Friday, July 1, 2016

Review > Solve Climbing > Granite (Various Sizes)

It seems that last year, 2015, was a big year for climbing hold companies. A lot were created from no where and we lost Revolution and Pusher, if there is space in a void then it will be filled.... we lost two but we gain many many more!

One of the new guys to come to our attention is Solve Climbing, and although their line up wasn't really that huge we contacted them to run a review. In fact this is something different for us, we teamed up with The Proving Ground (there review is: here) so we could drop both of our reviews at the same time!! It's something new for us (and for you!) so be sure to read both of the reviews to see what we think
Right, so we contacted Solve to grab some holds... we gave them the usual "whatever you think we should see" and they were right we'll get some stuff out to you then, and they did... 7 sets and one feature of their granite line so this review is going to be a fun ol' mish mash because there's a lot to talk about.

Lets get to it:

We wanted one color and they delivered on that front, a big old box of bright pink holds... they smelt so fresh you could tell that they were poured very recently. Solve does have a whole bunch of colors but as we set at a commercial gym these days having the option of setting with one color was way more useful that having a bunch of sets in differing colors (it's also easier for them to pour as well)

From the get-go Noodles and Chris were both stoked on the shapes and they went to work trying to figure out what they were going to set because these holds have a fun issue... issue is that the right word? Most of these holds have grabbing options all over the place... lets take an example the medium granite pinches:

Yes they are pinches, but there are so many grabbing areas that when you're trying to isolate a climber and a move it you have to get tricky with your setting... lets take another example the granite 2XL #3:


Both of these holds have little options on the bottom away from the main grabbing area which means you have to work pretty damn hard to get a climber to do what you want! (the pinches and smalls were the only other holds that didn't really suffer from this problem)

I guess that's why setting routes is so much fun, we had to get down and dirty to make sure that we could get the climbers to do what we wanted... and it may seem like we're sort of complaining about some of the holds having alternate grabbing options and we sort of are but not in any real "these holds are bad sense", more it just made setting boulder problems trickier because if the holds didn't have a huge grabbing area then there were these alternate areas to grab which just made our life a little harder. If we were setting at a rope gym then god damn we'd be having so much fun with these holds... you can actually set some really nice routes with them and it'd feel pretty real, like outdoors real because you'd be grabbing, finding the match and then moving on and away.

If you want a complaint then it's be the complete lack of foot holds for this huge range of holds, the smallest holds are easy to haul on so using them as feet on a rope route would be out of the question as a climber would just use them.... so yeah, Solve need to delve into holds that are smaller than just small and get some feet made that can't be used as handholds... or if the climber is going to use them for their hands then make them really hard :)

Now we set multiple routes (as usual) but we only filmed two...


Route One:
Stand up; put your hands in the box and away you go; we used some of the XL holds as feet because we wanted a nice balance problem for the slabbed part of the wall. So tiny undercut to a pinch then to a slopey pinch undercling where you'll have no feet, you'll have to swing / smear your foot across and then perfom a mantle or if you're flexible get your feet up on the hold before and then get up to the top of the wall.

Whats super interesting about this route is that many people seemed to have trouble with the start
 and most people when grabbing the largest hold always went for the undercling to get into the final moves but seemed to try to keep it as they moved off which just caused more problems than less for them

Route Two:
Sit to a pinch which you need to match, onto a small ledge on the volume and feet up, go out left wide with your left hand, switch your feet, bring your foot up onto the hold on the volume and rock away to the top of the wall. People seemed to like going straight up rather than to the left first, which meant that they had to perform a match and again made their lives a little bit harder than they needed

Overall both routes came out at the grades that we wanted with the longer route really splitting the field pretty well across all of the groups that climbed intermediate for the competition. Route One was the harder one to set, with such a large number of large or XL holds the route was always going to come out on the easier side rather than V4ish that we wanted when we started... it took A LOT of tweaking to get right where as Route Two took a couple of minutes to set with the smaller holds. Like we said before, and we'll say it again, these holds are great, they feel like granite and they do climb really really well... setting with them to make hard(er) problems is where the art is, with so many incuts / grabbing options climbers can cheat moves easily so you really need to take your time and think through what you're setting....

We're going to roll the overall build and suggested uses into one section as there are a lot of holds to talk about:

SUGGESTED USES / OVERALL BUILD TSUNAMI #2:

  • Number of holds:1
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Bolt
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): $115
  • Color: Ours are bright neon pink
  • Bolt placement: Middle
  • Sanding: Great
  • Hollow backed: Yes
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Good
  • Set size: Feature
  • Versatility: Tricky
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes
  • Shaper: Jered Bernert
  • Weight: 
  • Where can you get them: Link
A tsunami is a big wave... this is a big hold, not the biggest hold out on the market but it's pretty damn big none the less. It's heavy with good solid side walls for the hollow back and the cross beams to give it extra strength.... two set screw holes and a good center bolt column means it's going to be nice a safe on the wall even with it's weight

This hold is a big juggy shelf that sort of looks like Africa when you look down on it, it's got a good comfy feel when you grab it when using the wide pinch of the man jugged area. Where the granite goes into the smooth part of the hold is especially nice and it'd be interesting to see what Solves "normal texture" holds feel like.

The color is good with a slight fade towards the edges but it's nothing to really write home about (it's the same for most of the big holds, all of the non hollow backed holds have a solid color throughout (so we'll not mention it again))

Best place for this hold is steep as you like, anything under 30 degrees is a total waste

SUGGESTED USES  / OVERALL BUILD GRANITE 2XL #3:


  • Number of holds:2
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Bolt
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): $83 / 2 =  $41.50 per hold
  • Color: Ours are bright neon pink
  • Bolt placement: Middle
  • Sanding: Great
  • Hollow backed: Yes
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Good
  • Set size: 2XL
  • Versatility: Good
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes
  • Shaper: Jered Bernert
  • Weight: 
  • Where can you get them: Link
These guys if you're feeling brave is good for 45 degree walls... if you're feeling like you want to push yourself then head on up to 60 degrees where you can still have some fun but there will be some harsh words spoken as you miss the sweet spot and go flying :)

As usual the hold is hollow backed and braced, the sanding in good and the texture is what you'll come to love for these holds... it's a little finer on these holds but that's a good thing as it adds some interesting variety to the sets of holds

This set gives you a ledge that's pretty positive and  pinch that's wide and the other guy is a sloped rail that allows a thumb catch if you hands are big enough; again you're looking at a braced hollow back with some great sanding so it sits flat to the wall, set screw holes and all the usual good stuff

SUGGESTED USES  / OVERALL BUILD GRANITE SMALL #1:


  • Number of holds: 6
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons):
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): $36 / 6 = $6 per hold
  • Color: Ours are bright neon pink
  • Bolt placement: Middle
  • Sanding: Great
  • Hollow backed: No
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Good
  • Set size: Small
  • Versatility: Great
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes
  • Shaper: Jered Bernert
  • Weight: 
  • Where can you get them: Link
One of these guys had a washer that was a little off of center, not enough to stop a bolt going through but it was noticeable when you look at them. This set has the finer texture that we were talking about where its grippy but super friendly on your skin... they do take chalk more than the full granite textured holds but a quick brush brings them back to life quite quickly

You've got four flat edges and an incut and a sloped edge, all of them can go 45+ degrees and they'll make you work as they're 1 pad across the set. They even have set screw holes pre-drilled in them which is super nice as the holes are out of the way and don't offer a thumb catch

SUGGESTED USES  / OVERALL BUILD GRANITE XL #4:

  • Number of holds: 3
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons):
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): $75 / 3 = $25 per hold
  • Color: Ours are bright neon pink
  • Bolt placement: Middle
  • Sanding: Great
  • Hollow backed: Yes
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Good
  • Set size: XL
  • Versatility: Great
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes
  • Shaper: Jered Bernert
  • Weight: 
  • Where can you get them: Link
Great hollow backs again on these guys and they offer some steep wall double hand action; the bolt holes do make pretty good thumb catches which is a shame :(

Out of all of the sets these are really fun to haul and jump around on, you've got two really positive shelves which have multiple grabbing options and on flat out jug which is nice, You do have pinching options on these guys and like most of the holds in this range depending upon how they're set depends upon what you get. These are probably the some of the most versatile holds that we've played with for a while

SUGGESTED USES  / OVERALL BUILD GRANITE XL #6:

  • Number of holds: 2
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons):
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): $75 / 2 = $37.50 per hold
  • Color: Ours are bright neon pink
  • Bolt placement: Middle
  • Sanding: Great
  • Hollow backed: Yes
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Good
  • Set size: XL
  • Versatility: Tricky
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes
  • Shaper: Jered Bernert
  • Weight: 
  • Where can you get them: Link
These guys had a few bubbles in the back of them; nothing massive but enough to point out and they had a little color fade towards the edges. Texturewise these are granite lite because of the shaping so they're pretty frendly to grab onto

What you're getting is a ledge with a little pinch on one of these guys and a positive ledge on the other... both holds excel on steeper walls (like most of the range)

SUGGESTED USES  / OVERALL BUILD GRANITE LARGE #9:



  • Number of holds: 3
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons):
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): $73 / 3 = $24.30 per hold
  • Color: Ours are bright neon pink
  • Bolt placement: Middle
  • Sanding: Ok
  • Hollow backed: No
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Good
  • Set size: Large
  • Versatility: Great
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes
  • Shaper: Jered Bernert
  • Weight: 
  • Where can you get them: Link
Heavy; when you grab these guys you do notice how heavy these holds are.. all of them are easily matchable and pinchable. One of the holds wasn't sanded totally the way we'd like to see.

These holds are a pinch / edge fest all day long, depending upon how you're setting they can almost end up as jugs. Super positive at some rotations and edges / pinches in others. They're a staple set of holds that most walls will benefit from having

SUGGESTED USES  / OVERALL BUILD PINCHES MEDIUM #1:


  • Number of holds: 5
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons):
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): $75 / 5 = $15 per hold
  • Color: Ours are bright neon pink
  • Bolt placement: Middle
  • Sanding: Great
  • Hollow backed: Yes
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Good
  • Set size: Medium
  • Versatility: Great
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes
  • Shaper: Jered Bernert
  • Weight: 
  • Where can you get them: Link
Again the sanding was a little off on these guys and the logo was a little mashed up and there was a slight color fade towards the extreme edge on a couple of holds. You're looking at a mixture of 1 pad and 2 pad options for pinching with great thumb catches on all of the holds; these guys are fun on flat walls as it will give a lower level climber something to think about and when you get them on the steep you can set some pretty prutal moves for the gym crushers

We're still saying that these guys will go steep because they climb pretty well when you get them up there

SUGGESTED USES  / OVERALL BUILD GRANITE MEDIUM #6:


  • Number of holds: 5
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons):
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): $62 / 5 = $12.40 per hold
  • Color: Ours are bright neon pink
  • Bolt placement: Middle
  • Sanding: Great
  • Hollow backed: Yes
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Good
  • Set size: Medium
  • Versatility: Good
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes
  • Shaper: Jered Bernert
  • Weight: 
  • Where can you get them: Link
Three pinches that are positive, one jug and a crimper that's better for your right hand than your left.

We really dig these holds, they're well designed and hard to read from below which makes them fun to set with and to catch people off guard :) Most of them are 2 pads but they're matchable and super comfy. The set screw holes were placed in a areas that we thought was a little bit thin and we were worried that we could crack them if we went a little hard with the drill; but they have survived a number of resets with no issues so far

OVERALL BUILD ACROSS THE LINE:

There isn't much to complain about when you look at the holds across the line; there are a few sanding issues but they are super minor, there are a few bubbles here and there but again nothing to really complain about.

Sure the holds are slightly heavy in places but these holds are built to last, you can tell that from the quality of the material that's been used; even with the hollow backs they do have a heft but they are strong... we know, we've abused them, we've thrown them around and they've been used by other setters (not as careful as us) they the holds haven't chipped or have any signs of wear

These holds have been washed in a number of ways, from just a water bath and then a pressure washer or with a grip washing agent and then just rinsed (as per the instructions) and both times have been left to dry. We're glad to say that the holds always came out looking brand new and even where there was lots of rubber it's come off and the holds have been fine

In the larger holds the color does fade a little towards the edges, but it's right at the extreme edge and that's kind of normal from what we've seen over the years. All of the holds have great bolt columns and every hold has a set screw hole; so setters and wall owners will be happy about not having spinners on their hands. Here and there the Solve logo isn't as pronounced as you'd want it to be (if we owned the company) and that's a shame for a good looking set of holds from this company

Solve has a great return policy for their holds.. its a lifetime guarantee against breakage which is pretty good when you think about it... not all companies actually do this, they will probably exchange a hold if it breaks but Solve has a policy that they're replace a hold (if they still make it) or upgrade it if they don't... which in our mind is pretty sweeet
    WHAT ARE THEY MADE FROM:
    Urethane

    PACKING / SHIPPING:
    Awesome

    RATING:
    Noodles:
    It's been a long ol'while since we got these holds and the plan was to post our review at the same time as The Proving Ground just in time for the CWA annual meet; that needless to say didn't happen, day jobs and deadlines have gotten in the way of getting anything done.

    I'm sitting down during a brief respite of 60+hr weeks and very late nights to get this out because I'm starting to feel guilty for it taking so long. So let me apologize first of all to Solve and thank them for being so patient. (I have a board with everything that's in the process of being reviewed and I feel a little shamed every day when I walk past it)

    Man that was a lot of holds and just sitting and talking about that many holds is a hard old job... but it sure did get the setting juices flowing when we laid eyes on these guys. Some of the holds you just touch and you know how you're going to want to set with it... others, well there are options (and options are good and bad) which makes your setting life a little more challenging

    Let me talk about options... if you're setting a route for your clientele then options are great... you can set slightly longer moves where people need to bump and match... then when you're setting a bouldering comp you have to be a little more thoughtful as to how you want to climber to use the hold; with options the sneaky climber will find a way to cheat around the move that you've set in your mind and have fore run to make perfect. Even if the option you've given someone is the easiest and best way to climb the route someone will always take or will find another options

    It's the beauty of climbing and setting... someone WILL ALWAYS find a way to do what you set how they fell comfortable.

    If I were buying these holds I'd err more towards routes as that's what I feel they're better suited for. They're not bad, they're actually fun for bouldering routes on large overhung walls but I had more fun setting on a rope with these holds than on Shakti's walls. We have set some more problems with them since filming the comp and if you're using them for bouldering problems then steeper is where they wills shine

    A good start for a new company for sure

    Chris:
    Wow Noodles and I had some fun and trickier times setting with these guys! I have a bunch of fun setting mind you and I've set with these numerous times since we started this review. Currently I have three routes up at a local guy and they're big thuggy routes where you're cutting your feet off trying to keep some compression on the holds... they're fun for sure.

    My setting style is more powerful then Jeremy's, opps Noodles, style and these holds suit my boulder setting more than his for sure. I like that I can force long moves with bumps into my routes or use some of the other grabbing options as subtle matches / heel hooks. That being said I agree with Noodles that steeper is better, although the two routes he did set were awesome and did split the field of climbers pretty much how he expected.

    The pinches in this set are super nice and the Tsunami is a monster of a hold that is as much fun horizontally as it is vertically. Some of the holds even though they are hollow backed are pretty heavy but they do have a good weight to them...

    Sets that mimic granite are generally pretty brutal on the skin but these guys are friendly, pretty well thought out and are great to climb on

    PROS:
    • A good size of ranges
    • Lots of grabbing options if you look for them
    • Great return policy
    • Smaller sets are great value
    CONS:
    • No footholds for the range
    • Hard to set with because of all of the grabbing options 

    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    The lack of footholds is very relevant to the reviewing of a set of handholds, I would definitely agree with that being a detracting quality for a set of hand holds