By Jeff Copetas and Kyle Stevenson, Pure Hockey Marketing
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.