It looks like there is a lot more to moulded urethane when it comes to skateboard wheel design. The chemical compound defines the wheel’s strength, durability, performance at high temperatures and on various surfaces, then there’s the design with width, radials, pretty graphics… You get the picture. After dual durometers and cores, the next logical step seems to make your wheel by incorporation air pockets. The result is the Cliché Air-Core wheel of which I got to test the 51mm variety.
I had heard through the grapevine that the Air-Cores really were the next best thing for skateboarders this side of carbon composites and precision bearings. Naturally I had to try a set and I jumped with joy as the four pristine urethane tires arrived at my door. I slipped them onto my axles and took them for a spin. Straight away you can feel how light the vacuumed cored wheels are, approximated the equivalent of riding with three wheels instead of four, so your pop snaps a little harder and faster. The session was on until I scooped up my deck and spotted a short slice through one of my rear wheel’s riding surface. Not stoked.
The disappointment didn’t stop there as I noticed that after a day of skating a concrete park (for those expecting scientific detail), the surface ridges had completely worn away. By surface ridges I mean the tread found on the riding surface of the wheels. Obviously the Cliché Air-Cores were soft. So soft in fact, that after a couple more days (no more than three) I had a heinous flatspot on one of my front wheels. Double not stoked.
I’ve been riding these 51mm Air-Cores for a couple of weeks now on wooden, concrete, brick and mortar surfaces and you can probably hear me coming like a Huey Helicopter with the flatspots I’ve scored. The worst part about riding with these flatspots is that I don’t ever remember powersliding to a halt, screeching to a stop due to something blocking my forward motion or failing to rotate fully of any moves. The only thing I can hope for now is that the flatspots will ride themselves out as the wheels wear down. Making wheel lighter with air pockets isn’t a bad idea at all, but using materials with as much durability as PVC plastic might not be the best technological innovation.