Testing the Bont Hybrid Package Quad Skates
The boot: Bont's know-how
For several years, Bont has become very active in the world of roller derby. Using the know-how the brand has acquired from speed skating, Bont proposes a complete pair, called Hybrid Package. It is sold 260$, around 220€ in Europe, but is not widely distributed.
Tough luck, the manufacturer forgot to add a set of wheels to the package of the test pair that I received. Thus I tested the Bont Hybrid quad skates with a set of Juice Jolt wheels...
With its black and white looks, the boot is sober and classy, at the image of the speed skates of the old days, but with a modern touch. The boot is a lot like those of the current speed skating models of the brand. Indeed, the structure of the Hybrid boot is made of glass fiber and heat modable epoxy resin (60°C), a know-how that Bont has been working on since 1975.
A few figures:
- Weight of the complete skate (size 41): 1250 g
- Weight of the plate: 340 g
- Weight of the boot: 280 g
- Complete skate: 260$ / 220€
Once you have found the correct size on the manufacturer's website (do not rely on your usual size, do use the brand's assistant!) it is a real pleasure to slip your foot into it. Thin and well thought out, it is a good candidate for a set-up. The epoxy resin is heat moldable for a maximum of comfort.
The outer sole is covered by a grip which prevents the plate from moving. On the inner sole, there is a neoprene layer into which are drilled the screws of the plate. As a result, even without supplementary sole, you don't feel the screw heads at all.
Tightening / Support
The lacing is very precise and it doesn't get loose once tightened. The boot is low-cut, leaving your ankle free, contrary to some other boots of the brand (see the Patriots which may cause pain according to the shape of your feet). The velcro strap is correctly placed and efficiently holds the instep as well as the heel into the boot, so that it doesn't feel loose.
The boot has a few bonuses, like the vecros on the sides of the tongue for it not to move.
The nylon plate
It is a common nylon plate, very short. On a size 40 skate, the axle spacing is of 145 mm. As a case in point, I am used to skate outdoors with a T3 Lazer plate the axle spacing of which is 150, and indoors with a 155 mm Sure Grip Avenger.
The Bont plate is light as its weight is only of 390 g! This is clearly not what is to be remembered from that skate. As a matter of fact, Bont doesn't even mention it on the presentation page of the pack! You have no precision with those skates because of the nylon material of the plate, and you have to tighten the cushions for the trucks not to move anymore.
The plate is mounted very much to the front of the boot, which highlights the speed skating purpose of the skate. Skaters wanting to derby with it will be disappointed: you may have to re-mount them (or take the boot alone and buy separate plates)! A short plate, moreover to the front, is not the best cocktail for that discipline!
The finishing is good for a skate of that price. The screws are of good quality and the disassembly/reassembly of the skate is quick. The plate is placed to the millimeter on the boot so that I had to take off the bolts and unscrew from inside!
On the other hand, you should protect the boot: if destined to a derby use it may wear out quickly!
What is striking at first is the lightness of the skates. You don't even feel that you have quads on!
The front set-up eliminates the use of those skates for derby right away (unless you are very motivated). This is a typical speed skating set-up: no heelpiece, flat heel.
The skating is very pleasurable although not very precise. We tested it outdoors with 59 mm 80A Juice Jolt wheels. Conclusion: Skating outdoors is very unpleasant, because of the wheels which are made for derby skating. On a track, the grip is good and the wheels don't slide in bends.
Not convinced by the pack, I decided to see what the boot was worth with on another plate: I dismantled another derby set-up which was not used anymore (WSG), to get the Sure Grip Avenger Magnesium plate. The original plate being mounted to the front, I re-used the rear fixing holes to mount the Avenger. Inded, the base of the latter is always mounted to the front because of the geometry of its trucks. Two holes at the toes and here we go!
From that point, the boot revealed all its potential: it proves to be quite comfortable (yet they are no sneakers!) and precise. Mounted with outdoors wheels (62 mm / 80A Hawaii Versus), it is a versatile skate suited for urban skating and derby. The plate is not too much to the back which enables to push and keep stable.
However, you are in a constant unbalance at the heel because of the flat boot (no heelpiece). Generally for a derby skate (and indoors skates) the heel is higher than the toes. It is not the case here and it reminds you of the sensations you get with an aggressive K2 skate: if you lean too much backwards, you lose balance! Once a heelpiece added, everything goes back into order.
Last but not least, the weight of that set-up is only of 1.2 kg, that is to say even lighter than the initial WSG set-up.
Compared to the market competition
In the few rare European shops selling that package, it is around 220€. the only skate in the same price range is the Riedell Vixen. The manufacturing quality is far better for Bont. As a comparison, the Vixen has a Powerdyne Triton plate which is nothing less than an anvil (I hate that plate!) The Bont quads are handmade, just like speed skates. The production time is longer than classic methods. This explains the weight gain and the great solidity of the skate. All in all, you pay the price, but quality is there.
According to me, that pack is clearly destined to a speed skating use, not to derby (which would seem logic as Bont has been a speed skating specialist for over 30 years). The plate is mounted too much to the front and there is no heelpiece. If the plate of the Hybride Package had been mounted more to the back, it would have certainly be more adapted to the practise of roller derby. The boot is of very good quality. In order for it to reveal its whole potential, it is better to mount an aluminum or a magnesium plate on it.
Strong points and points to be improved
Pluses+Comfortable and precise boot
-Nylon plate, i.e. lacks precision
Name: Hybride Package
Boot: Composite carbon fiber and glass fiber
Insole: Base Epoxy
Upper / Liner: Microfiber upper boot – high density memory foam inside
Tightening: Laces, velcro strap
Sizes: 33 to 52
Colors available: black and white
Price: 260$, 220€
Recommended use: roller derby / speed skating
Same range products: Riedell Vixen
Translation: Chloe Seyres