Friday, December 9, 2011

Niflheim Nordic CL700 rollerski review

Ed's company, Niflheim Nordic, started selling classic rollerskis last fall. I hadn't actually gotten around to trying them out seriously until this fall, a serious fail on my part, but most of the problem was related to the fact that I wasn't classic rollerskiing enough. Anyway, I've since put in a bunch of kilometers on the skis, and I have a favorable review for them. I've been skiing on a pair of Marwe combi skis for the last six years, so that is the standard to which I was holding the CL700.

Let's start with overall speed. Like the skate skis, the classic Niflheim Nordic rollerskis come standard with a speed reducer. Unlike the skate skis, though, striding up a hill with a speed reducer on your front wheel sucks - it feels like you're pushing your ski through deep, heavy, snow. So, you can't really use the speed reducer to modify your constant speed the way you can with the skate skis, unless you're just double poling. The skis run medium-slow, without the speed reducer, and I found it to be a comfortable-hard speed for a long ski (in company with some J1 girls who will probably be on the podium at JNs this year, so we weren't exactly dogging it), level 1 on the flats and level 2 on the uphills, for those of you who speak that language. The speed reducer is INCREDIBLY effective at slowing the ski on the downhills - when I put the speed reducer all the way on, I slowed down to a stop. Ed won't let me call it a brake, because it's not, but it sure functions in a similar way. I guess this is mostly due to the wider wheel for the speed reducer to work on, or the longer speed reducer lever-arm, or something like that.

The wheels of this ski are very flat - it is a very stable ski. This is great for striding, but it meant that when the road was deeply cambered, the skis wanted to roll off the edge when I wasn't paying attention. Usually, you only hit that much of a camber on corners, luckily, and I found that I could just adjust my ankle positioning. What was amazing about the wide wheels was how they absorbed bumps and road vibrations. I had always attributed the comfort of my Marwes to the honeycomb shaft, but the Niflheim skis are aluminum, and they are incredibly smooth on rough pavement. It makes for a really nice ride.

The skis also handle gravel well. Ed said something about the wheel having some space between it and the shaft, and that causes the gravel to not stop the skis, but whatever the cause, I could roll over stones that I wouldn't want to hit with my Marwe skis. I don't think it's good practice to aim for rocks when on rollerskis, but sometimes you find yourself with no choice but to go over a rock. These skis did not throw me down, the way I expected in that particular situation.

The Niflheim skis are also really comfortable when striding up hills. Because of the wide wheels, they're super stable, and they feel soft, if that makes any sense - very smooth.

The one downside to the skis is that the wide wheels make them a heavy ski. Being used to my narrow-wheeled combi skis, I had issues when I tried to do all-out sprints. I'm used to a narrow wheel that will let me quickly correct for a ski heading in the wrong direction, and I had trouble quickly moving these skis around. That said, very few people are doing all-out sprints on rollerskis, so I don't expect this to be a widespread problem! I didn't have too much of a problem edging off of the skis, although I suspect I'd be unhappy if I tried to skate on them for a long time. That's fine, though, because these are classic skis!

And, like the skate skis, the classic skis are anodized red, so they stay pretty and shiny. Overall, I'm a fan.

The price point is $199, without bindings, so as far as classic skis go, these are also cheaper. I guess the ratcheted front wheel bumps the cost, but it still saves a bundle of money compared to V2 or Marwe or Swenor.

Link to the Niflheim Nordic website. And here is a link to my review of the Niflheim Nordic skate skis.

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