Pros: Excellent boot, proven model, durable and a nice alternative to CCM or Easton
Cons: Design is a little dated, some issues with the holders
Whats up with the 90 on the end?
Bauers model numbers for their Supreme line of skates typically are a model followed by three zeros. It has been often easy to tell one generation from the next since they would change the model number. For instance when the 7000 was replaced, the 8000 was the new top of the line. It was pretty simple, the highest number was the top of the line skate. Then they had to toss out this new number, the 8090. It wasnt as easy anymore.
As if that wasnt confusing enough, they decided to start making other skates that ended with 90 instead of 00. I mean maybe the 8090 was a little better than the 8000, but why have a bunch of other models ending in 90 right? Well the 90 on the end has more to do with the fit of the skate than to differentiate the model as a little higher-end skate. Bauers new 90 series skates fit completely differently than the supreme line models ending in 00.
The only real change in the 8090 is the last of the boot. The last is the term used to describe the shape of a boot. While Bauer skates traditionally fit narrow feet, the 8090 is made to get the interest of the CCM crowd who had most of the wider footed skaters in their skates.
In the 8090 the instep and width of the skate are both quite a bit wider that the 8000. These are more comparable to Bauers excellent Gold and Silver Classics in size and fit.
The 8090 will fit players with moderately wide feet, above average insteps. The forefoot is similar to a CCM skate, fairly wide but not quite meant for duck feet. The heel is good and will accommodate average to semi-wide heels.
Remember that you should always wear the tightest skate that is still comfortable. Try on a pair of Bauer Supreme 8000s before you try the 8090 if you arent sure. Skate will get bigger. They will not get smaller.
For as much as I complain about the lack of quality in Bauers Vapor line (and with good reason), the Supreme line is still very good. Bauer hasnt made any major changes to the Supremes for several years. This means that they are slightly behind the times, but they were one of the best a few years ago and as the result remain very good.
The boots on the 8090 are more traditional than most of the skates on the market. One of the first giveaways that this is a more traditional skate is the color. They are black (go figure). Ballistic nylon makes up the majority of the uppers shell. The ankles and eye-stays are synthetic leather. The toecaps are even traditional, covered in nylon rather than the new uncovered style.
In fact the toecaps are the only complaint that I have about the boots on the 8090. Fabric covered toecaps dont really look better than plain ones when they are new. The covering also adds a little bit of weight. But the real problem is that the fabric gets shredded pretty quickly and the skates look like crap. To avoid this skaters will have to purchase ProTecToe or a similar product to paint a protective layer on their skate toes.
The tongue of the 8090 is a traditional felt toe with a pretty stiff lace side. Lace bite is unlikely to be an issue with the 8090 as the felt is thick and the tongue very stiff.
The tendon guard can become an issue on these skates if players wrap their laces around the top of the boot. This is a common problem with many skates. Further these skates are stiff enough that there is no reason to wrap your laces. Generally players wrap laces when theyve purchased too little skate for their size and skating style. It seems like a good idea but it actually causes the boot to break down faster by creating a pressure point where the boot will fold. The bottom line is that you should never wrap laces around the top of a skate. I wont take anything away from Bauer here as broken tendon guards are a flaw in the way the skates are being used, not how they are built.
The outsoles on the 8090 are carbon fiber. This is the top material that is in use today for quality skates. It is very stiff and very light. Stiff outsoles allow skaters to maximize their energy transfer to the ice. The 8090 also has perforations in the outsoles. These do help in a small way to keep skates from becoming stinky. Taking out your insoles after using them will further help them to dry out.
Lining the 8090 is modified Clarino. Bauer treated Clarino to give the liner of their high-end skates a hydrophobic quality. (Thats fancy talk for it doesnt absorb much sweat). Clarino is highly durable and even when it isnt of the hydrophobic variety dries and wicks water very well. It is also one of the most comfortable linings for hockey skates. (Some less successful skate makers tried broken glass which didnt work out too well).
The inner ankles of the 8090 are heavily padded. Some players have complained that they were a little tight on the back of the leg or they squeezed the ankles a little too tightly. However, this area is going to be one of the first to break down in the skate. What starts out a little uncomfortable here will possibly fit quite nicely in the end. If they are painfully uncomfortable then the 8090 might not be for you.
Holders and Runners
One thing that Bauer did carry over from the Vapors and Classics was the Lightspeed TUUK. Despite claims that theyve improved this holder, it still has issues. Fortunately for the Bauer loyal they didnt carry the largest of these issues over to the 8090. The steel on the 8090 is traditional . . . by that I mean they didnt stick a bunch of holes in it to make the skate lighter.
The Lightspeed runners with perforated steel have been woefully fragile. They bend and break quite often. The no-perforated steel on the 8090 however is still pretty good. Bauers steel is as good as CCM or Easton steel when they dont try to make it lighter. It isnt quite as hard as the steel in the new Mission skates or that of Graf, but it isnt so soft that it will make you angry at how often you need to put a new edge on it either.
The Lightspeed is an average holder. This is something of a shame since the original TUUK was a favorite of NHL players. In the case of the Lightspeed less was less. Bauer decided to remove some of the plastic from the Lightspeed to make it lighter. They also moved from a two-screw system to a single heel screw in order to remove the blade.
Fundamentally the single screw mounting system was a good idea. Many a skate tech cursed Bauer while attempting to work on the screw they buried way up in the toe of their older skates. It took special tool, a steady hand and the patience of a saint to replace the steel on the old TUUKs. Often it was easier to just take the holder off.
Instead of a toe screw the new Lightspeed TUUK uses a hook much like the Graf Cobra. The front of the blade can only be unhooked when the heel screw is released. The problems with the Lightspeed are two fold. One is that the screw comes loose far too easily. The other is that the screw is a little too small for the job.
The first problem is easily enough resolved. A little bit of the blue, removable locktite will keep the screw in place. (Make sure not to use the regular locktite as it is nothing more than super glue). The second problem has resulted in a lot of players breaking off the screw when they try to solve that annoying clicking blade and over-tighten their holder screw.
The Lightspeed isnt all that prone to breakage. Nor is the blade on the 8090 as it is a solid blade. However there are slightly higher numbers of bent blades as the result of the light construction.
One advantage that the Lightspeed has over the older TUUK is the three millimeter lift that it gives the skates. Essentially the Lightspeed is 3 millimeters higher in front and back. This allows skaters to make more aggressive turns without bottoming out on the boot and falling.
Despite the 3 millimeter lifts, the Lightspeed is still woefully heel pitched. Bauer puts the skater in a poor position for skating. They claim the 9-foot rocker is the ultimate in agility. However it is hard to be agile when you aren't on the balls of your feet. Fortunately this is easily resolved with the addition of heel lifts between the holder and boot. An additional 3 millimeters of height in the heels makes the Lightspeed lightyears better.
This is my biggest issue with the Vapor line. It is light and very comfortable. However the skates just dont last. A typical story is that of a skater who went through two pair of the Vapor XX skates in less than seven months.
Were the 8090 anything like that for durability I would have been griping about it from the start. These skates will be a great deal easier on the players wallet. Players at higher recreational hockey levels can expect to get at least a couple years from their 8090 skates playing 3 or 4 hours weekly. Thats about as much as you can expect from any skate model.
Bauer did a good thing here in offering an alternative to CCM and Easton in wider skates. While Graf has skates that will fit anyone, most skate builders seem to think that one shape of foot is good enough for the entire world. Ive seen enough feet to say with certainty that this is very, very wrong.
Its no secret that my level of appreciation for Bauer is shrinking since Nike invaded them. Theyve made some atrocious products in the last couple of years. Honestly I was almost feeling bad for not having anything good to say about a company which was once a pillar of hockey gear . . . almost.
Fortunately any near grief can be eased a little by my appreciation of the 8090. It isnt the flashiest, newest or most bad to the bone skate on the market. Thats obvious just by looking at it. However the 8090 will serve most players very well.
This is a very stiff skate and it isnt meant to be used by the novice skater. The 8090 is meant for very aggressive advanced skaters of at least moderate size. Smaller players, skaters who dont play often, or those who dont skate hard will be better served by a lower level model such as the 5090 or 2090. Buying too much skate will result in a very uncomfortable experience no mater how well it fits.
7/16/2006 Update - It was much to my surprise that I bought a pair of 8090 skates. After weeks of tying on both the CCM Pro Tacks, RBK 8.0 and Vector Pro, I finally slipped on the 8090 in a EE width and uttered the short phrase, "Wow!" In fact this was the same thing that I had uttered upon trying on the Pro Tack which was the runner up. However, in the long run the D width Pro Tack was just a tad too narrow in the D and too wide in the EE.
Having skated on the 8090 for several weeks, it's by far the best skate that I've ever had on the ice. My skating has improved. Break-in was about an hour (without heat molding them). Perhaps most surprising was the lack of a need for heel lifts. Perhaps the insane heel pitch of the t'blade has prepared me for Bauer TUUKs.
In all, these are fantastic skates.
The 8090's are still going strong. After a year and a half (about 50% longer than the last four pair of skates I owned lasted) they look almost new. The one ratty area is the fabric covered toes, grr. The 8090s have retained most of their stiffness as well which is more often than not the problem area for me. I will almost certainly get another year or two out of the skates, impressive!
I put heel lifts in the skates after a couple of weeks and found the stance much improved. I wasn't sure if I need them with the small lift I got from my custom insoles. However, after putting them in it was apparent that the lifts are still a requirement for me. Most skaters will benefit from a more aggressive pitch in these skates.
I did have one issue shortly after the previous update. I broke a runner about three months after buying the skates. Of course it was the one size that I didn't have in stock. As the skates were under warranty I tried a couple friends who own shops and even attempted to obtain a pair from the Avalanche equipment manager. Neither shop had any left and the Avs guy wasn't willing to part with any as he was down to a couple pair himself. I ended up paying about 50% more than retail from the one lame and unscrupulous shop in town that had a pair, sigh.
I have seen a fair number of Bauer runners break. It's been enough for me to believe that their runners are a little on the brittle side. They aren't nearly as bad as the Easton parabolics, but probably second worst on the market for breakage. If you don't want to miss playing time, it isn't a bad idea to have a spare set of runners. You can sharpen them both and rotate them in and out of your skates as needed.
I still love the 8090's and have been very happy with them.
Some of my other reviews that you might find helpful:
Hockey Skate buying demystified
Easton Z-Air Comp SE Skates
Graf G3 Skates
CCM Pro Tacks 2003/04 Skates
Bauer Vapor XXX Skates
Thanks to openroad for adding this item so I could review it.