I've read enough!
Lets go to the brooms!
What you need to know about brooms according to “Sweep”
Brooms are generally classified according to the head type: hair & synthetic, and head construction: fixed & pivoting, and over the past few years, broom handle composition has created a whole new classification.
Let’s start with head type. There are pluses and minuses to hair or synthetic heads although I would suggest that synthetic is your best bet especially for club curlers. They last longer, they don’t shed hairs & they are easier to clean. There is no question that a good hair broom can cut through frost better than a synthetic head, but given the ice conditions that most clubs have today, frost really isn’t a big issue. The bottom line is that they both work, but a good hair broom is going to cost you more money and will have to be replaced more often.
Broom heads can be made up wood, plastic, or even metal, but our focus on head construction is how the head is mounted to the handle – fixed or pivoting. Fixed heads are firmly mounted to the shaft of the broom. They get the job done, are easy to use and provide a nice stable platform for delivery.
Pivoting heads allow the surface of the head to run flat to the ice for maximum contact regardless of the angle you are holding the handle at. For this reason, they can provide better performance as they allow a curler to get closer to the rock particularly in tight areas. The pivoting feature is created by attaching the handle to the head through a moveable joint. The type of joint varies by manufacturer and therefore, the degree of pivot varies.
This is a really interesting subject as there are all sorts of gimmicks out there. Broom handles can be made out of just about anything these days as manufacturers try to provide stronger, lighter and more ergonomic handles.
Over the last 10 years or so, inexpensive and/or entry level brooms have had handles made of wood or fiber glass although brooms with wood handles are basically obsolete today. If the broom you are about to buy or are being given by old Aunt Doris has a wood handle we would suggest you pass. Brooms with wood handles are heavy and will splinter, crack and sometimes even break.
Fiber glass is the most common handle material as it is strong, and depending on thickness, can give you a broad selection of weights to choose from.
Aluminum handles have been available but never gained much in terms of popularity. There is no question that they are strong, but they can be heavy and “cold” to the touch. I would recommend passing on this option if you can even find one today.
Composite handles (graphite and carbon fiber) have become popular over the past number of years, and probably for good reason. They are strong and very, very light. But know what you are buying before you give up your hard earned money as there is a big difference in characteristics between graphite & carbon fiber.
High content graphite handles are lighter (albeit it marginally) over their carbon fiber counterparts. The big difference is in the flex of the shaft. Graphite composite handles are more flexible giving you a different feel than the stiffer carbon fiber shaft. As for performance, while there is no published testing to suggest that either one of these handle performs better than the other, scientifically speaking, the transfer of power through leveraging is going to be more efficient the stiffer the shaft. Flexibility comes at a cost and that cost can also be breakage. For this reason, we would recommend to stay away from high composition graphite handles and spend what amounts to the same money on a carbon fiber broom. If you are going to buy a premium broom, you want it to last!
Last but not least, new composite handles – fiber glass, graphite & carbon fiber – have allowed manufacturers to sculpt the shape of the shaft more than ever before. Flat handle shafts, tapered handles, and ovals are just a few of the new styles. While each of them comes with their own unique sales story, it really all comes down to preference. Buy what feels good to your hand!
All you need to know about brooms according to “Rocky”
Buy a broom with good synthetic head. They are the right choice for most curlers and they won’t leave hairs on the ice which could make the rock veer off course, increasing the skip’s blood pressure and ultimately leading to hair loss (only compounding the problem). If people wanted hair on the ice, we’d be pebbling it with Rogaine, not water.
If you are a new curler and have some balance concerns, lean towards a fixed head – you will be able to use the stability. Everyone else, it’s your choice, but how many professional curlers do you see with club brooms? Yeah. That’s what I thought.
As for handles, fiber glass is your best choice in terms of price & performance. You can get a good entry level broom for just under $50 and a competitive broom under $70.
If you want a high performance handle, high carbon fiber content is the way to go. You don’t need to spend big bucks on premium broom. For the most part, $140 will buy you all the broom you can handle. A $200 broom gets you a $139.95 broom and a $60 brand name decal so save your money and buy a new pair of curling pants with the savings!