Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Review > Nicros > Infinity Board

This is a preview of a product that isn't in full production at the time of this review going live. What we're looking at is a prototype..
Nicros Handholds
It was with great anticipation that I spoke to some of the folks over at Nicros months back, my emails were answered by Nic who gave me a very early sneak peak at something that had been in the works for three years... how could my interest not be kicked into overdrive at something that looked like this:It's called the Infinity Board, and it's Nicros new modular training board that's due to be released this October. What we have is a prototype of the final version, so please take that into account when reading.

The board arrives at w
ork so I carry it home and wait Chris to come over so we can mount the board, I check the paper work that came in both boxes for the mounting instructions, guess what? There was none, but as I've mounted hang boards before I set to work, normally I'd mount the board in the normal fashion of putting some plywood up, drilling holds, adding t-nuts and mounting the board off of our normal climbing structure. This time I went a different route, I measured the distance between the bolts on the Infinity and my wall, found that they were different and then just drilled a 2x6 to use as a mounting bracket. Anyone who actually orders this board will receive a template for mounting the board, the paperwork is currently being made up by Nicros.

We grab the holds off of the living room floor (they'd arrived in a parcel a few weeks before as I'd ordered some holds) and get the cat hair off of them, and then check what we should have, the holds we have are the easy set... which consists of: Two easy slopers, two jugs, two pinches and a rail. We have two rails and no jugs, but we labor on none the less, we've come this far so we bolt up the holds as per the image off of the blog for the board (here), jugs on the top... well a rail for us, the slopers on either side and the pinches underneath... the slopers are what I'm going to spend the most time hanging from (they're the nicest shapes to train on) so I grab these, and then fall onto my ass. The slopers are dual texture, which is overkill really for what they're being used for, and the texture is pretty smooth so they're hard to hold onto... and these are the easy holds! The way Nicros change the holds from easy to hard to just to make the radii of the hold smaller. I'm not finding them easy to hold onto, but maybe I'm a huge wuss or not as strong as think I am. With this in mind I chat to Kimberly over at Nicros and check on the holds and who shaped them, and it was Eric Horst that shaped the pockets and some other people that shaped the other holds, so I do some more checking and ask why they're dual texture because for the life of me I couldn't figure out why. The reply was so simple I kicked my self in the ass, the top part of the hold is textured for you to hang on, the bottom is slick so then you can't cheat the movement by using your thumb as a pinch. So Nicros are being very very clever with the design. I head back to the wall and with
some perseverance I get the holds set so I can hang them easily and start doing some dead hangs and some assisted pull ups. I really think that the texture on the slopes needs to be a little more aggressive th
an it is, because if you're running sets of hangs or pull ups you're going to find yourself sliding off backwards after a while, it's nothing serious, but I do find myself chalking to get onto these and really I'd prefer to train without chalk... so then when I use chalk it'll feel like I'm cheating :P

We move onto the rail, and find that it's nice and deep, Chris is having no problem hanging about and doing pull ups on it, same for me... but I find that the edge digs into the last pad (closest to my palm) and raises them a little. I'd have preferred the rail to have a rounder radii than it has as it'd be much more friendly on the skin. Again the rail is dual texture, the top has texture and the bottom and front side are dual texture so they're (again) trying to stop you from cheating. What would make the rail even better is if it tapered towards the center so you can train a greater variety of grip positions i.e: single pad, dual pad etc. The resoning behind this is this; (Again we asked) The rail is diff tex not necessarily for cheating but some people complain their finger pads hurt and like training on no tex while other people insist they need grip to be able to stick on. So, we drew a line down the middle and appeased both sets of people. We can see this being a problem, but think it should still be tapered and the radii lessened as it'd add more variety too this hold.

We switch the slopes for the pockets and go for another round of pull ups and hangs,
we're training three's here: we're pairing first finger and your middle finger together and hang on it and hold. Then we're pairing our middle finger and ring finger together and hold.We'll get round to using our pinkys and ring fingers when we get stronger. Doing this we found that there is a slight edge that digs our skin a little

The final set of holds for the board are the pinches, and they're again not as big or as easy as we expected them to be, an easy pinch should have nice soft curves and a nice deep area to grab. We think that these are the closet to an easy hold out of the set, they're big enough to do pull ups on but not so big that you can hang off of them for minutes at a time. Right now we're using them instead of the rails as edges, because they have a slightly nicer edge to them than the rails.

No symbol needed here, the board is obviously made as a modular training board. You can mount it anywhere you wish, above a door is a prime place to mount this beast! As a training tool for training specifics, pinches, slopes, jugs and edges, it is good, but you're going to have to move the holds around if you want to get variety out of it. Moving holds mid workout is a
pain, and as most people have hang boards because they need to train and don't have much time we think that most people will go with a simple set up and will rarely change it from workout to workout.

The board is fib
erglass that's been molded and then drilled and the t nuts are finally glued onto the back, the boards overall build for us is so so, when you look at the quality of the Jug-or-Not that we have and have reviewed we think it's substandard compared to what we've seen Nicros make, the nuts aren't all totally covered with glue and this could compromise their placements, but remember this is a pre-production model.

But as a fiberglass shape it's well formed and we've not seen anything like it, the structure is sturdy and it's been built to last, but there are problems that do need to be addressed with something of this kind, there was one problem from when Noodles was carrying it home from work, the
fiberglass edges of the board were not sealed so carrying the board gave Noodles fiberglass in his arms. These should really have some sealer of some kind painted over them

Nicros have made holds for a good long time, so you're going to get some quality shapes from bomber quality
polyester resin. Like we mentioned before, we didn't get the jugs for the easy set, so we can't comment upon them, but we can talk about the rail, pockets, slopers and the pinches. Again it's easier to list the problems that we see with the holds in relation to the board:

We think that as we have the easy set of holds, these need to be looked at a little more:
  • Pockets: Are smaller than expected, and you can only get three fingers into them. For a beginner pocket we were expecting something that'd allow four fingers, they have a slight edge upon them that catches you when they're placed on certain angles
  • Rails: These can only be placed on one of the surfaces of the board, and should have the edge of them rounded off as they catch your finger pads. They are nice and deep, but they should taper so you can train for different edge depths, right now they're a constant depth all the way along
  • Pinches: They're not as easy as you think, we're using them as edges as they're slightly nicer on the fingers than the rails. You'd expect them to be more beginner friendly than they are.
  • Slopers: The texture needs to be beefed up, and they have a super wide grip so beginners are going to have a hell of a time hanging them. One of our slopers is hollow backed and the other is solid, which was a little strange.
Overall for three years R&D more time and effort could have been put into the shapes that we have.

The board is fiberglass and the holds are
polyester resin, what you're getting whether you just order the board or just the holds is some seriously heavy shapes.


I've looked forward to the board hitting my house since I saw it, and I'm glad that we got to see it before most people, it's a pre-production model, so there are going to be flaws, so I guess this review is more of an R&D exercise for us and Nicros than anything else, but it is a good look at how Nicros are pushing forward with design of things that have become commonplace in most climbers homes.

Along with all of the negatives and improvements that we've suggested some people will reap huge benefits from this board and holds, but I'm going to point out a number of things that we've not had in the review above and what most people might not realize: The board is: $159.95, and the holds are $119.95 on top of the price of the board, someone must be having a laugh pure and simple. As a concept I applaud Nicros on their forward thinking, but I'm not sure that many people will buy something that's as multi use like this, they want to just get on and train without moving holds around.

Now that being said adding a Croc Bloc from Nicros to the board will make it better for all around training, this is something that I shall be doing in the next few weeks, as it will add more variety to the board.

Last time I checked most hang boards prices were sub $100, hell Nicros own hangboard is $89.95, so $160 for the base is steep, adding more for the holds is just insane. My advice is this: a standard hang board has more variety without having to move holds around, sure if you want to train real serious specifics then the Infinity board is more able to accommodate you (but honestly I cannot see any thing that the Infinity board does that a hang board doesn't do three times over), buying a standard hang board is cheaper... by $180, if the first board doesn't have what you want, buy a second one, and you still have $80 to spend on a night out. Harsh but fair. I love Nicros holds, they have some of the best shapes on the market, I love their EHT (Extreme Hold Technology) shapes, but this time they fell short of the mark for me, it's a finite board, not infinite.

I was just as excited as Noodles for this hang board to show up. I'm the kinda climber who doesn't do a much training on hang boards and so I wanted to get some good training done on this board. The base of the board is a genius idea but three years to develop...come on. I wanted to give Nicros the benifit of the doubt on this one (cause I really like the concept) but when I checked out the price it changed my mind in an instant. At first I thought that the $159.95 price on the infinite board blog included the one set of holds but after taking a close look at the page I realized that the holds come seperate with the steep price of $119.95. So out of curiosity I checked out some other companies that supply system training holds, now there is a lot to offer on the market and some of the shapes have more diversity than the holds that we received. Did I mention that they were cheaper?

Other than the price, I found that the shapes aren't half bad. The rail didn't dig into my fingers and the pinches are a good width to get your hand around but they work better as ledges. The pockets could be a little bigger if the holds are meant for chin ups or for strengthening your lock off but if they are designed with hanging exercises in mind the pocket should be smaller with different varieties incorporating three, two or one finger on the same hold (like those that you see on the bottom portion of most hang boards). I'd rather see these pockets on a route than a training board. Another point that I disagree on with Noodles are the slopes. If you've been keeping up with our reviews the past few month you'd know that we've both had problems with the tendons in our fingers. Now the perfect half sphere shape of the hold makes your hand sit flush around the hold, with your weight pretty much evenly distributed along the length of your fingers. It was actually a relief to be hanging off of the slopes!

All in all this could be a valuable training tool if you want to train specifics and if Nicros could find a way to lower the cost. You'd have to invest into other system holds (or matching pairs of holds) so it will match your specific training and level of climbing. In my opinion, if you're looking at getting the most for your money I would go with the standard hang board or better yet bolt a bunch of system holds to a piece of plywood and stick it above you door.

  • Modular hangboard, use it as you wish
  • Three different difficulty's of holds, so pick your level and train what you need
  • Good concept
  • The price is a big factor, the board and sets of holds are expensive
  • Not enough variety, you can train slopes, pinches, jugs and rails on all the sets of holds, but you only get one type of each per set
The Infinity Board is: $159.95 (board only)
A set of holds are: $119.95, there are three sets easy, medium and hard
The board and holds will be available in October

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very helpful review, thanks for it