Monday, March 12, 2012

Review > Urban Plastix > Ditches and Speed Bumps

urban plastix

There seems to be a lot of good things coming out of New York these days; Pudge Knuckles coffee, a mug of which is steaming at my elbow and then Urban Plastix, a new company that has sprung up recently and has been somewhat of a surprise.

Here's a little bit about them from their site: "Urban Plastix (UP) is based in Brooklyn, New York. We are a climber-owned company bringing the next level of passion to your indoor climbing experience. Being in the big city, inspiration comes in a slew of different forms for the typical climber. Our head shaper, Peter Juhl, lives here in Brooklyn and draws his inspiration from the art and culture that the magnificent city has to offer. Urban Plastix has been working behind the scenes for 2 years before presenting our holds to the public. This extended period of time has given us the chance to completely refine our line and make it the best it can possibly be for you. We hope to inspire you and grow the sport of climbing through the art and culture that drives us all to be better and keep moving UP"

So without much more ado here's what we're looking at, rather than review the holds separately we decided as UP is a new company to run a big review on the two sets they they sent us:
Urban Plastix: Ditches
Urban Plastix: Ditches

Urban Plastix:Speed Bumps
Urban Plastix:Speed Bumps

The Ditches are from the UP site are meant for intermediate climbers and the Speed Bumps are meant for advanced climbers, its nice to see a company class their holds in this way as it means you kind of know from the images and descriptions what you're going to get. We didn't know what we were getting despite being given a heads up on what we were going to get to review, but it seems Peter has obviously seen our videos so he sent something that would challenge us.

Challenge us they did, the two sets were set as one long route that rolled in around V5 or V6 and was then made easier at a later date, we alternated the holds and setters as we went setting feet afterwards to make something that would really put us and the holds through their paces. If you look at the Ditches then you have these wonderful slopey crimps that allow you to really get you pads into them without any sharp edges, and then you have the Speed Bumps which rather than being incut have small slopey ledges for you to grab on, both sets are both pretty low profile and don't take up much space on your wall. Once set we started climbing and man was that a climb!

Starting with a Dimple you have the option to hit the long thin Speed Bump, it looked like you could match it but after numerous attempts it's apparent that it's not going to happen easily at all (We didn't give people beta on this route at all when they first climb it), so you have a long cross that goes down well and then you have to transition into the 45 degree wall and two holds that are on the red volume. The first hold you hit which is the biggest Dimple is something that looks (again) like an easy match... HA!, not at all, you need precise hand placement or you can't match, and then you hit a Speed Bump undercut... that's the crux moves, or so we thought! After that the route gets stretchy and balancy to a level where any climber under 5'6 is going to suffer. Look at the videos (before we changed it) and the moves he's making to get this route done, he's struggling, he's working and he's working HARD!

So Dimple, Speed Bump, Dimple, Speed Bump rinse and repeat :) To the end if you can make it, most can't so the route was made a little easier and even then it's still hard, these holds even on a vertical wall will make you work, there's nothing easy about them, but they are some sublime shapes when you get down to it. The shaping is superb, the pouring and sanding is superb (These aren't poured in NY they're poured by a different company) and these holds for a start up company that's just started have just flat out knocked it out of the m'fking box


So, obviously we love these holds, that's pretty easy to see. We'd only go to 45 degrees with these holds but don't rule out blind slaps on aretes, especially when considering the Speed Bumps. You'll not find better quality out there from a new company, we love the technical movements that can be forced with these holds. You can really do some very interesting things with these guys, the Ditches are way easier if you want something that really rolls with your training and these holds definitely work better on the steeper angles. The Speed Bumps are hard, harder than they look and they will catch you out even when you know the holds and where you want to hit them, you need to be very precise with them!


  • Number of holds: 5 holds for both sets
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Bolt
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds):
    • Ditches: 5 holds / 50 = $10 per hold
    • Speed Bumps: 5 holds / 60 = $12 per hold
  • Color: Ditches are yellow / Speed Bumps are orange
  • Bolt placement: Middle
  • Sanding: Great
  • Hollow backed: No
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Good
  • Set size: Medium to large
  • Versatility: Great
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: No
  • Shaper: Peter Juhl
  • Weight: TBC
From start to finish there isn't much to complain about these holds, they've done an outstanding job in the shapes and in the forms that you'll receive. There aren't any set screw holes which is a problem and there isn't a UP logo on the shapes either, its something we've come to expect from pretty much every company these days... but we can forgive them this one time because they're new; but they did say that they'd done their research... so I guess they just messed up.

The colors a vibrant and bold, the shapes are well defined and great on your fingers and the texture give enough bite that will allow for long sessions without worn out skin. Like seriously long sessions, the texture is just just enough it's the shapes and the smooth radii that allows you to haul all day long and not worry. And that's what will always make the difference between a good shape and an awesome shape, the shaping and molding go hand in hand, bad shaping and good molding makes a bad shape, good shaping and good molding makes a great shape and that's what we're talking about

It's a hard thing to write about overall build when there's pretty much nothing wrong with the holds. Of course we'd like to see bigger expanded ranges of these holds, but that's what we always want :)

The one gripe that does spring to mind (Thanks for reminding me there Mark) one of the holds was a little miss sanded but a few millimeters, again no real biggie but when they've done so well from the start then it's kind of a shame.



Right whilst we wrap up this review and wait for more comments let me get my thoughts on these holds down on er paper :)

What has it been? 4 years? That's a lot of plastic and that's a lot of holds, that's also a fair amount of new company's that have come, some have gone, some are still kicking... we have enjoyed them all for good or bad.

Urban Plastix is different, rather than produce in-house, they went out house with only the shaping being in-house... how do we feel about this? Well it's smart but they're not making big bucks that's for sure. They skipped a step in the learning process and just went BANG here you go. Rock Candy went in-house and now both are produced at the same place these holds are made. It seems that UP have kind of missed a right of passage where other people have struggled and have done it themselves these guys just skipped and went straight to the we don't fuck about stage! Hats off to them for that, but thumbs down for not spending time in the pouring room making holds for years before doing this.... it's a double edged sword, and an argument for another day in another place, preferably over beers

What UP have done is like we said before, KICK IT OUT OF THE M'FKING BOX, straight up! There is little to complain about and the climbing has been brutal because of setting and wonderful at the same time. These shapes should make the big guns sit and take a look because they're close to perfection and this is what a month after their site went live. Christ, there are still people out there pouring resin ffs, resin... really? Time to upgrade people, when someone new can come in and mark their turf then take a look you're getting schooled by the new kid on the block.

We always have love for the underdog, the go it alone, the one man in a garage but sheeeesh UP just upped the game to another level on so many fronts. They didn't muck around either, they put out a good line up of shapes on day one, they're adding more and if the quality and shaping (from what we've played with) keeps up then some people might need to drop out of the game... you know who you are :)

The shapes are new and fresh, even the Ditches seem to be a new take on something that's been done before.... so UP. How do I sum these holds up? Ok they need set screw holes... but fuck me if these boys didn't do it right first time and you should look at these holds next time you get your credit card out

Dave Bursey:
So…Ditches and Speed Bumps.

If you read the review and watched the video, you know by now that the holds are sick. SICK! The big
things I love about these are the fact that they’re hard to match…really hard, making it easy to keep
sequences the way you intended, the rest of the hold is pretty much useless, so all you can get your
hands on is the actual bump or ditch. And pretty much every hold is comfortable left or right handed.

Also, these holds are just easy on the hands(although not on the climber) the texture is great, offers
great friction, at the same time doesn’t beat the shit out of your skin. You’ll most likely be slipping
off a lot, so this is a big point. Texture aside, there are no overly sharp edges, both the Ditches and
Speed Bumps nice and round, making it easy to session on these for a long time.

So like the video said, Urban Plastix have knocked it out of the fuckin’ park with these two sets.

  • Wonderful shaping
  • Very very well made
  • Great for comps, harder than you think
  • No set screw holes
  • No logo
  • Sanding and bolt hole were off on two holds

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