It's hard to imagine a better way to put our products to the test than having two top American skiers roller ski across the country, from South Carolina to California, on 4 different V2 models but that's exactly what Carolyn and Santi Ocariz did earlier this year. During their amazing journey they encountered every type of terrain and surface you can imagine which allowed them to use all of the 4 models extensively. When it was all over they were kind enough to put together the following review.
Our 3,500 mile ski across the country required some specialized gear. Below is a review of the equipment we used on our trek and how it stood up to the cross country challenge.
V2 Aero XL150S Roller Skis: The V2 150 Aeros, equipped with brake and speed reducers have been the Ski Across America roller skis of choice. They provided superb performance regardless of what terrain we hit. They rolled over all the gravel that often times jams wheels, even when the entire road would turn to packed gravel. The speed reducers and brakes were also essential. Without them, there is absolutely no way we could have roller skied some of the descents safely (some were up to 14% downhill grades with 180 degree turns!) The combination of large pneumatic wheels and brakes also aided us in safely riding into the shoulder to get out of the way of logging trucks and other vehicles in questionable situations. In addition, we had ratcheting wheels for the Aero’s . These were very helpful on the long mountain climbs when we encountered a small shoulder and traffic. The ratcheting wheels allowed us to switch from skating to striding in order to take up less room on the road. All things stated, we believe the V2 150 Aeros are the most versatile ski on the market and when combined with the speed reducers and brakes, they are also the safest.
V2 XLC98RM Skate Roller Skis: These roller skis performed remarkably well on smooth and mildly rough pavement. The days I decided to do speed work, these were the skis of choice. The carbon composite shaft makes for a very smooth ride. By being lower and having harder wheels than the Aero’s, these skis are more stable and allow for more aggressive push-offs than the Aeros.
Listed below are comments by other users of V2 products.
XLC9848 and XLQ9848
John Chiarella is an elite skier who just missed making the Olympic Team. This is what he wrote us about the composite XL9848 that he purchased in the spring of 2014.
"Today I skied at 6 pm. It was sunny and the temperature was around 30 degrees. We have had muddy roads, and there is still up to 2 feet of snow in our yard, with good-sized snow banks along the road and drive. That means some firm areas of dirt, and some soupy and sandy areas as well. You need to go through these areas when exercising, as getting around the surface variations is impossible. We had 4 inches of fresh snow Tuesday night, and by the time I got out to ski it had melted down to patches on the road and in the sunny areas. So I roller skied on dirt, snow, ice, gravel, some really bad and some decent pavement, as well as pavement with sand and rocks on top. I actually think I like these skis more on the dirt and gravel then on paved roads. The speed and the resistance feels perfect for me on hard packed dirt. The speed reducers are a must with our steep hills. With them I never need to walk down hills.
These may be the greatest roller skis that I have ever been on. What that means to me is that they fit what I want, and what I do these days perfectly. They are more touring ski than race ski, and they make it so hassle free to ski that they are a perfect fit for my life with work, family, and other time constraints. They deal with the vagaries of our weather, and the diversity of our road surfaces. I get to roller ski with no hassles, and it is fun and safe. All I am looking for is to get exercise, and since I love to ski; this is the perfect way for me to stay healthy.
The roller ski ferrules with the shock absorbers seem to work well too. I have tried a lot of those over the years too; Kangaroo poles, moon shock absorbers, shock grips, pogo grips. They all had their good and bad aspects. Some were simple, some complex. Some were heavy, and some were light. Some worked, and some didn’t. This is a reasonable way to dampen the initial shock of the pole plant, and it is light and simple. After a week I like them. Last week I skied 210 kilometers on snow and I felt great. That was it for snow skiing for the year, but I’m tempted to go to Bear Notch before the week is up to just ski one last time. Fortunately for me I enjoy roller skiing almost as much as snow skiing."
"Galanes Sports Systems has been testing the new V2 XLQ9848 Roller Ski from Jenex. These skis replace the old Terra ski that I had tested many years ago. My interest in these skis stemmed from my experience with the old Terra ski. Being back in Vermont and an abundance of dirt roads I thought they would be fun to try. I will try to get some video soon. But what I can say is that these skis rolled well over virtually everything on the dirt road I skied on which in places was not very smooth. Just have to be careful when there is rather large loose gravel present. These skis performed great and I can say skiing on dirt requires good body position and effective timing to ski well. To me they are more like skiing than other training options. I skied 12.6 miles with about 1000 feet of vertical climb, in 1:18. Got a bit carried away with technique and finding a good rhythm and the intensity of the workout got away from me. EPOC was 212 ml/kg/min and the Training Effect was 4.9."
"It only took me two or three practice stops to become proficient. And do they have stopping power! Not quite like a bike, but not far from it.” - Lee Borowski, Coach
"This finally puts every roller skier in control of his or her destiny. Before this, you couldn’t actually stop yourself on down hill, at stop signs and in dangerous situations. The brake is mounted on one ski, is very light weight, not too costly and is easy to attach. I can attest to that. There is a learning curve, of course, so be sure to proceed cautiously in your beginning kilometers of use. Just as 100% of roller skiers should be wearing helmets, the same number should be using the brake.” -Marty Hall. Former US Olympic Coach and both Coach & Nordic Director for Team Canada.
"The Jenex website does not do it justice! First of all it's lightweight and totally unobtrusive. I am thrilled with the results! I can readily climb hills that my training partners avoid because of the scary descents. The ability to modulate the speed is great. I can't wait until my training partners upgrade to the brake. It has really opened up some new roller ski venues and has put a little spark in my fall training." J.M. USA
XLC900 and XLQ900 SERIES
"Short and sweet, these roller-skis make for a wonderful experience. Their smoothness and tracking while striding is unparalleled by any other classic ski I’ve ever used." Santi Ocariz
“After using the V2 composite shaft 910’s I don’t like to train on any other classic ski.” This is what Kris Freeman, four time Olympian and 17 times US National Champion, told Zach Caldwell.
“The best way I can describe skiing on the new V2 XLQ98 is crisp. They make Marwee’s feel very spongy and dead in comparison and the V2 are much lighter. Vibration dampening is superb even on rough chip sealed roads. I don’t know if I could ever go back to a conventional shaft ski. It feels much easier to ski well on these skis than on any other ski.” Pat O’Brien. Ski Racer and the new Nordic Ski Coach at Stratton Mountain Ski School.
“These skis are so much more efficient at putting energy to the road it’s really astonishing. Training on these skis will produce faster and more efficient skiing.” Zach Caldwell, ski tuning guru and Nordic Coach.
“The XLQ98 are the best skate skis I have ever used.” Kris Freeman, four time Olympian and 17 times US National Champion.
"The speed reducers and brakes were also essential. Without them, there is absolutely no way we could have roller skied some of the descents safely (some were up to 14% downhill grades with 180 degree turns!)" Carolyn and Santi Ocariz
"The speed reducers are a must with our steep hills. With them I never need to walk down hills." John Chiarella
"The V2 Aeros, equipped with brakes and Speed reducers have been the ski America roller ski of choice." Carolyn & Santi Ocariz
"I have never had a tube failure or a flat tire. That's an incredible record considering all the crap I have skied over in the last six years. I only skate on the 150's. (I gave away my Marwees long ago when I realized how safe the 150's are.)" Bruce Bauer is an elite skier who finished 5th in the US Birkebeiner race. His brother is US Olympian John Bauer.
"Just want to let you know how pleased I am with the Aero's I purchased at King Keyser last April" C.Z. USA
"The Aero are the most forgiving roller skis I have ever used." M.VW. USA
"The smoothness and ability to negotiate pavement irregularities is so refreshing I can't imagine going back to solid wheels." C.C. USA
Mike Muha wrote the article on the AERO 150S below a few years after we first introduced the pneumatic AERO skis.
Over the years, I've owned at least seven pairs of roller skis of various makes and models, and I've tried numerous others. The V2 Aero skating roller ski from Jenex comes closest to my idea of the perfect skating-only roller ski. Unlike other roller skis, the V2 Aero 150S uses a 150mm diameter pneumatic wheel. You use a bicycle pump to adjust the pressure between 55 and 90 PSI, the higher the pressure, the faster the ski. The wheels are 31mm wide. Other roller skis typically have widths of 33 to 50mm and much smaller diameter (e.g., 70mm).
Performance: These roller skis do have the most snow-ski-like feel of any roller ski I've skied. If you don't push off correctly, the skis tend to plow. There's also a slight give when pushing down on them that feels like pushing into the snow. You really notice it the first time you ski them. They are also pretty darn fast, but adjustable. Most people I know pump them up to the 90-PSI and fly. I prefer to keep them at the low end (55 to 60 PSI) to slow them down. At 60 PSI, roller skiers with fast wheels still tend to be slightly faster. Balance is more of an issue. At 31mm wide and 150mm in diameter, these skis are somewhat tippy compared to regular roller skis. The vast majority of people I've talked said it took a couple times out to feel comfortable on them, but that they'd never go back to their old skis afterwards. People with narrow feet swimming inside too wide boots (like me) may take a little longer getting used them, particularly when going fast. Beginners? Although the web site doesn't recommend them for beginning roller skiers, I've seen beginners use them with success. It helps - a lot - if they're decent skiers on snow. The speed reducers very effectively tame any downhill (and I've been down a couple steep ones). I've never had to use the slowest setting - my guess is that you'd almost have to walk down the hill with it! I haven't snowplowed much but my initial impression has been that the Aero don't snowplow as well as the smaller wheel skis. The directions that come with the speed reducers specifically say not to use the speed reducers while skating. Since I occasionally want to slow them down while skiing with others, this seemed like a problem. I sent an e-mail off to ask what the real issue was. Len Johnson from Jenex quickly replied:
"What happened was that many people put them on too many clicks. The wheel would stop each time they lifted their skate ski, then the wheel, now locked with resistance, tried to go from zero velocity to the skier's road velocity in nanoseconds and of course the wheel can't do that so it would skid a bit before rotating at full speed. The result was that skiers developed flat spots on their wheels. One wheel sent to us looked like an octagon. If you use common sense and use the speed reducer on the first or second resistance position it can work."
Len's right, the wheels do stop turning, but I've used the speed reducer in the first position with seemingly no ill effects. I occasionally use the second position.
Road salt, twigs, rocks, and rain: A perfect 10! These "big wheels" really smooth out the rough sections. A couple stories will illustrate:
John Stoy and I went roller skiing toward the end of last winter. The bike path of Kensington Metropark was covered in road salt. With his "little wheels", John feared for his life - he had to carefully negotiate around the bigger piles and keep his weight back so his front wheel wouldn't suddenly catch on individual salt crystals and cause him to fall. He almost turned around. Me? It was as if the salt wasn't even there. I had zero issues and zero worry.
In the spring, a rainstorm caught me. I slowed down - typically roller skiing becomes treacherous on wet pavement, especially on the painted centerlines. To my joy, I discovered that the Aero never slipped, even on the painted lines! Now, I must admit that the wheels were still in almost new shape, with lots or tread. I have not been in the rain with well-worn (i.e., bald) tires yet. When I do, I'll update this article and tell you how it went. The long wooden bridge at Kensington Metropark is constructed of 2x4s. Rolling over the bridge on normal roller skis is a matter of shake, rattle and roll. (On inline skates my feet shake so much they lose feeling). On the V2 Aero, only a small bit of roughness is transmitted to your feet - the pneumatic wheels absorb most of it. On my recent roller ski between Boyne Mountain and East Jordan, I safely skied over M32's rough pavement and pebbles on the paved shoulder. Small twigs: not a problem. Small stones: not a problem. Rolling off the pavement onto the grass: not much of a problem - much less than other roller skis. (I haven't tried gravel roads yet, but Jeff Ray and Steve McGregor just invited me for back-road roller ski trip to Starbucks on V2's, so I'll report shortly...)
Wheel wear and maintenance: My own experience has been that the rear wheel wears much quicker than the front. Once the rear tires were substantially more worn than the front, I rotated front to back. One of the big advantages of the Aero wheels is that they wear evenly. On all previous roller skis I would be constantly rotating wheels in a futile attempt to make then wear evenly. No matter what, they'd always wear into a "V" shape, or wear on one side more than the other. The uneven wear changes the ride characteristics of the ski. I figure I have roughly 550 kilometers of roller skiing in this season - the tires still have tread (mostly) and I'm still on the same set of tires. I've also noticed minimal (if any) change in ground clearance. On other roller skis I'd need to replace the wheels because I'd bottom out over bumps or cracks in the pavement, or the shaft would hit the pavement when edging. No such problem with the Aero - not only do the wheels wear evenly, they don't seem to reduce in diameter much. It's pretty obvious when to replace most roller ski tires. Either they fall apart, get rough spots, get very uneven, or wear down so low that there's not enough ground clearance for the shaft to go over typical bumps anymore. On the Aero, the tire has a heavy tread, and as the tire wears, the tread wears off. Was that the time to replace the tires, or could they be run bald I asked Len. Must be that 6.5 plies of "special construction" that the Jenex web site brags about... Len said:
"Many people are not replacing them till they see the fabric all over on their tires. Tom Kline, at Bicycle Doctor in Wisconsin, said his tires are nothing but fabric; he said there is no rubber showing. Obviously that is not a safe method, but we have a pair of skis at the Stratton Mountain Ski School in Vermont that someone said had over 2,500 kilometers on the tires."
Pump it up: Jenex sells a pump that works extremely well in the tight confines of the wheel. You can easily pump it to exactly the right pressure. I you want to save the $40 or so, try your normal pump. People with big hands may have problems.
Crash! I fell three times this spring - and I couldn't figure why. Each time I was standing almost straight and coasting around little kids or other obstacles. I finely figured it out: I still had big snow baskets on my training poles - I had let my baskets touch the front wheels, instantly stopping the ski and sending me to the ground. Once I switched to roller ferrules, the problem went away. I also fell once during a pace workout. I think I collapsed my ankle inward (remember - narrow feet and wide boots), causing the ski to go on its side.
The bottom line: There are a couple of things that could be done to make the ski better. I'd like slower wheels (but I'm the odd person here - no one else seems to want slow wheels) and fenders to prevent splashing up my legs from wet pavement. But overall, this is a great ski. If you're on rough terrain or messy trails, this is the ski for you. So what does all this really mean for the roller skier? For me, the V2 Aero allows me to have higher quality training sessions. I'm much more likely to go out in marginal conditions or on marginal pavement. I don't need to worry about twigs and stones when I roller ski in the dark. I can maintain my speed and effort - and heart rate - when going over rougher pavement. I don't have to dread the fall, winter, and spring when paved trails may not be swept for weeks or months. And higher quality training = a faster race season on snow...