(Editor’s note: Three people associated with Rattling Chains tested out Vibram’s new mid-range disc, the Obex. Below you’ll find the reviews. All three are different level players, which we hope will allow you to see the differences in the disc via their thoughts. The first part is by Jack Trageser, a pro based in California).
The new Vibram Obex can’t be beat. Believe me, I tried!
Over a couple months’ time I threw it into strong headwinds, threw it with as much power as I could muster, AND threw it with full power and a sharp anhyzer angle. It didn’t buckle and irrevocably turn over one single time. (As a reference point, I don’t have a huge arm, but can still exceed 400 feet with accuracy.)
Vibram’s new mid-range disc is the overstable compliment to the Ibex, which is pretty stable as well, but noticeably less so than the Obex. Steve Dodge of Vibram in fact describes it as a modified Ibex. According to Dodge, Vibram
“took the Ibex and added a Ridge bead to it for stability.”
I like having both because they feel the same in my hand, yet I can tell that the one is a step up from the other in a similar way that a five iron is similar, yet different, from a six iron in ball golf. I guess you could say they compliment each other, which I think is Vibram’s master plan for its eventual complete lineup.
I’m not one to talk in technical terms about a disc — diameter, bead, flight plate, and such. I’m all about feel and performance, and as with all the Vibram discs I’ve tested before, it scores very high in both categories.
If you haven’t tried a Vibram mid-range or driver disc yet, you might want to give one a try. There are so many new disc companies on the market right now, but to me none of the new plastic brands offers a breakthrough like Vibram with its rubber compound. The texture of even its firm discs is far tackier than all but the floppiest plastic discs. For me, this results in a much more confident power grip, and a fan grip that I can use on longer throws knowing the disc won’t slip at high speeds.
The Obex, in particular, feels broad-edged, but not too much so, and settles into the crease in my palm comfortably. It feels like it’ll come off my hand at just the right time rather than slip out a little early. I haven’t had any issues with holding onto it too long, as if the grip was too good and it was sticking to my hand. Instead it’s like Baby Bear’s porridge, just right.
Three things come to mind in terms of the Obex’s performance.
First and foremost, this is a very ober, err, I mean over-stable disc. Thrown at anything but the highest speeds it will begin to fade (go left for right-handers throwing backhand) immediately. But like Vibram’s fairway driver, the Ascent, it doesn’t seem to fade the way most overstable discs do. In most cases, the angle of the fade will sharpen as the speed of the disc lessens. With the Obex and Ascent, even though I’m sure this principle holds true to some degree, the cut-away is not as dramatic.
In terms of “what-does-this mean-on-the-course?”, it means this: You can expect a disc that can be trusted not to completely turn over even at the highest speeds, yet without the extreme fade that tends to result in an overstable disc finishing sideways due to landing on its edge and skipping. This nice win-win is the result not only of the overstable/moderate fade properties I just described, but also because Vibram’s rubber compound is much better than plastic at hitting the ground and sticking rather than skipping.
The second point about performance is related to how it performs at slower speeds. As I already mentioned, it will begin to fade right away at anything but high speeds, so if you don’t have a big arm it probably isn’t a good option for you as a mainstay mid-range disc that you want to fly long and straight. It is, however, still quite useful at slower speeds.
I’ve found it to be a go-to disc for specialty shots where I need the disc to hyzer sharply right away to get around a tight corner. But keep in mind that the rubber compound will allow minimal skip, so if the shot you’re planning involves the disc touching the ground halfway to its destination and skipping the rest of the way, the Obex may not be your best option.
Finally, I’m finding that the Obex consistently gives me more distance than I’m expecting. On slower upshots I keep expecting the disc to fade more and quicker due to its stubborn overstability — but it surprises me with its carry. When I throw it hard with anhyzer angle to get it to fly long and straight, it goes quite a bit further than I expect a mid-range to go — almost as far as a driver. Once I make the adjustment (almost there now) that’s a good thing. Watch a pro, and he or she will always opt for the more controllable disc if the target can be reached with it. That’s why you see pros throwing putter off the tee whenever possible.
Speaking of putters, here is a little side-benefit I’ve discovered with both the Obex and the Ibex — I generally putt with a 150-class disc whenever possible to take advantage of the fact that it goes a little further and can maintain its float a little longer than heavier putters. It’s great for low-ceiling putts, for instance. And unless it’s a windy day I won’t even both bringing a heavier version of the same disc. But sometimes the wind kicks up mid-round and I’ve neglected to bring anything but my light putter.
Because of their great rubber compound grip, and strong stability, both the Ibex and Obex have proven themselves perfect fill-in putters on windy days. Just another reason they’ve earned permanent places in my bag — a significant accomplishment considering I only carry 14 discs at the most.
So the Obex is a great overstable mid-range disc, and I recommend it as a go-to disc for anyone with a big enough arm to tame its power. And if you’re not quite there with you’re power game but still like having an overstable mid in your bag for what it can do in special situations, the Obex better than other options because of its rubber compound and surprisingly mellow fade.
Vibram video about the Obex
Dave Coury — (Rated around 810)
Unlike most disc golfers that play in the recreational division at tournaments, I use my mid-ranges more often then my drivers. It is not uncommon for me to play in a tournament and use a mid or a putter off the tee and watch every other player use a warp-speed driver.
My first impression picking up the Obex was it felt like an Innova Roc in my hand. After a little field work and some throws on the course, the Roc comparisons didn’t end. The Obex handled a moderate headwind nicely and showed no sign of turning over. The only Rocs I have experience with are DX Rocs at about 175 grams. The Obex tester was 174 grams. It seemed to have similar speed and slightly less glide then my Rocs and a touch more stability.
At 167 grams the Discraft Wasp I carry in my bag is significantly lighter than the Obex tester I threw. I find my Wasp to be faster and to carry farther than the Obex, however this could simply be a result of being more accustomed to a lighter overstable mid. I’d be interested to get my hands on a slightly less beefy Obex to see if it compares favorably to my Wasp.
I made the switch from Roc to Wasp years ago mainly due to Rocs not being widely available in premium plastic when the options for a moderately overstable mids were fairly limited. In today’s market there are a ton of options for any spot in your bag and moderately overstable mid-range is no exception . Strictly from a standpoint of flight I saw nothing that would set the Obex apart from other similar mid-range discs. But I don’t think it was ever exceptional performance that separated Vibram from its competitors. It is the look, feel, durability and consistency of their X-Link material.
In that respect I think the Obex is a success. It performs adequately enough to hold its own with similar discs on the market while providing all the benefits Vibram fans have grown to love.
P.J. Harmer (Rated 695)
I’m a simple person when it comes to discs — I don’t carry many and I like ones that feel good in my hand. The Obex felt good.
I can’t comment, as others do, about the distance and how it battled headwinds and such or if thrown with an anhyzer or hyzer as I am still learning those things. I can, however, comment about the feel and what someone with a noodle arm can possibly expect with a disc like this.
I’m a fan of Vibram. I have been for a while. The rubber compound has a nice and grippy texture that I like when throwing a disc. I’m a major fan of the Ibex, so I thought the Obex would be a nice compliment, once I learned what it does.
Why I like the Ibex is that, for the most part, it holds true to a straight line for me. I’m not overpowering, by any means, so it’s nice to have something I know I can throw relatively straight, even as I work on learning better throwing techniques.
The Obex was definitely different.
For me (right-handed, backhand), the disc took a nice flight, but then dived off to the left. It’s a natural movement, of course. As many times as I threw it, it definitely held that plane. I could get about the same distance, but it definitely went left. That’s not a bad thing, though, as it’s nice to know I have something in the bag that will do that and likely stay doing that in the future.
Like Jack, I don’t carry many discs. Especially as someone still learning the game. Having more than a handful of discs is more detrimental to me than it is good. So I keep it small. But, my idea is that I like having discs in there that I will continue to learn and once I understand more, these discs will be something I’ve long been using.
The Obex will be part of that group.
A lot of times, beaded discs feel odd to me, but this one didn’t. The disc I tested was 174 grams, but didn’t feel heavy at all. It felt natural.
My normal drives with my Innova Leopard can go anywhere from 200-250, pending on the day. I’ve found a bit more distance with my Blizzard Katana, but it’s not the most controllable disc for me as of now. Often, my mid-range choices tend to go straighter and almost the same distance.
Keeping that in mind, some of my good throws with the Obex were approaching the 200 mark, if not slightly a little more. For me — as a light thrower — that is fantastic. And with that dive to the left, it seems I can have a disc that I know what it will do most of the time. The best part is knowing that once I have a better feel of how to throw, I should be able to do more with this disc.
Vibram definitely has a winner with this disc.
Details: The Vibram Obex is scheduled to be released in June.
If you have any comments, questions, thoughts, ideas or anything else, feel free to e-mail us at: email@example.com or pj [at] rattlingchains.com. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!