Honest Hockey Review: CCM Super Tacks Hockey Skates

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By Jack, Reboot Hockey

Based on reader feedback, a review many people have been waiting for is the Honest Hockey Review on CCM’s current top-of-the-line skate, the CCM Super Tacks.

This is the retail skate that I’ve been waiting for. With the release of the Super Tacks, CCM has produced a comparable to the VH Hockey Skate. While the VH Skates are full custom, the Super Tacks offers a more-than-viable alternative for players seeking elite fit and performance, but needing wheels on a quicker time-table.

I purchased the Super Tacks hoping to finally solve the skate-fitting issues that have plagued me for the last five years. Ironically enough, while the fit wasn’t quite perfect, the skate’s performance is so exceptional that I couldn’t bear to part with them. I’ll discuss all of this at length in the following sections.

Below is my Honest Hockey Review of the CCM Super Tacks, completing a “trilogy” of sorts along with the CCM Jetspeed and Easton Mako 2. This is one of my longer reviews, as I had plenty to write about the Super Tacks, so bring a sandwich and a Gatorade.

As usual, I appreciate constructive feedback and always accept compliments. But I really hate internet trolls. If you write something dumb or fit for a message board, you’ll be mocked and then blocked. Thanks in advance.

About (Briefly)

I’m Jack. I’m the co-owner and operator of Reboot Hockey. I’ve played hockey since 1990, and still play every chance that I get. I lift weights like it’s my job. I’m a former Strength Coach and author of the top-selling Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual. I grew up in western Pennsylvania watching Mario Lemieux, and my Pittsburgh Penguins are your Defending Stanley Cup Champs.

At gunpoint, I prefer light-eyed blondes who work out, especially if they also play hockey. I eat healthy unless there’s pizza and I’ll sleep a lion-like 10-12 hours if afforded the opportunity. I have a really good sense of humor and my teammates love me, but if you’re rude or a clown I’ll play very elaborate pranks on you.

This review is 30th I’ve done for this blog, and the Super Tacks are the 24th pair of skates I’ve used since early 2012. I write reviews with Reboot Hockey readers in mind, and the review format evolves based on what I think will be most helpful to fellow players and Hockey Parents. Questions can be directed to RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com.

Executive Summary

The Super Tacks differentiates itself from most other pro-quality retail skates by being a Monocoque boot. This means that the boot is single-piece construction, and the holder is not attached to a boot by an outsole, providing unparalleled fit and foot-feel. A Monocoque boot is going to remove almost all of the negative space in a skate, conforming to the foot like gift-wrap, and combined with CCM’s reconfigured “Attackframe 2” is going to lead to the most-direct energy transfer possible.

In English, this means more power in every stride. While the Super Tacks might not position the player for lightning-fast takeoffs like the Jetspeed, the boot rewards stronger players who really bore into the ice with high-economy and output.

Monocoque technology – CCM labels the Super Tacks as “Monoframe” – is currently only seen at the retail level on the now-discontinued Easton Mako line and the custom-built VH Hockey Skates (interviewed here by Reboot). Monocoque boots are expensive to produce, but the player certainly gets what he or she pays for in terms of feel and responsiveness.

The Super Tacks is an almost-complete re-design of the Tacks skate released in 2014. As I understand it, the Ultra Tacks skate from the 2016 line was intended to be CCM’s top-level skate for the year, but CCM was able to complete the Super Tacks in time for the skate to join the 2016 lineup. Buyers for 2016 are in for a thrill, as in my view the Super Tacks is a remarkable upgrade on the Ultra Tacks, so much so that they almost entirely-different skates.

While the Monocoque boot/Monoframe is the main performance feature, the Super Tacks includes all of the bells-and-whistles one would expect on a pro-level skate: CCM’s SB Black steel (oxidized to retain edges longer), the SpeedBlade 4.0 holder, the skater’s choice among CCM’s Custom Support footbeds, anti-abrasion pads at the ankle, and an exceptional moisture-wicking system. CCM’s Tri-Tech pro-molded skate tongue conforms to the skater’s foot in tandem with the boot, further optimizing fit.

The Super Tacks is CCM’s top skate for 2016 and early 2017, and is the only skate of it’s kind on the retail market. This is a serious skate for dedicated, experienced players.

First Impression

I bought the skates on Black Friday 2016. Here’s my pair, upgraded with waxed yellow laces, right after the purchase:

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Shortly after their release, I tried on a pair of Ultra Tacks in my size, and they felt almost indistinguishable from a high-end Bauer Supreme skate. The reason I’ve never purchased or reviewed a Supreme model is that those skates just do not fit my feet well.

As you can see from the chart below, the Supreme line offers an Anatomical Fit with moderate/moderate-high volume:

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You might notice that the Supreme wraps around the ankle bones in a “cross-shaped” fashion. While many players love this fit, it’s always been painfully-uncomfortable for me. As soon as I had the Ultra Tacks on my foot, this was the fit I visualized.

However, I eventually got my feet into a pair of Super Tacks, and I was stunned by how differently the skates fit out of the box. Much like the Easton Mako skates, the Super Tacks sucks your foot into the boot like a vacuum. The Super Tacks made (and still makes) an audible noise when I pulled them onto my feet for the first time, even before they were baked.

As with most skates, the Super Tacks killed my feet out of the box. In all honestly, at the $900 retail price-tag, I was expecting better out-of-the box fit, but after a longish bake (just under 10 minutes) the skates predictably felt much better. As they cooled, the pain from my trouble spots began to return, and I took them off for an adjustment while they were still slightly-warm. As I did, I was struck by how quickly the skates took the very unique shape of my feet.

(Note: these notes might read in a contradictory way, so I’ll re-phrase. The Ultra Tacks/Supreme Anatomical Fit is for “most” players, but I’m not one of them. This fit really hurts my feet. But the Super Tacks, despite having these Fit Dimensions near the ankle, rapidly takes the shape of the forefoot and the top of the foot in a remarkable way. I was wowed by the Super Tacks’ fit in one sense, but had to account for the fact that my foot profile isn’t a great match for this skate. If you have a really High or Low Arch, you might have a similar experience.)

Notice the extra room I’ve made for myself along the instep of the skate, as well as the pronounced heel pocket and my very narrow ankle:

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My First Impression, and my advice, is this: if the Super Tacks are comfortable while you wear them unbaked in the store, they are going to fit tremendously after baking. While some of the performance features between the Super Tacks and the Ultra Tacks are similar, the fit/wrap difference between the Super Tacks’ Monoframe and the Ultra Tacks’ AttackFrame cannot be understated.

Having said that, if you do not have the foot for a Tacks/Supreme model – which I do not – the skates are not going to completely change to accommodate your Foot Profile. While the Super Tacks will take up the architecture of your foot, if you have a particularly high or low Foot Profile (and the corresponding bones), there is a good chance they will be painful to wear. Furthermore, the extremely-stiff quarter package of the Super Tacks is not meant to be punched out, as I’ll detail below.

If you ordinarily require punching on your skates, the Super Tacks are going to present a challenge. I decided that the juice was worth the squeeze and ultimately decided to keep my Super Tacks, but this is something you need to consider carefully before you blow $900 or more on a purchase.

On the ice, I noticed the same immediate benefit that I noticed with the Easton Mako 2s, which was that an appropriately-stiff skate threw my hockey-playing mechanics back into their correct alignment. As noted elsewhere, my fitting problems had forced me to continue using Reebok 11K/20K models, and at my size/experience level I was blowing through a pair of those fairly quickly. Having a properly-stiff skate to contract against allowed me to handle the puck and shoot with much-more precision.

Lace bite was no issue whatsoever, despite the fact that I typically lace my skates extremely-tight and use waxed laces. There’s a mark on the tongue of the skates that shows where I’m being particularly hard on the boot, but I didn’t feel at all while skating.

The skates, as advertised, were unbelievably stiff. To give myself a little bit more maneuverability, I dropped the 2nd eyelet, as I tend to do during a skate’s break-in process. As with the CCM Jetspeed, I immediately noticed and liked the added height from the SpeedBlade 4.0 package. I think experienced players can reap a lot of benefit from the holder/steel with added height.

The skates became too painful to wear after about 20 minutes of use, and unfortunately that’s my typical experience with hockey skates. I took the skates off, and marked the trouble areas for punching.

Second Impression

I took the skates back to Pure Hockey for additional punching work, and the store employee I’d been working with did his best to alleviate discomfort. However, the Super Tacks is an extra-stiff composite, and the boot is not meant to be punched. For the most part, cranking down with a skate-punch on the Super Tacks only serves to crack or weaken the composite quarter-package, not work out trouble spots for a skater.

My main skate-fitting issue is a series of calcium deposits on the inside of each foot. Science nerds can look at this picture of the human foot, and understand that I have a trio of small bone spurs that run across my navicular bone. Inside of an ultra-stiff composite boot, these bone spurs become extremely-painful when I put my body weight onto them, especially when executing movements such as the Mohawk or even a routine forward start. I’m a Hockey Player, and I can take a fair amount of pain, so when I say that these bone spurs are an issue, I mean it.

A player can attack this particular problem in one of two ways: the player can wear a less-stiff/more-comfortable boot (as I’ve done with my Reebok 11Ks and CCM U+ Pro Reloaded skates) and endure a drop in performance/responsiveness, or the player can purchase a narrower/stiffer boot and get aggressive with the skate-punch. After years of having softer skates limit my performance, I chose to focus on finding a skate that my feet can tolerate while maximizing my performance.

The more I used the Super Tacks, the more I found this to be the case. The level of discomfort gradually dropped to “tolerable”, and I was able to reap the unique performance benefits of the skate. I’ll explain which adjustments I had to make below.

My hope had been that the quarter on the Super Tacks would be both ultra-supportive and ultra-malleable. Maybe it sounds like I want too much from a skate, but if I’m investing a Grand into a pair of skates, I think it’s fair to have high expectations. The Super Tacks are certainly responsive, but not as malleable as I’d hoped to see in a one-piece boot.

This line of thought isn’t meant to sound like a burial of the Super Tacks. In fact, I loved most of what the Super Tacks brought to the table: as advertised, the Super Tacks provides a glove-like fit around most of the foot, and the player gets exceptional feel for the ice through the one-piece boot. The SB Black/SpeedBlade 4.0 remains a tremendous Lower Package (phrasing), and the performance benefits in going from a shorter holder such as an E-Pro to the SpeedBlade 4.0 were noticeable. The skates held my body weight with no problem through aggressive stops and turns, and really brought to light how little support I was getting from my 11K/U+Pro skates by comparison.

But all of the performance features were moot if I couldn’t find a way to make the Super Tacks fit my feet. After 4-5 trips to Pure Hockey for additional punching attempts, I took the skates to my specialist, Andy Scoggins of ProSharp in Raleigh, NC, for his opinion.

Intermission

Andy, who shakes his head every time he sees me walk in with a new pair of skates, sighed when I put the Super Tacks on his shop counter. He took one look at the work done to the quarter of the Super Tacks and noted that punching this type of boot only cracks the composite. If you can visualize trying to “punch-out” the windshield of your car, you get an idea of the effect this creates. An aggressive punch can easily ruin a pair of skates like the Super Tacks.

Here’s a comical picture of where I indicated “painful spots” on my Super Tacks. Notice the Jack-Crease already developing right under the 3rd eyelet:

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In this picture of the skate’s collar/neck, you can see what my feet were doing to the boot after only a few uses on-ice. The bone spurs on my feet were already warping the ultra-stiff eyelet rows of the Super Tacks:

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You’ll also notice that I swapped out waxed laces for unwaxed, which I haven’t done in forever. This might seem purely cosmetic, but it’s actually an important point:

Like a lot of veteran players, I usually wear my skates uncomfortably-tight and really crank down on the laces when tying them. But with the composites currently being put into skates, this method is not only unnecessary but counterproductive.

Modern composite skates, at least the pro-level ones, are like cars with an automatic transmission. Whereas older-style skates are more like manual transmissions – meaning that the player has to take a lot of responsibility over the fitting and lacing, in effect creating their own “skate-frame” to optimize power – modern pro-level composite skates completely take care of issues like lateral stability, and come with their own respective skate-frames.

In this case, CCM has taken care of as much of the engineering as possible so that that player doesn’t have to focus on the equipment, and can instead focus on improving and playing. The CCM Monoframe is unique on the retail market, and the Tacks frame is just about the stiffest retail frame available. It is meant to hold some very large, powerful players in place through cornering and turns.

The point in all of this is don’t over-tighten the laces. My recommendation is “comfortably snug”. It may help some players to do a second skate-bake to really capture the shape of the foot, but wrenching down on the laces is probably only going to damage the eyelet cuff and cause you unnecessary discomfort.

Anyway, Andy basically refused to work on my skates, as he correctly felt that heating and punching the composite would only serve to ruin the skates. Andy recently partnered with a gentleman who is on CCM’s advisory committee, and this gentlemen asked Andy to tell me the same thing that I’ve now heard a dozen times:

“With your feet, you are a perfect candidate for VH Skates.”

I don’t disagree, at all. While I think 95% of the hockey-playing population can find a suitable retail model, I think there is a small percentage of players who both need a full-custom skate and can justify the purchase cost. I happen to be in that group.

I was resigned to taking the Super Tacks back to Pure Hockey and returning them within the 30-day purchase window for a refund. But then something strange happened: I was standing around Andy’s shop in my Super Tacks, and suddenly they hurt less. The discomfort waned enough that I could stand in them without sharp pain.

I took the skates onto the ice at the Raleigh Iceplex for 20 minutes, and the discomfort was noticeable but tolerable. I have no idea what changed, as I’d only been able to skate on the Super Tacks in short bursts, but suddenly I could put them through a legitimate workout.  While making the Super Tacks fit was the equivalent of hitting a square peg through a round hole, their performance was so exceptional that I decided to keep hammering away.

Performance

As noted above, the Super Tacks are a one-of-a-kind skate, and possess a wealth of other performance features that most skates do not.

First, the Super Tacks available at the retail level is the same skate worn by NHL players. While most professional players use a product that bears only passing resemblance to its retail counterpart, the pros apparently use the same Super Tacks skate that’s available in retail stores.

Without blistering you with science and statistics, you simply cannot get this level of Foot Wrap from another retail skate. Removing the outsole from the bottom of the boot provides a complete, 360-degree wrap that a player cannot get from a boot with an outsole. The quarter and the Tri-Tech tongue work in concert with the appropriate CCM Arch Support to provide the most-seamless wrap available at the retail level.

The Super Tacks comes with a Lower package of the SpeedBlade 4.0 holder and the SB Black steel. SB Black undergoes an oxidation process allowing it to retain a skate-sharpening longer, and the black coating allows players to easily spot nicks-and-burrs. CCM now uses SB Black on many of their higher-end retail models, and it says a lot about the steel that CCM opted to package it with the flagship Super Tacks.

The now-standard SpeedBlade 4.0 holder is 3 millimeters higher than the previous generation E-Pro, allowing for sharper turning and greater angling without “bottoming out”:

attackangleThe front and rear posts of the SpeedBlade 4.0 holder are symmetrical, meaning that the posts are the same height. By contrast, Easton’s CXN Holder and various Graf Holders (including the Cobra NT 3000 Holders) have added height on the rear post, which pitches a player more-aggressively on her or his toes. All of the current Bauer and CCM retail models, including the Super Tacks, come from the factory with level posts and a Neutral Pitch. Interested players can read more about Pitch and Profiling in the Reboot Hockey Training Manual.

The Super Tacks comes factory-profiled with a 10′ radius. Bauer and CCM tend to send their skates from the factory at moderate profiles ranging between 9′ (greater agility/lesser speed) and 11′ (greater speed/lesser agility), and will often change factory-profiles from year-to-year. I think a 10′ radius is probably a good profile for many amateur players to use while they cultivate personal preferences, offering the best blend of acceleration and maneuverability.

I found myself occasionally catching an edge while I used the Super Tacks, but I attribute this to the fact that I generally use profiles of 9′ or less. But in all honesty, going up in profile length is probably a good thing for me and other players using shorter profiles. The game has become much more North-South than East-West, and for many players a longer profile is going to be beneficial.

The original Tacks was denoted as “XX-Stiff”, while the Jetspeed is “X-Stiff” and the 50K is “Regular Stiff”, as per CCM’s 2015 Frame/Stiffness Chart:

ccmframechart

I’ve used the Jetspeed, and I would agree that it’s quite a bit less stiff than the Super Tacks, which feels indestructible. This is a consideration, and not necessarily a negative against the Jetspeed. In fact, it was a lot easier for me to punch some extra room into the Jetspeed and allow myself to skate comfortably. Stiffer does not always equate better.

It’s worth writing that the difference in Frame and Stiffness between the Jetspeed and the Super Tacks noticeably altered my skating mechanics. As I wrote in the Jetspeed review, I was getting great forward flex and heel-lock with the Jetspeed. This allowed me to really lengthen my stride, and as promised by CCM maximized my acceleration.

On the other hand, the Super Tacks holds you remarkably-well in any position. While the 50K is currently marketed as the agility boot, I was wowed by how strongly the Super Tacks let me feel all four of my skate-edges at all times.

As an example, my weakest movement in skating is a backwards crossover to my backhand side. This is the position in which I am mostly likely to be exposed, execute poorly, or bottom-out. If you can picture a left-handed skater crossing-over backwards to come from the right boards to the left side of the ice, you can visualize the movement.

As an offensive-minded center, am I going to be executing this movement very often in a game situation? No. But I can’t stand sucking at anything hockey-related. I picture Scott Niedermeyer effortlessly back-peddling to halt an odd-man break, and immediately feel shame over how substandard my backwards crossover to my off-side is.

One thing I noticed and loved about the Super Tacks was how well it held me in this position, which for me is very unnatural. A lot of skates will feel great when you’re executing basic movements like your forward stride, but a better test of a skate’s usefulness is how well it holds you in the awkward positions you find yourself in during a game. The Super Tacks gets very high marks in this regard.

The combination of the boot’s stiffness and the lack of an outsole also led to maximum power with every stride. For a change, I felt if I pushed harder into the ice, I got a reciprocal uptick in power. If you have a more-powerful or higher-effort stride – if you’re like me and more of a “Crosby” than a “Niedermeyer” – the Super Tacks comes highly, highly recommended.  You simply cannot wear this boot out.

This performance upgrade, rather than ideal fit, was why I opted to keep my Super Tacks. If I can go onto the ice and perform to my capabilities, I’m OK with my feet hurting some while I play for a few hours afterward. But this is a very individualized decision, and lighter/newer players are probably not going to be able to reap the benefits of the skate.

My summary view is that the Super Tacks’ fit is very personalized but not perfect. But I don’t believe experienced players will find a skate that can outperform the Super Tacks, including top-end Bauer models.

Basis of Comparison

I may start removing this section from the Honest Hockey Reviews, because most Reboot Hockey readers can plainly see through the depth of the analysis that I’m qualified to review pro-quality skates such as the Super Tacks.

Unfortunately, there are always a few trolls who e-mail me or sass me in the comments section, and I usually try to preempt them with a deluge of insight and clever insults. But that’s usually not on-the-nose enough for your garden-variety internet troll.

Anyway, here’s some of the gear I’ve kept. Notice all the CCM:

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And here’s me in Beer League. I’m the one heel-dragging and spraying ice in the white 11Ks, not the one about to fall over:

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My go-to skate for the past few years has been the Reebok 11K, and the 11K is a skate that professionals have used in the NHL. But Hockey is evolving at a breakneck pace. Every year, players are getting faster, largely due to the improvements in equipment and training.

As much as I’ve used and appreciate the Reebok 11K, I’ve gone through a pair every 6-9 months. The traditional frame in older Reebok skates feels great to me, but I cook them in a relatively-short period of time. And I hate to say it, but the game has become so competitive at all levels that players need to be aware of how equipment is helping or hindering them, if a player really wants to excel.

I also kid about how fat and lazy I’ve become, but I’ve demolished $400-$600 performance tier skates such as the Reebok 48K, Bauer Nexus 600, and Graf 535. I didn’t even review these skates because I ruined all of them within a month or less, either warping the boot badly or even torquing the holder. And I always have to give respect to the 11Ks, but even they aren’t really built for the pace at which the game is often played in 2016 2017.

At my experience level, it’s apparent that I probably should be using current pro-quality retail skates. An aging tiger is still a tiger, it seems.

Within the last year, I’ve also demoed and reviewed the Super Tacks along with the Mako 2s and the Jetspeed. I think those are the two most-comparable skates to the Super Tacks, maybe excluding the Bauer Supreme 1S or Supreme S190/MX3.

I’m sure it would be helpful to readers if I would cave and review some Bauer skates, but I’ve skated CCM/RBK since I was 8 or so. I think plenty of players continue to skate Bauer, and there are many people better-qualified to write a 1X or an MX3 skate review than me.

Having said that, I do keep up with what Bauer does from an R&D perspective, and I always check out the new Bauer skates when they come out. Bauer does not currently offer a Monocoque boot, but the closest Bauer comparison by construction and price-point would be the Bauer Supreme 1S. I write a bit more about the 1S and other comparable skates to the Super Tacks in the section “Which to Buy?”, seen below.

Durability

The Super Tacks is built like a tank, and as noted above, the retail version has identical specs to the professional version. This skate is built with withstand professional-level wear-and-tear. The removal of the outsole only makes the boot more durable in my view, as a detached outsole is probably the most-common break in a skate after broken blades and blown eyelets/rivets.

Personal Biases

I’ve purchased and reviewed yet another CCM skate, while I haven’t purchased a Bauer skate since I picked up a pair of Nexus 600s on closeout two years ago. Dedicated readers will notice that there is not a review of a Bauer skate in my archives. My bias in skates skews heavily in favor of CCM and away from Bauer, despite the fact the CCM served up several generations of lower-quality skates in recent memory.

I’ve written an entire piece on my “Anti-Bauer Bias”, which I may publish on the blog or save for the second edition of the Training Manual. But the two basic points I make in that article are:

  1. Plenty of players, both professional and otherwise, continue to use Bauer skates. Reboot Partner Mark, to cite one player, has used Bauer skates his entire life, and if he had time to write, he could give great insight on the generational changes in the Bauer line of skates. Bauer has a great following, and I think Bauer products get more than adequate coverage and exposure.
  2. Meanwhile, CCM basically lost an entire generation of players to Bauer, which they are finally starting to win back with the releases of the Jetspeed and Super Tacks lines. But I wasn’t one of those who jumped ship. I’ve almost always worn CCM skates, and only rarely worn Bauer skates. I think this knee-caps my Bauer expertise, even if I understand how skates are constructed and can grasp engineering and performance differences between various skates.

For example, I always have to triple-check myself when I’m looking at a Bauer Vapor X60 – a skate still worn in the NHL by players like Erik Karlsson – and the Bauer Vapor X:60, which is an entry-level skate. I can do a Bauer review if a product is a direct comparable – having reviewed the Jetspeed, I’d feel OK about reviewing the Vapor 1X or the APX2 – but I can’t bring the same insight and perspective to the line as a whole.

However, when I’m watching an adult-league game, I can eyeball from the bleachers if a player is wearing CCM Vector 8.0s or Vector 10.0s or even a Vector ZG 130, and I can talk intelligently about the differences between those skates. I can explain why I wasn’t wild about the 2012 CL/U+ line as well as why I disagreed with the choices made on the CCM RBZ. I can watch a Penguins game and notice that Sid Crosby continues to use the E-Pro holder on his 50Ks, and note that Carl Hagelin continues to rock white 20Ks with TUUK holders.

My niche in skates is CCM. As I’ve written before, the numbers scream that Bauer has a great product line. But some people like Coke better than Pepsi, and some people like Ford rather than Chevy. I happen to like CCM skates more than Bauer.

Which to Buy?

Having noted my bias toward CCM skates, my advice is that you check out skates from all product lines within your budget. Read about, and more importantly, try on skates like the Bauer Supreme 1S or the Bauer Nexus 1N if you’re willing to spend top-dollar on skates. There are a ton of great, insightful reviews on almost all of Bauer’s products available on the web.

These pictures are from Bauer skates, but I think all purchasers should take them into consideration:

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I wish this info-graphic had been available years ago. The skate companies – rightly or wrongly – have tended to market their skates based on a player’s skating-style or type, rather than her or his Foot Profile.

While the Frame of a skate certainly has a bearing on a player’s mechanics and performance, my view is that the profile of a player’s foot is more important.

My recommendation is that you start your search for skates with Foot Profile. You might not be after pure acceleration, but if you’re flat-footed and need optimal heel-lock, you can probably spare yourself a lot of aggravation by focusing on a Jetspeed or Vapor skate.

There will be other considerations – for example, a player with a mid-profile foot might find the higher-end Super Tacks or Ultra Tacks skates too stiff – but I think focusing on Foot Profile and being sized properly is a bigger consideration than Frame or Style of Play. Just my two cents.

Here are some things you consider if you’re looking at purchasing the Super Tacks versus direct competitors:

Super Tacks vs. VH Hockey Skates

If you have time to wait and discretionary income, I strongly suggest you investigate VH hockey skates. I am 100% sold on their process and their approach. Going with a full-custom skate ultimately saves a dedicated player a ton of time and likely a lot of money. If you’re considering the Super Tacks, you’re already willing to pay the cost of a custom skate, so it’s probably worth a phone call or e-mail to VH to help you decide if custom skates are right for you.

It’s worth repeating that, if you live in the United States, a VH full-custom skate is probably going to cost you less out-the-door than a top-end retail skate with MAP pricing. MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) on the Super Tacks is $899 USD, while my order from VH was set to come in at about $690 shipped due to the exchange rate. Something to consider.

Reboot Readers should be aware that True Temper purchased VH in November 2016, and I have no idea what that will do to VH from a production standpoint. I hope that VH continues to produce full-custom skates, and my suspicion is that True and VH will collaborate on a retail skate or line of skates. Time will tell.

But if you’re like me and can’t deal with the requisite 4-6 weeks for VH skates to be completed, I truly believe the Super Tacks is the best alternative to a true custom skate. The Super Tacks doesn’t provide full-custom fit, but it’s the next best thing.

Super Tacks vs. Jetspeed vs. RibCor 50K

This updated graphic from CCM should help you discern the fitting differences between Super Tacks, Jetspeed, and RibCore 50K skates:

Image result for ccm super tacks skates performance

If you’ve narrowed your purchasing decision down to a top-level CCM skate, here are my thoughts:

My experience was that the Jetspeed provided better forward flex and heel-lock while the Super Tacks, being an even-stiffer boot and lacking an outsole, allows for better edge control and holds even better through turns. If I had to assign grades, let’s say the Super Tacks gets an A+ for power/control and an A- for pure acceleration, and vice-versa with the Jetspeed.

Assuming you have a proper fit, you can’t go wrong either way. If I was a winger and needed to put an absolute premium on acceleration, I’d go Jetspeed. If I was more of an in-zone player or a center and did more lateral movement, I’d probably go Super Tacks. But my view is that they are both tremendous skates, and quantum leaps over what CCM did with the Crazy Light and RBZ lines.

I would recommend that you make your purchasing decision based on which skate better suits your foot profile, yet predictably I’m doing the opposite of what I’m suggesting. The Jetspeed is a better overall fit for me based on Foot Profile and skating mechanics, but the performance benefits of the Super Tacks – namely the amount of sheer power I can churn from every stride – are too strong for me to forgo.

I haven’t worn the 50K, but I’ve used the 48K, and my last three four pairs of skates have been Reebok/RibCor models. I think the Reebok/RibCor line provides the most-traditional feel and fit, but also the lowest grade performance among the current CCM offerings. I wore Reebok 11K/20Ks because I couldn’t find another skate that fit me, but I broke each of them down quickly and the fit – especially the heel-lock – was really sloppy.

Having said that, I did use Reebok 11K/20K/RibCor skates for four years, and NHL players like Sid Crosby – I’m told he’s pretty decent – use RibCOR models. Carl Hagelin, perhaps the fastest skater in hockey, uses white 20Ks. So a player can certainly skate fast/well in RibCor skates. A lot just depends on the shape of your foot and your skating-style.

Super Tacks vs. Ultra Tacks

Straight from CCM’s 2016 product catalog:

skatesultratacks

My view is that if you are debating Super Tacks versus Ultra Tacks, you’re weighing the benefits of the Monocoque boot, plain and simple. Holder/steel, moisture-wicking system, and fit dimensions are identical between the two. But the Monoframe molded around my entire foot in a way that’s difficult to describe. The Ultra Tacks fit, to me, like a high-end Bauer Supreme.

If you have a textbook Supreme/Tacks foot, the energy-transfer benefit you get upgrading to the Super Tacks might not be worth the $200 retail price difference. If you have unusual fitting issues, or if you understand and value what a Monocoque boot can potentially do for your skating, I assure you that the Super Tacks meets performance expectations and justifies the price difference.

One other note: the toe-box on the Super Tacks is different than the Ultra Tacks due to the one-piece construction on the former. Here’s a pic of the unique toe-box on the Super Tacks:

super-tacks

Notice how the toe-box attaches at the side rather than being glued/stitched into the outsole. I doubt this impacts performance in any way, but I thought it was cool.

Super Tacks vs. Bauer Supreme 1S

SUPREME 1S Skate

First, you’re splitting hairs talking about an $899 versus a $949 price-point. Both are outrageous. This is a mortgage and a car payment for a lot of buyers, and at these price-points, the skates are to be considered a multiyear investment for many players.

I haven’t skated the Supreme 1S, nor the MX3, nor the Total One, because I hated how those boots fit my feet. And out of the box, the Super Tacks has the same basic “anatomical” or “contoured” shape as a Bauer Supreme skate.

I worked to make the Super Tacks fit because of the way the skate performs. I have a “Jetspeed/Vapor” foot profile but I’m a “Tacks/Supreme” skater, and I decided to accept discomfort in exchange for increased performance. But I did this only for the Super Tacks because of the Monoframe, which Supreme skates obviously lack, and my comfort with CCM.

Compared directly to the 1S, personally I dislike the idea of the Lightspeed Edge holder because I’ve seen blades fly out of the skates of NHL players at inopportune times. I don’t like how TUUK holders/LS steel have felt since ever.

But there are things I prefer about Bauer and the 1S. I think the Bauer Speed Plate is a better footbed – ditto for the discontinued Graf Sidas 3D insoles – than the Custom Support footbeds that come with high-end CCM skates. I think the adjustable tendon guard and the tongue-stiffeners are cool features on the Supreme 1S that the Super Tacks lack. The Supreme 1S has Curv Composite Ankle Support, which improves wrap (and I love wrap). Hell, I think the classically-black Supreme 1S is flat-out better-looking than the Super Tacks.

But the Super Tacks is almost symbiotic in how rapidly it clings to and picks up the shape of your foot. This separates it from every other retail skate as far as I’m concerned.

You can read all about the Bauer Supreme 1S here. But putting all of this aside, we are really talking about an individual’s preference for Bauer vs. CCM, a topic which we could beat into the ground.

If you’re a Bauer skater, I’m going to have a hard time talking you into CCM skates, and vice-versa. So if you skate the Supreme 1S and love it, please comment below to help other readers, but don’t dump on CCM or the Super Tacks because you had a bad experience with the U+06 seven years ago.

Conclusions

I’ve been searching high-and-low for a retail skate that I could use while I waited for VH to complete my skates, knowing that correcting the anticipated fitting problems on the skates could take several back-and-forth mailings with VH. I suppose I could’ve purchased the Jetspeed skates in Fall 2015, ordered VH skates, and been done with it, but my commitment to Reboot Hockey and curiosity made me wait for the Super Tacks. I wanted to see if CCM’s Monocoque retail-release could compete with a full-custom boot.

The Super Tacks offers a fit that you won’t see elsewhere in the retail market. But it’s not a custom skate. Having stated the obvious, it’s also my view that no skate – custom or otherwise – is going to be able to outperform the Super Tacks. You may be able to find a better fit going full-custom, but you will be hard-pressed to find this level of performance.

For the moment, the Super Tacks is the engineering pinnacle of the mass market. I would recommend the Super Tacks to the following players:

  • I think the Super Tacks is a monster comparable to anything within the current Bauer Supreme line, including the 1S. It might be a tough sell to get a dedicated Bauer Supreme skater to switch to a CCM skate, but the Super Tacks is a true competitor to the Supreme 1S. If you have a classic “Supreme” foot – not too wide, not too narrow, not too shallow, not too deep – the Super Tacks will likely provide the best fit and performance you’ve experienced in a skate.
  • Elite or experienced players who can appreciate the advantages of a Monocoque boot. As advertised, the Super Tacks gives a player phenomenal control over her or his edges, and incredible feel for the ice. The removal of the outsole lets an experienced player really use the entirety of her or his blades, maximizing the power in each stride. If you have a Laura Stamm-inspired power-skating stride, this skate will dovetail nicely with your natural mechanics.
  • Players that CCM may have inadvertently chased away over the last 5-15 years. CCM may have a had a lull for a few years, but the company is now back in full lockstep with Bauer. I’m not going to open up a Jetspeed-versus-Vapor 1X argument, but I believe the Super Tacks is every bit the skate that the Supreme 1S is. If you switched from CCM to Bauer (or Easton or Graf) a number of years ago, the Super Tacks is a great reason to reconsider CCM.

I would not recommend the Super Tacks to the following people:

  • Inexperienced players. Giving this skate to a new player is like giving a Shelby Cobra to a new driver. It’s simply too much skate for a rookie.
  • Lighter and younger players. The Super Tacks is professional-grade stiff. I’m 210 pounds and a maniac in the weight room, and I still found this skate to be a beast. If the boot is too stiff to move in, a player won’t be able to appreciate the fit and performance features. I wouldn’t recommend the skate to any player who isn’t almost-fully grown, and even then I don’t think it’s the best skate for most 16-18 year olds. This is a skate for players who can or will play College or Junior.
  • Players looking for or needing a custom skate. This skate wraps the foot like no other on the retail market, but it’s not fair to compare it to a custom skate. The sturdiness of the quarter package – a primary performance feature – also prevents the skate from being punched or stretched traditionally. The boot will contour around most of your foot like a liquid, but if it kills your foot in the pro-shop, there’s only a limited number of adjustments an equipment manager or shop employee can make.

If you’re an experienced player looking for a new top-flight pair of skates with the very-latest tech, and money is no object, the Super Tacks comes highly recommended.

Thanks for reading, and for your continued support of Reboot Hockey.

Jack

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7 thoughts on “Honest Hockey Review: CCM Super Tacks Hockey Skates

  1. Jack,

    That is an awesome review and I am very interested in a monocoque boot myself. I use custom Bauer Vapor 1X skates and the reason I went custom was not the fit. Retail Vapor is a great fit for me but like most people, my one foot is a half inch longer. So one foot would fit great but the other would not. That’s why I suggest custom to some friends because it is not just fit but the length. Looking at your pics, one of your skates, is bending and kind of bowing out fifth eyelet down.

    I used to bend my skate like that before because my right foot was more roomier until I went custom. I read you have bone spurs and that the super tacks is not really your fit but if your like me and you have a half inch difference in length than custom route might interest you.

    Because a lot of technology of skates is getting behind a more form fitting and wrap around feel by using heat moldable composite, a half inch more room can create problems.

    I can tell you have a lot of experience and it is a great review so please don’t take this the wrong way. I learned a bit about the monocoque design.

    Some go custom because, it’s not just because they have weird shape feet but until the retailers allow different size skates by the pair, I am going custom. My custom Bauer Vapor 1X skates have been great for a year and a half but will soon need to order some new ones.

    • Steve,

      Thank you for the feedback. I appreciate anyone who takes the time to comment in a polite manner.

      I agree with you that I should go with Custom Skates. One of my feet is maybe an 1/8 of an inch longer than the other, but I don’t believe this accounts for my fitting problem.

      I over-pronate badly, a condition which I write about in the Training Manual. My ankles tend to cave in due to relatively-weak glutes and flat feet. The conditions feed off of each other, and as you can see from the pics, my feet warp almost all skates right around the 4th/5th eyelet, including the Super Tacks.

      Having said that, I needed usable skates immediately, as I refuse to sit out 4-6 weeks while custom skates are completed. The Super Tacks aren’t a perfect fit, but as I wrote in the review, they perform awesome and the Monococque technology comes as advertised. They might not be perfect for me, but they come highly-recommended to players with more-regular feet.

      I don’t know what you paid, but I’ve been quoted $1050 or so for Custom Vapor 1x skates. That includes a fitting from a Bauer sales rep or Skate Master. I think if a player is going to pay $949 for retail Vapor 1x skates, investing an extra $100 or $150 into Custom Vapor 1X skates isn’t a bad idea.

      Moreover, VH skates can now be had for under $700 USD thanks to the exchange rate. I’ve written a lot about VH skates elsewhere.

      If you want to contribute anything more about your Custom experience with Bauer, I’d be happy to post it on the blog for other readers. Thanks again for your feedback.

      Jack

  2. Pingback: Reboot Hockey Redefined | Reboot Hockey

  3. Hi Jack, appreciated the knowledgeable and detailed review.

    I’m coming from a total non-hockey background and can’t skate to save my life but have two hockey-mad kids who play for their local NLA club juniors in Switzerland.
    From reading your reviews and others it seems clear that the fit of the skate (ie choosing the manufacturer whose offerings best suit the shape of the skater’s foot) should be the primary driver when choosing a new pair, but how much difference does the skate quality and price make at a youth level? (my boys are 7 and 9 and on the ice 4-5 times a week). I guess I’m just trying to gauge how much would be a reasonable budget for a skate for young players playing a decent level and looking to improve?
    I get that a top level skate won’t turn a kid into Crosby jr, but do you think the performance boost from an entry level to higher level skate worth the additional expense given the short lifespan the skate will have?

    Also I’ve tried to buy your manual – there’s way too much I need to learn about the game!
    (Is there any other way to pay apart from Paypal as I’m having issues with my account?)
    All the best,

    Richard

    • Richard,

      If your boys are on the ice 4-5 times a week, it’s going to save you money in the longer term if you invest in a more-durable skate, but you don’t need to purchase the top-end skate in a given line, especially if when boys are so young.

      If I was buying for my nephews, I would look at something like a CCM 46K or 48K, which originally retailed for $199 and $299 USD, respectively. I write about it in the Manual, but your boys would probably get the best value out of “performance” tier skates. Performance-tier skates such as the 46K/48K have some of the features of the 50K, but are less stiff and have some of the bells-and-whistles removed.

      But having said all of that, your boys are going to outgrow skates rapidly – sometimes within the same season. I recommend being budget-conscious until they are 14-15 and aren’t growing by leaps and bounds. There’s nothing wrong with getting them a good second-hand pair of skates.

      I would avoid entry-level skates such as the Jetspeed 250/260. Those aren’t going to be worth the money based on how often your kids are on the ice, especially for your 9 year old. If you have $100 to spend on skates, I think a better bet is getting a used pair of Jetspeed 280 skates for your son than buying the JS 260 new. Just my two cents.

      As for the Manual, I am not very tech-savvy and haven’t set up to take payments outside of Paypal. If you want a copy of the Manual and want to send a payment via Venmo or one of the cash-sending services, let me know which one.

      Hope this helps. If you have other questions, you can also email me reboothockeyhelp@gmx.com.

      Regards,
      Jack

      • Hi Jack,

        Thanks a million for the detailed response – it’s incredibly helpful and very much appreciated.

        They’re on the ice a lot with 3 training sessions a week plus tournaments and often pickup games too on a weekend so the skates need to be able to take a pounding but as you say they’re outgrowing them so fast a pair barely lasts a season if that.
        Will definitely take a look at a second-hand pair and will give the CCM 46k/48k a long look : as you say, the lower end of the “performance” tier sounds like the perfect compromise.

        Will drop you a line on the help email address to try and get a payment for the manual sorted,

        Thanks again,

        Best regards,

        Richard

  4. Thank you for the thoughtful review. I just purchased the Super Tacks over the internet. I am flat footed and experienced a lot pain in the CCM RBZ 90s. Due to the performance, I cannot go back to Easton or Bauer. I had the RBZ punched out 3 times and removed the foot bed to give more room in the boot and they are much more tolerable now. However, by punching out the sides I tend to get more lace bite and a sloppier fit which is not ideal. I bought new Nexus 8000s with the LS4 blades for added hight but I am unhappy with the performance although they are comfortable. I know the Super Tacks are going to hurt big time. I will report back if I find any tricks to increase comfort. I am thinking of losing the foot bed and lacing outside-in to increase volume and lower lace bit.

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