Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review > X-Cult > Volumes

So X Cult, they’re a new company to us but anyone European has probably heard of them or has climbed upon their products. When they talked to us about a review we jumped at the chance… we always want to see more holds from around the World and Bulgaria is known to be the home of hold production (for many companies) that reside in the EU

The story begins with a box arriving, a big ass box that was at the post office. Noodles goes to get it and the ladies there make him go to the backroom and get it because they weren’t going to try to pick it up; the room smelt strangely of cheese (they apologized about this) and we saw the box it was massive
It was also pouring rain… He pays for the import fees and he grabs the box, it’s not super heavy but it’s huge and covered in plastic, wet plastic in the rain isn’t fun but despite a few drops the box and it’s toys got back to the house without too much swearing.

The box was huge and has given us months of work, months of reviews and months of fun for you the readers. We’ll only be talking about the four volumes that we received and what we did with them. You know us by now, if someone sends us something crazy then we’re going to do something crazy… in this case we decided to give Guillaume a little something to play with, something that would test him but with enough go to give the other strong climbers a little fun to play on.
What are we talking about? We’re talking about these bad boys:


Yuuup, that’s four Closed Cell Volumes, all of which can be picked up one handed; all of them can be put onto the wall by one person!! Why? Because Closed Cell Volumes (From now on called CCV’s); are strong and stupid light; if you look at any other volume currently on the market right now and then compare sizes and weights these guys will flat out beat them without even batting an eyelid. If you want to know what a CCV is then think of a volume that’s hollow with a flat back on it so it sits flush on the wall (more info needed) The other thing to note is that X-Cult are the only company in Europe that makes CCV volumes and they actually came up with the idea and made it their own!!

As you can see we set something that was a little spicy, a long pull to the orange font style volume then a quick pull to a slopey slopey yellow volume and then, well that’s where most people ended up getting stuck. The trick of the route is to match that yellow and then to figure out where in the hell you can grab the pink in order to be able to hit the green volume (the biggest one) in some sort of control. After working it a bunch Gui was the first person to nail it but it took time and patience on his side to make it work, the toe hook on the yellow to be able to match the pink volume is epic as is the noise the green volume makes when he hits it!!

Did we over do it for a review? Well when this route was first set there wasn’t the extra little holds on the arête for your feet (Or in some cases hands) and it was super hard, hard enough that the time it was going to be on the wall (around 6 weeks) probably wouldn’t have seen it being sent; it’d also mean we’d have wasted precious wall space and review time on something that wasn’t being climbed. With the extra couple of holds it means that the route (well the first part) is doable by everyone that can climb just over V3 and the route has seen lots of traffic (as of writing only two people have climbed the route and there are three or four more people that are close to sticking the last move)… It’s been a surprise I think for most people because the route and the shapes do look like they’re waaay out of the reach of most people but once you actually get on and attempt the moves you find that they’re not as bad as you think. 

That being said the texture of the volumes is the one thing people have complained about and it’s not really that big of a complaint (the orange hold doesn’t enter into this comment) but when you’re making multiple attempts and you slide off of them they do give you some finger burn, it’s probably a factor that you have to really clamp down on these guys to stay on the wall as the route (hahaha) is on a slight overhang. The reason the orange volume doesn’t get this complaint is because it has the “Font” texture and because you can get your fingertips a little more involved in what you’re doing you are also a little less likely to fall off



 If you have a big ass home wall then looking at the smaller volumes is well worth it, they’re cheap enough to warrant the investment; of course gyms rejoice at easy setting because of their lightness and ease of use. There hasn’t been a complaint about the shapes as they’re all smooth and clean and just looking at these holds gives ideas and ideas always end up being climbs which means climbing which means you get stronger 

X Cult do have some slightly smaller volumes for home wall owners and of course loads more for gyms. Look and see what fits your needs we think you will find something

  • Number of holds: 4
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Three screw ons and one bolt on
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds):
  • Color: Neon yellow / orange / pink and green
  • Bolt placement: Center for the one volume that bolts on (with additional set screws)
  • Screw placement: On the edge, pre-drilled
  • Sanding: All the volumes sit nice and flat on the wall
  • Hollow backed: Yes, but they are closed cell volumes so they have additional backing
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Grippy, does need an occasional scrub with a brush
  • Set size: Huge to super huge
  • Versatility: Great
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes
  • Shaper: Iliyan Mihailov
  • Weight:
    • Orange: #19 - 1.3-1.4 kg
    • Yellow: #5 - 1.2-1.3 kg
    • Pink: #23 - 1.9-2.0 kg
    • Green: #26 - 3.0-3.1 kg
So how long have these holds been on the wall? About three months, how much abuse have they seen? Enough! more than enough for sure

When it comes to shapes the "font" style volume is great and will fit into any problems you have with other Font holds from any company, the rest are slopey and it really depends upon what you're setting. When you look at weight you're not going to find lighter out there (for now) they have the strength to take all the abuse you want and the weight that you're setters crave.

Texture is a point where people haven't quite seen eye to eye, some of us love it, some of us think it's a little too sandpapery; but after touching older volumes at other gyms one thing is clear it stays the same pretty well and doesn't wear down

The holds all lie flush to the wall and they come in a mixture of bolt ons and pure screw ons, the bolt ons take any bolt you want to throw at it and the screw ons even when hitting the screws with an impact drill didn't crack even when you hammer it in hard

All of our colors are bright and vibrant, even after you soak a hold and then pressure wash it they all come up sparkly clean with no shoe rubber marks to speak of. What's interesting is because they are CCV they have a hole on the back so when you do wash them make sure to get the water that leaks in out before you go set with them because someone could be taking a dirty water bath they didn't want

Each hold has inset logos that don't get into the way of the grabbing area and are always discrete and subtle on the volumes surface

GRP - Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic

Amazing, from Bulgaria to Canada and everything was fine

Right, there’s been a lot of back on forth on these volumes… and then there was a tiny delay in getting anything done after I crapped out my ankle (bummer)

X-Cult have opened up my eyes to what lightweight but strong volumes should be, I thought that Nicros had the crown with their soy system volumes and they held the US crown for ages and then HRT sent us some stuff that was super interesting (HRT are a European company that imports holds through Walltopia in Canada) and then X-Cult decided to drop us some stuff through the post… err wow. Nicros had the crown, HRT took it and then X-Cult rode in on a magical unicorn and rode off across a rainbow.

Does that seem like an exaggeration?

Nope, not really; OK the unicorn and the rainbow didn’t happen… but the volumes are real and they are mind blowing.

OK, mind blowing maybe a little far fetched but seriously they're light weight and man do they take some abuse. Now the one thing we didn't test was putting a screw on onto them, why? Because they really don't need it and they really are pretty damn good already, we talked to X-Cult and the volumes aren't made to take screw ons, you can add them if they're small but it's advised not to.

Am I good with these shapes? Yup, I cannot complain and as we were doing this review (before I crapped myself out of the TDB season) the gym I competed at, Joe Rockheads in Toronto, had some of these volumes (not the same ones) in their comp routes. Now considering their head route setter I can see this as only a good thing and again those volumes weren't new and they were still going strong.

Would I say buy these volumes?

Hell yeah, even with shipping they're comparable to prices for volumes made in the US, sure you have to wait a little longer for them to arrive but its worth it. Base level: people that make volumes should stop and look at what the Europeans are doing because they damn got it down waaay better than what we're seeing (Why do I feel I'm going to cop some shit for that statement?)

Also when someone is wondering about how strong they actually are #5 and #19 are so strong you can park a car on them :)
Ty Shelton (Setter at Shakti Rock Gym):
Just a few weeks back I was having the "what is your favorite shape of climbing hold?" conversation with a buddy at the gym. Within the endless variety of style and type, both of us agreed that we love big slopers. About a week later, Jeremy brought in the new X-Cult Volumes to test out and immediately I knew these were the holds I'd been picturing in my head. The first problem we set with them has turned out to be the best on the wall for entire duration of the route cycle. Every effort spent working the problem unlocks a slightly new way of using each volume. They have everything from a desperate full hand pinch; to an absolutely bomber toe hook.

Careful though, too many failed attempts slapping for the giant green one is bound to burn through some skin. Super stoked to have these volumes around again for the next reset!

WOW ! Noodles had intended to set me a project with those volumes and he actually managed to do so. All in all it took me 4 days to send the climb. 2 days messing around on it, one day to figure out each move and to start giving burns on it and then the red-point day.

That day I managed to do it 5 times. 2 times by myself, one time for a friend and twice more so Noodles could film it. God I was trashed after that.

These volumes are freakin sick! Technical, and yet not impossible to grab. You’re not always wrapping your wrist over the top of them to get a good grip. In order to top out that boulder I had to adopt the same attitude as an outside project. So I first figure out every single move, than link them in 2 sections and then failed I repeatedly. They’re a very awesome product to climb on. The only down point for me is that the texture that feels a little like sandpaper.

  • Super light weight
  • Strong
  • Very well made
  • Great colors
  • Might take a while to ship overseas
  • Aren't made to take screw ons... they can but care is advised

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