Friday, January 11, 2013

Derby reputation

Shocker Khan and I were discussing why people buy derby gear; certain brands have die-hard customers, while others tend to vacillate on the gear they use.  Sometimes personal opinions of the skaters who are involved with certain companies can cause people to buy the gear, or avoid it like the plague.  Shocker and I collaborated on related blogs in dealing with gear preferences, loyalty and everything in between.  You can check out her blog  here.

Transfergate.  If you had to sum up scandals in 2012 for derby, Transfergate absolutely would be at the top of the WFTDA list.  If you aren't up on your scandalous situations, basically Oly was under fire because they placed three skaters on their Regional and Championship rosters who hadn't skated with them for most of the year.  Atom Matrix, Joy Collision and Hockey Honey were the three skaters involved, and the derby world had a mixed reaction to the whole thing.

Unfortunately, Atom Matrix is a derby business owner; her Atom wheels grace the skates of tons of derby girls and guys around the country.  Evidently, she feels that transfergate might be having a negative impact on her business.  Last week she posted this on her Facebook status.

Photo by A Boy Named Tsunami. 
 "As I reflect back on 2012, I realize now my selfishness in my decision to skate for Oly late last season was a mistake. I want to apologize to the community, especially skaters/teams in the West Region that were directly affected (AZRD, Oly, RMRG, Rose city...among others). To the WFTDA for not respecting the model....unwritten rule. To my Team USA teammates. Also to Oly and to AZRD. I made a mistake...yes I'm human. The worst part is the friendships and integrity I've lost. All I can do now is apologize and hope some of you may accept it.

I'm sad now as everything our company has done for the industry seems clouded by "transfergate". We were the first to sponsor athletes with Atom All-Stars followed by our male Front-Runner program. First to sponsor juniors and always heavily involved in advertising and making extra efforts to support as many events/teams as possible. The "official" wheel sponsor of WFTDA and DNN's largest supporter for the past 3 years.  I hope the good things we've done for the sport has not been forgotten.

Her status really made me think about my buying strategy.  Did her actions in Travelgate cause me to boycott Atom Wheels?  I remember the first set of Atom Wheels I bought, back in 2009.  I miss skating in the Strokers, but they really were a gateway wheel.  I went through Omegas, Lowboys, and Poisons on a pretty regular basis, and for the most part, I was really happy with them.  And then, last year I noticed that I was losing my edges on all of my newer wheels really fast.  At first, I chocked it up to my awesome skating and how aggressive I was being on the track (I kid, I kid) but after talking with other skaters, I learned that a lot of people were having the same issues with the wheels.  Some people contacted Atom Wheels and were told that if they got a month's use out of each set, then they were doing well.  Personally, I can't really afford to buy a set of wheels a month, so I've stopped buying Atom Wheels.

Then I started thinking about what I would do if I still was getting great performance out of Atom Wheels; would I still buy them?  My answer is absolutely.  I don't like Apple products and the self important people who boast about owning them, but I'm sitting here typing this blog on a Mac right now; I use Apple products in every design I do, and I have an i-pod.  Do I really care about Steve Jobs' personal ethics?  Even if he was still alive, the answer would be no.  In reality, I should have a bigger problem with how Apple gets its products made in China, and yet I still buy the products.

Atom Matrix made a decision that I wouldn't necessarily have made, but that wouldn't stop me from purchasing her products.  I know that some people feel differently, and that might be why she wrote that Facebook apology.  If I could get her wheels to last as long as they used to, I'd go back to the Omegas.  I miss them!  They truly were my favorite "go to wheels" and I've been searching high and low for a replacement for them, and I have found some likely candidates, but it's just not the same.  


  1. Well put! I kind of hate to say it, but a good product is a good product regardless of the owner's personal choices. That said, there are a few places/businesses I wouldn't support for that exact reason, but their products are "nice to have" stuff anyway.

    I noticed the same issue with the Atoms I've had and I've switched to Reckless which I really like. Everyone I knew raved about Jukes but once they started chunking out, I couldn't justify buying more. I'd be interested to see if they've changed something in their manufacturing process, or if they're using a different vendor for urethane.

    1. Agreed. I don't support certain companies because i don't agree with their world view, but one decision? Not going to stop me.

      I think they changed something in the formula, but i haven't heard anything concrete.

  2. For people looking for a Juke replacement, I am pretty evangelical about my Radar Bullets. No hub flex that I can tell(I am easily 165 with full gear on and a hard stopper), the grip is great for the roll (I run 97s at the rink and slipping is minimal), and the price is definitely right ($40 per four).