By Samuel Gotowiec
New for 2019, CCM introduces the fourth rendition of the Extreme Flex line – the E-Flex 4 goal series. After years of success, the latest E-Flex 4 leg pad brings a fresh update to some key areas. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early set and put it through some testing. Let’s get into the new features and my initial on-ice impressions.
Eflex Leg Pad Weight
Over the last few years, leg pad weight has become a focus for every manufacturer. While the previous generation E-Flex 3 pad felt lighter than previous models, it wasn’t strictly weight reduction at work. The overall effect was achieved by thinning out the top half of the pad; essentially making the pad feel slightly lighter and more balanced on the leg.
Under the hood of the Extreme Flex 4, CCM has completely re-vamped the core. Still using a thinned-out balanced profile, new DualLiteCore technology considerably cuts down weight. Cutting weight is a bonus, but it must be done without compromising performance.
I was impressed with how CCM was able to create an even lighter pad while maintaining the on-ice seal and stability that is expected from E-Flex gear. This pad makes no sacrifices in the structure or integrity of the core.
My first session with the E-Flex 4 pads was fun – the pads felt great on the ice. The pads had the same balanced, and well-distributed feel that I loved with my E-Flex 3 gear. This combination made movements more natural, and for me to feel more in control of the pad throughout a practice or game.
CCM E-flex Strapping
Last spring, CCM introduced their first pad without any leather straps with the Premier 2 line. As it has become an industry norm for almost every pad on the market to be free of leather straps, the E-flex line finally gets on board with their Quick Motion strapping system.
The new Quick Motion strapping system on the E-Flex 4 pad shares the same characteristics as the first system on the Premier 2, though it differentiates itself with a few tweaks. The E-flex 4 Quick Motion strapping system is super easy to use and has a tight fit to better suit the E-Flex style goalie.
The first strap that goalies will strap the E-Flex 4 on around the leg with that goes tight to the leg has been redesigned. Instead of needing to play around with “medium” or “large” sized Velcro straps to dial in the right fit, the Quick Motion strap on the E-Flex 4 is adjustable through a plastic clip system.
Staying true to the E-Flex line in terms of a tighter fit, the flap that the Velcro strap attaches to has been moved in narrower compared to the Premier 2 system. The positioning of this flap allows for a more connected feel to the pad and caters towards goalies who want a tighter fitting leg channel.
The wide two-inch nylon calf strap remains unchanged from the Premier 2 system. This strap acts as a “seatbelt” – the static nylon keeps the leg channel tight. This locked in feeling reduces leg movement and helps prevent over-rotation. One nice added feature to this strap and all of the other Velcro on the back of the E-flex 4 is the added rubber tabs on their ends. While it is a minor tweak, this reinforcement allows for easier use and greater durability.
While staying true to the popular soft flex profile that the Extreme Flex line has always had, this year it has been optimized through combining both torsional flex and stiffness in key areas.
Starting at the top of the pad, the E-Flex 4 has a slightly stiffer thigh rise than what was seen on previous models. This added structure above the knee reduces torsional flex in that area, thus improving the overall seal to the ice . The stiffer thigh rise allowed me to get that soft pad feel and response below the knee where I wanted it, while not having the thigh rise lift when the pad flexes, which was traditionally an issue with softer pads.
While the more structured thigh rise seals the five hole, the boot and shin keep the same soft formula that is expected from the E-Flex line. Coming stock on the E-Flex 4, the “deep ultra soft” boot flex allows for easy loading and power pushes, along with a flexible, mobile feel atop the skate. The shin of the E-Flex 4 keeps soft foam on the face of the pad, which allows for easy deadening of rebounds to keep the puck out of harm's way.
On top of having a comfortable, mobile feel, the softer foam density on the face of the E-Flex 4 allowed me to keep the puck close to me, which got rid of most dangerous rebounds and gave me the chance to freeze the puck for a whistle.
Toe Tie System
With the years of innovation that is put into designing pads each year, I was always amazed that an age-old skate lace was being used to tie the pad to the skate. On the E-Flex 4, CCM has implemented a flexible bungee-style toe system. The bungee cord is the future, and we see it pop up more and more. It weaves through the skate and then has Velcro attachments on each end that meet on top of the boot.
This system was much faster for me to put on than skate lace and allowed for the perfect amount of stretch when in the butterfly and pushing. Typically, most goalies would tie some knots as “slack” between the pad and skate. However, there is no real need for it with a bungee system. When there is tension on the cord, it will stretch out and create that slack, once you get up, the bungee will spring back to its original form.
With what seems like more colour zones than ever, the E-Flex 4 has no shortage of designs to be created. It is unique to see split outer roll colour zones integrated into a graphic, which I think is a fresh look but can be omitted for goalies after a more traditional look. Whether you want to recreate the style of top NHL goalies like Carey Price or Sergei Bobrovsky, or design something from scratch, I think that this graphic should have something for everybody.
With the widespread success of the Extreme Flex line over the better part of this decade, I think CCM has continued to stay consistent in their proven design while making the necessary changes to improve the pad every two years. Having been an E-Flex user for the past three years, it was satisfying to use a pad that felt completely redesigned, literally down to its core, while not straying from the feel that has kept me in CCM. Whether you are coming from an E-Flex pad, or just after something flexible and lightweight with a great seal to the ice, I think the Extreme Flex 4 will be an excellent choice for hitting the ice in 2019!
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CCM Extreme Flex 4 Leg Pads Gallery