Test : Bont Cheetah 2010
Bont revisited the definition of "entry-level" products. The Cheetahs are totally heat moldable. The shell is composed with fiberglass, most of other brands prefer carbon fiber or fiber glass/carbon fiber combinations.
As explained on Bont Web site, Cheetahs are hand made : each layer of fiberglass is hand laid in different directions to increase the stiffness of the boot.
The Cheetah package is proposed with a Bont AL S-frame, a light and stiff frame (only 170 grams). Cheetah package is available with 2 types of wheels: Hyper Stripe 100 mm or Bont G3 110 mm. We tested the package with Bont G3 100 mm.
Bont bets on sober, classical and smart colors: black and white, like a smoking! The Australian firm printed the pattern directly on the synthetic leather. This technic, combined with a limited amount of parts, certainly allows to reduce the production costs and the global weight of the boot.
If Bont wishes to change the aesthetics, only a slight change on the pattern is required. Clever !
We really appreciate that look.
The boot of Cheetahs is lower than the Semi-Race... but still wraps the ankle well. The fiberglass shell is present above the malleolus. It will be reassuring for novice speed-skaters speed or fitness skaters, more accustomed to mid-cut uppers.
The connection between the fiberglass shell and the upper is really clean for such an entry level and cheap product: no trace of glue, perfect leather cuts, seams well done. The workmanship is truly excellent.
We also appreciate some little details such as the scratch to maintain the tongue with the rest of the liner.
If the foot shapes vary, Bont shape matches for us. There is little space all around the foot. We recommend you to measure your foot before choosing. For example, my size is 40 for sports shoes, 39 for city shoes. I chose 39.
One said at first that the fiber glass will provide less stiffness than carbon... not that much! The shell has a very good response for an "entry-level" skate, it deforms slightly by hand while remaining fairly tolerant.
In practice, the Cheetah combines a good reactivity and a significant comfort. Front/back flexibility is no problem. The heatmoldable tongue does not cut the foot and is forgotten. The skater can bend easily. We appreciate the back of the shoe with a generous "V" cut : it gives a great freedom to the Achilles tendon at the end of the push.
A relatively stiff structure combined to a wraparound shape provides a good general support. The skater feels safe and is able to push in good conditions.
The whole foot is ensconced in the boot with a thick but soft lace. If it had been waxed, it would have been easier to slide in the eyelets. Bont separated the upper and lower eyelets for those who want to use two laces to improve tightening. This provides more accuracy.
The kick and the laces are covered by a triangular piece of leather, ended by a micrometric buckle. The foot does not move into the shoe giving more precision in skating.
We felt no discomfort in the Cheetah, even skating barefoot. The inside liner has a very few and discreet seams. Many parts are glued. Since there are very few pieces of leather and construction is simplified to the maximum, we really feel that the shoe is made of only one piece.
As noted above, the rear of the shoe is flared to give more freedom. The Achilles tendon is hosted by a comfortable foam. The tongue, rather thick, does not cut the foot (as it often happens with speed-skates).
Mounting of Cheetahs...
To reduce the production costs, Bont sells its skates in spare parts. You must therefore arm yourself with the key and mount the skates yourself. The boxe contains the wheels, bearings, shoes, shoelaces, decks and keys separately.
Assembling frames with shoes is easy. Start by positioning the front and rear points before tightening the central point. You must be careful not to damage the screw heads that are slightly soft.
The insertion of the bearings in wheels is easier if you place the wheels on a flat surface before exerting pressure on it. Thus, the bearing will enter in its slot. It'is a little harder if you only push the bearing with your thumbs. Before starting the operation, take time to "dry" bearings with a sheet of paper : they are well oiled.
A good point : When you will squeeze the axles, you will notice that there is no clearance between the wheels and the frame. It is perfectly adjusted! Moreover, while skating, you do not hear any noise or vibration.
Frames : 3 points required!
Bont proposes 3 points patented frames for many years. The Cheetah we tested possesses a 12'8 inches (325 mm) extruded alloy frame. This S-Frame model weighs 166 small grams on the scale. This version has an excellent rigidity on the central part and a bit more flexibility at the ends. It is always nice to skate in 3 points, you feel the skate more stiffer, more responsive and more accurate.
Wheels : Bont bets on safe values
We tested a Cheetah version equipped with Bont G3 wheels, a reliable multi-use model released in 2008. We had in hand the 100 mm 84A version. A wheel weighs 123 grams. The G3 is available on the market for a reasonable price (around 8 Euros per wheel in 100 mm). Urethane is excellent, we noticed no bubble on the surface which is smooth and homogeneous.
The profile of the urethane is elliptical with a tread fairly close (not a criticism, it reduces friction). Its volume guarantees a greater inertia. The hub is composed with 8 branches smaller in the center with wider ends. This improves the flexibility of the wheel when turning : the wheel will deform at this point.
We also appreciate the fact that the wheels are made in the United States. The finish is clean enough : there are only a few plastic residue on the hub.
The rebound test is successful, the G3 reaches rapidly a great height.
Bont G3 show an excellent grip, especially when cornering. On wet surfaces, you have to wait until the varnish has gone to get a correct and consistent grip.
The G3 also have good rolling performances. It is rare to have wheels of such a quality on an "entry level" product.
Regarding wear, we had to skate for 30 kms to make the varnish disappear. The degradation of the surface is smooth and slow. Good !
Cheetah are equipped with standards 608 Bont ABEC 7 with metallic flanges. They are generously oiled (as we said before...).
They remained very quiet in use. We have not had the opportunity to test it on wet ground.
Axles and hardware
Bont proposes the Cheetahs with a really ergonomic allen wrench. It has a very pleasant grip, it would have been even better with a bearing pusher (but that's just quibbling!)
The cast of axles are deep, the key enters easily. The screws attaching the frame to the boot, however, have a less precisefootprint : sometimes, the wrench has some difficulties to enter. Furthermore, their alimum seems softer. The cast is fragile. Go easy when assembling and disassembling!
What are the difference between a Semi-Race and a Cheetah?
Both products have almost the same price. Their main difference lies in the shell structure: semi-Race are much more higher than Cheetah. The Cheetah is closer to a conventional speed-skating while the semi-race is more dedicated to long distance.
Once again, Bont hits strong! Cheetah are very well placed in terms of value for money. These skates will perfectly fit to skaters wishing to begin and improve in speed-skating: good support, rigid frame, reactive and good rolling wheels... are all good points that are the lifeblood of Cheetahs!
Les points forts et à les points à améliorer
Good points+ Look/design
+ A really good value for money
Points to improve- hardware too soft
|Axles and hardware||07/10|
|Value for money||09/10|
FINAL NOTE :
Shell : 100% fiberglass and Epoxy resin
Sole : ventilated EVA heat moldable
Upper : microfiber
Tightening : micrometric buckle, waxed laces
Frames : aluminum S-Frame (166 grams)
Wheels : Bont or Hyper Wheels. here: G3 100 mm 84A (123 grams)
Bearings : Bont ABEC7 608 Steel
Possible mounting : 3 points, 2 points 165 mm, 2 points 195 mm
Colors : black/white or white/black
Masse : 1230 grams (4x100 mm size 39 EU)
Boot (only): $165
Package 3 points 110 mm : $384
Package 3 points 100 mm : $360
Package 3 points 90 mm : $360
Package 2 points 90 mm : $315
Useful linksText: Alfathor
Photos: Alfathor and Bont