Olson Reactor 2 Curling Broom

December 18th, 2009 by Potato

As a semi-serious curler I take pride in having good equipment, and one of the items that has gone through a lot of changes over the years is the broom. From corn husks and horsehair to various synthetic pads; push-brooms to swivel-heads, and getting lighter all the time — especially now with these carbon fibre shafts. I’ve used a lot of different push-brooms over the years, and I have to say that I like the new swivel-head ones a lot better, but I really only have experience with the Olson ones. I notice that a lot of players with swivel-head brooms tend to grab a club broom for throwing since the downside of the swivel action is a lack of stability when leaning on your broom. The Olson brooms fix this with a tension adjuster, so you can lock your head in a good position for sliding, and loosen it up for sweeping (or, like I do, just find a happy medium where it will move stiffly, giving enough stability for the throw while offering flexibility for the sweep). Plus with the fact that it’s really super light you can sweep so much faster, which really does seem to make a difference both to the rock and to the quality of the cardiovascular workout you get.

In short, I love my Reactor 2, as you can surely tell by the fact that I just got my 3rd one in as many years.

Yes, they definitely have a reliability problem. They’re one of the most popular high-end modern brooms at our club (due in large part to the choice selection at our pro shop). I play twice a week, so I see roughly 100 curlers on a regular basis, and I’d guess that maybe 30 of them have a Reactor 2. I have personally witnessed 5 of these brooms fail (including the 2 of my own I’ve been through). That is a terrible reliability record. For the most part, the point of failure has been the plastic connector between the brush head and the shaft, in fact, all but the broom I just turned in today failed that way. I had hopes when I got my new one this year that the problem was fixed because they changed that bit of plastic. It used to be a matt black piece, and this year the brooms are sporting a grey plastic bit that has a bit of marbling to the colour, so I was hopeful that they found a new (hopefully stronger) plastic compound to use. Unfortunately, the shaft (the carbon fibre shaft) cracked on me in less than 2 months — given the timeframe (and how little the broom has been through in that time) I suspect it may just be a manufacturing defect. They did replace it for me free-of-charge, so we’ll see how the new one holds up.

It almost makes me wonder if curling is going down the hockey road. I remember as a kid playing hockey I had one stick. I only got a second when I got too tall for the first one. These days, my brother buys his in packs of 3 because they seem to break all the time (though the bigger kids sometimes fight with theirs and do all sorts of other uncouth things that wouldn’t be tolerated on a curling sheet). I don’t mind too much — even at $125 for the broom, if it’ll last 3 or 4 years the broom’s a pretty minor expense compared to the ice fees, and it is a considerable improvement over the old fibreglass brooms (which started to crack on me after about 10 years of use). Longevity could also be the cost of shaving a few hundred grams off.

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