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Harb Carvers (Comp Model)

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I just purchased a pair of the Harb Carvers (Comp model) and have spent a few hours on them this weekend. I'll leave my final impressions of them until after I've spent the Summer riding them, but here are some of my initial observations.

I considered reviving a few other threads on the Harb Carvers (and the debates on whether they actually carve without any "steering"), but thought I'd just put up some info as a gear review for any other Bears considering buying a pair.

Lots o' aluminum. That said, they kind of have a custom hand-built feel to them since all the parts are milled from aluminum. The only parts that aren't aluminum are the wheels and the brake pad (although I removed the brake entirly on my set). Make sure that you tighten even screw/bolt on them before you take them out the first time (I ended up with the left side making creaking noises into my second ride). They are exceptionally strong (the wheel axles are actually large carriage bolts) and not too heavy (but no where near as light as regular inline skates). I was surprised that the $350 Comps have only ABEC-3 rated bearings on the wheels. The wheels and bearings are from Labeda (generally good quality inline components). I was surprised that they use a soft aluminum spacer in the wheels (between the bearings) that does not fit tightly enough (it can accidentally flip out of alignment if the wheels are removed). I'm unsure of which wheel models from Labeda are used, but the front wheels (2 on each skate) are 76mm and the rear wheels (4 on each skate) are 100mm.

Mounting your ski boots:
Luckily I have an old pair of Flexons that I set up for use with Carvers (since you use your own ski boots with the Carvers). You kind of have to "semi" permanently mount them to each skate using a fairly awkward system. This is probably my biggest current concern with them. If you're going to use your main boots with these then plan on the outside of the shell getting chewed up a bit. The aluminum coupling for the heel gouged out the sides of my boots and the threaded rod that holds the toe put screw thread marks into the front of the boot above the toe lug. These markings are purely superficial, but I'm glad I used my "trasher" Flexons and not my current main pair. I used thread-lock stuff to keep the threaded toe rod from loosening. Note that adjusting the Carvers for my boot length permanently exposed the front of the frame and it has fairly sharp corners (skating around the house or using them at an indoor track could result in major damage to the floor/track if you fall forward).

Ride impressions:
The combination of ski boots and big rear wheels provide a very smooth ride on pavement compared to my normal inline skates. They have a very different feel than inline skates that's hard to describe. They are much more "ski-like" with their simulation of 2 edges and their ability to run "flat". I won't get into the whole "carving" debate here, but I will say that I was able to "carve" turns on them within a hour of practicing. Note that I'm an accomplished inline skater and skier and I have studied the PMTS methods a bit. I was wary of starting out on the Comp model (there are 2 other lower end models that are supposedly easier to use), but I'm happy that I decided to take the chance and dive in with the top model (I had never tried any of the Carvers before the Comps).

BTW - To protect the tips of my poles I found some old washer hookup hoses that I cut up. Their inside diameter fit perfectly onto the end of the poles. It added a bit to the swing weight, but this hose has exceptional wear on the pavement.

So now I'm hoping to hook up with some other skiers for some dry land training through the Summer months. Anyone else riding Carvers or inline skates for ski training in the Denver area?
post #2 of 2

Harb Carver Dryland Training Primer

To add to Noodler's comments....
I have used the Carver Pro model for about a year. This is the model just below the Comp. Similarly, I am using older boots for my set up. I am a 50 year old + Master's racer and I have very little experience with in-line skates.

For starters, you need to use modern ski race technique to get the most out of the Carvers. In ski terms, this involves turn initiation with the uphill ski (carver) edge, a strong commitment to inside edge (uphill and downhill) via ankle movement to the inside of the turn to achieve a high edge angle and deliberate transition prior to initiation with uphill edge for next turn. Once you relax into the high edge angle movements and link turns with short straight run sections you get a very ski like feeling. As with skiing, your balance needs to be centered to the pitch of the slope you are on.

I use ski poles and secure hiking pole rubber tips to the ski pole tip with duct tape. Smooth asphalt paving is the best surface....feels like smooth hardpack snow. I often set up small soccer cones for SL or GS training runs. Body armor and helmet are strongly recommended. I even use hockey shorts for added protection. I rarely fall but I am more confident with protection. Using roads requires some judgment regarding traffic, road surface and pitch. I would recommend a smooth surface with a very gradual pitch to start your development. This will enable you to focus on technical elements of the Carver turn sequence. Since the ski boot/Carver combo is not light, skating uphill with the Carvers is a good workout. I have some routes that provide 0.5 mile downhill non-stop runs....well worth the uphill effort.

The Carver equipment forces you to become more focused on turn initiation and transition. The skills learned from the Carver equipment will enhance anyone's skiing technique.


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