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Nike/Bauer Supreme 50 Skates?I?d like the 5090 series back, thanks

Pros Quick break-in, proven materials, good skate for the money
Cons Weak tendon guards, not as good as the last generation Supremes
Recommended it? Yes
The Bottom Line:  The Supreme 50 is a good mid-level skate with some issues. If it fits you well, it still might be a good choice.
A brief history
The last generation of Bauer Supremes was one of the best skate models that the company ever produced—heck it might have been the best. The 8090, 5090 and 2090 were quality skates that took a pretty darn good Bauer Supreme line, made it attractive, durable and most importantly comfortable to a wider range of players than the Supremes ever fit before. I'm skating in 8090's these days and have been happy with them since day one.

In the fashion of skate makers these days, Bauer changed things up after a couple of years with the Supreme xx90 line. Last season 2006/2007 they introduced the Bauer ONE90 which is more or less a line to itself, although it's technically the top of the Supreme line. The new Supreme line consists of the Supreme 30, Supreme 50 and Supreme 70. The construction of the ONE90 is vastly different which is why I personally exclude it.

So what's new in the line?
The most obvious changes are the addition of the Nike name to the brand. It's now Nike/Bauer. There's a little irony there though. Nike seemed poised to supplant the Bauer brand name with their own. Now they are actively attempting to sell their hockey division. Give them a call if you have about $180 million lying around and don't know what to do with it. Bauer made over $15 million last year, which isn't apparently worthy of Nike's attention. It must be nice to be able to turn your back on $15 million.

The cosmetics of the new boot are pretty glaring in the change department. While the previous Supreme line sported classic good looks in basic black, the new line borrowed a little cosmetic flash from other skates in the Nike/Bauer stable. I'm trying to word this delicately not from fear of offending anyone, but more because I'm not entirely sure where I stand on the skate's appearance. No, that's not true—I don't like it much. I don't hate it; I just don't like it.

The new Supremes are still basically black. However, the new materials have a much more glaring sheen. They are quite shiny in comparison to the older skates, but not on the paten leather level. I'd have to say they lost a couple of points with me on that. But the cosmetics go even deeper. The addition of a bright blue triangular badge on the side of the skate seems a bit much, bordering on garish. Further, questionable is a perforated plastic piece resting in the center of the tendon guard. It's reminiscent of Spiderman 3 somehow. Essentially it's comic book cool . . . which in my book isn't hockey cool. That might sound odd from a man with Batman on his goalie helmet, but goalies have their own set of rules that even I make fun of when I'm not in net.

I guess the bottom line now that I've reasoned this out is that the Supreme line isn't as nice looking as the previous line was. However, most of the Supreme's competition this season is rather tacky by comparison.

The Skate basics
The Supreme 50 falls in the middle of Bauer's current Supreme skate lineup. This is a skate that I'd recommend for average size recreational players in the novice to high intermediate range. It's a good quality skate with moderate stiffness. Larger players, in that skill level might want to consider moving up to the Supreme 70 for a little more durability and support.

I've spoken to several customers who are skating on these and break-in times were all relatively quick and painless. The responses ranged from painless, to fit great after a month. With eight skaters responding to my informal poll, none had any issues with blisters. This is a good sign that the skate fit all of them properly and bodes well for others breaking in Supreme 50's that fit well, but doesn't mean a thing if you buy them because you like the way they look and don't care how they fit. (In which case, why are you even reading my review?)

The Supreme 50 can be heat molded. I'm not the biggest proponent of heat molding. However that's just the traditionalist hockey player in me. Hockey is for the tough and if you cannot bear a little discomfort on your first couple times on the ice, I think you should join a chess club. I also think that the NHL should have gone back to knit sweaters instead of the Walmart imitation hockey jerseys they're wearing this year, but that's for another review.

Nonetheless, if you don't mind me thinking you should play board games instead of hockey you can certainly have the Supreme 50 skates baked. This will cut about two hours of skating time off your break-in. Just remember that heat-fitting makes the skates fit a little better, it doesn't make them fit when they didn't before.

The tongue on the skate is of the traditional felt lined variety. It might be a weak-spot on the boot. In my opinion it's a bit thin and floppy. There is definitely potential for some lace bite issues in players who are prone to this issue.

There is one definite weak-spot on the boots though. The fancy, Spiderman tendon guard on the Supreme 50 is quite prone to breakage. I've already worked on a couple pair of these that were pretty much just flapping in the wind. A word to the wise, get these fixed before they get really bad if you do have issues. It's always better and cheaper to take care of these before they are really bad. Expect to spend at least $20 a boot if they do break, if you let it go until the liner and outer are severely torn you can expect this repair to exceed $60 a boot.

Supreme 50 Details
Boot Upper
The boot on the Supreme 50 is a heavy nylon which is more or less unchanged from the previous Supreme line. This is a solid, proven material that doesn't rip easily when cut, sheds water nicely and holds up well to the rigors of hockey. While I'm not a fan of the sheen of the new material and white stitching, it's a good choice for the outer shell.

A nice change is the uncovered plastic toecap. Bauer has insisted on putting fabric on these for eons. The only reason I can think of that they continue to do so is to sell a ridiculously large supply of protectoe that they have stashed in a New Jersey warehouse. But there are no worries about painting thick layers of goop on the toes of these skates to keep them from getting torn up (or more likely cover up how torn up they already are).

The liner is Hydrophobic Nash. It's a pretty nice liner for this level of skate. Typically you get Nash or Clarino in a mid-level skate, but it isn't hydrophobic. It's a good soft suede-like liner that is comfortable enough to skate in without socks. The hydrophobic aspect helps to keep your skates dry and hopefully lower the stink of them. (Let's face it your last pair reeked!)

The outsole is excellent for this level of skate as well. A full composite outsole ensures a lighter and stronger base for the skate. While some brands have gone a little overboard on how thin they can make an outsole, the Supreme 50 seems to be thick and rigid enough to give these skates a solid foundation. So far I haven't seen any rivet issues as I have with the Mission AG line.

Nike/Bauer was also nice enough to put some holes in the outsole and not just the ones to rivet the holder on. The Supreme 50 features a perforated outsole. This, like the hydrophobic liner helps you to spread your stink to other parts of the world, lowering the concentration in your boots. Mostly it helps them to dry out a little more quickly though.

The fit is pretty much the same as the xx90 Supreme line. The skates do seem to have a little less instep and toe height though. These skate will still fit a wide variety of player's feet. They are moderately wide in the arch, with average toe and ball of the foot width. The heel is average width as well. Overall instep height on the skate is on par with CCM and a little lower than most Graf models and Mission skates, but a little more generous than the older Easton models. I would call it average again.

The skate is available in youth through senior sizes ranging from a size 10 youth all they way to a size 12 senior skate. Both D and EE widths are available in all sizes. Now those of you with size 13.5 shoes will be fine as Nike/Bauer typically runs 1/5 to 2 sizes smaller than a shoe size. However, don't buy a pair without trying them on if it's at all possible. It's completely worth a drive of an hour or two to get a pair of skates that fits properly. The size variance is a rough rule of thumb and can vary as much as 2 sizes depending on how you wear your street shoes and the shape of your feet.

Holder and Blade
The Supreme 50 uses the venerable TUUK Custom plus. It's almost a standard these days. Easton patterned their holders so closely to the TUUK that you can line up the holes when switching holders. CCM made a pretty nice imitation with their new eblade. Let's face it the TUUK is the most copied holder in hockey.

However, the TUUK isn't perfect. It's a little shorter than the newer Lightspeed that Bauer features on their more expensive skates. The disadvantage here is that in a hard turn, skate boots hit ice—player fall down, go boom.

Another peeve about the TUUK Custom is the severe heel pitch of the holder. The angle the skates sit on the ice with this holder is not at all athletic. Heck, they coined a phrase about being back on your heels to imply not being ready, yet that's exactly where these holders place the skater. I recommend heel lifts to skaters who use this skate. These will move your balance forward toward the balls of your feet.

The hardware is a little tricky on the Custom plus as well. Special tools are required to tighten the screw in the toe of the skate. Strangely, Nike/Bauer discontinued this tool and I had a heck of a time getting one recently. Fortunately my mafia connections were able to make someone want to give me one. I don't ask.

The runners are stainless steel. Bauer has pretty good quality steel on their skates. Stainless is a step up from carbon steel, but it is a little more brittle. I do change out a fairly large number of runners on Bauer skates that have broken from a hard shot (certainly not mine). I'd say that after Easton, Bauer runners seem to be most likely to break prematurely. However, all runners break from time to time and Bauer is the most common brand on the market, so my findings might be slightly skewed here.

Parting thoughts
The Supreme 50 is a very good skate for the money. However, it's a slight disappointment after the previously excellent Supreme line. In all, it isn't as good a skate as Bauer previously made, but it's still one of the best skates on the market. If you need an intermediate recreational skate, the Supreme 50 is a pretty good buy. I like the Graf better head to head, but you've got to go with what fits you. The Supreme 50 is going to fit a different group of people.

As far as the issues go, don't wrap your laces and you can slow the deterioration of the tendon guard. Wrapping laces is bad for the skates anyway, but especially hard on weak tendon guards. Heel lifts are something that you might want in any pair of skates and they shouldn't cost you more than $15 or $20 tops. (I do them for $10).

The bottom line, this is a pretty good skate.

? 2007 Scott Noble – All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited.

You might also enjoy my book on hockey, Hockey for Weekend Warriors. Click here to read the reviews.

A few of my other reviews that you might find helpful:
Hockey Skate buying demystified
How to Care for Skates

Bauer Supreme 8090 Classic Skates
Bauer Vapor XXX Skates
CCM Vector Pro Skates
Graf G3 Skates

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