World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.
Are 3-point Skates Better?
Hi, Bill: Some skaters cling to their traditional two-point skates. Others sing the praises of Bont's three-points. But as far as I can tell, there's no clear winner in the "which are better" department. What are your thoughts about three-point skate setups? Do they provide significant advantages over the standard setups with two frame mounts? - Dennis in California
Hi, Dennis from sunny California: As you may know, for many years I — along with my children, Nicole and Wayne — have been involved with Bont. In fact, I was one of the people who pushed for an early release of the Bont 3-points, and Wayne was the first skater to test them in a race: the 2005 Inline 111 in St. Gallen, in which he won the midway sprint.
Bont developed the 3-points in response to the introduction of big wheels in the last decade. The new 100mm wheels were a challenge for skate makers. They had to figure out how to build larger and stronger frames that were not too heavy or too high off the ground.
There were lots of problems at first. Some of the 4x100mm frames tended to flex or crack under pressure. Others had a problem with the second wheel rubbing against the bottom of the skate.
One very hot day, this rubbing wore holes in the bottom of the boots worn by my son, Wayne, Marc Christian and Francesco Zangarini during a World Cup race in Nice. All three had to drop out.
But Bont's 3-point setups brought an end to these problems by adding one frame mount and positioning the mounts between the wheels.
With the 3-point setups, racers found they could get a full positive push without any flexing of the frames. This was especially helpful for big strong skaters and for use on banked tracks.
On the downside, some skaters, especially those on short plates, noticed more road vibration, apparently picked up by the extra frame mount.
Bont patented its 3-point design and offered to license the technology. But only one skate company bought a license: Solvein.
Meanwhile, the other skate makers kept working on creating a standard 2-point frame that could handle the bigger wheels. Eventually, most were able to overcome the technical difficulties by tweaking their designs and materials. These days, there is no consensus on what's better: two points or three.
My daughter recently stepped out of her Bont 3-points due to a change of sponsor. She now skates on X-Tech IS frames and X-Tech boots. (On the track, she uses a 110-100-100-110 setup; on the road, a 110-100-110-110 setup.) And so far, there is not much change in her results or performance. She is still winning races and breaking records.
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