NOTE: This is part two in a two part series about Creamy mallet shafts and heads. you can find the first post here, which is my interview with the creator, Chris Arena. This post covers my impressions of the Creamy mallet shaft and head, how it felt during use at ESPIs, and general witty adventure. In this post I am reviewing a complete build Chris sent me as well as the pole by itself.
The very first thing I noticed about Creamy mallet shafts was the hand written logo. Call me crazy, but the idea that the guy who is pumping these shafts out take the time to sharpie marker his logo on to each one is a relief. It says to me (the humble consumer), that at some point Chris had his hands on each and every one of the shafts he sells, checking them over and giving the green light for shipment.
What it Came With:
The box arrived at my door (that’s a lie: it arrived at my door, nobody was home, and then I picked it up from UPS) with the built mallet, a mallet shaft, and a baggie that had a flat cap, a single screw, and a nice Creamy Sticker that I used on the mallet after covering up Chris’ hand drawn logo.
Weight of Shaft: Great.
Immediately after that appreciation, I was struck by the lightness of the shaft itself. Now I’m not Bloomington Bike Polo, so I don’t have a nice little scale to work with, but I can safely say these poles are lighter than a Fixcraft LT but heavier than a Northern Standard Gold. Having both of these shafts in my current arsenal, I was very excited by the prospect of such a light mallet.
Specs from the site:
Material: Aluminum 7075-T6
Length: 1150 mm
Taper Length: 500 mm
Straight Section Diameter: 19 mm
Wall Thickness Straight Section: 1.0 mm
Diameter at End of Taper: 14 mm
Uncut Weight: Approx 150 grams
After I cut the mallet down to my size (short), and added bat tape, the mallet remained light.
Rigidity of Shaft: Great.
So a big criticism (one that I don’t think is really a deal breaker) is that the Northern Standard Gold bends way to easily. I noted this in my review of it a little while ago wherein I stated that I could bend the shaft relatively easily by hand. Again – not a criticism of the product, but with lightness comes a certain loss of strength.
The Creamy shaft was very rigid. I could get it to flex a bit if I pulled it against my knee, but not any more than what the Fixcraft LT would flex. I’ll count that as a win for the Creamy.
The Mallet Head: Good, with some concerns.
First, the spec sheet:
Material: TIVAR 1000 Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMW)
Color: Creamy White
Material Density: 0.93 g/cm3
Length: 4.0-5.5 in (100 to 150 mm) in 0.5 in increments.
Diameter: 2.25 in (57 mm)
Wall Thickness: 0.1875 in (4.76 mm)
Cap Thickness: 0.160 in (4.0 mm)
Weight (4 in, uncut): approx 85 g
Weight (4 in, double cutout): approx 65 g
Let’s take some time talking about the mallet head. As I stated before, Chris was kind enough to ship me a complete build and a shaft by itself. The mallet head anyone would buy from Chris will look like this:
But the one he sent me was already cut and attached, so some of my criticism/thoughts may not really be applicable to your own experience with it.
The head is UHMW, but it isn’t the same thickness or size of any UHMW that I’ve come across before. In relation to a St. Cago mallet, for instance, it’s probably a mm or two smaller in diameter. Should you be concerned by this? I don’t know, but I wasn’t at all.
What I was concerned about what the manner in which the cap was attached to the mallet. As Chris stated in the interview previous to this post, the mallet caps are lighter than other options and are attached using specialized screws. That’s well and good, but I’m a big proponent of as little hardware on a mallet head as possible.
As you can see from this horribly blurry picture, the cap is attached at five points. Let me be clear: this cap isn’t going anywhere. It’s on there tight as your aunt’s girders.
But my concern comes from play. after using this mallet for a few months, how will those metal bits get exposed? will they simply come out, or will they be ground down to nothing, leaving (potentially) only the two top screws holding the cap on?
As you can see, there really isn’t that much room between the side of the mallet and the Allen screws. I venture that Chris will be more than happy to explain why this is/is not an issue – but it’s something I noticed and worried about.
Feel During Play: Outstanding
I played with the mallet that Chris made for me for a few games at ESPIs as well as a half hour swinging around before the games started for day 2. I can, with all honesty, say that I love the way this mallet feels.
Because of it’s smaller diameter and lightness, the mallet is responsive and flickable. The ball went where I wanted it to go, and went there fast. On a strictly enjoyment level, the cap made a great sound whenever it made contact with the ball, and that made me warm all over.
A day after using it I documented the wear and tear on the mallet, and as you’d expect (with this being UMHW), there was very little.
After I play with this mallet for a few weeks, I plan to follow up on how that hardware is holding up on the cap. It may be unfounded, but I’m not quite sure how it will pan out.
All in all, however, I was thrilled with how the mallet played and how much power I could get through it.
Cost/Options: Custom (good)
Right now, Chris has a very small operation. This being the case, he’ll chop your mallet head down to sizes between 4 to 5.5 inches (in .5 increments).
And because this is a small operation (and he’s custom building everything), you’re going to pay sixteen dollars (US) for a head and another sixteen for the shaft.
That puts the shaft at a dollar more than a Fixcraft LT and Northern Standard’s Gold, or thereabouts. Well within the “market” range, but with all the perks of a custom built shaft.
Should You Buy It?
If you like a mallet shaft that is light, strong, and custom built for polo, yeah. Yeah you really should. This is probably the first mallet I’ve ever had where I didn’t need to tweak it a little in order to make it feel right.
So, in short:
absolutely buy the mallet shaft. It’s flat out sexy.
Consider what you look for in a mallet head, and then go from there. So far I am not disappointed with this one (but we’ll see what a few months of heavy play does).
If you have questions, feel free to comment here and I’ll be sure Chris sees them. Otherwise visit Arena Bike Polo (home of the Creamy mallet shafts and mallet heads at http://www.arenabikepolo.com/ .