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Swoosh "N" Roll
Honolulu Star Bulletin - Feb 19, 2001

Move over Razors, make way for Soaps and Heelys

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Paul Costello, 16, of Hawaii Kai gives his Soap shoes a whirl on a metal railing at Hahaione Park.

By Ruby Mata-Viti

SHOES have gone to the Xtreme, becoming vehicles for heeling the sole and grinding. And we're not talking enlightenment and plate lunch

In the spirit of X Games daredevil sports, heeling and grinding are the latest activities competing with skateboarding, in-line skating and kickboarding for concrete.

You need the right pair of shoes -- Heelys for heeling and Soaps for grinding -- or you may as well hit the pavement. Both pairs look and feel like typical athletic shoes but slip them on and the wrong move on the right surface will have you on your rear before you realize they're not.

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Paul Costello grinds on a metal railing at Hahaione Park.

"It's like skateboard riding without the skateboard," says Wally Parcels of the Bikefactory Sportshop at Ala Moana Boulevard which carries Soaps and will stock Heelys.

Heelys, presented at the Action Sports Retailers convention in Las Vegas recently, have a barely visible wheel at the base of each heel. They're not like in-line skates, says Scott Adams, who will distribute the shoes here in early March. "You can walk in these, even with the wheel at the heel, and the wheel pulls right off."

Adams creates quite a stir when he walks and rolls at the shopping centers. Use of in-line skates and kickboards is usually prohibited at malls. Security guards don't quite know how to a handle a Heely situation, says Adams.

"I've rolled around in them and when they yell at me to stop, I just start walking. It gets them scratching their foreheads. They run over, not to give me heat, but say 'hey, what are those?'" He ends up giving them a demonstration.

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
People wearing Heelys can switch from walk to roll instantly just by pointing the toe up, which puts the wheel at each sole in contact with the ground.

It takes just a little practice to set the wheels in motion, says Adams. One foot stays almost directly in front of the other, like you're in frozen walking position -- this is key to minimizing the flopping face front or whiplash factor, according to the promotional video. The front shoe's toe points up at about a 45-degree angle from the ground, back toe points up an inch. This gives each wheel clearance. The back foot becomes a sort of gas pedal, pushing off with the toe then springing back to the angled position once you've maintained momentum.

The video shows teens who've probably never heard of '50s sitcom "The Honeymooners" racing on a concrete court looking as though they're locked in Jackie Gleason's "and awaaaay we go!" stance.

Adams says Heelys aren't out to replace skateboarding. "It's just something else to get the kids outdoors, away from the TVs, to keep them active."

The sport rolls in on the heels of "grinding," an Xtreme activity that's been on the streets for a couple of years. You can't grind without Soap shoes. Like Heelys, Soaps look like mild-mannered shoes, but when you open the shoebox a yellow disclaimer on each sole gives the first clue that you're in for a ride.

The shoebox shows a boy wearing a pair of Soaps while perched on a stair handrail, sliding crouched down for full speed, arms outstretched for balance. In the old days, one would simply wear a pair of jeans, sit on the railing and let gravity do its thing.

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Soaps are fitted with a removable plastic insert at the arch.

Grinding (and heeling) are not organized sports; just something kids think is cool and fun to do, says Bryndon Smith of Soap Shoes in Manhattan Beach, Calif. It's an underground activity, he said, "Not a lot of people know about it."

The Bikefactory has sold Soaps for two years and sales have been steady among skateboarders ages 9 to 15, said Parcels.

Plastic fittings at each arch give it the sliding factor. The edge of sidewalks offer prime riding surfaces, although Parcels has seen kids using the edge of playground slides or bumpers of cars, not that he's encouraging that, he said.

Smith says former business partner Chris Morris created Soaps when he thought about how much fun it is to slide with socks on a hardwood floor, and wouldn't it be great if he could do that anywhere, anytime.

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Heelys have a detachable polyurethane wheel at the heel. Distributor Scott Adams gives a Heely demonstration, pushing off with the back foot and rolling with the front.

He took a pair of athletic shoes, slapped hard plastic into the arch and showed them to a financier as a prototype. The name Soap "just tapped the personality of the shoes. It's playful, slippery. It's just a word that seemed to fit," said Smith.

When the form wears down from all the fun, you unlock it with a special key and replace it with forms that are sold separately.

And as with any Xtreme sport, Parcels recommends wearing helmet and pads for safety.

Soaps are also sold at Turbo Surf in Kapahulu; Point Break Surf Shop, Waimanalo; and Surf N Sea, Haleiwa; and are priced from $69.95 to $89.95. Arch replacements sell for $12.95 a pair.

Tropical Rush in Haleiwa; Bike Works, Mililani; Turbo Surf, Kapahulu and Bikefactory have received advance shipments of Heelys and expect more in March. Prices start at $89.95.

There's no user's manual for Soaps. "It's intuitive for kids," said Smith. "They put them on and have the activity down in 5 minutes."

Soaps aren't made for long distance walking, but Parcels says they could be used as such by removing the plastic form. "They're stiffer than the average shoes," he says. "The point for wearing them with the plastic form is anytime the urge strikes to slide, you can."
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Feb 28, 2007Slidey

"There's no user's manual for Soaps" word

Feb 28, 2007SonicSoaper

What would a user manual be like anyway? Just too long for words.

Feb 28, 2007yanninicole

waer is your pics

Mar 1, 2007SonicSoaper

Pics of what?

Mar 1, 2007RamenRadio

I thought we agreed to ignore.............

Mar 1, 2007Hattmac02

ignore what ;)

Mar 1, 2007RamenRadio

What were we talking about? SWOOOOOOOOSH!

Apr 26, 2013Revengasaur

$89.95 I'll pay that any day of the week.
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