So 125’s are here to stay. Well, yeah, that was fairly obvious last year when in some major races (Berlin, Northshore among others) ALL podium places were taken by skaters on 125’s. 125 mania also hit further down the ranks as many skaters pulled on “the big boys” and skated to personal records. Since then, it’s been quiet in the inline world as winter came and inline snoozed. But as soon as FIRS announced in January that “125’s are legal for marathons”, behind the scenes wheel companies were scrambling to get designing, testing, and production going, in an attempt to catch up. It’s made for an interesting off-season of rumours and whispers about what is coming and who’s wheels are ready and when. So in an effort to clarify the situation, we’ve compiled a summary of all the information we could lay our hands on, in one article here for you.
MPC is the power house behind so many good wheels, with co-operations between them and Bont, X-Tech, Atom and others in the past. They've been against the idea of 125 wheels for a long time, but with the legalisation of 125's in marathons they are not wasting time in producing their own 125, which we eagerly await…
Big Black Magic is still under testing by their pro test team, and it's gonna be ready in April, with their standard 87% rebound material (which is pretty high) so it will be a comfortable ride and good roll. I'm excited to get my hands on this one and test it.
TLTF Mfg (www.facebook.com/TLTFMFG )
Originally against the idea of 125’s, but now jumping in with both feet, the TLTF’s 125 range will offer three types of 125 at different price ranges: P1, P2, P3. The picture here is a “P2” wheel (referring to the number of urethane layers poured), otherwise know as “dual-pour”. (not to be confused with MPC's M-tech invention). This dual pour is a technology that TLFT are very proud of and have used with great success in their 110’s. P1- is simply a single pour urethane wheel, that will be offered at a great price. Pictured is the P2 wheel which uses their Game Changer Dual Pour Technology. This means that the wheel is poured twice with two lanes of urethane. "The Dual Pour process allows us to give the skaters a much smoother ride, offers more control and also allows for more absorption of the roads vibrations" said a spokesman from TLTF Mfg to Sk8skoolONline.
He continued; "The P2 is special because it test's a new theory of Flex/Compression that takes place in a typical wheel."
The P3 is the first of its kind being that its Triple Poured. This will be their flagship racing wheel and will bring an entire new level of performance. Like the P2, the P3 will offer enhanced performance characteristics. The profile of the wheel is called “true racing shape”, and as far as I can gather, it’s the profile that most companies use on their 110’s. (As opposed to the Matter 125 which uses a slightly different profile than 110s) (Sk8skool's next article will go in to more detail about the profiles of wheles, structure and performance - watch this space.)
This is an exciting prospect, TLTF are not the biggest player in the market, but they often produce great products, fast and grippy. The new triple pour has big potential, but they need to get it right, and IMO. they need to be aware to keep the weight down and the core stiff. (including the extended-core effect with all that extra urethane). Personally I think that using the 110 core might be a "step too far" in terms of engineering it right. But if they CAN do this, they might just be on to a good wheel. Let's see....
Mota are the new kids on the block, but then again not really. Doug and Julie Glass (btw, both multiple World Champions) were the pioneers behind Atom wheels, but have gone their own way and formed Mota skates (MOTA is ATOM spelt backwards!), and will have their new TKO125 full race wheel ready in May. They'll also have an economical banded hybrid wheel available in 125mm in April - costing just $16/wheel $96 a set! "We're very excited about our high performing banded 125 for this price as the high cost of wheels have been hurting the sport in the US (and probably worldwide)" said Julie. (Btw. they'll also have hybrids that are banded in 100 and 110.)
Bont have been fairly quiet in the wheel market recently, but I have to say this new core looks awesome. Maybe they will blast back on to the scene with a frighteningly fast new wheel. The core is aluminium, I’m assuming this is because an aluminium core is relatively quick to get from design to production phase, compared to a plastic core... a metal core means they can get in to the market sooner. But it could also be because the bigger wheels require a stiffer core, to withstand the greater forces at play. I certainly agree with that. However, will it be heavy? Will it feel ‘dead’, and lack rebound because of the metal core. … there’s a very good reason that aluminium cores aren’t used in the most successful 110 wheels… And will it be expensive with that beautifully machined aluminimum core?
However, a 125 wheel is obviously bigger, and the forces that go through the contact point are further from the centre of the core, this means greater leverage on the core are much bigger forces than on a 110, especially when leaning over in a corner, or at the end of a power stroke. So maybe Bont has spotted a need for a very stiff core and that’s why they’ve produced an aluminium core. And with MPC urethane on it... This could be epic.
I spoke to Alex Bont recently and he said the wheel is available now, but all their first production run are sold out to "pre-order customers" or are assigned to their pro-test-team. Their next production run will be avaliable in April.
Atom Skates (www.atomwheels.com)
After a successful collaboration with MPC last year to make the "Boom Magic" wheel (a combination of Atom Boom and Black Magic wheels) Atom will again collaborate with MPC as well as "another source" (very 'James-Bond-like') for 125mm wheels in 2016. "We are testing within the next several months to be ready for summer." said Gypsy (former world speed champion) from Atom wheels.
My personal opinion, is that it sounds a little like they are a few months behind in their development of 125's. With the exit of Julie and Doug Glass (pure speedskaters at heart) it seems the company may be focussing more on other roller sports areas. Atom is now owned by Kim Bauer (of ‘Bauer Ice Hockey’ fame), so the company may be lacking a speedskating driven leader. Let's hope Atom can surprise us and get a good 125 wheel out there soon. They do have Gypsy Lucas heading up their speed division and she was a class speedskater herself 'back in the day'. It would be good for the sport to have 5 competitive high quality wheels out there. More choice for the skaters will hopefully mean lower prices and higher quality, for us.
Matter Wheels (www.matter-wheels.com)
And last but not least we have Matter wheels. The original One20Five wheel was a big gamble, an expensive investment gamble. What many people don’t realise is that it costs around $40,000 - $100,000 to create a new wheel (depending on how you do it). And it was very possible that right now Matter could have been sitting with a warehouse full of wheels nobody wanted, had 125 not taken off. No other wheel company believed in it, and certainly nobody would put their money in to it. Matter did. They produced a wheel that was faster than 110’s, although not a high quality wheel by their own high standards (G13, Code White) it was good enough to be faster than 110’s and prove the 125 concept. The wheel was prone to breaking in the beginning (2013), but gradually they developed it and it’s now a reasonable wheel, but not perfect. The profile is slightly different from their G13 wheels, and the ‘power band’ inside is slightly taller, extending closer to the wheels outer surface. Imagine if they make a Matter 2.0 wheel, that would be EVEN faster! Exciting.
Picture right: Watch out for our next article on our blog next month where we disect, measure and abuse the wheels with physics and maths. We'll tell you exactly why 125's are faster, and what all the variables are. (including camber steer, momentum, inertia, rotational acceleration vs frontal area resistance of a skater)
With the advent of all these new wheels from other manufacturers flooding the market, one of the big questions is; What will Matter do? Well.... Matter have been testing. "Every time we tested a 110 wheel, we also tested the same tech in a 125 wheel." said PS. If these wheels are of the same high quality as G13 and Code White (and I have no reason to think otherwise) then we are going to have a big battle between Matter, MPC, TLTF, Mota, Bont and Atom all summer long. This can only be good for the skaters. Us! :D
So here’s my personal opinion, a brief summary, in order of date of availability:
*Dates are manufacturers predictions
Now we have to wait and see if which manufacturers can produce a high quality wheel to the dates they have stated. The odds would seem to predict that some will not be ready, others, maybe.
One final thought… What happens when it rains? Do we all have to switch skates, or change our frames back to 4x110’s and put Atom Boom or Storm Surge on? Or do you try and skate 3x110 on your 125 frames? (not advisable) OR is one of the wheel companies already planning to corner the market with the first 125 rain wheel? Still so many unanswered questions… it’s going to be interesting. :) Your comments are welcome below...