A Loaded February: New Loaded and Orangatang Products

With their two huge product releases around the holidays last year we expected things to be quiet at Loaded until just before the 2013 season kicked into full gear, if at all this year.cooking_morongas Instead, the guys in sunny southern California decided to hit us with another 1-2 product release punch by first dropping the new Orangatang freeride wheel, named the Moronga, and following it up last week with the announcement of their new Advanced Freeride Glove.

Last winter Orangatang made waves by announcing their first centerset freeride wheel, the Balut. With their big, centerset, and exposed spoked core, new urethane formula, and unique size, the Baluts were extremely different from Orangatang’s established line-up and quickly became a favorite freeride wheel for many. As riders began using the Baluts for much faster speeds and bigger slides than originally imagined, Otang started taking note of what was and wasn’t working and went right back to the kitchen to cook something new up. The result is their new freeride wheel, dubbed the Moronga. The Morongas are using the same urethane introduced with the Baluts, known as Euphorethane, and feature a completely symmetrical shape and centerset bearing seat, meaning you can flip them any which way to ensure an even wear. They feature a narrow 35mm contact patch and the same 72.5mm height found on the Balut, making them very easy to break into a slide and predictable the entire way through. morongas_on_chubbyThey are built on the same core as the Balut, making them lightweight while ensuring a long and even wear, but addressed the issue of cores popping out of the wheels by pouring urethane all the way around the core (see update below). This also allowed for what may be the biggest change with the Morongas: the new lip profile. Much sharper and more defined than the Balut lip, Orangatang took extra care to ensure that the lip profile is maintained through the life of the entire wheel. This is accomplished in the way that the lip blends back down and into the bearing seat and is something we’ll explain more in depth in our upcoming first look and review. I’m excited to get to know them a little more and report back on what we think in the near future. You can find them at shops all over for around $55.

UPDATE: I actually got a chance to clarify this point with Kyle Chin over at Loaded. The reality is, while there has been lots of talk about cores popping out on the Baluts, there have only actually been a few recorded cases. As it goes, the internet tends to make things a bit more extreme. The real reason for the redesign was to create for the new lip profile and size when approaching a DH/freeride wheel.

me_MtTom_morongas

With the both Chubby Unicorn and Moronga releases it’s clear that Loaded is focused on upping their freeride game, something they reaffirmed yet again with their announcement of the Advanced Freeride Gloves. Gloves are a piece of gear that rarely get much love, but can make a difference in how comfortable you are on the hill and how confident you feel when putting a hand down. Loaded currently makes two glove options, the Freeride Glove and their Race Glove. The Freeride Glove is my personal favorite glove for any discipline of skating. I’ve rocked the last two versions of them and haven’t been able to find another glove that can match the breathability and support. Their main issue, however, is due to the fact that they’re almost all cloth. Because of this they’re susceptible to much more wear and tear from accidentally putting fingers down, crashes, and grip tape than leather alternatives. The Race Glove is a much beefier alternative that features a leather construction and carbon fibre knuckle protection. They look nice and provide the protection you want when going fast in an unpredictable downhill environment, but don’t breath very well for the casual rider on the hill for extended periods of time. loaded_AFG_pictureEnter the Advanced Freeride Gloves (AFGs). Designed as a middle-ground between the two gloves, the AFGs are made of premium leather and feature a Coolmax Fabric lining which wicks sweat away from your skin to keep your hands drier and cooler than they would be otherwise. They also have a fair-sized mesh patch on the back of the hand to allow for added ventilation. They’ve also got some additional padding not found in the Freeride Gloves, especially over the knuckles, for those unpredictable moments that you find yourself pulling a Superman through the air with no clear idea of how you’ll be landing. To top it all off these gloves actually look really sharp (and we all know style points increase your skating ability more than anything else, so make sure your swagger is right). They’re retailing for $68.00 and will be available through retailers on Tuesday, February 26th.

Dane Webber, photo credit to Loaded.

Review: Orangatang 80a Balut Freeride Wheel

This is a particularly exciting review for me, not only because of how friggin’ excited I’ve been to talk about the 80a Baluts I’ve been freeriding since the end of January, but because it’s also our first stab at a video review! When it comes to discussion about wheels right now the conversations seem to be talking about one of two things: the bad batch of ‘thane and the aftermath that Abec-11 has been dealing with for months, and the new freeride wheel from Orangatang: the Balut. Original Skateboards rider Billy Wilson and I got together yesterday to talk a little bit about what we think of the 80a Balut so far, check it out below and read on after the video for some additional info.

Setups:
Mike: Original Apex 40 w/ 10mm Surf-Rodz INDeeSZ (also the test setup for below)
Billy: Original Apex 40 w/ Caliber 50 Cals

So, even after you’ve watched the video you have some questions? Didn’t have time to watch the video? I’ll do a short written review, too — just to cover all our bases.

These wheels are different. Don’t throw these on your board and expect them to ride like the Stims, Durians, 4Prez, or InHeats — they just won’t. On this project Orangatang set out to reinvent the wheel as they knew it (bad pun, I know) and scrapped almost everything we’ve seen released from them thus far. Instead of building a new variation of one of their already successful wheels, the Balut is drastically different. Let’s start in the middle, shall we?

The biggest change you’ll notice right away is the big exposed blue core that Orangatang is using for the Balut. The bigger core means that you’ll have a more consistent wear pattern right down to the last bit of ‘thane. It will also help keep your slides feeling super consistent. (If you remember my reviews on the 80a Stims and 86a Durians you’ll remember me talking about how much the slide changed once I started really getting them small, something that I have yet to experience with the Baluts.) Orangatang didn’t just stop there, however. They also decided to change the placement of the core within the wheel. Unlike any of their other wheels, which are all offset (not side-set like I said in the video, that was my goof), the Baluts feature a center-set core. This means you can flip the wheels when you notice you’re getting some coning and don’t have to worry about them riding any different, it also drastically changes the way they ride. And for the record, these are not the same cores used in 4prez/Inheats.

Instead of the “grip/slip” control that the Stims and Durians brag about with due to their fat, rounded lips, the center-set Baluts offer a very different ride. The first thing you notice when you get on the Baluts is just how easy they are to break out into a slide. You really don’t have to put a whole lot of “umph” into them to get them to break out. That being said, I have yet to really experience a situation where I’ve been ultra worried about them icing out from under me. While I haven’t been skating any technical downhill with them (…that’d just be silly) that would require me to take sharp turns at speed, hard carves and corners feel like you have just enough grip to keep you from going over the edge. A big part of that might be the new ‘thane they’re using and the fact that these are the softest Orangatang is offering, the 80a.

The new ‘thane, dubbed “Euphorathane,” is probably where I got most concerned when I first heard about these wheels. Why? Because I’m quite in love with 80a Happy Thane after I got intimate with it for the review I did a little while back. Fear not, though, because the new ‘thane really rocks. It’s tough to really tell just how different the Euphorathane is compared to the Happy Thane wheels because we haven’t seen a Euphorathane Stimulus yet and the Baluts are SO different overall that it’s like comparing apples and oranges at this point. How does it skate? Super smooth, as I said before the wheels break out exactly when you want and offer what I think is one of the most buttery slides I’ve ever experienced. Unlike what we’ve been hearing about the 83a Baluts (I have yet to ride them myself), the 80a duro is soft enough to actually shed some speed and leave some ‘thane on the pavement, but not to the point where you loose too much momentum. I’ve noticed the new ‘thane to be a little more durable too. Coning has been more than manageable and I haven’t had any significant problems with flatspots (so far…), although I know Billy has had a little trouble with them. I’ve actually had less issues with preventing/getting rid of flatspots and coning with the 80a Euphorathane than I did riding the 83a Stimulus wheels.

I’ve really enjoyed these things so far and have had a much easier time learning some new tricks because of how easy they are to break out and how consistent and predictable they are. The 80a ‘thane is soft enough to kill some speed when you want it, grip enough when you need it, and still leave some ‘thane lines while actually being pretty friggin durable. Orangatang addressed a lot of the qualms people had with the Stims and, in my opinion, hit the nail on the head with the changes.

As always don’t forget to Like our Facebook Page where we post pictures and videos (like our recent raw run) that don’t make it to the site! If you’re interested in the “I Rep the East” or “Skate The East.net” vinyl stickers you saw in the video review pop over to store.skatetheeast.net and cop a few so we can keep bringing you ill content!

Happy Balut Day!

Many of you have been drooling over pictures and asking questions about Orangatang’s newest wheel line, the Balut, since they first announced them and again when we posted our first few pictures of them. Well folks, drool no more because as of today you’ll be able to finally get your hands on a set of these magical new wheels from Californ-i-a. Many good things are being said about these wheels, and not just from me, either. Norman Plante, Ben DeSnyder, Mike Girard, Paul Kent, Jonathan Douglass, and many, many more have all said unreal things about these new wheel, once you ride a set for a few sessions you’ll quickly understand why.

So, since Norm and Ben decided to release a little East Coast warm winter video celebrating the release of these puppies we felt we had to pass it along. Enjoy.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win one of our unreleased stickers!