Well, I don't know about you, but I was anxiously awaiting the Orangatang Baluts from the moment I heard what they were all about. Lighter, centerset, longer sliding, freestyle wheels... that is literally what I am all about as a skater. Freestyle and freeride are my favorite styles of riding and these wheels excel both those disciplines.
I was really really excited to ride these wheels and I actually got them a little earlier than the release date, which made me feel all kinds of cool (Thank you Loaded and Orangatang)! However, and quite unfortunately, weather and life sort of got in the way me really getting to shred these super hard. I was able to ride them every now and then but never RIDE them like they were meant to be ridden.
Once the weather and my schedule cleared up I slapped them on my board and went to freaking town on these wheels. I put my Baluts on my Apex 40, since it's kinda rad at both freestyle and freeride, and have really enjoyed them on that board. I started my Balut journey on a set of super mega old Paris 180mm trucks.
My first impression of these wheels was slightly off... When I took them out the first week or so they seemed hesitant to slide and they screeched way louder than any other wheel I have ridden in my life. Which was surprising to me for many reasons because I was told this new Urethane formula "euphorathane" is slidey as hell. The more I rode them the more and more confused I was getting...Then I realized something crucial... I wasn't just riding on really old trucks, I was riding on Really Bent Trucks.
When I finally realized how bent they actually were I switched my trucks out. I slapped on some sweet new Surf_Rodz Indeesz. Rocking some non-bent axles made the world of difference I was looking for. My wheels stopped screeching like sirens when I initiated a slide and everything became smooth.
Before I go on with my review of the wheels, lets hit the technical specs of the Baluts:
Contact Path: 35mm
The Baluts offer a centerset bearing seat, so that you can flip and rotate your wheels in any which way without any problems. They have an exposed and spoked core in order decrease the weight of the wheels and help increase acceleration time. Like all Orangatang wheels they follow the orange, purple, yellow durometer system; orange being the softest (80a), purple in the middle (83a), and yellow being the hardest (86a).
One of the things I immediately liked and have literally fallen in love with about these wheels is the acceleration! The pick up speed sooo much faster than some of my more dense wheels. Which is great for like 85% of the riding I do... lots of commuting, freeride, and freestyle. Being able to pick up speed quickly has obvious benefits for commuting and freestyle, less pushing. You get more speed and then glide farther with each push. The acceleration is super awesome for freeride because you can bust 180 slides without having to wait to regain a speed for a long time again before hitting your next slide. I mean it just becomes slides on slides on slides.
The big ol' cores have their ups and downs. I like that they make the wheels significantly lighter than other wheels at only 4.7oz per wheel. Flip tricks and manuals are always easier with lighter wheels and the difference with these wheel is substantial, I have really enjoyed freestyling on them. The downside to the cores is that they make your ride louder and rougher, so you can feel every bump on the road when rocking Baluts.
Now let us get on to what I know you really want to hear... "How do they SLIDE?"
As you may or may not know Orangatang switched up their urethane formula for these wheels. They jumped from their "Happythane" to the new "Euphorathane" formula. This formula was designed to slide faster and longer than the older formula. Let's just say that they have achieved this goal! Once I switched off my crazy bent axles my slides were not only as consistent as pudding they were freaking effortless. I was switching in and out switch standies like it was my job. Toeside, Heelside, its all the same, just awesomeness and those were just the standing 180s. Holding longer slides is a dream on these wheels. Baluts feel harder in your hand and under your feet than other wheels of a similar durometer, buuut they don't act like it. The first time I held a really long slide on these wheel I was half expecting to ice out quickly, however, that wasn't the case. As I worked up to bigger and bigger slides they stayed really controlled and I never iced out (I have the 83a purple Baluts by the way). They have actually become one my favorite sets of freeride wheels! They are just sick.
Baluts may be loud under your feet and feel a little harder than other wheels in the same durometer, but I think that Orangatang really hit home with the new Euphorathane formula. Slides Stay controlled and consistent, they are light, and accelerate like a boss. I highly recommend them!
Any questions, concerns, comments, loveletters, hatemail... Hit me up!
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