Friday, July 1, 2016

Solve Climbing Granites Hold Review

Solve Climbing is a relative newcomer to the hold market.  Their current line has a sizeable focus on granite style holds, but they have some other more unique offerings on their site as well.  They sent 7 sets of holds & one feature, all from their Granite Series.  They also elected to send an identical shipment to the guys over at CHR and asked that we drop the reviews at the same time.  So make sure to get a second opinion here! 

I am admittedly not a huge fan of this style and feel it is overdone.  The Pusher Big Stone and Granite Smile set the standard for broken foam granite around 15 years ago, and I’ve yet to see anyone raise the bar.  Just wanted to throw my preference out there, so you all are aware of what might be considered a bias.  All the problems we set with these required relatively extensive forerunning – it was difficult to hit a target grade.  A few degrees of rotation of any of the big holds can result in a considerable change in difficulty. Consequently, we’ve elected not to provide our typical grade expectations for each set. 

These holds are poured by the folks over at Element Climbing, so it is no surprise that the plastic is bomber, sanding is good, and hollow backs impeccable.  All the holds have a predrilled & countersunk set screw hole – something we have come to expect from everyone.   There are 3 different logos used on the holds we have, and while the actual logos are cool, there are several that did not translate well from the mold.  Just like any brand poured by Element, orders are filled startlingly fast.  Solve contacted us about a review, we agreed and chose a color, and we had the holds in hand 6 days later!

TSUNAMI #2:  This thing is an absolute beast.  It’s huge, aesthetic, versatile, surprisingly difficult, and very heavy.  We used it exclusively on the 50 degree wall set as undercling, sidepull and in a “roof” on out biggest volume.  You expect it to be one of those holds that’s nearly impossible to fall off of, and in most scenarios, that is indeed the case.  When set in a roof however, unless you kept opposition on it with solid feet or through compression with another hold, it actually spit us off.  On the V5 through the volume in the video, if your feet cut while matched on this hold, your hands just slid off like a slide - which is fantastic.  The grip surface is too deep though – there’s no way the back inch or so will ever see chalk.  I’d suggest trying a shallow pour.  You’d end up with a lighter & less expensive hold that will climb identically. 

Tsunami 2
XXL #3:  These two holds are definitely my favorites in the batch.  It’s easy to match on either of them because they are so big, but there is really only one grip option.  The pinch in particular is a real beauty.  It’s wide enough on the bottom that it functions more like a slopey ledge, becoming more positive and pinchable as it tapers toward the top.  While the footprint is fairly large, their low profile makes them reasonable additions to homewalls.  These are highly recommended.

XL #6:  The two look great and are really fun.  Some nice smooth scooped ledges with a few pinching options.  The shallow profile makes these a great choice if you’re looking for some bigger holds on your homewall.  Recommended for sure.

XL #4:  Three holds that are too easily matched & meathooked.  We were able to set some great lines, but when you can match on either of the 2 major gripping surfaces, the worse one ends up without any chalk…  A little more attention to finishing these up to reduce their “cheatability” would allow setters to more effectively utilize the 2 distinct the intended grip surfaces.  Obviously matching and hooking can be a good thing, but this set doesn’t live up to its aesthetics when it comes to function.  
Granite XL 4 - Easily matched - the only surface that got any chalk
Granite XL 4 - Meat hook to cheat off main grip
Large #9:  I’m not going to beat around the bush here.  I don’t like this set at all - three fairly uninspiring shapes with nothing in common but their size.  It's not that they aren't comfortable or anything like that - just boring.  Trim the fat.

Medium Pinches #1:  The five pinches are all pretty shallow and would be ideally used on walls less than 30 degrees overhanging.  Really comfortable and they do a great job of actually forcing a pinch grip.  Far from symmetric, these things are easy to force a sequence with – you won’t be matching on an overhang…  These were among my favorites for sure. 

Medium #6:   Another  set with little in common but their size.  Like the Large #9 set, I feel there is too much diversity here - a strange spike crimp, a slopey pinch, a jug, etc...  They do a good job of noting how diverse this set is on their website though, so I’ve got to give them credit for that.  This also seems like a good opportunity to improve the line by subtraction or conversely expand upon and explore some of the themes in more coherent sets?

Small #1:  Cool set that really captures the diversity of the granite crimp.  There is a decent range of positivity on these, but don’t expect to get much out of them beyond 30 degrees overhung.  Nothing groundbreaking or exceptional here – just a solid set of crimps.

My main criticism of these holds, bluntly put, is the shapes seem too random to be deliberate.  It's like Solve broke their foam until something worked out, but unfortunately set the bar a little too low for what was deemed mold-worthy.   That said, there are some shapes they sent us that DEFINITELY deserved to be molded and were a blast to climb on, but if you look at their website, the Granite Series consists of over 150 holds.  I think the line could definitely be improved by subtraction, and a little more focus on keeping a coherent theme among each set.  When I spoke with Solve, they said this was in the long term plan – they released a ton of granite sets, and are going to thin the herd once they figure out which shapes are most popular.  This is a hold review – not a business plan review, but in my opinion a new company, wanting to set themselves apart in a very saturated market, should exercise their own discretion for what shapes will sell.  Take my opinion for what it’s worth though, because the thought of owning a business terrifies me.

As stated above, I’m not granite hold guy, but I certainly respect Solve’s commitment to a comprehensive line.  They aren’t setting a new standard, but there are certainly some notable high points.  They've managed to avoid any of the comfort issues that seem to plague the broken foam granite style - an extremely commendable achievement.  I think if they trim the fat from the line, shoot for a little more focus on hold type within a set, and strive for a more consistent balance of form & function, this could be an awfully solid series of holds.    

Solve Climbing

No comments:

Post a Comment