Choosing Wheels

img_20171125_104251.jpgOver the last year, we have used 11 different wheels, including various models from: Orangatang, Hawg, Walzen, Metro, Atom, Abec & Blood Orange, and thought it worth documenting our experiences and preferences.

First off, it is important to note, that all this is in the limited context of our cafe-cruising, street pumping and carving, limited trick ability and tentative deck foot-work (calling it “dancing” is a bit much). We don’t live with streets or paths where we can downhill safely or (yet) have the ability to do big dancing and tricks.

 

Info-graphic from w82.com

For what we do, I suspect just about any wheel would work, but our choice usually comes down to the following four characteristics:

  1. Larger diameter (70mm+) – to smooth out the local rough roads and pavements. We don’t push our boarding that much to notice any subtle acceleration difference from using smaller wheels (smaller wheels accelerate faster than a larger one), but do notice immediately when smaller wheels rebound against old rough pavements.
  2. Colour – hey, aesthetics are important to us; when cafe-cruising, it is important to have a cool board with colours that work together.
  3. Lip edge & contact width – either:
    • a square/sharp lip with a larger contact width, like the Hawg Mini Monsters and big Orangatang Kegels, for max grip in the turn when cruising; or,
    • a rounded lip with a smaller contact width, like the Blood Orange Liam Morgans and Metro Red Motions, for the boards we like to throw around and do basic tricks on.
  4. Built-in Lights – my 8-year-old son will only use wheels on his board with built-in lights 🙂

I initially thought that the durometer rating would be a big factor for us, but have ended up happily using wheels from 78a to 84a with no issues.

None of the wheels we have used have given us any problems and I would happily buy any of them again.

Kegel
big 80mm pavement-crushing 80a Orangatang Kegels

 

 

 

King Louis ready for fancy footwork

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Our dancer (well a board to do some fancy footwork on) named King Louis, a custom-made from the ever excellent Hecs Deck, is now up and running with the addition of the Blood Orange 70cm Liam Morgan 82a wheels – new wheels to us, so interesting to see how they perform.

Wheelbase: 59cm
Length: 100cm (39”)

Beautiful top and bottom veneer, a blue-tinted fish-scale patterned wood.

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Playing with a Boosted

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Every cloud has a silver lining (sorry Graham)… I have an estimated guest in the stable, a dual-motor Boosted. My friend, Graham, has unfortunately broken his leg and can’t board for a while, so has lent me his prized Boosted electric longboard… now known (unfairly) as “leg-breaker“; note: it could have been any board that caused his tumble, it was not down to anything particular with the Boosted.

First impression (compared to the Yuneec we have and a borrowed Evolution) is of a nicely balanced (flex-stiffness) board, great wheels (the big 8cm Kegels) and a smooth controller; however, the controller catches me out with its deadman’s trigger. If the trigger is released, which is easy to do, the board slows down to a halt; not really an issue, just something to get used to.

Will step it up from baby mode this weekend, if the weather is good.

King Louis Arrives

image1The new custom deck from Hecs Decks arrived (as ever, thank you Hector), with its very unusual and beautiful fish-scale wood pattern. I have called it King Louis.

Not sorted some trucks and wheels for it, but will probably go with some 70cm+ cruising wheels in dark blue, as the top and bottom wood has a slight blue tint to it, something like the Liam Morgan Blood Oranges may work well with it.

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As usual, the issue with really nice wood on the top of the deck is to grip it or not. Since trying clear grip-tape on the Hecs Fish, and hating it, I am left with spray-grip if I want to show off the wood pattern or some intricate cut-out grip-pattern; however, I don’t think a grip pattern aesthetically would work with the King Louis.

Re-gripped the Hec’s Fish

After ripping the (hated) clear grip-tape off the Hec’s Fish, I got up early with an idea and found our Christmas cookie-cutters, including a star-shaped one. I am actually pleased with how it all turned out, given it was an early morning JFDI – plenty of practical grip and it still shows off the wood and my tree design.

The cookie-cutter was not sharp enough to go through cleanly the grip-tape, but it was easy enough to make an indent and then cut the shapes out. The tricky bit is then measuring out lines and putting the shapes in a regular pattern.

 

Grip taped the Zenit

Finally got some real black grip-tape to use on the Zenit and, importantly, mirror the carbon-fibre underside. I say “real black” because most of the grip-tape I have found to date has actually been various shades of grey; which is annoying when it is universally sold as “black”.

 

Finally fond real black sold by the ever-excellent and helpful Skate Deluxe (Monster Grip Tape Heavy). It is heavy grip which a little too rough for my liking, but as ever is if form over function. Also being heavy grip it is more difficult to cut and trim, but the end result is not bad and confirms the single mirrored top and bottom design works well.

I will stay on the lookout for ‘real black’ lighter or medium grip-tape, but for now, it works.

Trucks on the Fish

 

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Put on some new slightly shorter 9″ Gullwing trucks on the Hecs Fish, alongside my favourite cruising wheels, Hawg Mini Monsters, and Oust Moc7 bearings. Shorter, for purely aesthetic reasons, given the deck is slightly narrower. The 50º Gullwings are well made and feel very similar to my usual Paris V2s.

The standard Gullwing bushings (90a) were too soft for my liking, so am trying out some Mindless 94a barrels (the blue ones) matched with some Bones Medium 91a hardcore cones (white/yellow).

 

 

Wood Burning Pattern

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So I decided to try my hand at wood burning patterns, using an electric wood burner/engraver and am really pleased with how it, the tree, turned out – the “HD” was already there, I added the tree,
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I used a basic stencil for the outline of the tree, matching the starting trunk width with the HD logo, and one of the leaf-shaped wood burner bits to do the leafs.
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The deck was then covered with clear grip-tape; which, although sold as ‘clear’ is really just opaque and lessens the impact of the burnt wood design. Less than ideal, but the small board needs grip, especially when it is wet out. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made for practicality.
UPDATE 29/10/17: I hated the clear grip so much, I have taken it back off. It showed up foot dirt, and gave very little benefit in terms of showing the wood and pattern, that it seemed pointless. The board needs grip, so will think of a creative way to use black grip, without hiding completely the design.
Not particularly hard, but worth taking the time over as there is no erasing option.
The underside before being varnish sprayed.
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