Pros: Excellent Value, especially with Modell's clearance prices, comfy and well made
Cons: Mid-grade bearings, weird oval-head axles, no rockering
Inline Skates have certainly come a long way. I can still remember when the first "ROllerblade" brand inline skates were introduced- in fact, there wasn't even a term "inline skating" and those weird 4-in-a-row-wheeled skates were simply called "rollerblades." Obviously technology and development in the inline skating industry has advanced light yeras ahead of where we were -- and the nicest part, is with that furthering development, the skates keep getting better and better quality wise, yet they keep getting cheaper and cheaper! Nike's "N-Dorfin" line of inline skates represent Nike's finest attempt to meld value and performance into a reasonably affordable recreational skate line. While the skates have a few minor drawbacks, it is nothing that isn't fixable AND to most people they probably aren't even drwabacks -- I'm just trying to be critical, as this has always been my approach to writing epinions- tell the truth, give it like it is.
My N-Dorfin 3 purchase was really an impulse buy, just a combination of very good timing and an incredible blowout clearance sale back in March at Modells. The N-dorfin 3 inline's have a 169.99 MSRP and typically sell for between 139 and 159 at various retailers. MOdell's had priced these at 169.99 initially but than later reduced them to 129.99 and finally to 99.99!!! This was in light of winter clearance- however now, even with spring here, they still come at the 99.99 price because they're trying to make room for this years current models. The best part: I got them even cheaper! I was fully prepared to by 99.99 on impulse, given the great comfort and construction (more on this in a minute) however when I got to the register, I got the best surprise of all - Because of the horrible winter and slow spring-item sales, they'd reduced ticketed prices by an aditional 30% - so basically I paid 67 bucks for a great pair of skates, that I would have gladly paid 100 for!
The N-dorfin 3's are really well constructed and include good componentry- the skates are build on Nike's proven aluminum-frame inline platform and incorporate a mid-height semi-softboot upper. The upper has the Nike "AIR" design at the heel, with visible "air pockets" in clear plastic- just like on NIke air sneakers. The upper is built of NIke's tough and supportive, yet comfy and flexible "flex-posite" material- it has a heel counter-pocket for added heel support and heel retention. The inner is a lycra-spandex mix which is comfy and somehow is beathable enough to avoid stink- they stay pretty airy and non-offensive, even after hard-driving skating! The skate feels absolutely sneaker-like on the lower part of your foot, however a well-placed ankle-support strap and 2 extra lace-lugs in the right place make for excellent ankle support. THe laces are heavy duty nylon that won't fray and get destroyed- also, the laces have aluminum "end-caps" instead of the plastic shrink-wrap ends which get lost and lead to more fraying- the laces of very strong and don't stretch, so they really help you get the most support and proper lace-up possible- a nice Nike innovation. The ankle strap has a standard racheting closure with a lock-in buckle, just like a ski-boot- typical inline skate feature these days. The only thing to be aware of is that the thick tongue is intended to be supportive AND still comfortable -- helping keep you foot in the correct anatomical place within the upper. However, the tongue needs to break in properly just through skating- basically what this means is you may feel slightly too much ankle pressure during break in, which is only a few hours- just to get the tongue bedded in. It is worth it, because you can just back off on the ankle-strap a bit to compensate. Once the tongue takes the shape of your ankle, the skates wear like cadillacs!
Componentry wise, Nike didn't really skimp- The skates come with a decent set of Hyper Superlite recreational wheels- these are standard rec. issue and are very good quality. The bearings are ABEC-5 rated twincams. These are excellent bearings, however my minor complaint is that they are only partically serviceable - most people don't even care of know what the hell I'm talking about, however a little insight on bearings... You have 3 types of bearings essentially: Non-serviceable (*AKA crap - you cannot dis-assemble or clean these at all- basically once they get dirty and gritty, they are garbage). Semi-serviceable, or partially serviceable (you can remove the side-walls of the bearing to gain access to the inner-raceways and balls - however this is as far as disassmbly goes - which is still fine, becauase you can easily clean and re-lubricate as needed). Finally there is FULLY-SERVICEABLE bearing type - you can remove the walls AND then remove the "retainer" which keeps the 7 inner balls properly spaced, and finally you can actually twist out the inner raceway and fully dissasemble all parts of the bearing - this allows FULL COMPLETE cleaning and grime removal and assures you "like-new" bearings after every cleaning. The partially serviceable style bearings included are fine for 95% of users - even considering MOST of those people won't clean them anyway! I still prefer fully serviceables, but these are fine - they clean easily and the ABEC-5 rating makes them very solid precision bearings (the ABEC rating has nothing to do with the service-style of the bearings).
Finally, the aluminum frames are well made- though non-rockered and NOT ROCKERABLE- these are rec skates, so you're stuck with flat-wheeled non-rocker...UNLESS YOU BUY SLIGHTLY SMALLER WHEELS FOR THE 2 OUTER WHEELS- this is the only way to achieve rockering (rockering is where the middle two wheels are slightly lower to the pavement than the front and back wheel-it means that when you skate, you'll essentially only be on two wheels at any given time, making turning MUCH faster - however this is used more for hockey and aggressive inline skating, and much less for rec. skating- so while it is worth mentioning, it isn't a neccesary feature- just something that would be nice. The axles are standard 8mm axles, however the head shape is NOT standard - the axles used a standard size allen-wrench, but the head is OVAL instead of round- so therefore you should try to to grind up your axles too bad otherwise you'll need to do some searching to find replacements. I'm sure you could retofit round axles in place of the oval ones, but again, something worth mentioning.
Finally, color and wheel size combos- the men's version of these skates are avilable in two nice color configurations: 1) Black/silver with clear burple tinted wheels in 82mm/80a hardness AND silver/orange with clear wheels 78mm/78a hardness. The only potential downside to this is if you wanted the opposite color with the opposite wheels size...but too bad- typically there is only onle wheel size offered with each model, so this is kind of a cool feature by nike. Both color combos are attractive - I chose the Black/Silver because they're very sleek and cool looking - but the choice wasn't easy, I almost went with the Silver/Orange.
On the pavement the skates are excellent recreational skates- they're plenty fast, esepcially once the bearings are broken in (which takes about 6-8 hours of good use to ensure good roller-seal and quickness). The uppers are VERY comfy- downright sneaker-like except for the excellent ankle support- very impressive for a mid-cut- these are lightweight thanks to them mid-cut design, which doesn't come up too high- however you don't sacrifice ankle support which is key to a fun inline experience. All in all, for the MSRP of 169, and a typical street price of about 150, these are very competitive rec skates- I prefered them over the comparable K2s I tried due to comfort- but all feet differ, so the secret is to try as many as possible. At the bargain basement 99.99 price at Modells, its tough to say no - AND to boot, I got the 30% winter discount...can't be beat. I'm very happy with the impulse purchase- These skates replace a set of Rollerblade Macro-blades, which at one point were top-top notch rec skates... I like my macros, but the soft-boot design is ALOT more comfortable, and technology has come so far as to allow comfort WITHOUT sacrificing support, which is why I like these skates so much. Check em out- especially the model's deal, while the going is good and cheap!