There's no shortage of mallet options for hardcourt bike polo, and many companies have gotten into the game of fabricating their own set-ups—with mixed results. Crafting bike polo equipment is far from an exact science. Part of it is personal preference, but another part is creating something with mass appeal. The old-school DIY option—find a used ski pole, section off some gas pipe, screw them together and make a grip with hockey tape—has obvious flaws.
Fixcraft was a dedicated hardcourt bike polo company before there was such a thing, and they've really stepped up their game in research and development while producing quality products specifically for the sport. They've done the same with some of their new mallet kits, which I recently had a chance to test.
The build kit I received included a tournament weight shaft, golf grip and 2500 Series head. I'm a defensive-minded player (i.e., I like to throw stick checks), so I was initially skeptical about the thickness of the pole. However, since I had resolved to put this thing through the ringer, I decided to make it my go-to mallet for a few months and see how it held up.
Verdict: It did exceedingly well.
Other mallets I've used bent frequently, but I was always able to get them back to a somewhat straight position. The Fixcraft shaft suffered only the slightest of bends toward the bottom, and I didn't need to ding it against my handlebars to adjust it after every few games.
The head held up well, despite a pretty rough playing surface here in Cleveland. I rotated it only once to get a side that wasn't worn out. Different mallet head options are available if doing scoop tricks is your thing, but the Fixcraft 2500 performed adequately for getting the ball up and over my opponents. The internal bevel is angled just enough to get a good cup on the ball. I'm not sure which facet of the mallet's design deserves credit for this, but I got great "pop" off the ball, and my shots seemed to be slightly more accurate.
The grip took me a while to get used to. I wasn't a fan at first. I'm not sure why. It could be its "spongy" feel. But I grew to really like it. Quick pro tip: use some rubbing alcohol on the shaft before putting the grip on. It creates a nice bond. And let it dry. Seriously, wait a few days. You won't get the thing off. I tried.
The only issue I had with the set-up was Fixcraft's proprietary connection system, which includes a hex bolt that threads into the shaft with a "cleat" pad in the middle to hold everything in place. I like the design, but I've used other mallets that threaded into a section that gripped the mallet head itself, and it became the point of failure. Fixcraft's design circumvents that issue, but the head did come loose and twist a few times during play. Nothing a quick tightening couldn't fix, but that's my lone complaint, so it should be mentioned.
Sadly, my mallet suffered an unfortunate end when it got caught between the fork and frame of a bike and twisted into a Z shape. R.I.P., mallet. You were a good one.
Fixcraft offers a multitude of mallet options for you to try. Different shaft lengths and diameters can be tailored to your specific playing style.
The 2500 will be my preferred mallet (for now), and I've already ordered a new shaft to get up and running again.
Check this and other products out at Fixcraft.net.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock