I purchased a pair of Sean Darst pro model THEM skates from my local shop Thuro. I bought them for a friend’s son who is interested in skating. He chose the Darst skates from a small list of recommendations, based largely on the look of the skate (especially the hood liner). I set them up with a Oysi frame setup, and decided to try them out a bit, before sending them out.
At Thuro, Gabe was nice enough to let me swap the plum soul plate for a black one. I took the previous soul off and put the new one on in store and noticed the bolts in certain spots didn’t feel like they were fully clamping down. The bolts Gabe did were fine, but many of mine were still spinning a tad. Nevertheless, the soul felt perfectly clamped on the skate.
When I put the Oysi frame on and skated them a bit I noticed a little creaking in the toe-area. More on that, but first, I want to digress a bit. The skates feel great! I’m all but certain that I will be getting a pair myself. I thought the creaking culprit was a loose soul bolt. I tried to reset the “bridge” bolt receiver in the boot a bit and retighten, but it still was a bit loose. I thought the receiver was just stripped at the end and was preventing the bolt from fully engaging. But, I looked at the taps in the receiver and they looked fine. I tried to run an M4 tap through it just to be sure there wasn’t a stray piece of metal, and the tap was perfect. In the end, the “issue” was the bolt itself.
The M4 bolts on the THEM soul kit are conceptually perfect. They have a standard 4mm hex-head so a skater only needs to rely on one tool. Also, there is a large untapped area (I’ll call The Flange) on the screw just before the head, so it sits better in the plastic of the soul-plate just before hitting the receiver.
I never felt like the soul and boot weren’t connected, there is a lot of tolerance in the system they designed, especially with the bridge hardware. But, because of The Flange you can end up with a situation where you will never get a perfect grip/clamp and there will be some slop. If the bridge receiver isn’t very well centered in the boot’s hole (easy to mess up) then The Flange can rest on the countersunk plastic on the soul and dig into it a bit, preventing the screw from just clasping in all the way. This is kind of hard to describe well, but you can see the result here:
This will lead to an unstable connection as the screw is effectively in at an angle and half of its foundation is soft. When I would tighten the THEM bolt in it would spin a bit towards then end, but feel connected (this is why).
I tried to get a good image of a better centered bridge. It is slightly hard to appreciate because of the angle, but in this hole I could tighten the THEM bolt easily and the grip was very stable. There was no sign of any damage to the original countersunk plastic soul plate hole. The receiver was dead center by eye:
So, if you have some loose soul-plate bolts it is worth trying to center the bridges perfectly. Use some electrical tape, dab of epoxy, etc. if you need. What I did, was to replace the THEM bolts with some more common 3mm TORX head bolts that come with other soul kits:
I’m not in love with having to regress back to needing a second tool, but these bolts are M4 and do not have The Flange:
The head of these flange-free screws are thinner than the THEM screws, but they are tapered and form a tight grip with the plastic on the THEM soul.
The soul is LOCKED to the boot now. It feels much more stable to me, and might be an improvement for your skate too. Now, after I “test” these out a bit, my friend’s kid should be thrilled. These Darst skates look amazing, and I love the feel. I’ve been using a Seba CJ/SX boot for aggressive skating, but I think I might have to add a pair of these to my collection too:
I added some Seba insoles I had from my stock CJ skates and I feel like the liner fits better for my foot. I think replacing the laces are a must, I swapped them out for some black Derby waxed laces, but the stock Seba laces would work well too.