I have a terrible love/hate relationship with flexible wicks (more hate than love), they break so easily but are slightly lighter than non-flexible spines. I wonder if most fire hoop makers use flexible spines with the idea they will break within 6-9 months of use so you have to buy another fire hoop....fire hoop warranties never cover the flexible spines... my quick wicks I bought about 6-8 months ago and I gently use them are already breaking (I rarely drop my hoop). From my experiences once one cable breaks/fails the rest of the cables fail within 1-2 weeks of normal use. Once one cable breaks the fire hoop is no longer safe to use for performing. This is my second time buying quick wicks with the same life span.... I'm a performer that mainly uses my wicks for performance and not for practice so to have an expensive prop break in short a span is very frustrating. I've had friends buy flexible wick fire hoops that break less than 2-3 months of owning them. Maybe flexible spines are not all that great in the end?

Or is this normal? Do flexible spines just have a short life span compared to non-flexible wicks? Whats your thoughts and experiences with flexible spines? Are there fire hoop makers that have a stronger cable that does not break in under a year?

*This is just my opinion on flexible spines and not a single company. I'm not trying to single out any company for how they make their equipment. I'm curious about the function, life span, and qaulity of flexible spines.

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I've had quick wicks for over a year and I beat my hoops up... in fact they've outlasted the hoops they were on.

That said, I've heard this complaint from others as well.

What kind of fuel are you using? Since you say you're performing I wonder if you're using lamp oil or some other longer lasting fuel and maybe the longer burn times = more heat/wear on the hardware? I only use white gas with mine.

Interesting, I only use white gas, no mixture just white gas.

Maybe the style of hula hoop could cause them to not last as long. I do lots of leg hooping and breaks maybe that's causing too much force on the spines? That's typically when my wicks break.

Well, I do a lot of breaks too, and tosses (...drops), so I'm not sure that's necessarily it.

How do you store the hoop? I pretty much always hang it up or lay it flat so the weight isn't resting on the wicks/spines.

Speaking as a fire hoop maker, and one who also makes flexible spines, I gotta say there's a lot more to it than you think.  First, there's capability of building.  If you can't make it, you can't sell it.  In the case of quick wicks, it was a long time before they came out because most fire tool makers don't have welding facilities on site, and that design pretty much begs for it.  


Next is available materials. Aircraft cable is common, flexible, weldable.  We stopped using it a long time ago for poi because of short life span and splinters.  It baffled me that people returned to it for hoop spines.  But folks wanted flexibility, so the people who didn't care about product longevity got out there fast and the other hoop makers had to come up with their own designs just to keep up.


Holistic hooping came up with one of the first non-rope flex designs.  they welded springs into their attachment matrix.  Y'all didn't buy enough of them, so they had to switch to the "industry standard" and now offer ropes.  Brandon came up with those black rubber spines.  I won't say any more about that because I make a competing product.  But suffice to say, both cost a bit more than a standard rope hoop.  Money's tight, so y'all buy the cheap ones.


Me? I don't give a flop.  I have a huge product line so I don't depend on hoops to make my cheddar. I'd rather deliver hoops targeted at specific needs: weight, safe-flex, strength, etc.  But if you're only going to sell hoops, and nothing else, then you HAVE to think of weight, cost, and appearance, or you'll never sell enough to be worth while.

Oh thank you so much tedward you have answered many of my questions yet again. :D

i dont know if you want to give you secrest away but i need to make flexable prongs for my hoop and i was wondering what kin of material you use.. if not its all good i understand.. i just am scared of the hard prongs because if i hit myself with it it dosnt have any give.. 

I don't like spines that are too flexible because their movement throws me off.  It also increases the chance of spines getting hooked on each other when multi hooping.

Exactly, I understand what you mean SaFire. 

I am finding this to the umptenth degree with my minis. I don't want to break my fire toys and I drop my hoops all the time (get excited and throw things) so I was a bit too afraid to get non-flexible spines.

But I also have *giant* wicks. It's like they're overcompensating for something. (Lack of practice? o,O) so they're an added factor that someone with quickwicks maybe might not have as big a problem with.

Some input from another fire tool maker. Hoop spines are one of the most difficult engineering problems I have encountered in this business to date. The delicate balance between stiffness, resilience, weight and durability is difficult to achieve. I can almost assure you that fire hoop makers do NOT use various flexible spines in order to sell you more hoops. My goal has always been to make tools that last a lifetime and why I offer a lifetime warranty (excluding the wicking material), designing them to fail only costs me money. Simply it is the most feasible solution to the issue I have found.

From a materials standpoint any material that repeatedly gets bent beyond a certain range will weaken and fail. This holds true with both flexible and rigid spines. In fact I'm curious with what rigid spines you have used that are more durable than flexible ones.

The fuel used has little effect on longevity. The biggest factor is if you "kink" the material. If you are bending your spines, for whatever reason, so much that they need straightening they will eventually fail due to work hardening. Unfortunately there is no magic bullet solution here, although that hasn't kept me from trying!

I just had one of my flexible spines (non-removable) unravel. But it was after a year of HEAVY use, lighting up 3 to 4 times a week+ 5 times or more on performance nights. I'm really impressed they all lasted as long as they did. I figure that since the wicking on the whole hoop needs to be refreshed I'll  just replace the whole hoop. Maybe that's just the nature of fire hoops?

One of the first rigid spine hoops I made over 10 years ago is still in use.  Don't be too impressed.  :)  But a year of heavy use IS a lot of wear and tear on any tool.  Ya gotta think: fire, vibration, dropping, and the occasional accident.... We don't need to make something with a limited lifespan, there's already some pretty incredible stresses on these things.  Most of our focus is keeping them in the game.  


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