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What's REALLY up with the new K2's

What's REALLY up with the new K2's

The images of the new K2 Aggressive and Freestyle (commuting / power blade... whatever) skates were leaked this weekend.

Joey McGarry (Mushroom blading) and I (Jake) were appointed by K2 as secret agents to test the skates and make improvement suggestions. We’ve been testing them since April. Now that the cat is out of the bag it seems like today would be a good day to clear a few things up about the skates and address some of the questions and queries I’ve seen across social media.

The four skates that were given to me were: K2 Unnatural (aggressive), K2 Front Street (Aggressive), K2 Midtown (Freestyle) K2 Uptown (Freestyle).


The Unnatural is the most interesting release for most people reading this article and most of the new features are reflected across the whole range of new models anyway, so let me go straight ahead and talk about the Unnatural model exclusively:

Cuff/liner height and stiffness - For me, this is the main, huge difference between this new release and any previous K2 model. It’s higher. There’s an extra velcro strap at the top and most notably THE CUFF AREA IS WAY WAY STIFFER. Yes, K2 has finally reworked the usually over-flexible cuff area. I think it’s been achieved by changing the materials in both the external cuff and also the foam in the skate's lining. So now you have a skate not only with great ankle support but also improved responsiveness. The difference is very noticeable if you are somebody who has skated previous K2 models. I usually skate a Razors because of the good ankle support and the K2’s felt just as secure side by side (but different, obviously).

Frame - This is the other big one. It’s a development of the ‘wheel cup’ design which a few companies have used now since Kaltik innovated it on their Stealth frame. The frame is simple, light and the walls aren’t too fat. I skated 60mm flat set up and the wheel cups offered great protection against wheel bite, although don't get complacent, you still have to use your ninja precision grinding skills to pull it off.


I’m more of an anti-guy myself when riding aggressive but these frames will definitely be a must try for all the flat set-up enthusiasts. The material is fast and hard if that’s your thing and the wheels are rockerable with the old style hexagonal aluminium frame spacers so you can rocker each wheel into one of 6 different positions.


I’m just in the midst of convincing K2 to release the frames as an aftermarket product, so hopefully, this should happen. The final skate will come as standard with 60mm wheels (x8). The frame will fit up to a 61mm if rockered in the appropriate positions.

Soul plate - Again, completely new. It improves on the size of the last souls but isn’t too big so you can lean into grinds on square obstacles. The soul plate has the old school Teflon inserts just like back in the day (Style Points Bob, 250cc etc) which is completely unique in our industry (other companies are predominantly using UHMW for soul plates). I can confirm that the souls are LIGHTNING fast. The royale / backslide plate is new too (as it’s part of the soul kit mould). It feels deep, very fast and positioned well. You can finally do torque slides and Farvenugans on K2’s. (Although I have to say I bloody LOVE the old, soft royale plates that allow for cheating backslides!)


Bolts - I’ve seen a few people comment on the 6mm wheel bolts used in the skate. Personally, I don't see why you WOULDN’T use 6mm bolts unless they are made of a weak material which is prone to breaking; something I’ve never experienced with the K2’s in 15 years of skating them (on/off) and 10 years of selling them. A 6mm diameter has less surface area in contact with the bearing spacer and therefore less friction in theory (although I understand you could make an argument about how that friction was distributed when the wheel bolts were loaded with weight). Still, those 6mm bearing spacers have always worked amazingly for me.

Responsiveness - K2 Aggressive skates are often viewed as unique because of the ‘lean back’. They don’t use a raised heel and many riders mention having to get used to the feeling. These skates still have the classic lean-back of course which makes the skates feel zippy and responsive. In an enclosed space like a skatepark, I always feel like I can get an extra couple of ‘pushes’ in when compared to a more solid skate. This preference will be style-dependant of course. Sometimes I like to cruise (Razors) sometimes I like to sprint (K2’s). You make the call.

Shock absorption - As well as the standard  K2 insole these feature a really high-density removable foam footbed across the base AS WELL AS another piece of high-density foam glued between the base of the boot and the soul kit. I bet K2 don’t even mention these features in their promotion of the skate and while it looks very basic you can feel that the quality and shock absorbing qualities of this foam are very high end.


Replaceable parts - Bit weird, the soul kit isn’t replaceable. In fact, it’s glued on. While I’ve never replaced a soul kit in my life I AM aware that some people do. While K2 will say that this was an engineering decision based around improving performance it’s not clear why they were unable to make the souls replaceable when all other companies have done so successfully. The buckles on the prototype are also riveted in (non-replaceable). Maybe this will change with the final release but if not it will be a problem for those of us that like to smash our buckles off on a ledge every few months. You could always replace the whole cuff of course but seems a bit unnecessary if you don’t need to.


There’s more to say about the K2 Unnatural but that’s all that needs to be touched upon for now. I think the final realize could still have a couple of minor changes when compared to the leaked images (I think the final buckle receiver may be different and there’s talk of a slight cosmetic shape change to the soul kit where it overlaps the boot upper).

As far as I’m aware these are due for release Feb 2016 (unconfirmed) and will retail at £200 with the ‘Front Street’ being the lower end model at nearer to £140.

My above views are completely objective. I've not been paid nor contacted by K2 in regards to the publishing of this article.

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