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nystromshairstylist

New ice skates - Grafs, and they are superb

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Greetings all.  Still recovering my my Islanders loss in the REAL SCF.

Well, after almost 10 years I am replacing my humble Graf Ultra G70s with a pair of Graf Peakspeed PK7900s, and they represent a new and massively improved Graf product.

Vaughn/Graf has obviously addressed a lot of the QC issues Graf had back in the day, and they are producing a modern, lightweight skate that matched the comfort level Graf was known for.  Graf was always known for providing a skate that was like wearing a sock, and the 7900s fit me right out of the box; no baking, punching out, etc.

I tried on many Bauers as well, and nothing was as comfortable outright as the Grafs.

Check online as some retailers have them in stock while others have to order.  I went by the Graf website to find models that fit the G70s description (heel shape and width, forefoot width, etc), and after trying several style went with these.  Custom was next if these were not a fit, which at over $1,000 I was hoping to avoid.  These were not cheap, but quality costs.

If you are seeking new skates to celebrate the end of the pandemic, or like me were skating on mush that was older than the Lincoln memorial, check out Grafs again.

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@nystromshairstylist Would you do a lengthy review of them? A lot of members on MSH are curious about Graf's recent work, but not many are confident enough to take the plunge. Some pictures of the quality of construction and detailed analysis of why they're great for you would help potential buyers evaluate whether or not a new pair of Grafs might be for them.

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6 minutes ago, flip12 said:

@nystromshairstylist Would you do a lengthy review of them? A lot of members on MSH are curious about Graf's recent work, but not many are confident enough to take the plunge. Some pictures of the quality of construction and detailed analysis of why they're great for you would help potential buyers evaluate whether or not a new pair of Grafs might be for them.

+1. I used to skate on Grafs and loved them, but I've read all the accounts of declining quality and, sadly, it's become pretty hard to find them in a lot of shops. So, insight from someone with recent hands-on experience would be great. 

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On 7/24/2021 at 3:40 PM, flip12 said:

@nystromshairstylist Would you do a lengthy review of them? A lot of members on MSH are curious about Graf's recent work, but not many are confident enough to take the plunge. Some pictures of the quality of construction and detailed analysis of why they're great for you would help potential buyers evaluate whether or not a new pair of Grafs might be for them.

I just skated in two open hockey scrimmages in them and will add photos tomorrow.

In short, the 7900s are a modern take by Graf as they are built of composite materials, not the leather outer and mesh inside they used for so many years. The fit for me was snug at the heel which was nicely locked in, and looser moving towards the forefoot.  The skate is very stiff and supportive despite being a looser fit than I had experienced with my G70s, as again, the heel is locked in.  The G70 was a skate for medium-width, pronounced heels, with a wider/roomier forefoot.  My toes had room both above and the sides, which is important for me as I have a bunion and a tighter toe box would be uncomfortable.

The first few minutes skating with them in the warmups was quite a change from what I was used to, primarily because the blade profile is FAR flatter than the blade I used in my G70s, but the 7900PK holder is compatible with the G70 so I could swap the blade out if I chose.  I am much faster with the 7900PK's flatter blade but turning and cutting were a challenge; it could be my skating style, inexperience with the profile, or both.  I did get better as the night wore on, so this might be an issue that mitigates with time.

By the 2nd scrimmage having skated back-to-back (yes, 3 hours of hockey), the comfort level/familiarity had increased substantially. I had not played in new skates in almost 10 years and had worn the 7900s for about 4-5 hours in my home either sitting on the couch watching TV or standing on carpets to acclimate myself to them, which might have helped.  I did not have them baked as I never had my prior Grafs baked, and have always been told that if you buy the correct size skates with the appropriate fit, baking isn't needed.

That said, the boot is VERY stiff and the fit is quite different than Grafs of years ago; a looser fit up front and snug heel lock-in. From what I have been told, this is the new fit of other brands as well. I do remember the G70s being very snug all around when new, and the skates needing about a half-dozen skates to mold into your foot - that is not how these modern skates work. The looser fit requires a different skating approach, and having good edges and fundamentals will make their adaptation easier, especially with the flatter profiled blade. I was heavily reliant on the G70 boot to make up for poor technique, and with the 7900s I am not sure if I can do so.

My feet have bumps and bunions as mentioned, which were a bit of an issue with the G70s, especially as they started to soften but this is not an issue with the 7900PKs. The other problem I face is my right foot is 27cm long vs 28cm on my left, and about a centimeter or more lower in height which affects the volume. It means that the right skate of any pair I buy will always fit more loosely due to the lower volume, but with the 7900s being looser in general this seems to be less of a problem than it had been with the G70s.

Regarding the construction, these are universes past the G70, G75, 9035, 703, 709 and any other Grafs I've tried on.  They are literally the best constructed skate I've seen, and the pictures I'll post will confirm the quality.  I really believe the Vaughn team has resolved the QC issues that had plagued the brand years ago.  I experienced it personally on the G75s I had bought, which had a bent holder. The molding, construction, gluing and binding are all first class.  I'm a leather jacket guy who spends months with the manufacturer in Scotland building them, so I am quite experienced in detailed construction/fabrication, etc, and these skates are as well made as any skates I've seen/tried on.

I am not sure if we can mention retailers but the one on the West coast ("warehouse" is in their name) I purchased from has a flexible return policy which allowed me to order and try on several models until I found one that worked. I admit to not having done probably the most important thing until AFTER ordering a few pair; READING THE DESCRIPTION. Graf provides a breakdown of what kind of foot each skate style will fit, and I tried to work within the "7" platform/last but learned that even that last has several shapes.  Reading the chart below ("Details") before ordering would had spared me from ordering a few styles that I had no chance to fitting into.

https://grafhockey.com/skates/ice/player/peakspeed-pk7900/

The skates admittedly took some time tonight to adapt into, which as I said might have had to do more with the blade profile, and when I skated/took them off my feet did not hurt at all, anywhere, which was surprising given how incredibly stiff the boot is.  Tapping the outside of the skate feels like concrete...maybe I don't need my skate fenders any more? It has taken me several years to finally find a replacement for the G70s, and I strongly urge everyone who has worn Grafs in the past to revisit them as they are back in a big way.  If you prefer to go to a store to try them on, call ahead to see what they have in stock in your size and see if it is a style that will fit your foot. Otherwise, you can order from the online retailer I mentioned (who also happens to offer very good pricing) if the local store doesn't have them in stock.

You can also check in with the team at Vaughn hockey for more info:

https://vaughnhockey.com/contact/

Please let me know if you have any specific questions.

Edited by nystromshairstylist
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10 hours ago, bl4 said:

+1. I used to skate on Grafs and loved them, but I've read all the accounts of declining quality and, sadly, it's become pretty hard to find them in a lot of shops. So, insight from someone with recent hands-on experience would be great. 

I saw the QC issues personally about 5-6 years ago, but those days seem long gone. I was concerned that I'd never find another Graf to replace my ancient G70s, but the 7900 is superb.  The others styles I tried on like the G755 pros may not have been the right fit for my feet, but their construction was also very good.  When I got them shipped to me (local retailer did not have my size in any style) the construction was the first thing I looked at, like defects in workmanship such as bent holders, screws not inserted properly or straight, mismatched layers, etc but everything lined up perfectly.  I suggest sifting through the www.grafhockey.com site and picking which skate best fits your foot shape, and then ordering them online or checking with a local dealer to see if they have them in stock. Either way, inspect them and see for yourself how the manufacturing has vastly improved.

Edited by nystromshairstylist
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I'm glad to hear you have had a good experience with your new Grafs. I bought a pair of unused 703 boots on eBay and I plan to mount some Tuuk Custom+ holders and Step Blacksteel to them as soon as I get a chance. Grafs are just the best.

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On 7/25/2021 at 10:21 AM, AnimalFear said:

I'm glad to hear you have had a good experience with your new Grafs. I bought a pair of unused 703 boots on eBay and I plan to mount some Tuuk Custom+ holders and Step Blacksteel to them as soon as I get a chance. Grafs are just the best.

I started looking around for step steel blades as well this past week as the ones I have are getting a bit short from being sharpened so many times, but was told CCM bought the company and they are tough to come by. Its on my list to try and find an alternative.

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I have a pair of Graf Ultra G5s that are about 12 years old. Love the skates but the blades and the runners are getting worn down and the boots are all banged up. Mine are old school Grafs pre-sale and were among the last, I think, made in Canada. Are the new ones as durable as the old ones. I play beer league, coach and go out for public skate with the kids as well as on back yard rinks and they have held up to everything. They are heavy but terrific skates. Looking to replace in about a year or so. Sooner if I have to. thanks

 

Andy in Peoria

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6 hours ago, akravetz said:

I have a pair of Graf Ultra G5s that are about 12 years old. Love the skates but the blades and the runners are getting worn down and the boots are all banged up. Mine are old school Grafs pre-sale and were among the last, I think, made in Canada. Are the new ones as durable as the old ones. I play beer league, coach and go out for public skate with the kids as well as on back yard rinks and they have held up to everything. They are heavy but terrific skates. Looking to replace in about a year or so. Sooner if I have to. thanks

 

Andy in Peoria

I can't speak from experience on the Vaughn-manufactured Grafs about holding up over time as I just bought these, but I do know Vaughn's products are respected, and an inspection of my 7900s gives me the impression these are as well made as my 10+ year old Grafs, or anyone else's product currently in the marketplace.

I plan to skate on these a few more times to get comfortable, and possibly buy another identical pairs as I normally rotate my gear, and usually bring 2 pairs of skates to the rink as I block a ton of shots and have broken blades before.

Rotating skates, especially once I start playing a few times a week again (hopefully, pandemic permitting) helps keep them "fresh" and able to last for hopefully 10 years, which I've heard is a lot longer than most people keep their skates.

Given that some of the past 10 years I was on the ice 4-5x per week, I'd have to say I got my money's worth with my G70s.  I hope to do the same with the new 7900s.

Edited by nystromshairstylist
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How did it work out. It's been a while. Are they are comfy as the old school Grafs. I coach, go to open skate with the kids and play in a beer league so when COVID isn't around, Im in my skates a lot too. Interesting to hear what you think. 

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1 hour ago, akravetz said:

How did it work out. It's been a while. Are they are comfy as the old school Grafs. I coach, go to open skate with the kids and play in a beer league so when COVID isn't around, Im in my skates a lot too. Interesting to hear what you think. 

Hi there.

I've skated in a few open hockeys and each time I try to work them hard, pushing myself to take hard stops, turns, quick transitions, etc and I've gotten more and more comfortable/stable each time. They are incredibly comfortable as they provide plenty of volume for the forefoot, and the heel remains locked in - but not to the point where it is being pinched. Coming out of the scrimmages, my feet feel great as there is no pressure being applied on them - the heel is locked in and the skate is not pressing against any part of my foot, yet my foot is not swimming around in them - room but still control.

This fit is definitely a paradigm change in how skates should fit/feel...ten years ago my Grafs were snug, fitting like a slim-fit pair of jeans or a paid of gloves.  Today's skates seem to be more like a "classic" fit dress shirt, much more room so as not to press on the sides/top of the foot which avoids lace bit and can cause bone spurs, but the boot retains its stiffness long-term so the skates will last for years (hopefully). You are no longer relying on the boot to do the work, you need to be more confident on your edges for sure, which as I said I'm working on. The roominess above the foot will take some adjusting, but will possibly extend the playing/skating careers of many people because the skates are not compressing their feet. 

I think a good example as far as describing the feel: going from very snug-fitting compression jocks to those orange bauer briefs; you have a lot more room down there LOL but still can maintain control without having to squash your feet.  If you can get use to that change in fit/feel, these skates are amazing and even I, and old codger, am adapting and finding I can make them work.  I was panicing the first time I tried them on as it as such a different approach, but the skates are built for my shaped foot - it was in my mind in how to skate/how skates should feel, not the boot.

I recall an exercise from an old coach who made us untie our skates to force us how to use our edgers, at first I though I was going to fall right away but he showed us how to properly rely upon our edges and not the skates.  That is kind of how these feel, a lot more room than the past - but I think they HAVE to be, as a boot this stiff that is wrapped tight around one's foot would be excruciating.

That said, I might swap the blade out as I think the stock one is 13', and I am used to a 9'.  It is DEFINITELY a way to skate faster if that is your thing, but as a defenseman transitions and turning are key so I might test out one of older step steel blades with a shorter profile to see how it goes. Can I manage with the 13's, sure but in a game I will need maximum control/turning and I am not sure if I can adapt to a new skate feel AND a new profile in a few weeks before the season starts in Sept.

Edited by nystromshairstylist

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how is the lean. My G5s have a fairly aggressive lean forward or whatever it is called. Not up on the terms anymore. It puts you a bit leaning forward and it's more aggressive, say, than a Bauer Supreme (from 10 years ago). 

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2 hours ago, akravetz said:

how is the lean. My G5s have a fairly aggressive lean forward or whatever it is called. Not up on the terms anymore. It puts you a bit leaning forward and it's more aggressive, say, than a Bauer Supreme (from 10 years ago). 

I don't think it is any more of a forward lean/as aggressive as some of their other models like the G75s I tried on years ago. Here is some more details on it:

https://grafhockey.com/skates/ice/player/peakspeed-pk7900/

One thing I will add is the blade steel Graf is using with the 7900s is very, very good; after several scrimmages and some 6-7 hours on the ice with the skates there is barely any nicks on the edges. I had been using the mid-tier Step Steel blades and they never held up this well.

Edited by nystromshairstylist

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On 7/28/2021 at 12:42 PM, akravetz said:

I have a pair of Graf Ultra G5s that are about 12 years old. Love the skates but the blades and the runners are getting worn down and the boots are all banged up. Mine are old school Grafs pre-sale and were among the last, I think, made in Canada. Are the new ones as durable as the old ones. I play beer league, coach and go out for public skate with the kids as well as on back yard rinks and they have held up to everything. They are heavy but terrific skates. Looking to replace in about a year or so. Sooner if I have to. thanks

 

Andy in Peoria

I had the same skates, I wanted to love them but sold them after about 3 years. I had to get them punched multiple times (not unheard of I suppose) and they started giving me bunions on my big toe where the boot met the toe cap area. It hurt just to walk in them. 😞  The forward lean took some time to adjust to (came from Bauers), and then went back to Bauers and found myself much happier. Also had to readjust to the lack of forward lean, but I found myself much more comfortable overall.

Edited by beedee

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2 hours ago, beedee said:

I had the same skates, I wanted to love them but sold them after about 3 years. I had to get them punched multiple times (not unheard of I suppose) and they started giving me bunions on my big toe where the boot met the toe cap area. It hurt just to walk in them. 😞  The forward lean took some time to adjust to (came from Bauers), and then went back to Bauers and found myself much happier. Also had to readjust to the lack of forward lean, but I found myself much more comfortable overall.

My G70s did as well, or at least one pair of them, the other pair was wider despite being the same size - an example of the QC issues Graf had 10-12 years ago. The slightly older pair of G70s was actually a bit more comfortable than the newer ones, which I still have.  The older pair were practically unusable even before I took a hiatus for surgery in 2019 well before the pandemic, as the boot had gotten softer than jello.

I am hoping the PK7900s continue to work well so I can toss the other G70s even though they might have 6 months of life left in them. The 7900s are much more comfortable and don't hurt my feet at all, which is amazing given the boot is stiff as granite.

I would like everyone to be clear on one point, the fit of the PK7900s like all Grafs, are built for a certain foot shape.  Other Grafs, even those in the newer PK series, will be designed to fit a different foot shape and also might have a different feel on your foot.

The more "classic" Grafs like the "classic" 703s that Graf is still making are likely to be snugger than the "newer" 7900s. I cannot stress enough the importance of doing proper research with a knowledgeable Graf dealer, or Graf itself, to find a model designed for your foot. There are differences even within the Peakspeed series as the 7900 is for a medium heel while the 5900 is for a wide one. I am not sure why Graf does things this way but I think with sufficient research most people can find a model that is suitable for them.

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