Pros: They are better than second tier brands like Black, Salming and Riedell
Cons: Numerous design flaws lead to a bad experience
CCM was the first company to introduce a quality hockey skate and is still the top selling skate in the country. CCMs 1052 sits one below the top of the line 1152 in the 2002 Tacks line. The 1052 is a very stiff skate, aimed at the higher level intermediate to advances skater market. Overall, the 1052 is a fair skate, but there were some definite flaws in all of CCMs 2002 Tacks that potential buyers should be aware of.
The 1052 Boot
The 1052 boot is a ballistic nylon and synthetic leather shell, lined with a hydrophobic synthetic liner. The liner is designed to not absorb any perspiration, and reduce odor. However, there are no drains or vents in the bottom of the skate, so I am unsure where CCM thought that perspiration might go.
The liner is pretty comfortable, although I prefer Clarino. The boots however are very stiff and will take some work before they feel good. On this level of boot, I would highly recommend a heat-fit. Most people also require a little bit of punching work (localized stretching) to give them a head start on breaking these in.
The outsole of the skate is a step up from the plastic base with partial composite found on the 852. The 1052 instead uses a full fiberglass outsole to reduce weight and increase stiffness. The fiberglass will also hold rivets a little better than the plastic soles, and last longer overall.
CCMs trademark in their skate is the heel wedge - the white plastic piece that wraps around the back and bottom of the skate. The purpose of the wedge is to pull a skaters foot snugly into the heel pocket of the boot and lock it in place. If your heel moves in the skate, you will never be able to skate at your full potential.
The wedge is one of the things that annoys me about CCM's 2002 Tacks. It takes a great deal of practice and patience to learn how to get your skates tight enough because of the design of the wedge. While the wedge is effective in doing what it is meant to do, it is a struggle to get it tight enough.
The eyelets on the wedge prior to 2003 CCM models were on tabs that stood off from the rest of the eye stay. On boots that were not broken in - especially stiffer models like the 1052 and 1152 the sides of the boot actually fight with the wedge. This makes it difficult to get the most important pair of eyelets sufficiently tight. In turn, this leads to a more difficult break in period. Most Tacks skaters have to tighten their laces several times during the first couple of skates. Just what everyone wants to do during a drop-in hockey session.
Tendon Guard Failure
The most prominent and serious problem that occurs in 2002 CCM Tacks skates is the failure of the tendon guard. The tendon guard is the rear portion of the skate that rises above the cuff of the boot. Its purpose is to support the ankle against over extension and protect the lower portion of the back of the leg from sticks and pucks. I would estimate that over 80% of 2002 CCM Tacks skates had some level of tendon guard failure. Players who wrap their laces around the boot (not a recommended practice in any skate) will eventually experience total failure of the tendon guard in every pair of CCM 2002 Tacks.
The problem with these tendon guards seems to be restricted to only the 2002 Tacks line of skates. In all models including the 1052, the guards simply were not stiff enough. After very short periods of time (often the first hour on the ice) these tendon guards snap inside. The material on the lining and shell of the boot keeps the guard in place. Some skaters have issues with blisters and discomfort at the break. Other players have not had any problems other than the annoyance at the poor design.
CCM has been good about replacing these skates, usually with newer model 2003 skates that are not prone to such breakage, as long as they are within the ninety-day warranty period of the boots. One problem with this warranty is that consumers are generally required to send the old pair of skates back and wait for CCM to make a determination on whether they will repair or replace them. Prepare to go six weeks or more without your skates if you are in this boat.
Pro-lite Holders and Blades
The Pro-lite holder that CCM uses on all Tacks is the weakest holder on any major skate. CCMs Pro-lite has a great deal less rigidity because of the open style design that it uses. Larger players have constant problems with rivets continually popping loose after six months or so. The carrier is also prone to premature breakage.
The theory behind the design of the Pro-lite is that contact with the ice is translated to the feet in three very distinct areas the heel, the inside ball of the foot, and the outside ball of the foot. Some players do claim to have a better feel for the ice on Pro-lite holders, so there may be some validity behind the design theory. One thing that they definitely got right is the higher heel position the Pro-lite gives. Most players switching from a CCM to a Bauer skate will feel like they are back on their heels. The Pro-lite puts players into a more natural stance for explosive hockey.
The hardware on the Pro-lite is very good. Pro-lite screws seldom fail, they are easy to access and rattles in the blades are easily solved. Unlike many other brands, the Pro-lite screws cannot be over tightened.
The Blade on the 1052 is a good quality stainless steel runner. CCM skates come with an 11-foot radius. Players changing over from Bauer, Nike and other brands that use a 9-foot rocker will take some time to adjust to this, some will want to have the blades professionally re-contoured to 9 feet.
The simple fact is that while CCMs 2002 model year Tacks were still better than any of the skates offered by second tier brands - such as Ferland, Hespeller, or Flite - they were plagued by more issues than any of the top tier brands. Skates made by Bauer/Nike, Easton, Mission and Graf are a far better value.
A Quick Footnote
CCM did correct all of the problems with their boot in the 2003 version of this skate and all the Tacks line, putting them back near the top of the market. The heel wedge is now integrated into the eye stay, the tendon guards have been reinforced and boots with hydrophobic lining now have vents and perforated insoles. However, the issues with the Pro-lite holders still exist.
? Scott Noble Unauthorized use prohibited
A few of my other articles you might find helpful:
Hockey Skate buying demystified
CCM Pro Tacks 2003/04
CCM Vector Pro
Nike THG V-Force