T Blade Skates: What are the Advantages and Disadvantages?
T Blades are a unique alternative to standard hockey skate blades. While not uber mainstream, this no-need-to-sharpen skate blade has developed a bit of a cult-following since it launched nearly two decades ago. T Blades have been touted by some as one of the first true innovations in the world of hockey. German manufacturer T-Blade GmbH created the replaceable blade to reduce maintenance costs that accrue from needing frequent sharpening. Instead, the long-lasting T Blade can simply and easily be swapped out rather than sharpened repeatedly.
You may not find T Blades hockey skates or replacement blades at your local pro-shop, but if you pay close attention, you will probably still see them at the rink from time to time. And while not hugely popular in the professional ranks, several NHL players have worn them, including players Marcel Goc who played for the Nashville Predators, Dennis Seidenberg who played for the New York Islanders and Christian Ehrhoff, who played for the San Jose Sharks, Buffalo Sabres and Chicago Blackhawks, among other notable teams. But, like any unconventional hockey product, it can take time for hockey players to be willing to make the shift to fully replace blades rather than sharpen them. Let’s look into and discuss what the T Blade system looks like and what it has to offer hockey players of all skill levels. In this article, we will cover:
The Advantages of T Blades
T Blade ice skates were created with the intention of reducing upkeep cost from needing multiple sharpenings over the life of a hockey skate blade. With this in mind, manufacturers also incorporated a few additional innovations that give T Blades other advantages over standard style ice hockey skates.
1. Thinner and Lighter
Since T Blades were designed to be replaced rather than sharpened, instead of a full metal blade, a thin strip of metal blade is held in place onto the skate by lightweight plastic. Using a blade that contains less metal reduces the overall weight of T Blade ice skates. And lightweight skates are key to improved performance and a more comfortable feel.
2. Better Gliding
A second advantage of the plastic T Blade runners is that since T Blades have very little metal mass, what metal is there can heat much faster. Combined with the consistency of the sharpness and the polish of the gliding area of the blades, T Blades offer superior gliding over standard blades.
3. Sharper Longer
Since T Blades are not meant to be sharpened, they’re crafted to hold their edge much longer. On average, T Blade skates will remain sharp four to five times longer than traditionally sharpened blades will. In addition to holding an edge longer, the sharpness of T Blades remains consistent from blade to blade. This consistency is far superior to pro-shop sharpening that could vary in sharpness from shop to shop.
4. Increased Cornering and Maneuverability
Also due to the low mass of metal, since blades will heat much faster, they can become substantially hotter than a traditional blade. This results in the ability for high cornering speed, easier acceleration and exceptional maneuverability. T Blades also allow for braking deceleration and have better acceleration due to an elastic recovery effect of the runner.
The Disadvantages of T Blades
While there are several advantages to using T Blades, the system also has a few downsides that should be considered as well.
1. Easy-to-Lose Parts
T Blades are attached to your skate by several screws, and it's possible for those screws to be lost while changing blades. They can also occasionally loosen during play. T Blade skates have a lightweight stabilizer that can come loose after extended use. If a skate has loose or lost screws or stabilizers, it can not only hinder on-ice performance, it can also increase the risk of injury.
2. Damage & Replacement Costs
Even though T Blades are designed to stay sharp longer than standard blades, they’re still susceptible to the same types of damage beyond standard wear and tear. The T Blade will still nick, chip or flatten when it comes into contact with hard objects. Inadvertently stepping on concrete or debris at the rink, or sliding feet-first into the boards, goal posts or other players' skates can cause damage to these blades. And unlike a typical blade, T Blades cannot be fixed or touched up by a routine sharpening, so damaged blades will have to be replaced. This may lead to an unexpected cost of replacing before a blade dulls, and could potentially leave you without skates until you find a replacement.
Due to their design, T Blades tend to be louder than other skate blades. This sound can not only be grating to the ears, but it can also let opposing players know exactly where you are on the ice.
How to Replace T Blades
To get the most out of your T Blade skates, it's important to know how to properly change and fasten the blades. If fastened improperly, T Blades can come loose or be misaligned, causing poor performance and risking injury. Here's a complete rundown on how to ensure your T Blade replacements are attached properly:
- Using the specially designed T Blade screwdriver, loosen the first screw on the blade of the skate. Keeping the screwdriver in place on the T Blade screw, push the screw straight into the hole, popping out the bolt on the other side of the blade.
- Repeat Step 1 for the other screws along the blade.
- Gently tug downward on the blade. It should come out of the holder quite easily. You will need the screws and bolts taken from the old T Blade to install the replacement blade.
- Slide the replacement blade into the holder, making sure that all the holes for the screws are lined up.
- Press the skate blade down firmly on a hard surface to ensure it is in the holder tightly.
- Insert the bolt into the hole of the skate, making sure it’s on the same side you removed it from.
- Put the screw in the opposite side of the hole, using the T Blade screwdriver to tighten the screw in place.
- Make sure the screws are tight, but do not over tighten them, or you risk cracking the plastic holder or the blade itself.
- Continue tightening the screws into the bolts in the same way for the rest of the blade.
T Blade Sizing Chart
|Graf Skates to T Blade Sizing Chart|
|Skate Size||T Blade Size|
|5.5 - 6.5||256|
|7.0 - 7.5||264|
|8.0 - 8.5||272|
|9.0 - 9.5||280|
|10.0 - 10.5||288|
|CCM Skates to T Blade Sizing Chart|
|Skate Size||T Blade Size|
|6.5 - 7.0||264|
|7.5 - 8.0||272|
|8.5 - 9.0||280|
|9.5 - 10.0||288|
|10.5 - 11.0||300|
|Blade Hollow Equivalents|
Let HockeyMonkey Help with T Blades!
If you have any questions on how to use T Blades or where to find replacement blades, visit any of our SuperStore locations across the United States for advice from our hockey experts. If you've checked out our T Blade selection and decide you'd prefer to stick with a standard ice hockey skate, we can also help you find the proper skate for your playing style. View our selection of skates online or in one of our SuperStores today.