Posts Tagged ‘ice hockey equipment’


true1When TRUE first let us test the original A6.0 and A5.2 sticks it was a revelation of what hockey sticks could and should be like. This was then followed by the X-Core 9, which we still view as one of – if not THE – best sticks on the market. TRUE has given us the A6.0 SBP to try and we’ve been finding out if it is the old A6.0 with a cherry on top or a complete overhaul.

The A6.0SBP does not come with TRUE’s X-Core technology but features other technologies in the blade that have been designed to make your shot harder. To benchmark this stick we’ve gone back to our original TRUE A6.0 review (a stick that was donated to a fan after winning the league) and Warrior Covert QRL. We benchmarked the QRL against the X-Core and found that the two sticks were pretty much on par with each other. Can TRUE pull one out of the bag and out-do the QRL?

In terms of TRUE’s tree-chart of sticks, the A series is aimed for providing Strength, Balance and Power (SBP) making it a shooter’s stick (think Bauer’s X1) and the X-Core series is aimed to provide accuracy, control and feel, with TRUE billing it as the playmaker’s stick.

Design:

In comparison to the Original A6.0 stick, the A6.0SBP is a flashier stick and has more design elements to it. It staystrue3 true to TRUE’s brand of using almost neon blue and grey design, which helps it stand out from the crowd. Like we mentioned in the Warrior QRL review, TRUE has always been more about performance than about the bling factor of a white stick with a fancy blade decal.

As with all design related things, the beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, but we really like the design of the A6.0SBP and would go as far as to say that it’s a handsome stick when you put it up against some of the others. You get a great combination of decals as well as the cool element of seeing the carbon fibre twill.

Feel:

When first holding the stick out of wrappers, it feels lightweight. The A6.0SBP is the same weight as its predecessor and ranks right up there with the Warrior, with both weighing in at around 400grams. Comparing the SBP to the original A6.0 it feels like the balance of the stick has been improved. The original A6.0 was a well balanced stick, but on the A6.0SBP the feeling of balance is better.

The lightweight construction of the stick makes it easy to use and stick handle, much like the Warrior QRL. However, in TRUE’s case we felt that we can get a bit more feedback from the blade and that the blade is more rigid than on the Warrior. This is thanks to the BRT blade on the stick (more on that later). Also the shaft of the stick feels that it gives you more.

This is in part thanks to TRUE’s SmartPly technology, the stick is well balanced and durable. The durability aspect is always key point to consider for any hockey player, but with the TRUE stick we’ve found that despite taking a few rather vicious hacks and slashes of the shaft it does last. However, as a disclaimer, it is always worth noting that virtually all sticks do break at some point. TRUE has done a great job in terms of producing a stick that goes that extra mile in terms of durability in a jungle of sticks waving at it.  

Shooting:

true2What we have found interesting in the TRUE A6.0SBP is TRUE’s Smartflex. The Smartflex technology allows for stiffness distribution from any shooting position. It feels almost like similar type of technology that CCM successfully used in its RBZ sticks and we really love it. The Smartflex is one of the real highlights of the A6.0SBP stick as it offers you almost a customised flex from the shaft.

In terms of shots, we were surprised at the ease of getting a decent shot off. Much like with the QRL that we tested, the TRUE A6.0SBP doesn’t need huge efforts to load for a quick wrister or snap shot. Thanks to the lightweight of the stick, you can get a better, quicker swing on your slapshots and much thanks to the flex of the shaft, they carry some immense power behind them.

In non-game situations and no goalie in net, it is easy to pick the top corners with this stick. In fact, what we found is that the shot almost automatically goes into that sweet-spot just where the cross bar starts to bend to the post. Sometimes even with hardly any load in behind the shot, it still amazes us just how much velocity you can get behind the shot with the A6.0 SBP.

Blade:

The blade on the original A6.0 was already amazing, but with the A6.0SBP, TRUE has made it 50% stronger than the A6.0. The blade features a Braided Rib Technology, which in essence means that the stick has seamless braided tubes running through the blade, making it stiffer. We have been using the stick now for good four to five months and the blade is still as stiff and responsive as it was the day we pulled it out of the wrappers.

In that respect TRUE has kept things the same and to this date, it is the only stick that feels newer for longer. For example, an X-Core 9 we used throughout last season still has the same performance as when first used, despite the several scuffs sustained in game play.

When we first reviewed the A6.0, we likened it to the Sher-Wood Rekker EK15, but in many respects TRUE has moved the game on from there. The A6.0SBP has maintained the great feel throughout our test period and is definitely one of the best sticks on the market in this regard. In game play and training the does provide you with the new stick feel – in terms of pop – for a long time. When you connect with a puck the shot has good velocity with it.

Conclusion:

The True A6.0SBP is not a mere minor improvement on an existing range of sticks. What TRUE has done is completely overhauled the popular stick and has made it even better and put more into it that delivers performance. When we originally reviewed the A6.0 we said that TRUE would be a name to watch and in the space of a few short years, we are more than confident in saying that TRUE has gone from a new comer to a company that produces perhaps the best sticks on the market.

So how does it compare against the Warrior QRL? Again this is a really close call, but we would say that the TRUE stick has the upper hand due to a few elements, mainly due to the BRT blade and the way the stick performs on the ice. The other elements that swing the vote TRUE’s way is the Smartflext technology and the price of the TRUE stick gives you slightly more that the QRL with not as much money.

In terms of overall performance, the A6.0 SBP is probably the best stick we’ve tested to-date. And that’s saying something as we absolutely love the X-Core, but the A6.0SBP has a slight edge over the X-Core. If other stick manufacturers weren’t worried about TRUE before, they better be now.

If anything negative has to be said about the stick (It’s grip coated by the way) it is the grip coating feels almost a bit too rubbery. It does give you good grip but to us, it’s almost too much grip.

While TRUE may not yet have as many NHL players using their sticks as CCM or Bauer, but the numbers are steadily growing (see Mitch Marner of the Maple Leafs recently picking up a TRUE twig). More and more players however, are discovering TRUE, which is good news for the company and the stick market, which risked being saturated by a few major players and faced lack of any real innovation. TRUE has been able to innovate with all of its stick launches and continues to produce the best sticks on the market.

Pros:
· Superb blade structure

· Great feel on the shaft and puck

· Shooting made easy

· Right price-quality point.

· Not a minor improvement over original A series, but a complete overhaul
Cons:
· Grip coating feels rubbery

 


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When TRUE Hockey unveiled its Z-Palm glove, it set the hockey world ablaze on social media. People were intrigued and amazed at the design of the glove and were at awe to the potential solution to the age old problem with hockey gloves: The worn out palms.

TRUE Z-Palm gloves feature a unique design element in that you can replace the palm of the glove with relative ease. At a recent hockey convention the fastest time recorded was 25 seconds for a change of palm. So it all sounds good as an idea and in principle, but does it actually work, or does the zip included in the glove make it uncomfortable to wear? Are there any flaws in the glove? Is it really a stroke of genius or a flash in the pan product?

We have been testing the TRUE  6.0SBP Z-Palm gloves for a few months now to find out what the gloves are about and to find out if TRUE has managed to solve the problem that plagues many hockey players across the globe.

Imagine the scene, you have broken in your gloves and they are comfortable as anything on your hands. Then through wear and tear, the palm develops a hole. You might get it re-palmed or covered up, which can sometimes make the overall feel of the glove awkward, or you ignore it and let the hole grow until you fork out for a new pair. It’s a cycle that players go through regularly. Some do it after every season, some mid season and those that are lucky, will hold out until there is no palm left on their glove before they buy new ones.

The benchmark glove we’re testing these against is the Warrior AX1 gloves as this set of gloves, in our opinion is the best in the market in terms of the 4-roll look and feel.  The current CCM 4-roll gloves provide a good feel and a good level of protection, but the Warrior AX1 is the better all-round fit at the moment and we are benchmarking the TRUE 6.0 SBP Pro Z-Palm glove against the Warrior AX1.

Out of the box

Out of the box the TRUE A6.0 Z-Palm gloves feel comfortable when you first put them on. The materials within the

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glove are breathable and feel comfortable against your skin. The gloves, similar to the Warrior ones, have an almost ready-broken in feel. The TRUE gloves feel like you could walk away from the store and jump straight into a game.

The gloves we tried came with the standard Z-palm palms. The palm felt a little bit thicker and almost heavier than on some of the other gloves. However, on the flipside, the standard Z-palms do provide you with good levels of grip and the materials used in the palms are of high quality. The first impression was, however, that the material might not be as breathable as on the AX1 gloves.

Otherwise, the design of the gloves is minimalistic, but when you look at it and feel the materials, you are confident that you are holding a premium product.

Comfort and Fit:

As mentioned the, materials used in the Z-Palm gloves give you a comfortable feel. The outer shell of the glove comprises of 24mm pro-grade EPP foam and 1mm PE Inserts, which gives you additional protection as most gloves on the market use 20mm size padding in their gloves.

The inner liner of the glove feels comfortable to the hand and is right up there with all the ‘big-boys’. The gloves provide high levels of comfort without sacrificing protection or adding weight. In terms of fit, we have been testing the 13” glove and it fits perfectly well. The only real niggle we’ve come across with them in comparison to your ‘standard’  gloves is that the inner padding and liner can move around when changing the palms, which will lead to some fiddling. It’s not a major flaw by any stretch of the imagination.

What is quite different in comparison to other gloves is the range of movement you get from the thumb. We would argue that the thumb area is more flexible than in others, and certainly we felt that we got a better grip on the stick than compared to other makes of gloves.

Protection:

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Gloves are used to protect. That is their main job and in game and training situations, the TRUE gloves perform as you would expect. As mentioned above, the thumb area of the glove is quite flexible. To combat hyperextension injuries that are often result of a fall, TRUE has integrated a protection mechanism, the Trueflex thumb. It is fairly standard in all makes of gloves, but on the TRUE gloves the hyperextension protection is longer and sturdier. For example in the Warrior AX1 and Sher-Wood gloves, you can hyper extend the thumb before you notice that there is anything stopping the motion. With the Trueflex you feel the protection is there and you will be hard pressed to hyperextend the thumb. However, it is important to note that in any piece of equipment features such as these don’t guarantee that they are sure to eliminate injuries, but should significantly reduce the risk.

In fact, the beauty of the Trueflex thumb is in the flexibility of the thumb. You are able to get a far better grip on the stick straight away when you start using the gloves thanks to being able to close your hand into a near-perfect fist in the glove. On other gloves, the thumb is often quite rigid and even on the Warrior gloves which allow for some thumb movement, it doesn’t come close to the TRUE gloves in terms of the grip you are able to get on the stick. This is by far superior when compared to the latest offerings from CCM, Warrior and Bauer.

In terms of the other protective elements, the gloves provide protection on par with top manufacturers in the segment. Thanks to the additional 4mm of padding in the TRUE gloves, you are better off. The protection around the wrist is good, as well as the padding around the fingers. TRUE has achieved a great level of protection whilst not sacrificing comfort of the glove.

Owning:

What we think make the TRUE Z-Palm gloves worth owning is the fact that you can customise your gloves with different palms. You can get the 4-roll look and feel whilst being able to enjoy palm materials usually reserved for anatomically designed gloves.

If you want long life out of your protective equipment, you do need to look after it. One thing that we did notice on few of the palms, mainly in the Pro and grip versions of the palm it can take a while for them to dry out. If you have back to back games, you might come to find that the palm area is still a little damp from the night before.

Having discussed this with TRUE, it is recommended that you partially unzip the palm to allow more air flow through the glove. We have since tried this trick and have noticed that it does indeed speed up the drying process of the glove.

Fitting the palm

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The burning question then: how easy is it to replace the palm? Well, we haven’t gotten anywhere near the record time that was set at the exhibition, but it is safe to say that you can do a pair of gloves in between periods if needs be and you’ll have time to listen to instructions from the coaches as well.

Removing a palm is easy and effortless. Here TRUE has done a good job with the design of the glove as the entire palm side of the glove opens up, which helps immensely with the changing process and the zips do not interfere with comfort of the glove.

However, attaching a new palm is something that takes a bit of getting used to. The first few times of putting on a new palm were a little bit of troublesome, but as with everything practice makes perfect. The challenge we’ve faced is in the fitting of a new palm. Once you get to the middle finger, you need to ensure that you keep the zip as straight as possible as there is a tendency of it getting stuck.

What might be an overlooked design element here is that the zip is positioned quite cleverly so that it should not be easily damaged during the game. The only way we see that the Z-palm design could be compromised is by someone stepping/skating on/over your glove from the palm side and by that stage, you’ll have other things on your mind as opposed to a zip.

Overall, the changing process is easy enough, even if putting on a new palm is the more difficult one of the changing process.

Conclusion:

In the past we have called TRUE Hockey as a new-comer to the hockey market, but in the space of few short years, the company has established itself with innovative products in both sticks and now protective equipment in gloves.

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The Z-Palm gloves is something that other manufacturers and players will be looking at with envy. The design looks great, they gloves feel great, but the real beauty of the TRUE A6.0 SBP Pro gloves is the Z-Palm innovation. By buying a pair of gloves, you are essentially buying five pairs. You have greater level of customisation opportunities to you and you can try new styles of palms without it costing you a new pair of gloves. The Z-Palm gives you longevity for the gloves as you don’t need to replace the gloves, but rather just the palm. If you are looking for gloves that provide you with good levels of protection, mobility the TRUE gloves should be on your shopping list. What will tip it in TRUE’s favour over any other manufacturer is the Z-Palms. Like said, by buying a set of TRUE gloves, you are essentially buying five pairs of gloves at once, all thanks to the customisation options the Z-Palm affords you.

In comparison to the Warrior AX1 gloves, the TRUE A6.0 SBP Pro Z-Palm gloves stack up equally well. The TRUE glove could end up costing you a bit less (depending on retailer) and you get a bit more for your money thanks to the Z-Palms. In terms of fit and comfort, the gloves are pretty much equal, though we have found the TRUE glove is slightly more breathable in games and training. Both gloves use odour eliminating technologies as well, with TRUE opting for Microban technology, while Warrior uses Polygenie, and to be fair, you would not be able to tell the difference. It is a close call when comparing the gloves like for like, but thanks to the price and the Z-Palm we would recommend the TRUE A6.0 SBP Pro Z-Palms. You get a premium, top-end pro product at a good price point and thanks to the replaceable palms, you get more for you money.


Stick Specifications:

Model: T-70

Curve: PP09 (Ryan), ½” heel curve, 5.5 lie, round toe (left handed)

Flex: 85

Non grip surface

Where to buy: http://nekoti.co.uk

SherWood hockey sticks have been one of those sticks that when I was growing up, it was THE stick to have and this is going back to the days of wooden sticks. The company has been producing sticks steadily and has two ranges it now produces. There is the Nexon range of equipment and the T-range, or True Touch. We have been testing a T-70 stick from SherWood, which lands near the top range of the True Touch range, surpassed only by the T-90 in the range.

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The SherWood T-70 side profile. The markings on the shaft are due to rubbing grip wax and stick tape on it for improved grip

The stick that we tested is an 85 flex (left handed), with PP09, or the Bobby Ryan blade pattern. The stick came without grip coating, though grip versions are available. Provided to us by SherWood’s partner Nekoti Hockey, the T-70 is a stick that felt familiar to the hands out of its wrappings.

The stick weighs slightly more than some of the other manufacturers’ sticks in the market, though there is not much difference in the overall weight. When we compared the sticks’ weight against other sticks in similar range, such as the CCM U+ Pro, the T-70 weight is similar, so it gives you an idea of the type of stick we’ve got here. However, the T-70 is equally balanced throughout, meaning it doesn’t feel heavier towards the blade. The added weight in the stick is due to the materials used to make the stick a bit more durable than lighter sticks, but more about the durability a bit later on.

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The T-70 blade with Ryan curve

The blade on the T-70 has a foam core centre to it, which reduces the vibrations throughout the shaft when receiving a pass or taking a shot. Though foam core technologies are commonplace in most hockey sticks today, SherWood have engineered a stick where the foam really makes the blade more responsive. Due to the design of the blade, it feeds remarkably well to the hands and you have a good feel for the puck at all times.

When we first started to use the T-70 one thing we had to get used to was the non-grip coating on the stick. Having used grip coating for a number of years, it took a while to get used to the feel of the stick and the way it handles than normal. However, the age old trick of rubbing some stick tape or grippy wax on the shaft resolved the issue.

The Shaft:

The shaft of the stick uses a build that ensures optimal flexibility, weight and balance and provides an excellent response potential, according to SherWood’s description of the stick. How that translates on the ice is quite accurate. When we first started using the stick, we found that it was really quick to load and noticed that it somewhat improved the velocity of shots. We say somewhat as we don’t have a speed gun to measure the shots, but there is a definitive, noticeable difference in shot speed and power.

Additionally, what we usually find with new sticks is that it takes a while to get the optimum flex from the shaft, but on the first try the SherWood T-70 was quick to load. Though the flex has improved and has become more and more responsive the more we used it, the T-70 provided perhaps the quickest response on first time use than other sticks we have tested or used.

Otherwise, the shaft uses a design with rounded edges, making it feel good in the hand. The shaft’s circumference is not as big as some of the other makes like Easton S series, which for our test was great. Though the shaft’s circumference is not as big as others, it hasn’t sacrificed much in feel or  durability.

Durability

Durability of a hockey stick is perhaps one of the key considerations when buying a new stick. You want to be sure that your hard earned cash gets you a stick that does not snap on the first use and you want to be comfortable in the knowledge that the stick is capable of handling your shot selection.

The SherWood T-70 stick is quite durable thanks to the materials SherWood has used in the construction of the shaft. It has a unidirectional fiber core and combines fiberglass and carbon fiber weave in a custom blend to provide added durability. Though these materials provide extra durability in the shaft the downside is that they add in the weight of the stick. However, despite this, the stick is equally balanced, providing you with good flexibility and response potential.

The stick we have been testing has been used both in the training setting and in league level games. In games where hacking and slashing is common place, the stick has gotten a few scuff marks, but is not demonstrating any wear in the actual build of the stick, i.e. there are no chunks of the shaft or blade missing, only some paint work, which is to be expected.

The Blade:

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Curve comparison. Next to the CCM CL with 19 (Tavares) pattern. The T-70 blade is slightly shorter, but in similar specification

As said, the stick we have been using comes with the PP09 (Ryan) curve, which is a ½” heel curve blade with a 5.5 lie and round toe. Modelled after the Anaheim Ducks star, Bobby Ryan, the blade pattern is closely matched by those of CCM’s Tavares (or 19), Reeboks’ Spezza or Phaneuf (P36 or P36A), Easton’s Cammalleri/Zetterberg, or Bauer’s Staal (P91).

The transition to the blade was quite easy as the stick we previously had in use was with a CCM Tavares (19) pattern and as the image shows, there is very little in between the two. Though at the start and the first few shots with the stick did fly over the net and there was some getting used to required, the blades were quite similarly matched in terms of the pattern.

Thanks to the foam core used in the T-70 blade, the blade does feed through to the shaft really well and does what SherWood says with the description in that it reduces the vibration when taking a shot. Like mentioned the foam core in a hockey stick blade is by no means unique these days, but the way it is deployed in the shaft makes all the difference. You might remember from the Beaster stick review where we mentioned that the blade didn’t really feed through to the shaft properly, but with the T-70 there were no such issues. When you receive a pass you know that he puck is on your blade and you don’t have to spend time with your head down wondering whether or not the puck is on your blade.

In game situations:

We have now been using the stick for about a month and in game situations we have beenImage notching up points with the stick since the first game we used it in. Like mentioned the stick is durable and has withstood the toils of a hockey game really well. The stick responds well to shot selections and like mentioned the talk of shot velocity is not a lie. Specially with wrist shots, the stick is in its element, though having said that, its not a stick that is designed to snipe wristers but can also handle a heavy slap shot with ease and has helped hit the top shelf on more than one occasion both in trainings and in games.

Conclusion:

The SherWood T-70 stick is a great stick and recommended for league players, or to those who are looking for a stick that is both durable and incredibly responsive. The features set that the stick offers is closely matched by the CCM U+ Pro, but is cheaper than many of the other sticks at this range. By no means is the price a sign of a bad stick as with the SherWood T-70, you get a stick that performs equally well, if not better than some of the competing sticks in the same category. Whilst it may not come packed with all the features of the T-90, the T-70 is definitely a stick where price, durability and performance meet.

Pros:

  • Design of the shaft fits perfectly in your hand
  • Responsiveness
  • Quick load and release
  • No vibrations through the shaft
  • Good price point
  • Great balance throughout the stick

Cons:

  • Non grip coating (Only on the model we tested)
  • Heavier than some other sticks in similar range

You can buy the SherWood T-70 and other hockey gear at:

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