I was very eager to get my hands on the new Pro-Ski’s new classic rollerski, the C2 Flex. It’s the first rollerski I know of that offers something completely unique: a tunable suspension. The frame is made of hydro-formed SSAB high tensile spring steel. But the piece de resistance is the tensioning rod that connects the two forks through the middle of the shaft (photo at right). Made of stainless steel, the rod acts as a super-sized bicycle spoke and nipple. Like a spoke nipple, you can turn the nipple to add or release tension in the frame (photo below). Crank down, and the camber of the rollerski stiffens. Loosen up, and the rollerskis camber gets less stiff.
To adjust the tension, you first have to remove the front wheel - an easy task. It works best with a 10mm wrench or socket. You only need one: the axle is permanently attached to the wheel, so you just need to hold the wheel while you loosen the left nut then the right nut. The wheel lifts right off. Use a large flat-head screw driver to turn the nipple. You will have to use a little strength at first, but once it's loosened, it's pretty easy to turn.
There are a couple applications for the tunable suspension:
The C2 Flex Classic has about the same wheelbase (710mm) and same wheels (67mm diameter x 50mm width rubber) as the original C2 Classic. (I measured my older pair of C2's at 28.25 inches while the new C2 Flex's were just shy of 28 inches, axle-center to axle-center).
Although the C2 Flex is slightly heavier with the spring steel frame (2.1 kg per pair compared to 2.03 kg for the C2), it felt lighter to me. I’m guessing that the springiness of the frame had something to do with it. I even skied a C2 on one leg and a C2 Flex on the other and still the C2 Flex felt lighter.
Compared to other brands of classic rollerskis, the Pro-Skis are a bit on the heavy side. The upside is Pro-Ski shafts have historically been pretty much indestructible.
Like the C2, the C2 Flex also has fenders – always welcome when caught out in the rain.
WebSkis.com is selling the high-tech Pro-Ski C2 Flex Classic rollerski for $340, with discounts for team orders.
For my first outing, I headed over to Maybury State Park. They have a 10 minute loop with fairly smooth pavement. I noticed right away that the C2 Flex felt comfortable underfoot and seemed to absorb more of the bumps than I have experienced with other rollerskis. I felt comfortable enough to detour over a decidedly less smooth section of trail marred by heavily cracked pavement and a roughly pebbly surface. It wasn't that bad!
To be sure, on the next loop I put pulled out one of my C2 Classic skis and used it on one foot and a C2 Flex on the other and skied the same trail. When we hit the rough section, I noticed markedly more vibration on my foot from the C2 than the C2 Flex...and I mean the kind of vibration that makes your foot feel like its falling asleep.
The C2 Flex is clearly a better rollerski for skiers who are forced to deal with rough pavement.
The rollerskis were a bit noisy at first: I noticed a "ping" as I went over bumps, very similar to the pings you might hear after lacing up a new bike wheel and taking it out for a ride. After 30 minutes, the pinging went away.
While rollerskiing out at Kensington Metropark (a beautifully rolling 8.5 mile path) at slow and moderate speeds, the skis were fairly quiet. Big gaps in the pavement at speed brought out a louder "clunk" than my older C2s.
At speed down a hill, the skis have a little tendency to wonder. I was able to snowplow down hills with no real problem - just start early before you build up speed. Unlike it's sibling the C2, speed reducers are not yet available for the C2 Flex. The word from WebSkis is to check back in 2011 - the option might be available then.
I did not get to ski in the rain - we had outstanding weather during the test period. But I would expect the C2 Flex to behave very similar to the C2 because they share the same wheels and fenders. That means avoid painted lines but otherwise you should not have any problems. The fenders are very effective in keeping the worst of the water and dirt off your legs.
Again, since the C2 Flex shares the same wheels as the C2, I would expect wheel durability to be about the same: outstanding.
Skiing on classic rollerski skis is a bit like skiing in the skate lane - the skis want to wander a bit. It's not a criticism of the C2 Flex, it's a characteristic shared by all two-wheeled classic rollerskis. Make sure you push down and back, and don't lift your foot like a runner.
The rollerskis were about medium in speed. The ratcheted wheel (for kick) is in the rear.
I did not have any issues with rolling over small sticks and light sand.
For a second option, I swapped rollerskis out on the trail with a friend for 30 minutes. He loved the skis. He felt they were predictable and skied easily. He appreciated the comfortable feel of the skis.
The C2 Flex are very nice skis that provide provide a unique feature: you can easily tune your ride. These should definitely be on your short list if you have rough pavement. If past experience with other Pro-Ski models is an indicator, you have expect the skis and wheels to have a long life span. Pro-Skis are distributed exclusively by WebSkis.com.
Full Disclosure: This web site's policy is that authors fully disclose any affiliation it has with vendors when reviewing their gear. In this case, http://www.WebSkis.com, the reseller of Pro-Ski rollerskis, pays to advertise on this site