Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Kicking Off a New Blog

 So, I started a new blog, which can be found here. The new blog is mostly going to focus on cultural, historical, philosophical, and existential musing of being an "older" skater. I will certainly still keep posting more general skate stuff (product reviews, DIY stuff, etc.) here, but the more personal stuff will be over on the new blog. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

First Ride: Spitfire Classics 54mm 93a


First Ride: Spitfire Classics 54mm 93a

Powell shook things up last year with their “Dragon Wheel.” They claimed it was a softer wheel for crust, but still slid/rode like a harder wheel. Dragon wheels gained a cult following from most of the same types are ride Andy Anderson decks. I have never owned a set of Dragon wheels, and I never will.
Recently Spitfire has jumped into this mid-range softer wheel market. It’s not the first time they have done this. They made the “Soft D’s” wheels about 10 years ago, which came in 95a and 92a, if I recall correctly. They didn’t sell well, and were discontinued. Spitfire also makes the 80HD wheels, which have been around for awhile now. These are really soft, and more for SERIOUS crust, or as a filmer/cruiser wheel. Spitfire also makes a 97a in their Classic and Conical Full shapes. And, Spitfire also makes a 90a wheel in their “Sapphire” series. Suffice to say, Spitfire offers a lot (too many??) options.
I went to Texas two years ago, and knew I was going to be skating some crusty ditches. My usually 99a Classics might be a bit too hard for those situations. So, I bought a set of the 97a Classics for that trip. Those wheels were great for crust, and I started using them for rougher spots in my local area, too.
Now, these 93a wheels are out. Much internet consternation has surfaced about how the 97a and 93a compare to each other. I figured I give them a shot, considering how much I liked the 97s (in some situations). People seemed to be saying the 93a was actually better overall than the 97a. Are they?
So, my set of the 93a came yesterday. I skated them today for a while, in place where they should perform *the worst*: a smooth skatepark. Here are my thoughts:
Speed: Slower than my 99a, but not nearly as much as I expected, and this kind of shocked me. I was expecting something really sluggish, and they were not, at all. They had great speed for a 93a wheel. No real complaints here.
Sound: I hate the sound of soft wheels. They created this water-logged thud noise, and these certainly had the “soft wheel sound” to them. I was not a fan of this.
Feel: I am also not a big fan of how soft wheels feel. They are spongey, bouncy, gooey, and don’t feel as responsive as harder wheels. The 93a Spitfires also had a lot of this going on, but again, not as bad as I expected. Didn’t hate it, but def liked the feel of my 99a better.
Grip/Slide: Soft wheels grip. A lot. Everyone knows that. To that end, I was surprised by 93a Spits. They certainly had some grip, but I also didn’t have ANY problem with them doing revert tricks on the ramps. I was expecting these tricks to be really compromised by softer wheels, but they simply were not. However, they also did grip a bit more when I wanted them to. In my older years, F/S rock n rolls on ramps have become a “MEH” trick for me. I now stall them out too long, and don’t snap them around fast enough anymore. The result is that I sometimes bail them because I start sliding/slipping down the ramp when I am half-way out of them. Even when I do make them, they feel “slippy” turning back in. With the 93a Spits, my f/s rocks felt totally “locked,” and were the most confident ones I’ve done in years, because the wheels gripped a bit more.
Grinds: I didn’t notice and real stick on grinds. Feeble/smith grinds on a two-sided curb felt fine. As did 50-50s and 5-0s on ledges. No issue with side of wheel grabbing against the edges.
Nose/Tailslides: Didn’t have a problem with these. If you ride Thunder trucks (e.g. shorter baseplate), you may a different outcome.
Lipslides/Boardslides/Blunt slides on 1-sided Ledge: Did not try any of these. TBA. My gut says there will be stick problems, because of how they powerslid (see below), but my gut was also arong about a lot with these.
Powerslides on Flat: Def more grippy than my 99a, but I could make them slide, but not as good.
Overall, they performed much better than I expected them to *at a smooth skate park*, which is NOT what they are really designed for. The real test is going to be when I get them in some real crust later this week…if the rain goes away. More later.