Marwe roller skis come in two formats, Aluminum, denoted by a “A” in the name, as in 610A (Skate), 590A (skate on combi shaft), etc. Or composite shafts, now denoted by “XC” in the name, such as 700Xc (classic), or 620Xc (skate). This was previously just called a “C”, but around 2013, Marwe updated, and all current composite models have the new, lighter “XC” shaft.
First, similarities. Bearings, axles, wheels, etc are all identical between comparable models. For illustrative purposes, we’ll use the 610A in comparison with the 620XC. The only differences are the shafts and forks (the part that connects the shaft to the axle). For the end user, they are completely identical apart from the shaft.
What sets the two apart? I like to use the example of road bicycles, as many endurance athletes are familiar with them. Think of a carbon or steel frame bicycle. The frame will flex and absorb road impacts, lessening stress on the rider. It makes for an overall more comfortable ride. Conversely, an aluminum bicycle or aluminum roller ski will ride very “rigid”, every road shock will be felt. So small pebbles, cement cracks, etc. are noticeable.
The composite rollerskis are the carbon/steel bikes. They flex moderately (not noticeable or performance affecting) to absorb bumps in the road. This makes for a very comfortable ride and is something I highly recommend athletes consider if they plan to engage in a lot of roller skiing. Marwe advertises it as a “snow feel”. The composite shaft is made of many of the same materials found in a high-end ski core. Some users will note that aluminum roller skis lack “Ski feel”.Racers should take note however, that just as comfy steel bikes weigh more than hard aluminum ones, aluminum roller skis are significantly lighter than their composite friends. So we are seeing a trend among high-level racers with plans to road race do so on aluminum shafts, often while training on composites for the long miles.
Wrap up, aluminum weighs less but is less comfortable, especially over long periods of time. Aluminum is also more cost-effective, so is ideal for the individual who maybe only rollerskis twice a week as cross training. Composite is the premium ski for the athlete who intends to put the hours in.