Basketball Rim Height-Adjustment Mechanisms
The best place to start with height-adjustment mechanisms is to start at the lowest end and progress upwards. The lowest end mechanism is called a telescoping pole. This mechanism if probably the easiest to understand because the mechanism functions as the name indicates, like a telescope. These types of systems have a push pin that when compressed will allow you to change the height of the rim. The system is probably the most difficult to adjust and does not provide as large of an adjustment range, usually 8 ft. to 10 ft. for the rim height. This system is also one of the cheapest available.
The quick-adjust mechanism provides the next available level of rim-height adjustment. This mechanism uses a broom stick to adjust the height. The quick-adjust mechanism allows you to raise and lower the hoop from 7.5 ft. to 10 ft. This mechanism is also easier to use than the telescoping pole.
A step above the quick-adjust mechanism is the Action Grip and Power Lift mechanisms. These two mechanisms both use a squeeze handle located behind the pole. These also allow you to change the rim height within a 7.5 ft. to 10 ft. range. Where these mechanisms differ is in how the adjustment happens. The Action Grip can only adjust the rim in 6-inch increments. The Power Lift, on the other hand, can adjust the rim in infinite increments. The Action Grip adjusts the height of the rim using counter balance springs whereas the Power Lift uses a pneumatic device. Thus, the Power Lift mechanism is typically found on more expensive basketball systems.
The highest end mechanism is the Rapid-Cam mechanism. This mechanism is not as common as the other mechanisms because it is only used on Lifetime Products' Mammoth line. This mechanism is very comparable to the Power Lift, in that it uses a compression handle and can adjust the rim height 7.5 ft. to 10 ft. in infinite increments. The major difference is the Rapid-Cam is a beefier and bulkier unit. This is not to say the Power Lift is not strong; the Rapid-Cam needs to be bigger to manage the larger sized Mammoth line, which tends to have bigger pole and heavier backboard than Power Lift basketball systems.
Lifetime Products makes a series of basketball rims for the difference systems. These rims center around the general name of Slam-It. However, the lowest end rim is simply called "Classic". The Classic rim usually a static mounting mechanism that attaches to the backboard. This rim is the cheapest both in price and in quality. Static rims have a high tendency to bend and break the backboard when the system is played on aggressively.
A step above the Classic Rim is the Slam-It rim. The Slam-It rim takes a different approach to mounting to the backboard by using a dual spring compression mount. This spring mount gives the rim some cushion to help withstand aggressive play. This is still not the best available mechanism because the mount is still static against the backboard; this means the rim can still bend and break the backboard. A step above the Slam-It rim is the Slam-It Pro. The rim finally gets to the breakaway level of rim mount. Breakaway means that the mount has a static part that stays attached to the backboard and a flex part that pulls away from the mount. This protects both the rim and the backboard when the rim is handled more abusively.
The final step in the Slam-It line is the Slam-It Ultimate. The only difference between this rim and the Pro model is the Ultimate provides a beefier mount and a strong flex. This rim is typically found only on the Mammoth line.
Of the rims Lifetime Products has produced, only the classic rim, the Slam-It rim, and the Slam-It Pro rim is available for retail. You can always replace the same level of rim with the same level of rim. Upgrades in the rim quality typically require other parts not included in the upgrade's packaging. For instance, the U-bolts used to mount the Slam-It rim are not compatible with the Slam-It Pro rim. When you order a Slam-It Pro rim the proper bolts are not included in the packaging; these bolts would have been included as part of the original basketball system's packaging because they are considered part of the mounting bracket for the backboard. To upgrade a Lifetime Products rim, you will typically need to call Lifetime's customer service line to get the proper bolt package for your rim.