RBK 8K Skates – Nike makes better skates . . . er better looking skates
Written: Jul 5, 2005 (Updated Jan 27, 2006)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Next generation Vectors, instant comfort, CCM style fit
Cons:one word - UGLY!
The Bottom Line: Get over the looks, hockey is about performance not fashion and these skates are built to perform.
It is a footwear company
While many might question the ability of Reebok to make a decent goalie glove or stick, most would assume that they might know something about making a pair of skates. I mean a shoe just a short hop from a boot and a boot is a left turn from a pair of skates, right? Well, if you think that the journey from running and basketball shoes to hockey skates is a short one, maybe you better read my reviews of Nikes sojourn into hockey. They havent figured out how to make a good skate yet after several years of trying (about 7 so far).
Those of you who are already familiar with Nikes woes might be steering clear of Reebok as well. Not so fast my friends. Reebok did the smartest thing that any shoe company entering the hockey industry could. They not only purchased the largest hockey conglomerate they could find, Maska, but they didn't try to change the face of hockey skate their first year in the business. This not only gave Reebok a huge head start, but it gave them the CCM, Jofa, Koho and Heaton brands (along with a few other lesser known names). More importantly, and the main reason they purchased the company, they now own the jersey rights to all of the NHL teams.
But what about the skates?
Admittedly Ive gone from bashing CCMs dismal Tacks line of 2002 to practically gushing about the Vector line. While I am still a bit upset at the loss of the fantastic Koho player skate line, I am pretty pleased with what Ive seen with the Reebok label thus far. The current line of skates borrows heavily from the Vectors. There is much conjecture that it was in fact going to be the new CCM line but was relabeled after the purchase.
I will ding them right off the bat on one thing. The RBK is a really cheesy looking skate. It has the look of a pair of Franklin or Tour ice skates brands that dont quite cut it in the real world but might be worth a fortune lining the shelves of the local Walmart. They arent flashy and they arent classy looking. RBK managed to find the middle road that looks like pure crap. Interesting that they did this since most of their other gear looks fantastic.
The most obvious cosmetic difference between the RBK 8K and CCMs Vectors, is the lack of the metal mesh material. The shiny outer shell of the Vector isnt just there to look sharp - it really is made from a woven alloy which makes it a very strong pair of skates. The RBK has a unique material which is a bit more like the Bauer Vapor in appearance, yet somehow better looking.
The trim on the outside of the boots is a really odd material called leather. This was commonly used by skate makers in the past, but has faded to near oblivion of late. Graf still makes a couple of models with large amounts of leather, but most skates have turned to synthetics shunning leather altogether. Does this make the RBK inferior somehow? Not at all. Leather is a great material if used in the proper places. Eyestays and trim from leather are still a sound practice.
The heel counter and outsole of the RBK 8K are both composite. Unlike the Graf G series skates, these are still two separate parts. However, composite heel counters make for an exceptionally strong, stiff and long lasting boot. The outsole will be lighter, strong and thinner than plastic or fiberglass outsoles.
The lining is black Clarino, with Maskas Playdry concoction making it both antimicrobial and hydrophobic. This means that it resists bacteria growth making it less stinky. It also refuses to absorb water, instead sending out of the tiny holes in the outsole keeping the boot fresher smelling in a couple of ways. (Please note sniffing hockey skates is not very smart and might be harmful to your health).
The tongue has a dual lining of foam and felt. While felt is a more traditional lining, foam is lighter and often a little more comfortable. However felt still lasts a bit longer than a foam tongue. The combination gives a little of the best of both worlds to the tongue.
The RBK 8K is a soft boot. This skate offers good out of the box fit even without heatfitting. The outside of the skate is very hard, but the inside has comfortable padding. To date, only CCM has built a decent soft boot that is light, performs well, fits and doesnt have high deterioration rates. Since RBK bought them, it is safe to assume that this third generation CCM boot is as good or better than the last two (both were far and away better than Nike and Eastons soft boots).
A really nice feature that carried over from CCMs Vectors is the lace lock. This is a handy, special eyelet right at the turn that allows the skater to lace his or her skates tighter or looser on the top three eyelets than on the lower eyelets. This enables a much more precise fit and lowers the need for in game re-lacing.
The uncovered plastic toe on the 8K is something that you would think would be standard on all skates today. It is not only lighter than a fabric covered toe, but more attractive in the long run as there isnt a bunch of covering to get torn up.
The outsole is rounded on the corners of the boot. This allows for harder turns without incidents. (Wherein incidents would be considered as falling down as the result of the boot hitting the ice and the blade losing contact with said ice resulting in the player looking stupid).
Holder and Runner
RBK utilizes CCMs e-blade on the 8K. This is a closed cell holder which is far superior to the old Prolite in durability. While some players preferred the feel of the Prolite, it simply wasnt stiff, or tough enough to support larger players on the ice. The e-blade by comparison is a very strong holder. Breakage rates have significantly declined since CCM began using it.
While the e-blade is a good quality holder, the steel that RBK chose for the 8K isnt that special. The Pro version of the e-blade features scalloped steel. Four cutouts at the top of the blade (unless the player is upside down) exist with the goal of lowering the weight of the skates. While they are effective in cutting down on weight, they do have other problems.
Bauers Litespeed is notorious for breaking in the perforated version. While Bauer has set new records for the most flimsy blade, all perf steel is less strong than its solid steel counterparts are. The reduction in weight is rather negligible compared to the uncertainty of bent or broken runners. I suspect this is a fad that will not last more than a few more years. People will get fed up with busted runners and revolt.
CCMs steel is certainly better than that of the perforated Lightspeed. I would also rank it better than Eastons and almost as good as Grafs lightweight runners. Still given the choice, I would prefer a solid runner.
The fit of the RBK is a little closer to a traditional CCM fit than the Vector is. I suspect that CCMs main goal in this upgrade was to refine the fit somewhat. Instead, RBK gets to have skates that fit more like traditional CCMs than CCM does. Go figure.
The midfoot of the RBK is a bit wider than that of the Vector. Those players accustomed to a CCM boot will find this model to fit a bit more familiarly than the Vector does.
The RBK 8K is an excellent skate. I personally much prefer the unique woven alloy look of the Vector to the dismal appearance of the 8K (and all of RBKs line for that matter). The seemingly stuck on emblems and the embossed RBK logo seem more like afterthoughts than clever design. But looks aside, there isnt much that I can say on the negative side about these skates.
Further this is hockey, not fashion. Who cares what they look like if they work? In all this is an excellent start. I suspect that a clever marketing minded company like Reebok will improve the look of the skates with the next edition as this is the only area that Nike clearly has them beat right now.
In all these skates would be suitable for high-level recreational skaters who are playing several hours weekly. They would also suffice for juniors, college players and I suspect that we will see more than a few pair in with NHL players feet stuck into them next season (assuming that all continues to go well with the talks).
Some of my other reviews that you might find helpful:
Hockey Skate buying demystified
CCM Vector Pro Skates
RBK 9K Pump Skates
Koho 3360 Skates
Nike Flexlite Skates
© 2005 Scott Noble All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited.
Thanks to openroad for adding this item so I could review it.
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