Testing Rollerblade's Powerblade GTR 110
Testing the key-model of Rollerblade's 2014 speed skating collection
First of all: the Powerblade GTR 110 by Rollerblade that we tested is a sample. That skate will only be available on the market in the Spring of 2014. It is useless to try to purchase it beforehand. We had it tested by a medalled skater at the world championships of speed skating in order to get pertinent information, considering the high technical level of the skate.
The least to say is that the design of the GTR 110 makes the skate unmistakable! The central mounting point is very distinctive. Past that first impression, the boot seems to float (quite high) above the frame. The pointed toe boot is black and thin with very dynamic lines. It is completed with a few touches of green, white and red. A quick look at the heel is enough to realize that the boot is produced by Mariani, the great European specialist of made-to-measure boots for 20 years! Rollerblade did not call on anybody...
The frame has the same color combination: black, red, white and green. The GTR inspires fluidity and speed. A very successful design!
A good quality boot
Rollerblade has opted for a heat moldable carbon shell, rather high cut for a speed skate. The structure goes up to the malleolus. However, the collar v-cut at the Achilles tendon makes the bending easier. The outside at the toes is protected by a kevlar layer. Weight: 415 grams for a size 42.5.
An efficient tightening
The tightening system combines a velcro strap at the forefoot, a micrometric buckle at the instep as well as laces. That classic mix guarantees high precision for an optimal tightening. On the other hand, let's deplore that Rollerblade chose a micrometric buckle with a plastic part instead of a metal part, which would have been a solidity gain in case of a fall, especially on such a high-end product.
A correct support
The support will suit a regular speed skater, especially for a standard model (not made-to-measure). On the other hand, it proves to be insufficient for an expert skater as the carbon proves to be a bit too soft when the skate is pushed to its limits. A rigid shell is all the more needed as the skate is very high! There are almost 2 cm of height difference with a 3x110-1x100 frame for example... a height inherent to the single-point mounting design: the spaces between the wheels are not used to lower the center of gravity here. However, a skater used to 4x110 mm will not feel much difference.
Nothing to declare, no difference with our usual skates. The skate leaves a great freedom of movement.
Rollerblade and Mariani were generous as for the foam padding in the boot and as a result, the skate is quite comfortable, especially for the practice of leisure speed skating. Yet, if you push your skates too far, you notice that the quantity of foam padding jeopardizes their reactivity and precision. A hardened speed skater would have appreciated a skater closer to the foot.
The frame: a not so good idea
Rollerblade worked in collaboration with Luigino to create the GT frame (Gravitational Torque). Past the marketing speech explaining that power transfer is enhanced due to the single central mounting point, our verdict is as follows...
The GT frame cannot be compared to any of the models in the market, with its double central mounting point. It allows four 110 mm wheels and has a length of 13.2 inches (i.e. 335 mm), a common size. The central bridge culminates at 55 mm. The structure was well studied: reinforcement bridges have been placed between each wheel to rigidify the structure. The central part is very rigid while the ends are a bit more flexible, a guarantee of handiness despite the consequent length.
On the weighing scale, the GT frame shows 236 grams, quite an important weight compared to its rivals. On the other hand it oozes solidity. Rollerblade bet on reliability, there is no doubt about that. Technically speaking, it is a great product.
Yet with use, sensations are mixed: the unique mounting point creates a front-back rocker effect, which is more demanding for the anterior tibial muscle (at the shin), you have to force in order to keep your skating stance. We have also felt losses of balance. All in all, it does not engender confidence. Not to mention the extra height which jeopardizes stability even more. Having to fucus too much on your skating stance, you cannot relax and your performances decrease...
The wheels: satisfying but can do better
Rollerblade did not call on anybody for its speed skating wheels. Indeed, the Hydrogen range is manufactured in the American factories of... Matter! Speed skating experts will recognize the wheel design, similar to that of the former Matter Images and close to that of the new Mi3. With 148 grams, the Hydrogen is in the average weight range of the market. Rollerblade indicates a hardness of 85A, which suits mosts uses.
The Hydrogen wheels prove to be a bit broken-winded on long distance if you have a good skating level. On track with speed, supports are fleeting. They are rigid thus do not flex in bends, and you lose in grip. A positive point: the wear is slow, these are long-lasting wheels. In conclusion, they will suit leisure speed skaters, but they remain below the expected level of a competition wheel.
Noisy but efficient bearings
Rollerblade trusts Twincam for its bearings. The GTR 110 is equipped with ILQ 9 SCRS, the top of Twincam's range. It is a good model with a reliable rolling for a standard skate. However, they are a bit noisy at use, despite the fact that they are brand new.
A solid screwing
The screwing is solid, the screws and axles have successfully withstood the successive mountings. Note: Rollerblade has opted for sliding inserts under the boot, which enables to adjust the frame sideways. If you buy the Rollerblade Powerblade GT 110, take the time to adjust them!
A great finishing
The finishing of the boot is excellent. No seam jutting out inside, the manufacturing process is obviously mastered! At the most, let's note a small rest of glue at the Kevlar as well as a few micro grooves on the varnish. Most skaters will not even notice it.
The finishing of the wheels is perfect due to the know-how of Matter: no matter excess, not a single bubble.
We have not mentioned the price yet: 999,95€, not to say 1000€... indeed. According to the quality of all the components, this is quite a logical addition: A Mariani boot, Matter wheels, a frame design in collaboration with Luigino, it has a cost. Still the GTR 110 is a bit expensive when you know that you can get a made-to-measure pair for the same price.
You will have understood that we have mixed feelings as for the Powerblade GTR 110. Rollerblade made the effort to innovate in a market where novelties are rare, but according to us, the concept does not seem to bring any significant improvements to the skater. The change of support due to the single attachment point seems to cause tensing, whereas speed skating needs loosening to be efficient. Moreover, the height of the skate is increased instead of reduced. All in all, sometimes best is the enemy of good. The GTR 110 may have difficulties to find its public, because of its price and of its questionable innovation. To us, that skate is destined to road practice (short and medium distances) rather than track. And you, what do you think about that skate?
Strong points and points to be improved
- the front-back rocketing causing losses of balance
Model: GTR 110
Liner: synthetic suede leather
Shell: heat moldable carbon
Upper boot: synthetic leather with Kevlar layer to the side
Tightening: velcro strap, 45° micrometric buckle and laces
Available sizes: 23 to 35.5 cm
Frame: GT 4x110 mm, extruded aluminum, 13.2 inches (335 mm), 236 grams
Interaxial spacing: specific to Rollerblade!
Max diameter: 110 mm
Wheels: Rollerblade Hydrogen 110 mm / 85A (Made in USA by Matter)
Bearings: Twincam ILQ 9 SCRS
Tested size: 42.5 EU
Weight: 1359 grams
Thanks to our testers