The Cádomotus Comp Transformer is squarely aimed at solving a problem that has been created by the introduction of 3 x 125mm into the speed skating world: frame swapping. Coming in at a lower price point than high end racing frames, Cádomotus is attempting to capture a market of penny-savvy inline speed skaters whom would rather not part with their cash twice-over just to have the opportunity to race on 125mm wheels as well as 110mm. They build on their strong history of frame design in an attempt to create the most versatile frame on the market right now. I bolted on a pair of Transformers this week to discover if you can have your cake, and eat it too.
4x110mm or 3x125mm skate wheels?
While it is widely acknowledged amongst coaches and high level athletes that in most aspects of track and road speed skating 125mm are faster, 110mm is the rule for international track and road course racing. This means that between racing events, marathons and training, athletes will be swapping between 4x110 and 3x125 configuration frames. And if you are like me, you need your frame position to be perfect to the ½ millimetre on your skates which makes frequent frame changing like having to re-lace your shoes every time you put them on, annoying. This is where the transformer comes in, currently the only frame on the market with the capability to house both 4 x 110mm wheels and 3x125mm. This is the big advantage of the frame configuration because it saves the skater time by eliminating frame swapping, and saves money because you don’t need two pairs of frames, but it comes at a small cost.
There is a good reason that not many manufacturers have attempted something like the Transformer: frame strength. Frames generally are made strong by links between the two sides, this stops them from moving about as much under the pressure of skating, however with a hybrid frame like the Transformer it is not possible. This is because the 125mm wheels sit where you would put links for 4x110mm configuration and the 110mm wheels sit where you would put links for 3x125mm configuration. The transformer attempts to get around this problem by having a wider profile down low. This is another, less effective, way of making a strong frame. My prediction, before I skate on it, is that it will make the frame softer. But lately I have been hearing more people complain of frames that are too stiff than not, so it's likely not at bad as it sounds.
Unboxing Cádomotus Comp Transformer Inline Speed Skate Frame
The Comp Transformer arrives to you in a minimalist design box with a partition inside, such that when you open you can only see one frame, and this is clearly meant to showcase the aesthetically pleasing design. Immediately apparent are the robust build quality and clean surface finish, traditionally a strong point for Cádomotus so no surprises here. The frames come packaged with 8 axles and 8 spacers, both also nicely finished. Watch out if the first thing you do is mount up your frames in the 3 x 125mm setup, as you will have 2 spare axles and spaces each. Put these somewhere safe unless you want to be crawling under your couch next time you want to mount 110mm.
At first look, when you hold the frames and attempt to twist and squeeze them in your hands, despite Cádomotus’ efforts, it does feel less stiff than most frames. With wheels in the fame a lot of this flex is removed however. The weight is comparable to most other frames on the market but there are definitely no records being contested for lightness. The mounting slots are thoughtfully positioned front to back so I was able to get my front/back wheel ratio how I like it. The width of the mounting slots is narrower than most other frames, which means if you like to mount your frame all the way to the side like me, you can’t quite get it where you want it to be. If you are a normal person and mount in the middle this really won’t bother you.
My first steps on the frames I had 125mm MPC Street Fight wheels in, which are likely some of the wheels you will be looking at if you are purchasing these frames, lower price point but hoping to provide 90% of the performance of the top range. In my first laps it was apparent that even though the frames were expected to be softer, they managed the load of steering the large wheels better than many of the dedicated 125mm frames I have skated on, points for Cádomotus already. When you roll over to the end of your strokes there is a firmness to the way that the frame keeps the front wheel in check, keeping it from running away from you. The added height of the 125mm wheels does make your corners a little less stable, some dedicated 125mm frames get around this by having less clearance, but you likely won’t be seeing many tricky corners in races where 125mm are allowed anyway.
Taking advantage of the Transformers’ party piece, I had also carried a set of 110mm wheels with me (and the spare axles which I didn’t lose) so that I could swap between configurations in the breaks in my trainings. With 110mm wheels in I tested the frames under much more difficult conditions; by hitting corners at high speeds and doing hard accelerations. The frame design gives a lot of stability when you are riding the top of your wheels, and is very predictable in its behaviour. It is however a less steerable frame than I have been using lately, this is a personal consideration though. Some people like frames that dance others like frames that are on rails (this is in the rails category like all Cádomotus frames). At very high speed and pressure you do start to wish there was some cross linking for stability, this is the limitation of the hybrid concept. Although if you are the kind of skater that can go fast enough to find the limit of these frames, you should really be looking at buying separate dedicated track and marathon frames.
Before I get to mentioning who exactly should be buying this frame I want to mention a group of people who should have high interest in hybrid frames, coaches. Coaches who have athletes on these frames have a unique opportunity for equalizing the training environment. Since the 125mm configuration IS faster, a coach can put senior women on 125mm and senior men on 110mm then have them run intervals together. I have seen this happen; suddenly people who were not previously able to train together now can, simply by running different wheels configurations.
So, who is it for? The following groups of people should have no reservations about buying a hybrid frame:
- Skaters in Junior divisions.
- Women skaters.
- Senior men as a training tool.
- Skaters with a focus towards marathon.
All in all the Transformer is a nice innovation in frame technology that will be saving the right buyers time and money, while providing most of the performance of the higher models. The unique configuration provides you with more opportunities, certainly in the realm of training. You can cruise to the track on your 125mm road wheels, overtaking cyclists on the way, switch out to the 110mm wheels for some competition training, then swap back and cruise home again all without ever touching a mounting bolt.