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A Conversation with Matthias Knoll
Founder of Powerslide Skates

by Kathie Fry

Matthias Knoll of Powerslide Skates
Matthias Knoll at the 2002 Speed Worlds in Belgium
Copyright © SkateLog.com

In August of 2002 I met Powerslide founder Matthias Knoll of Germany at the World Inline Speed Skating Championships in Zandvoorde, Belgium. I was surprised to learn Powerslide is now making their own line of speed boots and they are also offering a large line of speed frames and other products for speed skaters. I had plenty of questions for Matthias and he was patient and gracious about answering all of them.

My Conversation with Matthias

Kathie: I thought Powerslide was basically a skate shop and a distributor for skating supplies, but now I see you have your own line of speed skates and frames. When did you start making your own speed boots?

Matt: Our line of speed boots and frames is brand new. We are showing them for the first time at this event (the 2002 World Inline Speed Skating Championships)

Kathie: When did you start up Powerslide?

Matt: Powerslide was founded in 1994.

Kathie: How did you learn to make boots and frames?

Matt: I have been developing frame ideas for several years now. Some time ago we designed a frame for a well-known company in speed skating, which was, at that time, co-owned by a friend of mine. That frame is still one of the best frames on the market. We have our own boot maker who learned the skill from one of the best boot makers in the world. That's all I can say about that topic for now, but anyone who would like to learn more can talk to me in person.

Kathie: Do you make full custom molded boots?

Matt: Yes we do, and actually right now we are making full custom boots for the entire Powerslide Germany racing team. We are planning to make full custom boots available to the general public by Spring of 2003 and we are talking to someone who can possibly make our boots in the United States so the lead times for U.S. skaters can be faster.

Kathie: How expensive are your speed boots?

Matt: We developed a totally new concept for our entry level boot. It has a molded Nylon-Fiberglass-Carbon injected shell and it performs like a carbon fiber skate but it is less expensive and more comfortable. The first price point for shoe-only starts at $125 and a complete setup is around $240. For Christmas we will ship the R2 Spirit setup to U.S. This is a boot with a spider buckle (fully replaceable with a screw and neoprene lining), a single voided 6000 ALuframe, ABEC 7 bearings with Delrin cages and Italian-made race wheels. This setup will sell for $299. It should be available by the end of November at some stores in the United States. Skaters can get more information about our prices on our Web site. We are in the process of adding that information right now. I'm very confident that skaters will respect our products soon, because the price-value is very very good We hope our low entry-level prices will convince some fitness skaters to move into speed, and we hope these low prices will bring more kids into the sport by making speed skating affordable for their families. We see Powerslide Racing as the missing link between fitness and racing, but we also want to concentrate on developing products for the top skaters in the world.

Kathie: Do you have any other interesting or noteworthy products in your new line?

Matt: We will always try to stay on the leading edge of developing products for skaters. For example, we make a hollow axle that will work with several different style skates.

Kathie: Why hollow?

Matt: For one thing, a hollow axle is easier to remove if it gets stuck. It's a small thing, but some skaters will appreciate it.

Kathie: Are you offering any other interesting products?

Matt: We sell quite a few different types of bearings. We sell bearings made in Italy, Germany, China, and Switzerland. And our Swiss bearings are really made in Switzerland. We also sell a bearing that is completely rustproof. It is not the usual rustproof steel that is softer than regular steel. It is chrome steel made using a special formula which puts it through several different treatments, making it harder than the rustproof steel you will often see. You can actually swim in these bearings, even in salt water!

Kathie: If I wanted to order the rustproof bearings, what would I ask for?

Matt: You can call them PTi Powerslide Rust-Proof Bearings.

Kathie: I see you have several different types of frames in your line.

Matt: We try to offer every frame option a skater might want to try. We have our own clap frame that is the same height as a regular (non clap) frame and it only weighs 260 grams. We also have Hi-Lo 5 wheel 84-84-80-80-80 frame and a 5 wheel frame for all 84 millimeter wheels. For next year we are working on two entirely new concepts for speed boot frames, If those ideas are as successful as we expect, we think everyone will be talking about our frames next season. We have many innovative and sometimes unconventional ideas for racing products and we are looking forward to trying all of them out.

Kathie: Can I purchase your products in the United States?

Matt: We expect to have a U.S. distributor soon. The market seems be very flat in the United States right now, so it not easy to find a U.S. distributor, but some friends might help us out in the short term to get Powerslide going in the U.S.before the end of 2002.

Kathie: In what other countries are your products available?

Matt: Powerslide products are available in Germany, France, Spain, UK, Denmark, China, Taiwan, Australia, Korea, Mexico, and Columbia. We are also talking to Italy and several other countries. You can find more information about this on our Powerslide-Racing.com Web site.

Kathie: OK, now the big question: Is anybody at all skating in Powerslide boots? When will I start seeing them at races?

Matt: As a matter of fact, we are very pleased to announce that we are now the proud sponsor of world champion Julie Glass. We are also talking to other skaters all over the world, Right now the interest in skating for Powerslide is huge, partly as a result of other skate companies cutting their budgets. I'm sure that next year you will see some of the top racers in the world on Powerslide skates.

Kathie: Is there anything special about Julie that you feel makes her a good fit with your product?

Matt: Well, I have known Julie a long time and I even use to stay at Doug and Julie's house when I visited the United States. so it's for sure a personal relationship. But Julie is also one of the best skaters (if not the best skater) in the world. Even though she stopped skating for several months she is still skating amazingly well. Also, almost everybody in the skating world knows her, which will give us some very good start-up promotion.

Kathie: Is there anything else you want people to know about Powerslide?

Matt: People may not be aware that we also own Kizer Frames and USD Aggressive Skates, and that we learned to make skating products while running those companies. Also, some of our products are made in Asia, and a few people think products made in Asia are not as good as products made in other places. But if all those guys look on their feet - at their Nikes and at their Adidas - they will find a label that says "made in Asia". The company who produces our frames is located in Taiwan, and that same company is making some very special parts for Harley Davidson Motorcycles, the all-American dream. Many people do not realize that about 90% of the best mountain bikes and racing bikes are made in Taiwan. I think the workers in those countries are very good with their hands and they do a fine job with our products.

Kathie: So you are also in the aggressive skate making business? Interesting!

Matt: Yes we are, but we keep the two parts of the business very separate from each other.

Kathie: Do you have a Web site?

Matt: We don't have our new line of speed products on our Powerslide.de Web site because we are building a new web site at Powerslide-Racing.com. That new site is up and running but we are expanding and updating it and adding more news all the time.

Kathie: If skaters would like to learn more about Powerslide or your products how can they contact you?

Matt: Soon more information about all of our speed products will be on the Powerslide-Racing.com Web site. Interested skaters can also contact us here:

Powerslide Racing
Phone: +49 92 08 - 60 10 - 0
Fax: +49 92 08 - 94 21
Email: m.knoll@powerslide.de
Email: j.pfitzner@powerslide.de
Postal Address:
Esbachgraben 3,95463 Bindlach, Germany

Powerslide Web Sites
Powerslide.de
Powerslide-Racing.com
USD Aggressive Skates
Kizer Frames

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