Welcome To The Future: Introducing FFS

Or, Mounting Standards Are Nuclear Fallout

What? UFS is great. I can put any frame design on any boot...sort of-just kidding-not really-not at all.

Aggressive inline skate mounting "standards" have only ever existed to empower customization impose proprietary limitations by baiting sales integration traps.

Not to optimize:

  • ride height
  • groove location and angle
  • frame bias
  • or to enable customization

Only to optimize sales.
Otherwise, nearly every boot-frame application would be crafted with slight differences based on individual preference, in much the same way wheel size, cuff height, footbeds, skin design or buckle/strap closures can be selected. There's a lot more to frames than wheel layout, groove and material.

This assertion is expressed through mutant defects like the UFS nub pin, the purported design for which is to prevent horizontal frame travel [in the event that frame bolts loosen]. Running three or more bolts instead of two plus nubs accomplishes the same thing and more, with less engineering and fewer limiting dimensional restrictions.
And there's a related genetic malformity: UFS has no mount redundancy. If one plastic mount fails, the frame is rotating beneath your foot immediately after landing that gap. Why would anyone choose nubs over the simplicity of mount bolt redundancy expressed as three bolts or more?

Universal sales through Universal standards: that's why.

UFS was developed by companies to make sales — not to help inline skaters skate better. A scientifically conducted frame mounting survey was not distributed through the March 1998 issues of Daily Bread and Box magazines, or circulated by ASA presidential decree. A group of "industry" "heads" (led by Salomon) decided what mounting standard would serve hardcore aggressive inline skaters best: for their own good, and for bladers' own good, as seems to have been generally assumed for the last two-plus decades.

What's that you say? UFS dropped much-needed uniformity on aimless chaos? Nukes tend to over-apply a barren, abject orderliness.

The incentives for Salomon to enable industry-wide wheeled grind plate mix-and-match were thus:

  • Shoppers that otherwise might've opted for non-Salomon boots [due to frame lock-in] would now consider skating Salomon;
  • Salomon's distribution network eclipsed other manufacturers'- (the smalltime "skater-owned" frame manufacturing companies they worked with directly, in particular), aside from K2 and Rollerblade (the Swindler was not party to the UFS swindle) — neither of whom were playing universal frame thermonuclear war at the time, obviating any potential sales cannibalization;
  • In doing so, created a neutral, clearly understandable benefit over K2 and RB products in the mind of the aggressive inline skatesumer

It was intended as a limited tactical strike, but the UFS cloud radiated outward, quickly imposing its wrath on most manufacturers (sans K2, an uninhabited polar exception for several years, to be sure), decimating nearly all grind plate companies in the span of a couple years.

Fast forward twenty to today, long after Salomon lunched their inline division, and we're left with inexplicably bizarre deformities long-since normalized, inhabiting the wreckage of a bygone era only ever designed to house 58mm, at most.

But new proprietary approaches are being molded from the piles, having hit the theoretical UFS wheel size limit and with recreational needs emerging. As numerous new and competing mounting standards like Razors' IFC and the Aeon's one-piece soul become the norm in this post-post-post X-Games inline winter, it's difficult to tell whether we're plunging into a new proprietary mount hell or emerging from a decades-long UFS dark age weathered in a fallout shelter littered with glowing and twisted devulcanizing suspension parts.

Strangely, it may be both. And it still might as well be neither.

The Aeon aeoptimizes ride height at the costs of boot lock-in, considerable plastic waste and subaeoptimal material, while the Razors IFC quick change mechanism elevates ride height to ICBM altitude for all frame setups, but hey — at least it's UFS backward-compatible in a hurry.

What actually makes sense, both in terms of specific application optimization and a reasonable degree of compatibility, fellow cockroaches?

It's trivial (but not effortless) in this futuristic dystopia to adapt frames with alternate mounting schemes to UFS or non-UFS boots in much the same way the MadMax mobile contained an unsavory mix of foreign and domestic parts savagely scavenged from near-history to maximal badassitude. One simply drills holes and adds bolts in optimal locations. In lieu of a mounting system, the Aeon, K2 Fatty and 5th Element before it demand(ed) boot adherence. But, it's still not that hard to cut molded frames away from an otherwise desirable boot or vice versa. The go-to method for match-mounting incompatible pieces pretty much always seems to involve creating flat surfaces and bolting stuff together.

The only useful "standard" might be for a flat boot-to-frame mounting surface pair, since heel lift is typically a bug and not a feature unless delivered in the form of a shock absorber inside the boot itself. If lift is actually desired, it's easy to build heel and wheel distance onto a flat surface as has been the case for Roces M12s, Cults, Nimh/SSM, etc. by layering additional plastic deadweight. The reverse technique is equally straightforward and prods the foolish folly of statically postured heel rise.

What's beyond Thunderdome?

Bolt whatever shiny new thing you can engineer as an improvement to the status quo to whatever acceptable plastic boot can be scavenged from the debris into whatever specific application makes sense, based on actual circumstantial preferences and benefits.

The FFS Frame System, we'll call it.


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