Friday, September 16, 2011

USD VII 2011 Review and Update (by jrgantan)

Review done (and updated) by jrgantan on the be-mag message board

As the new Vii grey is coming out, I thought it would be a good idea to do an update of the Vii (black) skate I did on another messageboard. Here is my original review, posted 6/20/2011:

I know a lot of people are asking about how these things skate, so I'll try to answer a lot of questions in this review.

First of all, a lot of the curiosity is about the soulplate. Just like you can see from the pictures/videos, the soulplate is huge (bigger than the carbon plate), and has an amazing shape, especially it's groove. Before buying the vii, I was afraid the groove was too deep (like the 2-piece plate for UFS Thrones), making royale to ao topside tricks a little less fluid. USD adressed this, and made the groove wide and shallow, like the Deshi soulplate. This makes switch-ups, pretty easy, but doesn't take away from locking you in. Unfortunately, although the vii plate resembles the carbon plate, it feels like it is made from a softer, slower plastic. That's right, they are slower than I thought they would be, considering the carbon plates are pretty fast. If this is a deal-breaker for you, you might want to consider skating them with a carbon plate, though I don't know the sizing compatibility.

Second, the shell itself, imo, is the reason to get this skate. I have med to low arches on my foot, so many skates I've tried hurt my feet. I combined the vii with Blank liners and Superfeet insoles, and I have never had a more comfortable skate, ever! This shell is very accommodating, so I especially recommend this to people with wide feet. If you have a mid to narrow foot, get a liner that fits (I highly recommend blank liners), because your foot will have too much room with the thin stock liner. Or, you can downsize. The instep also flexes well, so there are no pressure points at all. Yet, with the flex, the shell is still solid and very lightweight.

Then there's the cuff. Unfortunately, the cuff is my only major complaint: it is cardboard. Think of a remz stock cuff....but softer. I can see why USD made the cuff so flexy, considering that they designed this skate for beginners; but I think beginners should have even stiffer cuffs so they can learn their tricks right! They aren't bad if you skate them as tight as you can. So unless you are Chris Haffey, who has transcended the need for ankle support, I would suggest swapping out the cuffs for something sturdier. For now, I have some RB cuffs on them, and they fit and work great. I wish Valo cuffs would fit-- they are perfect to me. I would even cut them to fit, so if anyone reading this has a spare set of 8-9 sized valo cuffs, I would buy them!

The stock type-M's and wheels weren't for me. I skate them with 50-50 balance frames w/ Eulogy wheels & Moonshine antis. I'm sure Create's would work & look good for this skate, also.

Overall, I really like this skate. I bought the skate for comfort and its light weight, and it definitely delivers. The skate will even surprise you, looks-wise. All my friends keep saying that they look better in person, and they do. As roomy as they are, they look surprisingly small and slim. Best of all, the design is very, very simple which makes the skate look even better, imo. If USD were to fix the cuff and make the soulplate a little faster, I believe they would make the perfect skate... at least for me. Oli, I hope you are reading this

My setup is a 8-9, with size 9-9.5 Blank liner:


^That was my review after skating them for a few sessions, about 3 months ago. The main reason why I wanted to do this update is because I thought that my original thread was a little misleading.

First, I may have not been clear describing the speed of the Vii plate. Yes, when I first skated them prior to my first review, they were definitely slower out of the box than the carbon plate. I was skating heavily waxed coping with my friends, and I had to cruise to get my brand new blades to slide as fast as theirs. However, after skating them for just 2 weeks, the Vii plate seemed to "break-in" and became fast...seriously. Judging from the wear of the plate, I still believe the Vii plate is softer than the carbon one (softer slides slower), but make no mistake-- work them in on some ledges and coping, and you will be satisfied. My soul plates are now pretty fast.

Second, I'm sure I gave some skateshops a big headache when I recommended putting carbon plates on the Vii's, and everyone kept asking if they could do that. At the time I said I wasn't sure about how they would fit, and I'm telling you now that they won't without modification. Carbons may fit the Vii plate, but not the other way around. Refer to the post that the good dude psyfron wrote:

I love the Vii soulplate and would say the only thing I don't prefer is that it might be too big. For locking souls, it's great, but the groove is very far from the boot, so you can't really get down low on your boot without lifting up the frame (I think this, and the fact I've been skating more park, is why it's been taking a while to put a decent groove in my frames). This is particularly true for Fahrvergnügens. This is where I prefer the carbon plate as it's groove is much closer to the boot. It's not even a big deal, just something to get used to.

Last, I mentioned how I didn't like the stock, flimsy cuff. First, I had some spare RB cuffs lying around, and they worked great, but there was a gap at the heel and the shape of the cuff constantly pushed my ankles forward. Someone mentioned that I should try Razor cuffs, because they fit without modification. A friend hooked me up with some SL style A4 cuffs, and they worked pretty good. In fact, I had been skating with these the longest. But, as you can see, the fit is still pretty weird, and I'm not too keen on the big graphics Razors loves to paint on their cuffs...

I got lucky and another friend gave me some cult shells and I used the regular-style Razors cuff, and those fit, feel and look soo much better. Proper support and great flex...shredding.

EDIT: big billy 13 let me know that putting the Razor cuff on the VII only works on the smaller sizes, i.e. 10+ size shells don't line up with the Razor cuff. I think it's due to the fact that Razor cuffs only come in one size.

Here are some pics of my current setup(s). Along with keeping the Blank liners and Superfeet, I think I have these blades dialed in just right:

Hopefully this update answers some questions. From what I hear, Oli says they've strengthened the cuff for the new grey ones, but we'll see.




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