by Mel Alexandrou @mjalexandrou
I bought my Discoblox as a present to myself after completing the MoxiSkateDaily challenge. After getting some great advice from Roller Girl Gang about being able to fit them to both my Moxi Lollies and Jacks, I decided on the OutLaw blocks as they weren't much more than the Originals and I liked the idea of the metal strip making a metal-on-metal noise on the coping (did NOT disappoint!).
As I have Reactor plates with a radius I needed to get the Discoblox radius kingin kit...but when I realised the kit contained spacing washers and shorter cushions/bushings I figured I could just cut down my original cushions and get some washers from a hardware shop. This, while probably true, was my first mistake - much easier to just buy the kit! My second, and biggest, mistake was installing them as soon as they arrived, without said washers or any cutting down of cushions... I just wanted to see how they looked! But when I did that, I thought, "hey this looks ok, maybe I don't even need the washers and shorter cushions!". I proceeded to skate with them like that for over a year before I really realised there was anything wrong.
Initial thoughts were that they were easy to install, even if you have to take off your trucks and cushions - this is a good chance to get familiar with all these parts if you haven't done so before. The design has one side where they attach to the kingpins open-ended, presumably to give greater compatibility with more plates/sizes. As such, there was a little bit of play on mine - I got a size 3 block to fit my Reactor Neo size 6 plates (my Jack boots are a US6/UK5) but it didn't seem to be much of an issue when everything was tightened up.
As already mentioned, the metal strip embedded in the OutLaw blocks makes a very satisfying sound, even just stalling on the coping. However, stalling felt SO DIFFERENT! And scary. Before blocks I was pretty confident dropping in, doing a few different stalls etc. but with the blocks on I honestly felt like I had regressed. Which was quite disheartening to say the least. Whereas before I felt like I could almost lock on to the coping, the blocks felt ultra unstable, the Disco design being quite flat really so it was a proper balancing act. I felt like my feet could slip sideways from under me at any moment. I had a few tantrums, with my husband even saying a couple of times "take them off then if you don't like them" But I persevered! I had to re-learn everything, which took maybe 4 weeks. Once I'd gotten used to them though I honestly couldn't remember what I'd made such a fuss about.
Dropping in with two wheels over the coping, with one or both feet, felt much more natural with the blocks (personally I like this method best as you get used to what the coping feels like), and I was soon able to try some baby slides. The blocks felt stable, and strong. One issue I had was the metal strip (the spurs) popping out of the block a little - to the back on one skate, and to the front on the other. I contacted the maker and they very helpfully replied and suggested I could just tap them back in, adding glue if needed. This worked, but I did find I had to do it every so often. It was when tapping the metal strips back in that I noticed on one skate the metal bar of the block was getting bent up towards the plate at the front, and on the other skate the same but at the back. This should have been the first indication that my careless installation was causing a problem.
I proceeded to skate with them until disaster struck in August 2020. I was doing a staple gun stall, and on the foot that went onto the deck, the front truck completely flew apart! I didn't understand what had even happened at first. (I was unhurt btw, don't worry). So the truck had popped out of the pivot cup and this had also caused the cushion, cushion retainer and kingpin lock nut to fire off. My attention first went to the pivot cup, which had quite badly worn out on one side. I discovered that the back pivot cup on my other skate was also doing pretty worse for wear (noticing a pattern yet?). The Neo plate uses delrin acetal resin pivot cups which are supposed to be very hard-wearing. Something wasn't right. I ordered 2 new pivot cups and then discovered that I couldn't get the kingpin nuts back on the kingpins as the top thread had been completely sheared/stripped off. The main suspect was the worst but I realised all 4 of my kingpins had become damaged! Once I had taken everything apart there was no getting the nuts back on, the threads were just too damaged. I had to get 4 new kingpins.
This finally led me to realise what was causing all these problems. Yep, it was my lazy installation of the blocks. The shorter cushion, and that spacing washer in particular, when installing the blocks on plates with a radius is quite vital, who would have guessed it. Installing them without these led to a lot of pressure on the kingpins from the blocks, shearing the thread at the top as everything was being forced up. Lesson learnt. I ordered the radius kingpin kit, installed everything correctly as instructed, and I've had no problems so far. I've not done much skating since then (thanks lockdown 2 and 3) but I'm excited to get back to it.
Whilst my Jacks were out of action I installed some second hand old-style BigFoot blocks onto my Lollies. The installation and design is fairly similar to the DiscoBlox but the plastic sits up higher on the sides, and also the surface of the block that makes contact with the coping is a lot more curved. These felt great on the coping when stalling and dropping in, especially for fakie stalls, they really lock on, but this made it almost impossible to slide - for a super beginner slider anyway. They seemed a little too concave for stalling on curbs and ledges, I think I prefer the flatter DiscoBlox design personally.
If I were to make a recommendation I would say try as many different style blocks as you can to see what you prefer, but whatever you go for, get them on and start getting used to them as soon as possible. But don't worry if they seem impossible at first, you'll get it!
Thank you Mel for sharing her experience of installing slideblocks and words of advice and encouragement.