Sunday, November 9, 2014

Labeda "Cutie Wheels" review

A while back, I was given some wheels by the Labeda rep to try out and blog about. When I got the
See? They look like candy.
wheels in the mail, I was like "are these real wheels?" They just looked and felt very different to the wheels I've been using in the past, which are mostly Atom and Radar wheels. I mean, they didn't have grooves on them, which I know isn't necessary for grip, but they still just felt strange. Plus, they were incredibly soft, and I generally like to skate on 98s to 100s, even on concrete, so I definitely put off trying them out. I kept meaning to try them, but life gets busy, I get in a rut with my know the drill.

Last month, our B team, the Bootleggers, were skating against Greensboro, and I knew that floor was incredibly slick; it's even slicker than the River City floor, for those of you who are familiar. The concrete is polished to a mirror shine, as you can see in the photos below, and when I wore my Atom Poisons on it, I had issues with plows and hockey stops and just plain "surprise slide outs" when I least expected it, so I knew these wheels, with being as soft as they were, could maybe help one of the Bootleggers out. I lent two sets of the wheels to The Ish, on the promise that she would write a small review for me.  Please read her review below.

Photo by Kathryn Walbert
I was a little nervous at first because of how they felt rubbery and were squishy.  The softer white wheels were surprisingly grippy on the slick concrete floor. I liked how I could hug the turns and crossover without sliding out. Hockey stops and plows were difficult to preform due to the softness of the wheels. During the first half of the bout the floor was clean and I was able crossover and juke relatively well. 

By the second half of the bout, the floor had become dirty. Stops became more difficult to complete. Overall the wheels performed well for slick surfaces. If given another opportunity I would have tried the medium yellow wheels. They were more firm and I feel like I wouldn't have to exert as much energy to maintain my speed as a jammer. 

Photo by A Boy Named Tsunami
Previous to trying the Labeda Cuties, I typically skated on Atom Poisons for polished concrete. I feel that the Labeda Cuties performed much better on the polished concrete and will absolutely continue to use them in the future.

The Ish #88

I'm glad they worked for her on that nightmare floor, and I want to stress that Greensboro is an awesome league and they're doing what they can with the floor they have. I may take the white wheels for a spin the next time I skate outdoors, but I think they're just too soft for me to skate derby on, even on a super slick floor. I still have my Poisons for emergency situations, but I hate soft wheels in general. Wouldn't it be great, one day, to not have to deal with such a variation of floor types in derby? I know my favorite floor to skate on is a slightly neglected wooden rink floor, but I know it's always going to be different strokes for different folks. Still, I dream of a day when I don't have to haul six sets of wheels with me for away games.