Interview by Daniel Nodzak
Images provided by Kaltik
Last Tuesday Kaltik released the first image of their upcoming Kaltik JNR K Skate. I spoke with Conor Manweiler over the weekend about this new adjustable skate and how he hopes to encourage young bladers to pick up and stick with our sport by offering a high quality inline skate option for the next generation of shredders.
Kaltik has been in the industry for about 16 years now but going from producing frames and wheels to developing a skate is no easy task. What made you decide to take that leap by producing an adjustable skate for children?
I started Kaltik with some small runs of basic one color printed t-shirts back in 2002. Kaltik has been making frames, wheels, and bearings for some years now and I always wanted to offer a high quality kids skate. I believe by encouraging the youth and having more skates available for them it will help blading grow again. Its the only real way to grow, with the youth up.
You’ve been working on this for the last 18 months. Can you tell us a little bit about the development process?
I began sampling some different carbon fibre boots around 18 months ago and then got hooked on the idea of a kids adjustable skate. I got many samples made up of different adjustable skates, some from current open molds on the market and some from new molds.
From there I got the new molds that make the soulplates. And The Baats freeskate frames are something I've been working on for around a year and I thought why not offer a Kids Freeskate option also with this CNC alu frame and 90mm wheels.
Testing a new product for adults is tricky but doing it with a skate intended for children must present some unique challenges of it’s own. Obviously the target audience for the JNR K won’t be throwing down hurricane topsouls anytime soon but what sort of testing has been done?
Main objective for K Skates are to be strong, comfortable, and appealing for the youth to start blading and those kids who are already skating to stick at it like we did. I've got kids to test them that can 540 tru top soul and made one adult sized sample that Ive skated myself.
Oh wow, that's very impressive. I stand corrected.
Some people in the blader-sphere have expressed concerns about whether a freestyle frame is appropriate for younger kids learning the ropes. Why did you decide to go that route?
There are no kids adjustable skates on the market to date with freestyle frames and a lot of youth I see skate with freestyles. The skates are UFS and frames can be changed. Some kids like anti rocker, some love flat, some love freestyle, and some love soccer.
I’ve seen criticism of the look of the skate but feel that people in their 30’s gabbing on the internet might not be suited to make sense of what’s going to look cool to an eight year old. Considering Kaltik has always produced functional, good looking, hardware and soft goods how did you approach trying to make a skate appealing for kids?
You can never please everyone and we all know bladers love a bit of criticism online. Yes, I've designed and made these skates to appeal to the youth. I believe the boot is appealing to kids and performs very well. It will be interesting if ever an adjusting boot is released for adults.
One of our followers on facebook asked if you would make a pink variant. Do you have any plans to release these in other colors?
Yes, I have some samples already in different colors but not pink, sorry... Possibly in the future.
Let's get down to the details. What are the specs/features on the JNR K?
Available in two sizes:
Inner Extra Comfort two Piece Liner
Upper Lock Buckle System
Inner Rubber Lining (between boot and liner for extra comfort)
Kaltik JNR Baats Frame 3x110mm OR 4x90mm
Kaltik 90mm 89a Phjangoez Wheels
Kaltik Black Steel ABEC 9 Bearings
How much will a pair of these cost?
Retail approximately €150. ($175 USD)
When can the Blader Moms and Dads out there expect to see the Kaltik JNR K available?
Late September / Early October.