Interview by Kevin Chow Photography provided by Pieter Wijnant and Olga Bouwhuis
Hey Olga and Pieter, can you believe that it’s already been a year? What have you both learned in your first year as a new boot company?
Pieter: this is my second company I started from the ground up, but it has been the most intense one so far. Adapt is so close to Olga and I that we took too many things serious in the beginning. It was hard to stay away from message board nonsense and Facebook talk. Being the company we are, we are so close to our customers it takes up a lot of our time. Even putting our own skating in the background to answer emails all day, ship out orders and just work all day long on new boots. But when you see that all our hard work is paying off in the end and you get mails from people that are just in love with the boots and the company it is so rewarding. I think my biggest lesson is to just do what I have in my mind and never look back. Just go forward like I always did. The less I look at our own industry the more inspiration I get and this goes directly into creating a better product.
Olga: I have never been on this side of the industry before. In the last few years I have mainly focused on my own skating and finishing my Master’s degree in Oncology. Last year we founded Adapt and I also started working in a skateshop. Of course I knew a lot about the skating industry already just from skating, but it’s been great to learn more about it from a company owner’s perspective. Pieter already mentioned about being too involved sometimes. I think this is also true for me. When we started the company, one of the things I wanted to do is answer every email or question we got, because I believe customers deserve that. I know now that a lot of people are really happy about this, but others seemed to take advantage of this.
That sounds like it’s been a steady process building up the brand. You launched with Ben Harmanus as your first Pro rider, for this year who’s on the Adapt team?
Pieter: For 2013 we are going to create a pro team and amateur team. In the beginning we just had a team and no real structure. This is something we would like to change this year.
Olga: For 2013, our pro team consist of Ben Harmanus, Julian Bah and Mike Lilly. Our AM team consists of Rik van Huik, Russell Day, Andrew Broom and Eric van Boven. We are very happy with every single team member. We keep in close contact with all of them and they also give great input towards our designs and products. We are so happy with our team and the work that they’ve put in, we will pay both our Pro and AM team for every skate that is sold in 2013.
Where can we see these blades in action online?
Pieter: We should have a Russell Day edit ready soon and a Julian Bah edit is in the works also. Mike Lilly is working on a park edit, Micah Yeager will also do some promo for Adapt and let’s not forget our newest team member Andrew Broom that is just the most insane clip machine ever to have rolled on the earth.
Olga: Rik and Eric are on a break right now since the weather is just terrible this time of year in the Netherlands. But I am pretty sure that once the sun is back they will put out some cool stuff in no time.
You also had the opportunity to shoot some blading last summer with the RED camera. What’s going on with the RED footage and when will we see it?
Olga: Last summer we spent a week filming with the RED camera. A friend of ours works at a company that rents out these types of camera’s and equipment and we were lucky enough to get a chance to work with him on this. We got some really nice clips of Ben Harmanus, Rik van Huik, Eric van Boven and you as the Be-mag correspondent. However, RED footage is not that easy to edit and we wanted the end result to be something special. We were so busy with our new production line that we had to put it on hold. Our filmer and editor JK Dibbets was also very busy at the time. But we got back into it now and hopefully we will find the time soon to finish this great project.
In 2012 you had the Harmanus ONE and the Vegan, what’s new for 2013 boot model wise?
Pieter: the question is, what isn’t new for 2013? We worked all year long on our 2013 models. Our team riders always got covered up prototype skates so the public will not see what we are working on. For example, Julian Bah got a Harmanus ONE look a-like boot but it’s a completely different boot he is skating. Russell Day tested new vegans, Rik van Huik tested new eyelet positions, new foams, etc.
Olga: We will be releasing the Vegan II and the Be-mag boot at Winterclash & Bittercold. We have made some significant changes to both these models, including a SixMount system, insoles with PU shock absorbers created for Adapt, new stronger skin and high end protection material and a new powerlacing system. We also worked on protecting the strap bolts better with a simple but genius system designed by Julian Bah himself. While the Vegan II is obviously an upgraded version of the Vegan, the Be-mag boot will be our newest model made with real leather. The Be-mag boot will have a very original color scheme that suits Be-mag’s image very well. We are very happy with how this boot turned out.
The new SixMount soul system, can you tell us about it?
Pieter: I started thinking about why carbon based boots only have 2 screws and bolts to hold up the frame and soulplate. If you think about how much force and impact these two bolts get when you jump with your full weight on them, this doesn’t really make sense. So I took the shell and souls back to the drawing board and created a new mount system that works together with the UFS system. We just added 2 extra bolts on each side of the UFS mount (4 in total) to create a really stiff structure. Now the shell and soulplate act like one piece and your UFS bolts will get less stress and last longer. We also created an open shell structure so that you can take out the bolts in case they would be broken. The experience is unmatched by any skate. This skate is the fastest and most reactive boot for our market created so far.
Give our Be-mag readers a quick overview on what we can expect for the Be-mag skate.
Olga: Basically it is the improved ONE, and it has a number of improvements including new protection material, new strap protection, our SixMount system, a new insole & shock absorber, powereyelets, new padding in the cuff area, and of course new suede and leather. There are new soulplates, a newly designed strap and high quality bolts and hardware. We definitely put a lot of thought into the changes and we paid a lot of attention to the smallest details.
Want your pair of Limited Edition Adapt x Be-mag blades? Get them at Winterclash, the Bittercold Showdown or order them directly here.
I was lucky enough to get a custom pair of Harmanus ONE skates last year. What will the custom options be for 2013?
Olga: It will be possible for all our customers to order a custom Adapt boot in 2013. We will have a section on our website devoted to making custom boots. While we have decided to take the Vegan skates on stock in several sizes, custom skates will be of course made specifically for the client. You can choose your skin type (Leather or Vegan), skin color (limited amount of colors are available right now), the color of the stitching that is used, embroidery, etc. Custom skates will take a bit longer to make, about 4 to 6 weeks depending on the type of custom.
2012 custom Adapt blades. What will yours look like this year?
Some people are wary of trying Adapt boots because of their sizing and lead time. Can you shed some light on your boot sizing in comparison to other blades?
Olga: Adapt skates fit like a tailored shoe. While in most skates people need to take one size bigger than they wear in shoes, in Adapt you will need your actual shoe size. This can be a little bit confusing. For instance, I wear a size 39 in Adapts and in my normal shoes, but in sport shoes I often wear a size 40 or even 40,5 and my old skates were always size 41 or 42. To make it a bit easier we have a sizing table available on our website. Of course, measuring your feet can be really difficult, so if you really are in doubt, feel free to contact us about this. Overall I would say you can take one size smaller in Adapts compared to other skates. Of course if you have already down sized by toe-cutting your skate or using a thinner liner in it, you will not be able to go down one size.
Now, as a carbon fibre boot, can you tell us a bit about the heat molding process?
Pieter: After promoting our boots that they can be heat molded we quickly realized that our market is just not ready for this technology. We had so many questions and saw people talking about it online with no knowledge at all. We decided to stop promoting the boot like this to make sure people will not ruin their boots and blame us for their lack of knowledge. I do heat molding on a daily basis at my day job (ice/speed skates) and it took me a while to learn how it should be done properly. It’s not just putting your boots in the oven and shape it a bit.. If you put the Adapt boot in the oven for 20 minutes at 70 degrees, you can literally mold it in every way you want. For the better or worse. Our fit is already very good, so only if you know what you are doing we could advise you to heat mold them. But I have to be honest that I have not heat molded my last 2 prototypes since the fit is already close to perfection.
Olga: We have had some customers that accidentally reshaped the base of the boot while working on another part of the shell. Therefore we have altered our heat molding instruction movie. It is possible to heat mold the Adapt boot by using an oven, but the whole boot will be heated and therefore can easily be molded, even by accident. Therefore we thought it wiser to promote the use of a heat gun since you will only heat up the boot locally with a heat gun.
Tell us a bit more about Symetrics. What has been the feedback and will you be releasing any new shapes or models for this year?
Olga: In 2012 we have mainly focused on Adapt and didn’t put any work in marketing for Symetrics. This will change for 2013. The feedback has been diverse. A lot of people just love them because they are so fast, they do not wear down and they are simple. We had some people telling us they would rather see a more square shape at the back, but with our SixMount system you can put so much force into the soulplate that this is not needed. We made small changes for 2013 that make a lot of difference. Right now we have the soulplates and Marbles (anti-rockers), but we are also working on a new exciting product for Symetrics.
What events can we expect to see Adapt at in 2013?
Pieter: We are starting with Winterclash and in the same month we will go to the Bittercold Showdown. At both these events we will have a booth showcasing our newest products. We will also take some sizes of the boots with us so people can try on a pair. It will be a busy month. We thought about going to Laced also but we just have too little time to visit them all.
Olga: I am really excited to go Summerclash again as well. I really liked the last one and have been eagerly waiting for its return. We are hoping to fly one of our US riders over for the event and maybe do a little tour for the rest of the summer. For the rest of 2013 we will just have to wait and see.
Make sure you check out the whole Adapt Brand and Symetrics 2013 line here.