As we collectively began to dabble in new directions in sliding, we found ourselves in want of a new and unique wheel. Our existing lineup of freeride wheels (the Durian, Stimulus, and Fat Free) maintained a conservative balance of traction and driftability that is intended for downhill freeriding. The current emphasis is on the ability to grip and hold a line through corners at speed. The slide aspect of these wheels is focused on shaving off speed (in a pragmatic fashion) as well as to begin exploring progressive freeriding.
The Balut is the result of our desire to investigate the other end of the grip-slip spectrum: a freestyle slide wheel that allows for longer drifts and quicker, more numerous rotations with minimal speed loss. This is a first step in a new direction for us, and we’re excited to see where it takes us.
Baluts will be available worldwide on Thursday, February 2nd at $54 per set (MSRP).
Diameter: 72.5 mm
Contact patch: 35 mm
Width: 44 mm
Durometers: 80a, 83a, 86a
Weight: 4.7 oz (per wheel)
Bearing seat: centerset
The Baluts are centerset and symmetrical, allowing for maximum flexibility when rotating and flipping to promote even wear on all four wheels. By using a larger spoked core and removing significant amounts of urethane between the bearing seat and outer edge of the core, we were able to reduce the overall wheel weight for increased agility in slides and freestyle tricks alike.
The core used in the Balut is relatively wide in comparison to the wheel. Combined with a stiff and rounded lip profile, the core provides plenty of rigid support for the contact patch and facilitates smooth slides with a predictable release and hookup.
In the development process, we quickly realized that the early protos of this shape lent themselves to unreasonably long standup slides and thus demanded a urethane that could withstand the inevitable abuse and was appropriate for this specific (narrow) shape. The shape was dialed almost a year ago, but we’ve been holding off on the release to find this magic thane. And thus the Euphorethane formula was created, offering exceptional durability and flatspot resistance while still retaining a smooth, predictable drift and reliable (albeit nominal) speed control.
Good rotation habits can help even out wear patterns and dramatically extend the life of your wheels. Be aware, though, that wheel rotation can get a little confusing, especially since wear patterns often differ from rider to rider.
The simplest suggestion to remember is to swap your most worn wheel with your least worn wheel, swap the other two wheels, and flip when appropriate.
Beyond that basic principle, here are a few suggestions and info tidbits that we’ve found helpful in our sideways smile sessions:
Uphill wheels (on your heelside rail for heelside/frontside slides and on your toeside rail for toeside/backside slides) tend to cone (faster wear on the inside lip), while downhill wheels tend to reverse cone (faster wear on the outside lip).
On a board with a centered stance (snowboard style) most of the rider’s weight is typically over the front truck, so expect the front wheels to wear faster than the rear wheels. On a board with a rear stance (e.g. ridden with the back foot mostly on the kicktail) there is usually much more weight applied to the back truck, so the rear wheels tend to wear faster than the front wheels.
On a directional setup (ridden mostly in one orientation) we generally recommend rotating your wheels diagonally (front left with rear right, front right with rear left). On a symmetrical setup (ridden equally in both orientations) we generally rotate wheels on the same hanger (front left with front right, rear left with rear right).
A symmetrical centerset shape also allows you to flip each wheel to counteract coning. Whenever you rotate your wheels, check to see if any of your wheels are starting to cone and flip them as needed. Be sure to consider the wheels’ new positions on the board and your personal riding habits (if you do more heelside slides than toesides, you may expect your heelside wheels to cone and your toeside wheels to reverse cone).