Bauer Retail Stores

Yesterday, Bauer announced that they would open hockey retail stores across the U.S. and Canada. They will begin with two Bauer retail stores (located in Minneapolis, MN and Burlington, MA) and eventually have up to eight stores in North America. This is the first hockey equipment manufacturer to go direct-to-consumer with physical retail stores. It is undoubtedly a game-changer.

With a large Pure Hockey store also located in Burlington, MA, we are certainly getting a lot of questions about this and the story is generating a lot of chatter in social media and on the forums. Our intent is always to be as open as possible with our customers, so we thought we’d put down some thoughts here about it and share them with you.

This does not come as any major surprise to us. We’ve been talking internally here about this happening for quite some time and it was never IF, it was always WHEN. You can be sure that while we are not overly enthusiastic with the Massachusetts location that Bauer has chosen, this is the U.S.A. This is capitalism. It’s a free market. Bauer is a public company who is always under the gun to grow revenue streams and show gains each and every quarter. That is what it’s all about for Bauer now. If Bauer thinks it makes sense for their business, then so be it.

managing-chaos

We’re on the left.

There are no sirens going off, no panic or bedlam in our offices. We have very good competition in almost every market we are in. That will continue – and likely only get tougher. To coin the most overused phrase of all time, it is what it is. The direct to consumer approach is happening in many other retail sectors (hello, Apple) and it will continue to happen.

That said, we will continue to do what we do – offer a wide range of products, continue to open new stores in new convenient locations and most importantly, go 150% out of our way to serve our customers, unbeholden to shareholders.

So welcome to retail, Bauer. This s*&t ain’t easy!

In a letter yesterday to their retail partners who have supported them, Bauer said all the right things, as most companies do when announcing major initiatives that could impact companies who have long supported them. For example, this

“For both our retail partners and consumers, our retail experiences will serve as living representations of the BAUER brand.  We can now fully showcase at retail our technological advancements, as well as how BAUER products work together.  As a result, we will equip hockey players with in-depth product knowledge so they can confidently purchase BAUER wherever they shop.  A more informed and inspired consumer will benefit our retail partners and ultimately the athletes on the ice.”

….and this:

“Historically, the introduction of manufacturer-owned retail in other industries has supported premium pricing and brand positioning, and local retailers’ profitability has increased as a result.  Similarly, we expect the BAUER brand experiences, with their premium service, development of new customers, lack of close-out product, and first class showcasing of the BAUER brand, to create more demand for BAUER product, incentivize trading up by consumers and bolster a premium brand experience. It is our expectation that our retailers will share in this healthier and more profitable market for BAUER products.”

While actions always speak louder than words, credit to Bauer for the approach on paper.

That said, let’s be honest – this changes the relationship between Bauer and not just Pure Hockey, but between Bauer and ALL of the retailers who have put Bauer in the position they are today. How all that turns out remains to be seen and should be very interesting.

What do you think? Leave a comment!

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Bauer APX 2 Composite Stick Preview

Bauer APX 2 Coming to Pure Hockey

The much-anticipated Bauer APX2 is almost here! Slated for a September 13th launch date. Some big improvements have been made in terms of weight, durability and feel.

The Vapor continues to be Bauer’s versatile stick line, with the Intelli-sense technology dual flex zones. Depending on your hand positioning, the stick will flex differently. On a wrist or snap shot, when your bottom hand is higher on the shaft, the stick flexes at a low flex point for a quick release and more accuracy. When you take a slapshot with you hand lower on the shaft, the stick flexes at a higher point for more energy loading and a more powerful Bauer APX 2 Flex Techshot.

The biggest improvements have come in the blade. The new Aero-Sense Core is not only more durable, but provides significant increases in feel. The blade core is the Aero-Foam 3 with an energy absorption quality. It is lighter and less brittle than previous iterations giving it better feel and durability.

The new blade core is more pliable than in the past, which allows the blade to give more catching hard passes or taking impacts and making it less susceptible to cracking internally. Think of it like the glass on a cell phone screen, it has some give to it, so as to not crack too easily on small impacts.

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Bauer APX 2 vs. CCM RBZ Skate Side-By-Side Comparison

 Bauer APX2 Comparison  CCM RBZ Skate Comparison

Bauer and CCM both made some big improvements for their respective skate launches this year. CCM has made more improvements to their RBZ skates, but in fairness to Bauer, CCM had a longer road to travel down in terms of quality. The good news – CCM is now right there and has built a skate that matches up with the very best of them.

Both companies focused on a few features to improve upon, releasing a new holder with their respective launches, an upgraded lacing system, a new tongue and an improved quarter construction material.

Boot Construction: Both CCM and Bauer used a material new to their respective lines for this season. Bauer crosses over the CURV composite material (previously seen on the Supreme line) to the APX2 skates. Combined with their X-Rib pattern, the Bauer boot provides your foot with maximum structural support and stability. This allows for the best energy transfer, leading to quicker turns and faster acceleration.

The RBZ, on the other hand, is built from the CCM SpeedCore Technology. This provides pro level stiffness to maximize your foot reaction speed and explosiveness. The boot is 24% stiffer than CCM’s last pro-level skate, the U+CL. CCM also overhauled the actual inner fit of the boot, giving it a wider fit than most boots and giving it much greater contour. This makes for a true heel lock and helps to secure your heel in the boot. Less movement inside the boot leads to more control on the ice. The Action Form Foam core is still highly moldable, but this skate has CCM’s best out of the box feel ever – and far better overall fit than previous models.

 Bauer APX2 Comparison  CCM RBZ Skate Comparison

 

Tongue: Both tongues are new for this year. Both companies took the hint from their pro and college players by putting in tongues that are most requested at the very highest levels. CCM put in a pro-style felt tongue with injected foam to help prevent lace bite as well as give you a little bit of protection from impact. Bauer’s APX2 also went over to a more traditional felt tongue, with an abrasion guard on the front to help stop lace bite.

Lacing: The new lacing system on the APX2 from Bauer is quite innovative. They put in place a one-piece injected lacing system. This maximizes the energy return and transfer in every stride. On top of that it helps retain its consistency throughout the life of the skate, preventing individual eyelets from failing and strengthening the durability of the skate. This feature gives Bauer a large advantage over competitors, as it’s unique and useful.

The CCM RBZ has a lacing pattern which attacks fit and flex issues that many players have voiced. In the fore foot of the skate, the eyelets have a little more give and are closer together, allowing for a better wrap in the lower foot where it is needed. The upper section of eyelets are stiffer and face straight out to give players forward flex as needed.

Holders: Last but certainly not least, both companies released new holders this year, both of which are taller than their predecessors. CCM’s SpeedBlade 4.0 is 4 mm taller and Bauer’s TUUK LightSpeed Edge is 3 mm taller. This is done so that you can get lower to the ice in turns, producing quicker turns and more power exiting turns.

 Bauer APX2 Comparison  rbz-blade

The CCM holder is strengthened using their Speed Ribs, creating less torsion and less deflection. This leads to better control and less energy loss in stride. The SB 4.0 also features industry standard holes for mounting, allowing the holder to be easily mounted on other manufacturers’ skates. The steel itself is the SB HyperGlide, a polished steel runner, designed for less friction and better glide. It is also made from a harder steel, allowing it to hold its edges longer than many other models on the market.

The APX2 features the TUUK LightSpeed Edge holder, revolutionary for allowing players to change their steel in a matter of seconds. The trigger on the holder allows you to change your steel in case of breakage or a lost edge – without even taking off your skates. The steel runner is an updated version of the LS Fusion runner. It is made from elite stainless steel fused with high-grade aluminum, to reduce weight by 27% compared to standard steel runners. Fused aluminum lightens the runner without lowering the sharpening life.

A very nice final addition to the RBZ skate comes in the footbed, as included in the box is CCM’s new custom support insoles. This insole system is designed to be fit to your foot, falling into the category of low, mid, or high arches. The increased support maximizes contact between and connection from your foot to the sole of your skate. This increased connection gives you better control of the skate and an increased foot reaction speed.

In summary, Bauer basically continues on their path of making excellent skates. With each release of their pro-level skates, Bauer consistently finds elements to improve. The two biggest things in our eyes with the APX2 skates are the new lacing system and the ability to swap out your steel and not miss a shift.

CCM has completely revamped their skate line and is now right there with Bauer (or anyone) in terms of fit, quality and comfort. If you’ve previously been averse to CCM skates, now is the time to put them on your feet and give them a try, because the RBZ skate is legit. In a big way. As always, we won’t really recommend one over the other – everyone’s foot is different and it’s ALL about what feels best to you.
 

 


Hockey Stick Weigh-In Part II

 

By Kyle Stevenson, Pure Hockey Marketing

It’s that time again, stick weigh-ins are here. We’ll cut right to the chase…

Once again, these weights are all for the same (or closest comparable) blade pattern and same flex, for consistency.

1) Bauer Nexus418 Grams

2) Bauer TotalOne NXG424 g

3) Bauer Vapor APX LE430 g

4) Reebok 20K431 g

5) CCM RBZ 441 g

6) Easton RSII443 g

7) Easton Mako II450 g

8) Bauer Supreme One.8465 g

The other request we had last time was what is the difference in weight between the same model stick. So we tested that out too with the Nexus and TotalOne NXG…

The Nexus weighed 3 times came in at 418g, 418g and 420g. The NXG came in at 421g, 422g, and 425g. So in the numbers seem to be very consistent.