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JR Boucicaut

TRUE A6.0 SBP (2018) - tcraig

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First and foremost, a huge thanks to JR and the folks over at TRUE for setting me up with a review stick – it’s deeply appreciated!  Second – apologies for this review taking longer than anticipated to get started.  Health, family, holidays, and an issue with the initial review stick I’d received have all come together and resulted in me only just getting to get two skates in with it this past week (one stick/puck and one game).  Things should normalize a bit now though, so looking forward to getting more time in with it.

Stick Specs:
- 85 flex
- TC4 pattern (P28 equivalent)
- Grip

My Specs:
- 27 years old
- 5’11”
- 215 lbs
- Shoots left
- Defenseman – jumps into the rush occasionally, loves dropping clappers from the point. Wrist and snapshots also acceptable, but not as fun ;)
- Plays twice a week on average year round, A/B league. 

Recent sticks used:
­- 2016 True A6.0 SBP
- True XC9 ACF
- CCM SuperTacks 2.0
- Warrior QRL
- Warrior Alpha QX

First Impressions:
Taking this stick out of its packaging, I was struck by how similar it immediately felt to the 2016 version of the A6.0 SBP, which is one of my favorite sticks to date.  That’s not a bad thing at all, and shouldn’t really be notable – but without using the stick, I wouldn’t have doubted it if you told me the only thing that had changed between the two versions was the graphic package.  The great balance from the 2016 model definitely carries over here, and it feel phenomenal in the hand.  The “stickiness” of the grip is slightly different – not quite as sticky feeling but still pleasantly tacky.  Back to the graphics for a second – they’re a nice update to the classic True design. Clean, understated, and classy.  The hits of silver on the black carbon on the faces, with a blue accent bar running down the underside of the shaft all look fantastic. Well done yet again.

eWnU31m.jpg

FENVHXC.jpg

As is par for the course with True, the stick arrives slightly longer than the Warrior/Bauer standard retail length.  I usually use those sticks at full length, so I trimmed the extra ~1.5” off of the SBP to keep things consistent.  The stick that’s been getting the most attention from me as of late is the Warrior QRL, so I untapped that fully to do a weight/feel comparison.  On the scale, when cut to equal lengths my QRL is slightly lighter, coming in at 406 grams.  The 2018 SBP tips the scales at 414 grams – nothing noticeable at all, but slightly heavier.  However, holding one after another, the phenomenal balance of the A6.0 SBP is immediately noticeable – the slightly lighter QRL feels blade-heavy in comparison.  

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That QRL is the same specs (85 flex, grip, w28), which made for an interesting discovery – the TC4 pattern true offers is not a direct p28 clone.  It’s very close, but the TC4 blade is slightly longer, begins to open up more a little more towards the heel, and has a slightly deeper initial heel curve than the w28.  It’s not a huge change, but it is definitely noticeable…and I like it better!  The p/w28 has always seemed to me to be similar to a p91a/Drury curve at the heel, which transitions to a toe curve.  In comparison, the TC4 almost seems more like a p02/Lidstrom at the heel, plus toe. 

True TC4 on left, Warrior w28 on right - you can see the curve in the TC4 heel is a bit deeper: 
o4GWWmX.jpg

Top down blade comparison - True TC4 on the left, Warrior w28 on the right. You can see the TC4 is a touch longer, as well as how it starts to open up a bit closer to the heel than the w28: 
rEzMQrr.jpg

That deeper heel pocket makes it a little more versatile for the way I like to play, and it’s a blast to shoot with.  Toe pull snapshots are still great, slapshots come off the heel well, and “older” style full motion wrist shots are easier for me to do with this than a p28.  The only downside is I need to make a little more of a conscious effort to keep slapshots low with the TC4 compared to the p28, but since I’m not my forwards standing in front of the net, it’s something I’m fine with ;)

The other thing I’m having to adjust to is the stick’s flex rating.  Remember in the beginning I’d said that when taking it out of the package and holding it, I’d believe you if you told me it was just a new graphic package on the 2016 A6.0 SBP?  Well, I immediately know the difference when shooting with it.  I’ve always felt that line played whippier than rated by around 5 flex points, similar to the QRL.  That’s not the case here – the 2018 version plays as stiff as rated…I’d actually peg it as slightly stiffer.  It’s definitely an 85+ in terms of flex – if you used to go up a flex tier with the 2016 line from what you usually used, I’d recommend going with your normal flex this time around. This 85 flex feels like a true 85 flex, not a 77-80 flex.  It caught me off guard the first time I used it since everything else felt so familiar to the 2016 line, but isn’t an issue.  The flex profile seems to be the same as the 2016 SBP line, just a little stiffer.  That actually came in handy with slapshots – I’d noticed that the one weakness with the 2016 line for me was I’d sometimes feel the shaft torque open a bit on heavy slapshots, which hasn’t been an issue at all here – that extra lower shaft stiffness seems to be helping keep it nice and tight.

More thoughts to follow as I get more playing time in, but so far it’s seeming like this year’s entry into the SBP lineup is off to a great start!

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I've gotten about 15 sessions of ice time with the 2018 A6.0 SBP now, so wanted to give a quick update.  So far, the stick is playing identically to when I first got it, with the exception of ease of loading.  After a couple of sessions, I noticed that the stick had begun playing a little softer.  Not much, but it seems to be playing just under an 85 flex now -- it feels like it is a bit easier to load, but I have not noticed any loss of kick on shots. I was initially concerned that it was whipping out quickly, but after the initial bit of softening up it has remained constant.  I have to say I love how it currently plays, as I like the easier loading on quick wrist and snap shots, especially since it's still kicking as hard as it did on day 1.  The softening seems to have taken place exclusively around the flex point - the lower portion of the shaft is still noticeably stiffer than the previous generation A6.0 SBP, which is great when really leaning into shots as the blade doesn't open up nearly as easily as the 2016 model.  Since its 3rd or so outing, this has been a perfect balance between easy loading and hard kick. No complaints.  

In terms of durability, it's holding up great.  After my 2nd session using it the stick had developed a rattle, which I assumed as some glue breaking lose inside.  When I opened the butt end and dumped the contents, I was greeted by a chunk of glue identical to the one shown in @clarkiestooth's LTR. Didn't have any effect on performance, but I found it interesting that I had an identical chunk come out quickly after receiving the stick, just as he did.  Other than that, I haven't noticed anything wrong - no abnormal blade chipping/cracking, and the shaft is holding up great.  I'm not sure if they've changed their manufacturing process on the exterior, or if I've just been lucky so far, but it looks to be in much better condition than my previous True sticks after a similar amount of use.  There hasn't been much cosmetic chipping, which was an issue a lot of people noticed on previous generations.  Like I said, I could just be lucky so far, but this stick has taken plenty of pucks and slashes so far.  

I'm really enjoying using this stick - especially since it's slightly softened up. It was great when really leaning into shots from the start, but now it loads easy enough that quick wristers and snappers come off well when I'm off balance or don't have enough time to really load the shaft.  I'll keep updates coming, but so far this is looking like a great improvement over the 2016 A6.0 SBP. 

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