Skate Preview: the 2006 Rollerblade Collection

Rollerblade's Elegant New Freestyle Skate

Twister II Pro

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The Twister Grows Up and Heads for U.S. Market

By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson

Rollerblade appears to be getting serious about freestyle skates.

It is replacing its current candy-colored models with an elegant black-and-white skate that flirts with high fashion. And it is bringing the new skate to the U.S. market.

The skate is called the Twister II Pro. It replaces the Twister XV, which came in orange and blue versions and was available only in Europe.

The new Twister is based on the old one. In fact, its hard plastic shell appears to be almost identical.

But while the old skate looked almost toy-like, the new model has the classic lines and styling of a thoroughbred racehorse.

The skate is black, white or silver throughout with the exception of a small, but effective, red accent on the side of the heel. Even the wheels are black and white.

The skate comes with a new aluminum frame: the Hot Rod Alu. It's sleeker than this year's frame, although the same length (250mm).

Another thing that hasn't changed is the size of the wheels: 76mm. By contrast, K2 uses 80mm wheels on its freestyle skates, and Salomon puts 80mm wheels on the back and 76mm wheels on the front.

Salomon has led the freestyle market in innovation and sales for years. But it is leaving the U.S. skate market next year due to declining sales.

With Salomon out, Rollerblade decided to get in.

"We see a niche for this type of skate, and now with the exit of Salomon, the timing is right," said Nick Skally, Rollerblade USA's marketing manager.

Freestyle skates are popular with cone and slalom skaters. Their short frames and wide wheels make them handy for making quick turns and maneuvers.

The Twister II Pro will come with ABEC 7 bearings and a brake that can be installed by the skater.

Street price is expected to be $199.

The skates should begin to appear online and in stores in mid-January 2006.

It will come in sizes 23 to 31 (men's 5 to 13 U.S.). There is no women's specific model.

(Photo: Rollerblade)

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Copyright © 2005 by Robert Burnson

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