Speed Rope Buying Guide
Are you in the market for a new speed rope, but unsure what to look for?
Some people will tell you that the rope doesn’t matter and that you should be able to do double unders with any rope. While this may be true for the super athlete, for us mere mortals, equipment does matter. Think of it this way, could you complete a lap at the Indianapolis 500 in a Fiat? Technically, yes but wouldn’t you prefer a Lamborghini to make your task easier? The same concept applies to speed ropes. While there is definitely skill involved, using a quality speed rope, and the same one continuously, will go a long way in helping you conquer your double unders.
This brief guide is meant to give you a quick understanding of speed rope components, options and what to look for.
It's all about the weight. As muscle fatigue sets in, technique and timing start to break down which eventually results in missed reps. A lighter handle reduces the workload on your arms and shoulders thereby reducing fatigue which translates into less misses and more reps.
Carbon fiber is an extremely stiff, light, (only 16g for a 5-inch handle), and durable material. Not to mention that it looks sexy and has a naturally textured grip. When engineers are looking for the ultimate in strength to weight ratio, carbon fiber is number one on their list. So why isn’t everything made of carbon fiber? First off, it is a difficult material to mass-produce and secondly it is expensive when compared to other materials like aluminum and plastics.
Fortunately, at Revletics we are driven to build the best products using only the best materials while keeping our products at or below our competitor’s prices. Do we make as much money on each rope as our competitors? Definitely not, but we rest easy knowing that once people find out about us they stop looking. Think of it as getting a Mercedes for the price of a Honda.
Heavy, durable and did I mention heavy (usually over 100g per handle). At 6 times the weight of carbon fiber, your arms and shoulders will take a pounding with aluminum handles. Although easier to manufacture than carbon fiber, aluminum is still a laborious material to machine and is therefore more expensive than plastic.
Plastic (or PVC)
Although plastic is always cheap to manufacture, this type of handle falls into two distinct categories:
A) First are the $10 to $15 ropes that you often see hanging up at the gym. They look terrible, work for a month or two and then something inevitably breaks. I would practically prefer to just jump while holding a bare piece of cable with my hands. After all, that would be more reliable.
B) Second are the $35-$50 “high end” plastic handles. Most of these are reasonably durable and there are one or two decent speed ropes out there with plastic handles, but odds are you are greatly overpaying for what you are getting. After all, a piece of plastic wrapped with grip tape or shrink wrap is still just a cheap piece of plastic. Think of it as getting a Honda for the price of a Mercedes.
The thickness and length of the handles varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Too thick and it feels like trying to jump rope while hanging onto a can of soup. Too thin and it feels like you are trying to get a good grip on a pencil. The key here is simply comfort.
This again is more personal preference than anything. Large athletes with big hands sometimes like longer handles while smaller athletes may show a preference towards shorter handles. One size does not fit all, so look for a manufacturer that offers choices. This is why we offer three different handle lengths; the standard 5’’ handle, a 6’’ handle for the big boys and a 4’’ handle if that is what you are after.
Very light weight and slippery. Unlike bearings, bushings can’t clog and won’t slow down over time. Fine dust and chalk does not effect a bushing mechanism making them clog proof.
Many ropes use bearings inside to help the cable spin faster. While bearings sound like a good idea, and in almost any application they are pretty awesome, the reality is they add unnecessary weight and are prone to clogging and slowing down from fine chalk and other debris from the gym environment.
Rope Attachment Point
Cables that come straight out of the top of the handles are prone to easily breaking because the rope must bend back to create a stable arc, thereby stressing the cable unnecessarily. Cables entering the handle through a side approach are the best option for allowing a flexible arc that can accommodate a wide variety of jumping styles. Ropes that use a mechanism to create a permanent arc at the handle can be challenging for jumpers as the cable isn’t free to adjust to the arc based on the jumper’s individual style.
Braided metal that isn’t coated. These wear out and fray very quickly if used on abrasive surfaces. Some people find this out the hard way when they notice the blood trickling down your leg after a missed jump. Bare cable makes no sense on any rope.
Braided metal cables with a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) coating. PVC is a fairly soft coating that provides a little cushion for those missed reps but is not very durable. The coating can quickly wear out on abrasive surfaces and expose the metal cable underneath causing the same issues as bare metal cable.
Braided metal cable with a nylon coating. Nylon is a very tough material that is slightly stiffer than PVC which offers several advantages. Stiffer cables are less likely to crimp and less susceptible to deformation from wrist flicking and wind gusts. Nylon wears extremely well on abrasive surfaces including concrete. This is an indoor AND outdoor use cable.
Some manufacturers offer only one type of cable weight and others, like Revletics, offer multiple cable weights. Choice is always better because we all have different needs and preferences. Heavier cables tend to be better for beginners because the additional weight allows for more feel of where the rope is in space. Additionally, heavier cables also wear better on abrasive surfaces, are less effected by wind and create some of it’s own momentum. A little harder to get moving, but once it starts moving it wants to stay moving. Lighter cables tend to be better for the more advanced athletes because the cable is more sensitive to technique flaws, but if you can handle a thin cable then they are super fast and easy on the arms and shoulders.
You want to make sure that your speed rope manufacturer offers replacement cables and that they are easily replaceable, otherwise you could be stuck having to buy a whole new speed rope if your cable breaks or wears out.
If you are an expert then you will probably have a very specific cable length that you like and you will never need to make an adjustment. If you are a beginner or still improving then odds are, your jumping style is going to change over time and as you improve it is nice to have the ability to gradually shorten the cable length. Unlike a Revletics speed rope, many manufacturer’s ropes are not adjustable or at a minimum, not easily adjustable.
Customization and Style
Maybe not a key factor to being able to successfully complete double unders but style is still important and especially if you are going to pay good hard earned money for a quality speed rope. Make sure your manufacturer offers you a wide variety of color customization features so you can get your own one-of –kind creation that not only fits your body but also fits your personality.