Pros: Light, sharp looking, and very comfortable
Cons: The price tag might make you faint
It was only a matter of time. Its been more than 10 years since Nike purchased Canstar, the parent company of Bauer. Nike equipment has graced the shelves beside the more familiar hockey brand of Bauer ever since. It was probably a good plan. Put another name out there to compete for consumer dollars in a tight market. But I wondered how long it would take for Nike to simply set the Bauer name aside in a corner like so much moldy cheese. Suddenly, its Nike/Bauer and I fear that time is near.
Maybe Im just waxing nostalgic, but I miss the old names. Cooper, Micron, Victoriaville and Hespeller have all faded into oblivion. Heaton is a recent memory with Koho not long for this world. Christian disappeared only to be resurrected by newcomer Harrow Sports. Still with all of this upheaval in hockey name brands, Id like to keep the hope that Bauer and CCM would be around forever.
For now, its Bauer/Nike. But one has to wonder how long it will take before Nike simply drops the second part of that cumbersome brand name. Im guessing in five or six years all the gear with the Bauer name will be on the clearance shelves. The new stuff will just say Nike on it. I hope Im wrong, but again, maybe Im just nostalgic.
Nike might have chosen this moment to marry the names for a reason. The ONE90 has been the most anticipated skate to hit the market since . . . well the Bauer Vapor XX. If Nike has only figured one thing out about hockey, its how to create hype about a new skate. Fortunately, theyve learned quite a few things.
Let me go right to the point and say that this is clearly the best skate to ever bear the Nike name. That might sound like a sound endorsement if you havent paid attention to Nike skates in the past. Let me make this clear. Nike has struggled to make a top-notch skate since they entered the hockey market. So hold your horses, mister.
Why the hype?
A new skate line comes out every year. Heck, some companies put out a new skate line every year. So, one would have to wonder why this particular model was so highly anticipated. Lets start with the obvious. Lightweight gear has become the focus of every hockey player between the age of about 10 to 18. When it comes to lightweight gear, skates are only a small step behind sticks in players minds. The ONE90 is the lightest skate that has hit the market since anyone started caring.
Whats interesting to me is if you go back about fifteen to twenty years, skates were a lot lighter. Perhaps they werent as light as the ONE90, but they were far lighter than anything on the market five years ago was. In essence, hockey gear companies allowed their products to become obese and then put them on a diet which somehow made us all excited.
Nonetheless, weighing in at roughly the weight of a Big Mac with a small order of fries, these puppies are indeed amazingly light. Anyone who picks up a ONE90 for the first time without exclaiming, Wow! is either not paying attention or is very hard to impressed. I admit that as little as I cared about a $600 pair of skates and as skeptical as I was about their durability, I could not help but utter, Wow! These are light.
I suspect that the other factor making these the most coveted skate on the market is simple cosmetics. Nike knows how to make a shoe that looks good, so it isnt a big stretch to make a skate look nice. I actually prefer the old school looks of basic black skates, but I dont think that too many people will deny that the ONE90 is a good-looking pair of skates.
The ONE90 continues with the last used for the most recent line of Bauer Supreme skates rather than the Vapors. This means if you had a pair of Bauer 8090s you can upgrade and know they will fit much the same (although they didnt feel like they had as much instep height to me). If you had Vapors however, the fit will be a little different. Regardless, Id recommend trying them on. They are easily the most comfortable skates that Ive tried on right out of the box.
For those who arent familiar with the fit of the new Supreme line from Bauer here is the scoop. The skates are moderately wide in the heel and toe. The mid-foot area is high volume, accommodating low arches and high insteps quite well. Players with high arches might need to augment the arch support for a perfect fit.
Old school Bauer skaters who have Supremes with numbers ending in 00 will find the skate quite a bit wider than their old skates were. For CCM skaters who always found the older Bauer skates too narrow, these will be a nice change. I actually switched over to the Bauer 8090 recently after years of finding Bauers skate fit akin to having a car parked on my foot.
The ONE90 comes in D and EE widths like most skates on the market. Those players with exceptionally wide feet might not find the EE wide enough. Likewise players with very narrow feet might find the D too wide.
I could just make a laundry list of features here like Nike/Bauer did in their marketing. But then you wouldnt really know any more about these skates than you already do, right? So Im going to try to break it all down here so it makes sense. Lets start at the bottom and work our way up.
Runners and Holders
Nike/Bauer would have you think that theyve put out three new holders since the TUUK Custom plus. In fact all of the Lightspeed holders are essentially the same. The Lightspeed II parts are interchangeable with the original and featured primarily cosmetic changes and upgraded hardware. While skate sharpening techs all over the world were happy with the changes to the Lightspeed II, the only thing the consumer needed to know was that their runners were far less likely to fall off.
Likewise, the newly named Lightspeed 2 Power is a minor modification of the same Lightspeed holder. Perhaps the best thing that theyve done with these is the lack of perforated steel. The perforated steel that Bauer was putting on the top of the line Vapor skates was prone to bending and breaking much more easily than its non-perforated counterparts.
So what we have on the Lightspeed 2 Power is a stainless steel blade. Its decent quality stainless, although once in a while freak breakages seem to happen. This is the case with any runner and the nature of hockey. I guess the stainless blades on CCM and Mission seem to hold up a little better. Still, without the perforations these runners are going to hold up much better than the runners on the Vapor XX and XXX did.
The holders on the ONE90 are semi-transparent. If we go back to the early eighties Bauer made some skates with transparent holders. Once in a while I see a pair of these still. However, Bauers early attempt at flash resulted in a pretty brittle pair of holders. Plastic technology has come a long way and I dont foresee any real issues with the holders, save one.
While the Lightspeed 2 Power is semi-transparent, there is quite a bit of glitter in them. Now glitter is fine for figure skaters and little kids. But these are hockey skates and frankly there is something wrong with glitter on hockey skatesvery, very wrong. I personally wont stand for it (although Im pretty sure Nike doesnt care what I will stand for).
Players used to Bauer holders and steel will find the nine-foot rocker and heel pitch of the Lightspeed 2 Power familiar. CCM players might want to install heel lifts. Graf players making the transition will almost certainly want heel lifts and possibly a toe drop re-contour as well.
In all the LS2 Power hasnt shown any glaring problems thus far. It has only been on the market about six months here, but the original Lightspeed was obviously flawed within weeks of its delivery. Thus its safe to say that this version is at least an improvement over the original and possibly over the last generation.
The outsole on the ONE90 is composite as one might expect. Texallium was the fiber of choice in the ONE90. If this sounds familiar you might be remembering the term from CCMs V-20 and V-40 replacement stick blades which featured the same material. Texallium is essentially fiberglass molecularly bonded with aluminum.
Texallium was likely the choice for three reasons. First and foremost, it is a very cool looking material, with a shimmering silver woven appearance. No less important is the fact that it is very tough and strong. Rounding out the choice is the lightweight factor. Essentially, Nike/Bauer put a nice light and very rigid holder on these skates that lacks nothing in flash and should last quite nicely.
The ONE90s outsole does wrap partially up the sides of the skate. This is a feature that hasnt really been seen since CCM wrapped the outsoles in some Tacks in about 2002 was it? While this proved to be an idea without much merit in the Tacks, the ONE90 is has both cosmetics and performance improved as the result.
The rounded bottom and tight fitting outsole both help to grip the heel and to keep the skate boot from hitting the ice. This means that players will have the foot feel in the boot to skate and turn hard. It also means that they are going to be able to push closer to the edge of control without worries about taking a spill when they start skating on boot instead of blade.
The outsole on the ONE90 is reportedly perforated. Usually perforations are there to promote drainage and keep the skate dry inside. However, Ive looked at several pair and they either forgot to put the sweaty foot drains in the skates or they are really well hidden.
This is one of the most unique skates on the market today and the boot is where the skate really differs from everything else. While the skate is probably easiest to compare to the Easton Synergy 1500, the materials are a strange, super-secret blend that only Nike knows intimately. I dont even know if they let the folks at Bauer in on this secret.
Nike calls the material Tech mesh. Its hard and doesnt seem to lose much rigidity over time. However there is still a little forgiveness built in to these boots. They arent so hard that you could break bricks with them like the exterior of the Synergy. The shell also fits much closer to the players foot and ankle than the 1500 did. While the 1500 was a box filled with foot conforming fluff, the ONE90 is a boot shaped like it should be.
The main thing that the ONE90 seems to have is comfort. I dont think theres been another skate that fits as many feet comfortably that I can think of. Almost everyone Ive spoken to who has tried on the ONE90 has been very impressed by the fit and comfort. If that wasnt enough, the skate is heat moldable. This will slightly increase comfort and cut a few hours off the break-in time.
The toecap is uncovered plastic. Its one of the odd things that Bauer has finally figured out. Covered toecaps weigh slightly more and they wear out more quickly. No one wants their expensive skates to have shredded toes. Fortunately there is nothing to worry about here.
Even the tendon guard on the ONE90 is new Its got a bunch of holes in it. Now the casual observer might think this makes the boots more aerodynamic. I suppose they would be correct. However, generally they are going to have a leg stuffed in them while in use, negating this advantage. The holes a pure weight saving. They are also the one question I have about the durability of these skates. It appears to be a weak point where the skates are most likely to break. So far, so good thoughI havent seen any broken tendon guards.
Nike/Bauer uses a hydrophobic Clarino liner in the skates. Personally I think that Clarino is still the best skate liner on the market. It is soft like suede, lasts long and dries soft. The hydrophobic element ensures that it will shed water to dry more quickly and stay a little fresher.
A rather thin but very effective tongue separates foot from laces. Nike has used pretty thin tongues to good effect in the V series skates for several years. Worries about lace bite with these should be minimal. The laces on the other hand are the same crappy Nike laces that weve had for years. Yes, they look nice, but they are way too long in every pair that Ive seen. One pair that I measured were 144-inches! No one uses laces that long.
It usually isnt worth mentioning the insole in a pair of skates. For most companies its an after thought that gets $2 worth of R&D to decide that a 5-cent piece of foam is perfect. Nike has put very nice insoles in their skates since the V-series though and these are no exception.
The insoles in the ONE90 are a multi-density insole. Similar insoles on the internet sell for $20 or more. These are much more than an afterthought and add to the overall comfort of these skates.
The only skate that is even close in weight and design to the ONE90 is Eastons Synergy 1500. The Easton suffered from two major issues, one with durability and one design issue. These were serious and annoying
Eastons love of carbon fiber led them to put a carbon fiber shell on the 1500. Just like a composite stick works great one moment and breaks the next, the 1500 is prone to sudden and catastrophic failures. Bauer utilized a rather top-secret material in the outer shell of their skate. While it is thinner and not quite as hard, it does seem to be quite a bit more durable at this time.
Perhaps even more annoying was the 1500s lack of an outsole. Easton wrapped the composite shell all the way around the bottom of the skate. This caused serious issues during hard cornering where the skate bottomed out with the boot hitting the ice. The end result was a player falling down. Nike/Bauer was in a much better position to build a skate like this with their taller Lightspeed holder keeping such things from happening. However, they went a little further and left a small outsole on the skates. It isnt an issue here.
Both skates are quite pricey, but the ONE90 is clearly a better skate. Even with a price of $50 to $100 more than the 1500, I would choose the ONE90 without even thinking about it.
The $100,000 Question
Now weve seen lightweight skates that simply didnt hold up before. It follows with simple logic that this being the lightest skate might be subject to such issues as well. So the $100,000 Question is, How do they hold up?
Its an excellent question at that. Despite the excellent initial impression that I had of the ONE90the same impression that almost everyone Ive asked about them has hadthe skates broke barriers other than weight. With a price tag typically exceeding $600, youd better be able to expect these skates to go more than one season.
Here is where there is good news. Thus far the ONE90 has been holding up very well. Again, its only been about six months since this model hit the market. Still, with the Vapor XX, it was obvious in half that time that the skates were not going to last.
Perhaps the best news comes from a couple locals I know with Pro league connections. NHL and minor league hockey players havent been going through these in six weeks as some had been with the Vapor XX skates. Further they have been lasting much longer than the slightly improved Vapor XXX according to my sources.
The bottom line on durability is that the ONE90 should last a while by all indications. It looks like Nike/Bauer might have finally nailed it and made a top-notch, lightweight skate that wont fall apart in six months to a year.
Id like to say that Nike/Bauer hit a home run with these skates. I cannot do it though since thats a baseball term. Were talking hockey right now, so Im going to say that Nike/Bauer scored a hat trick with these skates.
Yes, Ive been displeased with a lot of the gear in the past that Bauer has made. The Vapor line was the most over-hyped gear on the market for the most part. It just didnt stand up to the test of time. For most players the value wasnt there. Value is the only thing that I would question in the ONE90.
With a price tag almost double what the average player is hesitant to spend on skates the ONE90 isnt a model for everyone. Travel league players, college and pros will certainly be able to find the value in a pair of skates this excellent. However, the average adult league player is going to have to consider how much they really need to spend.
I would only recommend the ONE90s to high level impact players who skate hard and play often. Aggressive players who move fast will find the lightweight and excellent fit of the ONE90 skates exactly what they need. Players of moderate skill will find that they spent a lot of money to have cool looking skates that they cannot fully utilize.
? 2006 Scott Noble All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited.
You might also enjoy my book on hockey, Hockey for Weekend Warriors. Click here to read the reviews.
A few of my other reviews that you might find helpful:
Hockey Skate buying demystified
How to Care for Skates
Bauer Vapor XXX Skates
CCM Pro Tacks 2005 Skates
CCM Vector Pro Skates
Easton Synergy Skates
Graf G3 Skates
Nike Flexlite Skates
RBK 9K Pump Skates