlines has become my favorite airline to use when traveling with a bike. When I first started using the airline they offered the cheapest flights, gave out free cookies and soda, and only charged you $25 each way to check your bicycle. While the prices are still among the cheapest, they stopped giving out free cookies about two years ago, and in early 2013 they decided to stop giving out free drinks. I understand cutting corners a bit to keep their fares low, but how can you not give out free drinks and peanuts? That’s a staple of every airline, ever. Maybe they should spend a little less on giant vinyl animals for their tail wings and instead make it more comfortable for their customers. Anyway, I digress.

On top of saving a few bucks by cutting back the free refreshments, Frontier is looking to make more skrilla off of us traveling cyclists. We’re sad to inform you that the airline is upping their checked bike fee in the coming year. All travelers flying on June 14th, 2014, or later, will have to pay $75 each way. That’s an ass-reaming $50 hike up each way in price! While this is still cheaper than most airlines ($150 on American Airlines, $200 on US Airlines, etc), the price increase is enough to force me to start looking for a new favorite airline to use when traveling with my bike. Looking closely at Frontier’s baggage fee page, you can pay as little as $50 each way if you break the bike down into two small boxes (a frame box and a wheel box) and pay for your checked bags online, but at that point you might as well book a flight on Southwest Airlines so that you can get two free checked bags on top of your free peanuts and soda pop!

Come on Frontier, theirs no need to make it harder for us poor bike polo kids to fly around the world with our bikes!

Editorial

Chandel’s Adios to the NAH

December 20, 2013

Before reading this please hit play on this YouTube video.

Some very upsetting news came from the higher ups at NAH yesterday. It was announced that Chandel Bodner will be stepping down as NAH’s Tournament Coordinator. Hoping to focus more of her time on RYB Denim and slaying on the court, Chandel felt that passing the torch on to someone new would be the best way to accomplish this. Here are Chandel’s farewell words:

“It’s not goodbye, it’s really hello!

Thank you to the entire community of bike polo for enduring me as the Tournament Committee Chairperson for the NAH these last 3 or so years. As of this past November, I am no longer representing you in an official capacity. I say this with a very even balance of joy and sadness. It has always meant a lot to me to be giving back to the bike polo family, a group of very unique individuals that always remind me about passion, endurance, and love. The experiences, the people, the stress, the fun, the time, the everything that is a result of my role with NAH is far too much to mention right now, but I will say it all enhanced my life and helped me be a better person. There are also too many of you to list individually. The changing groups of reps, board members, old and new players, and volunteers have all been incredible to work with, thank you! A specific shout out, thank you Ben Schultz for continually believing in, supporting, and understanding me. There aren’t words that describe how amazing you are for polo and how grateful I am to have worked so closely with you.

To the current crew, you’ve all been really progressive and positive, I’m very excited for where bike polo will go now, and happy to watch from the sidelines, and even more excited to go and play in a tournament, not work at it! ;]
I leave you all in the very capable hands of John Hayes, a new local transplant to Toronto, thanks for taking over John!

Thanks everyone! I’ll be focusing my efforts on RYB Denim and playing my heart out!
xx. Chandel”

The NAH has appointed John Hayes to attempt to fill her shoes. We will attempt to grab an interview with him in the next week or two so we can all see what changes we can expect from our new Tournament Coordinator. Seeing the great things he’s done in Europe, I expect we will see him cracking the whip as hard as Chandel. Best of luck to both of their future endeavors!

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Contest

Help Design LOBP’s Logo

December 18, 2013

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Are you the Pollock of Photoshop? Are you the Man Ray of Microsoft Paint? How about the Klimt of Illustrator? Well then the legendary juggernaut that is League of Bike Polo needs your help! They are in need of a new logo and are looking to the Poloverse to help design one. The best design not only gets to claim bragging rights but they also will receive a FREE pair of DZR Marco shoes. All entries must be submitted by January 7th in order to have a chance to win the contest. For more info on the contest and to find some file specifications, follow this link HERE!

So get your pencils sharpened and hit those sketch books! Not like it will really matter though, my logo is definitely going to be the winner anyway!

Culture, Product

The First 3D Printed Head

December 16, 2013

Engineer, Educator, Genius Inventor, Polo Player. These are just a few words to describe Portland Bike Polo’s greatness known as Thomas Hudson. This past week Tom got the chance to combine his well crafted mind and his love for bike polo by using technology that we all wish we could play around with.

Give a polo playing the chance to 3D print something, and of course he is going to make some hardcourt gear. If that polo player happens to be an inventor, then chances are we are going to see layers upon layers of the something fresh and new. For Tom, the PLA layers ended up forming an engineered mallet head. Tom decided to kick the traditional cylindrical shape to the curb for something brand new; check it out!

The Process:

The Final Product:
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Weighing in at 100 grams, this head was a basically the 3D printed version of Thor’s hammer. Tom was smashing big shots from all over the court and his forechecking ability would even leave Sidney Crosby jealous.  It’s important to note that after a few games of pick up, the PLA head did not explode! It may have worn down faster than gas pipe, but it did a lot better than we all expected.