Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Review > Three Ball Climbing > Freshly Squeezed

Three Ball Climbing
When this was posted:
there was a few comments about it being a novelty hold, so you know what we did? We got Three Ball to send us one over, so we could feel what the fuss was all about, people were straight out of the gate like a bunch of racehorses saying that it was a novelty hold... so we set out to find out. We'll be honest, there are two camps right now over here...

So we have had the hold all over the place... grabbing the lemon, the orange... or just avoiding them all together. It's been on the roof, the overhang and then finally on the vertical wall, always in different routes and as always with various people grabbing onto it wherever it's been placed.

Is it form over function? It's a really strange mix, and a really strange hold, let's face it, it's not everyday you see a hold that's molded from fruit! From the get-go you're going to notice one thing, this hold is dual texture, but the anti dual texture, Three Ball want you to grab the fruit not the base of the hold... the fruit being the dual texture part of the hold and the base being the normal textured part. How Three Ball get you to grab the fruit is pretty simple, they've made the base as useless as possible, if this hold is anywhere near an angle you're going to have a hell of a time avoiding the fruit and using the base.... so we started with the base, and left out the fruit:

The one place you can grab the base on an overhang is the right hand side as there is a tiny little dimple, and even then it's pretty marginal... so the base on an overhang is not going to be all that good... so far BASE-3 : Us-1, and don't even look at trying to grab the base on a roof, we're daft but not that stupid... it's NEVER going to happen! So we moved the hold to the vertical, set another route and again, skipped the fruit:

So on a vertical wall you can grab the base, on both sides, we did try the hold up the other way, but the pictures are just as sitting on the floor, it's rubbish to hold on to! So after round one with the base it was: BASE-3 : Us-1, now after the second and final round we end up at: BASE-3 : Us-5. So Three Ball have made a base that is pretty useless, so you WANT to grab the fruit... why would you grab the base anyways? We were just seeing how it felt, and compared to other Three Ball holds they have changed the texture to make it worse than their normal holds, you can see that they've thought about the design of the hold a lot, from the base, all the way through to the fruit. Three Ball went out and used a lesser texture on the base than they do on their normal holds, if they'd used their normal texture it'd be OK to hang as you'd have way more fiction. This does lead us to another point about the base, we think that they should make this hold as a standard design without the fruit, it'd be a great sloper!!

Now we moved to the meat(?) of the hold, the place you're actually meant to grab, the fruit! I have no idea how Three Ball managed to get the texture of the fruit so right, of course they don't give like a normal piece of fruit when you squeeze them, but the texture is pretty well spot on, so it feels like you're grabbing an orange or a lemon... we did have a plan to freeze some fruit and bolt it to the wall for the video, but after a few tests it was just too dangerous... plus I was starting to get frost bite. But if you hold an orange or a lemon in your hand and then grab the hold it's very very close to the real thing, we'll have to leave how it feels to haul on a real orange for someone else to try! If you have this hold on a vertical or even steep overhung terrain it's a complete jug, be it a dual texture jug, but it is a jug none the less. People aren't going to have any trouble climbing on the fruit, feet might be another issue, but even in a pair of sneakers I was rock solid standing on the lemon or the orange... the dual texture is slick, but not a "don't grab this" slick, it's more welcoming.
As per usual, we grabbed the hold and bolted it onto the roof and surprisingly both sides of the hold are really quite positive, despite the fact that the areas that you're grabbing are slick, for the hands they're totally fine, but for the feet... holy jebus, they're hard as hell...

You have to really have to jam your foot onto the hold hard otherwise you foot skips off and you're flying backwards... I did try to toe hook the orange and lemon one time, and it was possibly one of the hardest toe hooks I've ever tried!! It was there, but not really, totally marginal, but on a vertical wall hooking on the orange is easy as pie.

Overall it's a tough hold to gauge, people aren't going to grab the base, they'll go for the fruit and the fruit are positive enough to swing about on once you've got used to the fact that they're dual texture... I'm not sure what people made all the fuss about in the comments when the image of the hold was originally posted. Three Ball have done something different and the hold was touted by the commenter's as being a novelty hold and therefore worthless... some bright spark that will remain nameless (Yes, we know who you are!) responded then that that means So Ill's holds are novelty holds for large part as well then :) This is one of those debates that will go on and on, some people will love them, and others will hate them, that folks is just part and parcel of life!


Stick it wherever you want as the orange and the lemon are nice round shapes to get your hands all over! Yes they are dual texture, but beginners and kids don't know that the dual texture part is the area you normally avoid, so it's no biggie. If you're being mean and setting the base as the only part of the hold you can grab you're lessening the range of the hold a lot!, you're not going to get much over vertical before it becomes useless. Give the fruit a squeeze, you might be surprised

Three Ball have done a bloody good job on the hold, the base as we've said above would make a perfectly good hold (hint hint) on it's own, and the orange and lemon texture's are pretty spot on. The hold is hollow backed, so it's not super heavy (mind you it's not light either) the bolt placement and the subsequent screw hole to stop the hold from spinning are well placed.

Despite the fact that the hold is hollow backed it's back it nice and smooth and it sits flush to the wall. The hold color is funky to say the least, I've never seen a blue lemon before, it's a mix of blue and orange and even without the fruit stands out :)

There is one negative, and it's a minor minor point, the end of the lemon when grabbed a certain why does dig into your hand a little bit, I think it's where the fruit was originally attached to the tree that it was grown from. The only time this might happen is if you have this end of the fruit facing up, and being the direct area you want to grab, maybe loosing this part of realism might be a good choice and making it a little smoother... that said we half expected the fruit to rip from the base so we had Seb have a swing about and they're bomber.

All Three Ball holds are made from super sturdy, and expensive poly urethane (I didn't know that PU was three times more expensive than resin)

Here we go... this is going to be fun. I think that novelty holds (for want of a better term) have their place! Hold company's make everything from letters, to embedded phones, to teeth, to dinosaurs, so why not some fruit?? Kids need holds to climb on, and this is where it lies in the realm of climbing, kids will WANT to grab this hold as its something that they can recognise in normal life and it might, just might, stop them thinking about the fact that they're 30 odd foot from the floor tied onto a bit of rope! I had a hoot climbing on the hold because it was just weird to start with and then after a while it becomes part of a route and you forget that you're hanging onto fruit and just pull through to the next move. Chris is going to say that it's form over function, and I'm going to say it's function over form as we've proved that it can be used on most (if not all terrain), and that as a hold performs as well as other holds out there on the market. Next time I get with blue holds at the gym this one is going into my bag of tricks and we'll see what people think of it when it's out in the World!

Overall I think that holds a bunch of giggles and as it does perform as a hold rather than an ornament, so I have no problem with it at all, that's why I have lots of holds and no ornaments at home, I will raise the point that the price is a wee bit steep for a hold of this size, but fruit has always been expensive :P

Looks like I need to defend my position. Granted there's a market for novelty holds, its not like we need to simulate the great outdoors on every hold and its a great way to get kids into the sport. Where I think its form over function is the fact that no matter what direction you put the hold the orange is still an orange and still bomber to hold onto, there is no challenge here for experienced climbers. At the gym there was a climb that had a little worm hold on the boulder wall, from time to time they would change the direction of the hold and it would force you to find other ways of grabbing it. Climbing is a learning experience and at least with some other novelty holds it allows you to use your head to get through the sequence. I thought that we could get a little more out of the hold if we tried using the base as a hold and it worked out pretty well but even at that you still want to grab the fruit, they look soooo scrumptious:)

I think people will like the hold for its ascetic valu
e but will take a second look when they see the price. I think that if Three Ball would have made the base smaller (since you want to grab onto the fruit anyways) it would be a bigger bang for your buck.

  • Good for any angle... there is always someplace to grab... namely the fruit
  • Great for beginners and kids, it might take their mind off of the fact that they're on a rope above the ground
  • When people do see the hold the first time they do ask where it came from, and they do want to touch it
  • The price is a little steep for a hold of this size
  • Some climbers / buyers will be put off by the "novelty" aspect of the hold
  • Not go challenging for experienced climbers
Your vitamin dose will cost you $74.99, it's made from poly urethane

Steve over at Three Ball said this: "I don't think you'll see it on the crux of any v10....Unless its a huge dyno to or from it. I'd like to see an all points off dyno where you have to catch both the lemon and the orange in order to stay"... well we can't pull V1o's but we did our best... for reference I'm 5'7, and my span (finger tip to finger tip) is 5'7... Chris is 5.7 1/2 (he disputes this) and his span is 5'9 :P

From launch jugs to hold 4'7

From launch jugs to hold 5'3

Yeah I was happy to hit it, I hit pretty much everything else in the place trying it.. do we have to say that trying this at home is a silly idea?


Anonymous said...

This hold is like the So-Ill light bulbs, fun to look at but pretty much useless. I love Dan and Dave for all that they have done for the hold industry, but the part of the hold that you intend for people to grab being slick?????? Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

If you want to teach kids about fruit, and use climbing as the delivery method, then bravo to 3 balls. If you want to make a functional climbing hold for a gym or home wall, well it just falls short.

ntmb said...

Hey, for seasoned climbers yeah it's a novelty, and yse the are you hit is slick, but if we can lauch from holds across a 5'7 to it, take a huge swing and still hold on it can't be that bad!

Like we said, some will love, some will hate. I like it, Chris not so much, but it still performs as a hold.. yes not so good for a home wall, but still good for a beginners wall for kids.

Cheers for the comment

James said...

I've got to disagree with anonymous...

I love the so ill light bulb holds! What makes them fun is the fact that they are slick where you want to grab them. In my opinion, indoor climbing will never be outdoor climbing, so why limit yourself to only realistic climbs? I like setting realistic stuff that is good training for real rock, but I also like setting the ridiculous, wacky stuff that you'd never see outside. Grabbing onto some light bulbs, oranges, and war of the worlds spaceships is just good fun.

Plus, the slickness on the light bulb holds can be used to force really cool footwork, massive body tension, and delicate technique. They are a cool tool to have in your bag of tricks

Anonymous said...

We're molding a watermelon this week. Just kidding :)

Who cares, it's just plastic. Or Urethane, or whatever.


Contact Climbing Holds, LLC

James said...

A watermelon might not work, but I see a canteloupe hold in your future....

Anonymous said...

ahhhhhhh...........Fruit of the looms?????


3Ball said...

Cantaloupe does have some nice texture, keep your eye out....

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