Pros: Outstanding quality boot and components. Wide range of fitting options.
Cons: They aren't cheap, careless work can ruin the holders.
Graf currently makes the highest quality skates on the market. They have been making skates for a number of years and are rapidly gaining recognition and market share from perennial titans, CCM and Bauer. Based in Canada, some models are assembled there, others in Sweden. Either way, you will not be getting something that poorly assembled in Taiwan or Malaysia.
Graf's 700 series skates
Graf's entire 700 series of skates, comprising six different skates, are all skates that are of high enough quality for pro hockey players. They vary in stiffness, with some boots being more geared solely towards elite players than others. Also the cut of the skates in the 700 series varies greatly and will fit numerous different foot styles.
The 727 Cyberflex is one of the two skates that shares the top of the line billing for Graf by price. The other skate is the new 735 with the T-Blade system. These are two very different skates, most notably in the way they fit. The 727 is designed for a high volume foot. This means that people with a high instep and somewhat wide feet will generally be comfortable in the 727 Cyberflex. The 735 is a narrower boot than the 727.
Holder and Steel
The holder on the 727 is Grafs outstanding Cobra. This is simply the best holder currently made in my opinion. The Cobra is sturdy and very rigid. It will take a hard shot without breaking and it has very little flex in it. The single screw system that holds the blade in is the easiest removal and replacement on the market. The only downfall of the Cobra is that players will sometimes over-tighten this screw and end up stripping the entire holder. Make sure when tightening your blade to go no more than ? turn after the screw seats. It is also a good idea to replace the hardware anytime you need to put a new blade in.
Grafs steel is on par with the best. Mission and Graf have proven to have the hardest steel in my experience with sharpening many pairs of each. The harder the steel is, the longer it will hold a good edge.
While the 727 Cyberflex is a top end skate, and a very stiff boot, it is not nearly as inflexible as comparably priced CCM and Bauer skates. Graf uses a different shape of boot which gives similar amounts of support by locking the heel more solidly in place. This allows them to give the same level of performance with a much easier break in period and a much softer upper boot.
The Cyberflex is so named due to the flex darts on the back of the boot. These darts enable the skater to have easier forward lean without compromising the lateral support of the boot. This has commonly been a problem in other very stiff boots. Lighter skaters were unable to bend their knees which makes it impossible to skate properly.
Graf uses clarino lining in all of their skates. This is a very supple, almost suede like material that is also used in top end goalie pads to line the knee cradles. Clarino is to date the most comfortable boot liner. In fact, many Graf skaters skate with no socks on (I am not among them). The other nice feature about clarion is that it is capable of wicking away substantial amounts of perspiration. Once you are done skating, it is dry again within a matter of hours. I sometimes skate twice in the same day and find my boots are dry inside four or five hours after the first session.
The 727 is also one of the only boots in the Graf line to offer a partial carbon fiber sole. Graf's Cobra holder has enough stiffness that carbon fiber is not as high a requisite as it would be on a CCM skate. Still, it will only add to the durability of this skate.
My feelings on the Cyberflex boots
I have a pair of goalie skates with a cut down Cyberflex boot in them. I have usually had very quick break-ins on my skates, so I was surprised at having a little difficulty with this pair. They took about 4 hours of break-in time before they felt natural on my feet. The fit is excellent now and I am very pleased with them. They are without a doubt the stiffest goal skates I have ever used.
Now that I have used them for a while, I am very pleased with the fit and comfort of the boots. They are snug, but the issues that I've had with other skates - such as callouses on my big toes, and some tightness in the forefoot - are not a problem in the 727 boot.
How Graf Stacks up the the competition
Bauer/Nike and Mission have Pro Stock models of their skates that are not generally available to the public. The skates that you buy are essentially watered down versions of those the pros use. Graf and CCM put their best products out for you to buy. Every Graf skate in the 700 series is the same one that NHL players wear on the ice.
Graf has the largest selection of boot styles of any current skate maker. They use at least 3 different lasts (the mold of the boot) and offer most of their skate in the choice of three widths. CCM uses one last; Bauer uses two. Neither brand offers more than two width choices, and then only in select models. I would encourage anyone who is a serious hockey player to at least try on a pair of Graf skates before making your next purchase. They have a pair that will fit almost anyone (those with bigger than size 15 feet will have trouble with any brand).
To wrap this up, the 727 Cyberflex is a high performance, NHL quality skate. I would recommend this model to anyone who is a serious hockey player skating at least a couple of hours weekly. Also, you will need to be at least 160 pounds to break in a skate like this. The $400+ price tag will put this skate out of the reach of some players, but if you are looking at the top of the line Bauer and CCM skate, this is one to make sure to look at as well.
? Scott Noble Unauthorized use prohibited
A few of my other reviews that you might find helpful:
Hockey Skate buying demystified
Nike THG V-Force
CCM Pro Tacks 2003/04