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Inline Skating Newsletter Article

Product Reviews

By Dan Kibler

Salomon TR Vitesse Skates

TR VitesseI want to sing the praises of the Salomon TR Vitesse skates I have been using for the past 8 months. These are great skates for anyone who is serious about fitness on skates and loves to go fast. Salomon lists them at the top of their "trainer range" of skates. With their five-wheel frame and their medium-height buckle cuff, they are a cross between a racing skate and recreational one. They want to go fast, but are stable and maneuverable enough for street and downhill skating. I certainly would not take them into a skate park, but I've had them just about everywhere else.

Let's start from the bottom.


The Vitesse comes equipped with 80mm, 82A racing wheels, fitted with Twincam microbearings with TK Gel. These provide a fast, smooth roll. I was a bit worried that they would not provide the kind of pavement grip I'm used to for downhill slalom skating, but they were great. Replacement microbearing wheels are a bit harder to find than standard wheels, but are available.


The Vitesse is outfitted with a tri-arch, 12.8 inch (326 mm), 5-wheel metal frame. The frame is light but quite stiff. It uses a one-bolt wheel mounting system that is a real joy when it comes to maintaining your wheels and bearings. It's fast and easy to change wheels with no extra spacers or nuts to misplace. The skates come with an optional, fixed-position heel brake. Racers may scoff, but both Liz and I feel that a heel brake is required for safe street skating. I mounted mine right away.


The boot combines a soft inner boot with a stiff plastic/composite exoskeleton. The boot has a speed-lace closure that provides a quick, comfortable fit around the foot. The cuff has a one-buckle closure above the ankle. The combination results in a boot that is very stiff laterally and to the rear, but allows almost unlimited forward flex. The forward flex makes it easy to assume the low crouch position favored by racers while the stiff support is great for street and slalom skating.

The liner is very comfortable, with a soft, wicking fabric and self-molding foam. I can wear these skates all day (well, almost). They are also washable (cool water). My only complaint is that it is easy to get the liner out of place, especially when carrying the skates.

If you are moving up from short frame skates, it may take a while to get used to the long frames and five wheels, but I felt at home right away. I never felt comfortable jumping and doing simple tricks in my old fitness skates, but I feel almost as agile on the Vitesse as on my old Rollerblades.

If you are looking for a "speed" skate you can wear every day, you should definitely check out the Salomon TR Vitesse.

Disclaimer: Liz is sponsored by Salomon through Zephyr Inline Skate Tours. However, my pair of Vitesse skates was bought at retail and I have no connection to Solomon.

Panoptx Windless Eyewear

At a recent holiday party, I was fortunate to meet Joel, VP of Sales for Panoptx Company, and his wife, Gail. Since the three of us are mountain bikers, we hit it right off and made a date to bike the next morning. When we met at the trailhead, both were wearing the stylish and practical Panoptx sunglasses. After two hours of hard climbing and fast descents, we were back at the cars, where Joel offered to send Liz and I some of their eyewear to try out.

On the Slopes

Three pairs showed up just before our Christmas ski trip to Lake Tahoe where we put them to the test. We received two models, the Cyclone and the new Venturi.

Two features of the Panoptx stand out. The first thing you notice is the foam and fabric seal around the frames. This keeps the wind out. There are also vents to let just enough air flow through to keep them from fogging. Almost impossible to detect was that both models had double lenses, also to prevent fogging.

I tried the Cyclone on a cold, fast snow morning at Squaw Valley. Liz had on the Venturi. Being a bit skeptical, I also brought my goggles. As anyone who has skated, biked or skied fast knows, sunglasses often do not provide adequate wind protection. Your eyes tear up, which is both uncomfortable and makes it hard to see well. An added problem is that both Liz and I wear contact lenses, making us extra sensitive to the wind. So we generally wear goggles for skiing. However, I never used my goggles that day. We ripped some fast groomers off of Siberia Bowl chair and then headed for the steeps of Headwall. We ended up wearing the glasses all day and neither of us teared up.

The only time I noticed the glasses was when I was in a tuck at the bottom of Granite Chief and heading in for lunch. In a low tuck, the Cyclone blocks your forward vision a bit. The Venturi is designed to have a better field of vision in a tuck position. At lunch on the sunny Gold Coast deck, I became aware of the seal around the lenses. It felt a bit strange not to be able to see around the rims of the glasses but I was also aware that they were sealing out the glare that often sneaks past the rims. Once I got used to it, it was no problem.

The Panoptx come in a wide variety of frames and lenses. Our glasses had polarized gray lenses that seem perfect for sunny snow conditions. I'd like to try out some of the other lenses for low light conditions, especially the variable gradient lenses. They would be good for morning or evening skating.

On the Street

It's been raining a lot here in the Bay Area, but it was sunny today. So I slipped out of the office with my Vitesse skates and my Panoptx Venturi sunglasses for a mid-day workout. Right off I noticed that the Venturi model has much improved forward vision over the Cyclone when in a crouch or tuck position. In fact, my helmet blocks the same area as the glasses do, so nothing was lost. At first I was very aware of the seal around the frame. I felt a bit like Batmanuel in The Tick. As soon as I concentrated on skating, however, it wasn't noticeable. In fact, the sunglasses were totally comfortable through my workout. I skated one section hard into the wind, but had no sensation of wind or tears.

My regular sports sunglasses have an annoying haze when the sun shines directly on the lenses. I did not see any of this effect on the Panoptx. One thing I still want to test is how they hold up to a long, hot, sweaty skate. Will the seal help keep the sweat out of my eyes or make things worse? We'll see.

I really like these sunglasses. They are good looking, but not radical. They have high-quality optics and the windless design works as advertised. The Venturi is definitely going to be part of my regular kit.

Panoptx has a very nice web site with lots of details and technical information, and a where-to-buy search. Check it out.