Maplus is an Italian company, specializing in ski wax and roller skis. North American distributor Innovation Inc. has been importing these products since 2005, and Maplus is an official wax supplier to the US Ski Team. Maplus roller skis were used for the 2009 US Nordic Combined National Championships last October in Lake Placid. All racers competed on new Maplus Speed skate skis.
All Maplus skis feature aluminum shafts, officially described as a “patented frame in a special super light alloy highly resistant to dynamic stress.” The skis are light, and the skate skis generally fast – with wheel choices including “skate race” and “in-line Skate free-wheels.”
We tested two pairs – the Easy Classic (Hard Training speed) and the Flash skate. The Speed skate features a smaller, wider wheel than the Flash and could be a more versatile ski.
More information on Maplus roller skis can be found at www.maplus.com.
Maplus roller skis come in the following models:
The Tris Junior is an entry-level ski with dual rear wheels for added stability, and is an affordable $180. All skate skis are 530mm long and come in two choices of speed each. The Flash has 100x20mm wheels and the Speed, 80×28. The Easy and Twin 700mm long and are fitted with 73x55mm wheels.
With the exception of the race version of the Flash (which we tested) all Maplus skis are an excellent value, with prices among the lowest available in the US.
Maplus Easy Classic ($205.00)
Summary: The Maplus Easy Classic has a unique feel, with a long narrow shaft, and soft wheels. In terms of overall performance, it is a solid slow training classic ski.
Pros: Least expensive classic ski on the market. Soft wheels and flexible shaft make for a relatively smooth ride, especially for an aluminum shaft ski. Long shaft gives a more ski-like feel when striding. Light.
Cons: Narrow, thin shaft give this ski a less-than solid feel. Comes with rear ratchet.
Name aside (is “Easy” really the best Maplus could come up with?), the Maplus Easy Classic is a solid, if unremarkable, classic training ski. The most apparent distinguishing feature is the speed. The wheels are a very soft rubber, making for a slow ride, similar to the Pro-Ski Roadline Tech and the One-Way Classic 5.
The Easy comes in two different speeds – Classic Hard Training and Classic Fast Training. We tested the Hard Training version.
Strong skiers will still be able to double pole quite a bit, but be prepared for more double-pole kick and striding on these skis.
Despite being a similar material, the shaft differs significantly from other skis we tested. It is narrow and thin, making for a light ski with quite a bit of flex. In fact, the Easy Classic had the most “give” of any aluminum shaft classic ski we tested.
Performance-wise, this is a mixed bag. The soft shaft absorbs vibrations and bumps better, and gives a more “ski-like” feel. It isn’t too soft – you don’t feel like you are losing power with each kick. The ski is also fairly light, though with most of the weight concentrated in the wheels, the difference over other models is not significant. On the flip side, the narrow shaft gives a less stable platform and overall, the skis do not feel robust.
Another nice feature of the shaft is the length. I have found that millimeters do make a difference when it comes to length, width and wheel diameter. The length of the Easy Classic means that the front wheel stays on the ground when kicking – even with a full range of motion. This is important from a ski sensation perspective, and also provides for easier balance.
The wheels feature an interesting non-uniform surface. It is unclear how long this will last – the wheels are soft, so I would expect relatively rapid wear, but this unique “tread” provides better tracking and wet-road performance.
The Easy Classic comes with mud-guards, always a nice accessory when skiing in the rain. They look flimsy, and one of mine broke off quite quickly.
The skis come with a rear mounted ratchet, but rear and front forks are identical, so it is not a problem to move the ratcheted wheels to the front.
One of the big plusses of the Easy is the price. A fully functional classic roller-ski for $200 – this is an excellent value.
FasterSkier’s Buying Advice: This is a very functional classic ski, and a good option for someone looking for a slower ski. The ride is relatively smooth, and the soft shaft gives a nice feel. The biggest drawback is the overall feel of the ski. It just seems a bit cheap – there is little solidity. On the plus, it is cheap – in price that is. At only $200 a pair, this is one of the best deals available for classic skis.
Maplus Flash Skate Ski ($270)
Summary: The Maplus Skate is a fast race-oriented ski. Good for balance, high-speed technique and competitions, this isn’t a great every-day training ski.
Pros: Light, challenges balance, good for pushing the limits of your speed.
Cons: Too fast for every-day training. Narrow, thin shaft and narrow wheels makes this a tough ski to balance on.
The Maplus Flash is a standard aluminum shaft ski. Constructed from a single piece, with an integrated fork cut out at either end. Narrow, thin, and short, this is a light ski that feels fast as soon as you click in.
The shaft is very similar to the Easy Classic, providing decent flex for aluminum.
The wheels are a hard blue urethane and are unique in that they almost come to a point. Most wheel profiles follow a smooth curve – the Maplus wheels decrease surface area with the road – less friction means faster skis and less to stand on. That was the defining characteristic of these skis – they are tippy! The combination of the narrow shaft and the wheels make fully committing and riding each ski a constant challenge. For that reason I would not recommend these for beginning skiers or those that struggle with balance already. They will be frustrating and potentially dangerous. The pointed wheels place the shaft relatively far off the ground, adding to the tippiness.
But it isn’t all bad. Advanced skiers will be well-served having their balance and control pushed in this way. If you can ski on the Flash, hard icy skate conditions will be a piece of cake. All those small control muscles in the shin and ankle will be well developed.
The high-speed also adds to the lack of stability. These skis are not designed for much V1. They are not quite as fast as the One Way Skate 5, but they move. If you can handle the balance challenge, the Flash would also be a good option for ultra-long workouts designed to cover as much ground as possible. And normal training will require constant focus to keep heart rates in the appropriate level. This type of focus is definitely a plus, and there is something to be said for the adage, “If you want to race fast, you need to train fast.” These skis are billed as a racing ski, and they would server admirably in that capacity.
There is a significant price disparity between our test model – which came with the light-weight racing wheels, and the version of the Flash that includes in-line skate wheels. The in-line skate version lists at only $130 – just about the cheapest skate roller ski on the market. I can’t comment on the performance of those wheels however.
FasterSkier’s Buying Advice: The Maplus Flash is too fast for every-day training, but is a good challenge, pushing balance and high-speed techniques. An excellent racing ski, it forces focus on both technique and effort.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.