Review: 80a Stimulus wheels by Orangatang

Ladies and gentlemen, with the New Year upon us Skate The East is also trying to ramp it up for 2012. I know I’ve said thank you many times before, so I’ll refrain from rehashing too much of what I’ve said so many times, but your support really does mean so much, so thank you. 2012 is going to be a big year, and as we race towards our first birthday we’re going to continue to produce quality content and expand our offerings even further. You might have noticed some increased activity on our YouTube account lately, I’m learning a lot about filming and editing and promise you’ll see some very very cool videos soon! We’ve also been promising more reviews and wait no longer, I’ve got a whole slate of them lined up for 2012 so you can expect new reviews pretty frequently! Enough talk about Skate The East, though,  let’s jump right into it…

Rider stats & setup: 5’11 190lbs; TR Custom Blitz w/ 176mm Surf-Rodz 45* RKPs & 10mm Surf-Rodz bearings

The Orange Orangatang 80a Stimulus wheel is a 70mm offset wheel with a 42mm contact patch. Like its big brother, the Durians, the offset core creates a nice rounded lip that gives the wheel a little more grip through corners than you find with most centerset freeride wheels. Since they’re one of Orangatang’s freeride wheels they’re stone ground when you get them, making them easier to slide out of the box and break in without having to wear the mold-release off. These are the softest urethane wheel that Orangatang offers and are advertised as “buttery and cushy.”

I can’t lie, I really didn’t know what to expect when I first got these wheels. Owning a set of the 86a Durians that never seemed to play nice with our East Coast pavement I had my doubts about the 80a thane starting out. With much of the negative feedback surrounding the wheels having to do with bullsh*t skater politics and less to do with how the wheels actually ride, I had to get a set and see for myself to see if the haters had solid ground to stand on, or if it was all hot air. I’ll start it off by putting it this way: all the negative things I said about the 86a Durians I reviewed a while back, get rid of all of those, add an absolutely buttery slide and you’ll begin to get an idea of what the 80a Stimulus wheel is like.

The wheel itself is soft enough to provide ample grip when needed, even at speed, but are still easy to break into slides and hookup with the road very easily. The offset core creates a nice, rounded lip that will last until the wheel is far through its life cycle and already close to coring, it’s this lip that allows the Stimulus to have an unreal amount of grip for your average freeride wheel, but still break out into buttery smooth slides unlike it’s square-lip cousin, the 4President (which we’ll have a review on in the coming weeks).

The 80a “Happy ‘Thane” that Orangatang developed is the other major component making this wheel so nice. While it’s soft enough to leave nice orange ‘thane lines and provide the grip you’re looking for through corners, it’s hard enough to still resist flatspotting and coning too fast. They are stone ground before getting to you, meaning they don’t have the nasty mold release you find in other wheels and greatly reduces the break-in time of the wheel. I’ve been steadily riding my Stims on my light downhill/freeride setup for the last month without any flatspotting and only a mild amount of coning, which I’ve been able to manage through rotating wheels. While at slower speeds they’re a little harder to break into slides, at speed they’re responsive and easy to go from grip to slide when you want to. They do not ice out, and provide a very buttery slide that will shave speed but still allow you to retain enough momentum to continue your run at full intensity. The soft thane also makes the wheels a pleasure to push, they’re super smooth on pavement and, thanks to their 70mm size, are able to roll over most obstacles that lie in your path and accelerate quickly.

While I’m a huge fan of these wheels overall, they have been somewhat disappointing in the cold. While we’ve been fortunate to have a rather warm winter here in the Northeast, these wheels seem to under perform when they’re cold, loosing their buttery slide and becoming much more unpredictable and even chattery. It’s been warm enough that after a few runs the wheels start acting a bit more normal, but will have to give them a try in the much colder weather we’re due to have soon. I’m most curious to see if below freezing temperatures and super cold asphalt will allow them to warm up enough, or if they’ll stay cold through an entire session — a real concern for the long winters we usually have. I’ll be post an update when I get a chance to give them a try in some much colder conditions, but it’s something that has really stood out on colder days so far.

Bottom line? I really am truly in love with these wheels. The slide is buttery smooth, predictable and hooks up with the road with ease, allowing you to shed enough speed through corners and still maintain enough momentum to finish the next slide or trick. I know I mentioned it before in brief, but the orange ‘thane lines the wheels leave, especially in warmer conditions, are absolutely steezy as well. If you’re looking for an all around wheel, this might be the perfect one. Enough grip to still go nice and fast down technical runs, a smooth and predictable slide, and soft enough urethane to feel great while riding, they are extremely versatile and will definitely remain my freeride wheel of choice for the immediate future.

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