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For the last year I've been skating on a pair of Miller Fitness Pro boots, and I have to say that overall these are the best skates I have ever used. Just so you'll know what I'm comparing them to, I've skated on K2 Extreme Speed skates (the ones with the plastic shell which ratchets around your ankle) and the Bont Hustler. I skated on each of those for about a year too, so I'm comparing broken-in boots with broken-in boots, which is the only fair way to compare boots. I also tape my feet when I skate, but I taped exactly the same way with all the boots I used. I've used both the Mogema and Eagle Hawk frames on the Miller and Bont boots.

I do a lot of skating of all kinds:

  • I do distance skating, including the Lake Merced Loop.

  • I do street skating including the Friday Night Skate.

  • I do slalom on Sundays in Golden Gate Park.

  • I'm an avid Roller Soccer player and I specialize in playing goalie. I do power slides and kick the ball hard.

  • I occasionally do stairs, and frequently do curbs and small jumps.

  • I occasionally dance on my skates.

  • I am sometimes on my skates for 10 hours in a single day.

All these kinds of skating put different demands on a skating boot, and frankly I'm surprised at how well my Miller boots handle all these circumstances! But, they're great. I wouldn't trade them for a free pair of any other boots on the market.


What I Like Best about my Miller Boots

My Miller Boots are a perfect compromise between a low-cut racing boot and a recreational/fitness boot. The cuf rises above the pointy ankle bone and there is a sturdy velcro closure right at the top of the boot, so it does provide some ankle support (compared to lower-cut boots, such as the Miller Criterium, the Simmons and the Viking boots). By the way, I also skated on a Viking boot, but only for about a month. They didn't work for me. My technique isn't good enough for me to take advantage of that ultra low cut boot.

The velcro closure is about an inch wide and it distributes the force on the ankle across its width. This is much better than one or two laces in the same position, which you find on the Bont Hustler. I found that those laces on the Bont Hustler focused the forces on a smaller area, which leads to injury or pain. More experienced skaters leave the upper laces loose, but I found I needed the support so I kept them tighter. I do the same on my Miller boot and I have never felt pain in that region.

The boot design and construction itself is certainly the most important reason I like the Miller Fitness Pro skates. First, the shell is made of carbon-fibre in a super-strong resin. It looks like black fiberglass. The boot shape was developed by Mike Miller using computer analysis on a large sample of feet. In other words, Miller skates are shaped like most people's feet. Don't laugh -- it is absolutely critical! Everyone's feet are a different shape. My Bont Hustlers weren't wide enough around the toes. Neither were my K2 Extreme Speed boots. When you get a wider version of the boot, the whole boot is wider, including the heel. This isn't the way it should necessarily work. You shouldn't have to have a loose heel just to get your toes not to be crushed.

The Miller boots have a wider area for the toes than most other boots, without having a sloppy heel. In fact, the heel is remarkable because it holds your foot down really well.

Many people get blisters on their heels because of poor technique. It comes from heel lift which is a result of pushing with your toes. It is exacerbated on hills. Unless you've worked on your technique, you probably do this. I do unless I'm really thinking about it. The Miller boot doesn't prevent heel-lift, and if you push with your toes you may still get blisters on your heels; however, the Miller boot does snugly hold your heel so if you aren't pushing with your toes your boots stay firmly in contact with your entire foot. Your heel doesn't swim around. Your foot shape might be different and you might need an extra narrow boot, or maybe a great big heel. But for most people, the Miller Boot is a really good shape.

Probaly the second most important aspect of a boot's design is the tongue. The Miller tongue is an integral part of the boot. It grips your foot from the top. It contains stiff, heat-formable plastic to make it a more substantial component of the boot. The tongues on the other boots I used were nowhere nearly as effective. The top the the tongue is much wider than the rest, so it nicely dovetails with the cuff of the boot.

I had to heat-mold my Miller boots for the ultimate good fit. I also had to heat mold my Bont Hustlers. My K2 Extreme Speed boots didn't really support heat molding very well, and they were particularly bad because the plastic cuff would cut into my ankles, even through my socks and tape! I've spoken with several people who gave up their K2 Extreme Speed boots because of the same problem. Heat molding the Miller Boot is about the same as Heat Molding a Bont Hustler, but more of the boot is moldable around he heel area. I actually exchanged email with Bont when I owned those skate to ask about the heel. They said that the heel area was "semi-moldable." The heel area is moldable with the Miller. The thing is, it is difficult to change the shape of a compound curve like a heel.

These days many brands of speedskates come with lace covers. Some people look for lace covers as an identifying feature of speedskates. My Bont Hustlers didn't have them, but both the Miller and K2 speedskates do. I like them because they reduce wind resistance and keep the laces cleaner and protect them better. Plus, they look way-cool.


How My Miller Boots Work for Me

The kinds of skating that I do is quite varied. If I were like many oyther people I'd have one pair of skates for distance, one for dancing, one for hockey or roller soccer, and maybe evenone for street skating. I just use my Miller boots for all these purposes.

  • Any speedskate that fits well will help you with distance skating. I like the Miller boots because they are comfortable for even very long skates.

  • I do street skating including the Friday Night Skate. Longer frames are a great benefit for street skating. It makes all bumps and road defects seem less important. Shorter frames are more likely to trip you up on obstacles. Quad skates are the worst because a crack and suck up your two front wheels and send you flying! By contrast, long frames are like having long skis -- very stable even at high speed. I like the Miller boots because the footbed isn't as hard as my Bont Hustler footbed was, so less force from bumps reaches my feet.

  • To do the slalom on long frames requires turning on your heels, not by leaning. Turning on your heals means lifting your toes up and setting them down in a new direction. It's kind of the opposite of heel lift. You need a boot that doesn't let your heel swim or it will rub when you do this. The Miller Boots are great for the slalom!

  • Roller Soccer is by far the most demanding thing I do on skates. It has the same kind of quick starts and stops as roller hockey, but you have to actually kick the ball with your boots. The longer frame means I have almost a whole wheel sticking out in front of my boot. Sometimes I kick with that wheel, but accuracy is a challenge. So I usually kick with the side or top of my boot.

    The Miller boot is durable and stiff so it delivers a lot of energy to the ball. A plastic shell boot gives somewhat when you kick so you lose a little energy. But the most demanding aspect for the boots is the frequent cuts and changes of direction. Speedskates are not known for being able to do this, but my Millers do just fine!

    I play with people who skate on 4-wheel hockey or recreational skates. I've never felt my skates were a disadvantage, and frequenly the long frame gives me an advantage of reaching the ball a toe-length in front of someone else. The Miller boots give me enough support to let me make the quick turns, do a power slide or stop a shot on goal. In the goal, the extra length makes a big difference. You've got to have a speedskate boot to accommodate a long frame. I can't imaging using any kind of low-cut boot for roller soccer, so the Miller is ideal.

  • For stairs and jumps you need a solid frame and boot. You've got to have a stable boot for stairs or you'll lose it and bounce down on your head or butt. For jumps you don't want to twist an ankle when you land. It requires having a boot with no wiggle room, but still allows a high degree of control.

  • Dancing is always a challenge on skates with long frames. Any maneuver on your toes causes serious heel lift issues. The positive lock the Miller boot has on your heel helps here.


How to Reach Miller Sports

You can find Miller Boots at Karim Cycle in Berkeley.
You can also contact Miller Sports at:

http://www.miller-sports.com
skateinfo@miller-sports.com
800-269-5704


Problems? Contact the webmaster: hoco@timefold.com
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