As you may already know from our previous posts here and on social media, we have taken the requests we have received for pneumatic street wheels, often referred to as AT wheels or all terrain wheels, very seriously. We began working on the idea a few months ago, and we are excited to announce that we have working prototypes in hand. As with every new part or design, we are testing these wheels rigorously to make sure they feel good on the street and resist failure or accelerated wear.
Before we go into how they perform, I want to provide some more information on the design of the wheels and how we came about it. Obviously there are plenty of pneumatic wheels out there, they aren’t new to electric skateboarding by any means. Probably the most common ones on the street are from the Evolve boards, followed by several other import brands including Backfire, Onsra, Meepo, and WowGo, nevermind the high end boutiques like Lacroix. All of them have clever approaches, but we wanted something different to go with our boards.
Tire availability was a big concern for us because we wanted to go with a smaller wheel in order to stay within the useful range of our fixed gear ratio on the Defiant:One. We needed a tire that was no bigger than 125mm fully inflated or the torque loss on the drives would be unfortunate. We also wanted a low profile tire with aggressive treads for channeling water on wet pavement and keeping its grip in turns while not tucking into the rim on hard carves, potentially causing catastrophic tire failure. It would also be helpful if the tire could handle running on a tube with pressure loss at low speeds to prevent the walk of shame when you pick up a nail or some other tire flattening debris.
As mentioned in our previous post here, while daydreaming about what we could do, Hoyt St decided to nudge us along by sending us a set of their 5 inch wheels to try, and they were kind enough to drill the kegel hole pattern we use on our drive system into the back of their rims. This immediately cleared the clouds from our vision and we were in love with the Hoyt tires. So we started designing the perfect rims for our board to go with those tires. The result is a very clever combination of features that will undoubtedly set these wheels apart while being compatible with a very well known and respected tire.
Aesthetically the design is reminiscent of classic and custom muscle cars, trucks, and vans often seen in the late 70’s and early 80’s and should trigger a fair amount of nostalgia in our demographic. They certainly do it for me. For performance, we put both bearing seats on the inside half of the rim, reducing the outside half to just a ring that holds the tire on. They definitely ride smoother than other wheels as a result. Since the wheels have to be swappable with other wheels compatible on our drive system, we went with the kegel hole pattern on the back. This not only makes it compatible with our boards, but also DIY builds and other boards using that same drive pin pattern. That’s good news for builders and owners of other prebuilt boards. Lastly, the bolt from the back to keep the aesthetics we were looking for, and are threaded internally so there are no nuts to lose, and use a common M4 bolt which is easily replaceable if lost. We’re continuing to use Zealous bearings with them, and the fit on the bearing seat is very precise.
We’ve been testing these wheels for a few hundred miles already and will continue to do so, but so far I’m very pleased with this rim and tire combination. They feel very stable and smooth with excellent balance so no wobble that can get amplified by the trucks making things awkward at speed, and they have a very satisfying amount of grip in turns. Not to mention they look amazing. We have found some very minor tolerance issues with the drive pin holes, but that’s an easy thing to work out and will be resolved quickly.
The size difference does mean adjustments will need to be made by customers with boards equipped with the Davega dashboards. I've found that at ~145 pounds the tire will compress enough to use a wheel diameter setting as low as 123mm instead of the unloaded diameter of ~125mm to maintain speed and trip accuracy. Your mileage may vary. Tire pressure will affect this of course, so keep it at full pressure (40 psi) for the most accuracy as well as range. The impact on battery life, meaning useful range, depends on rider weight as well. However tires are never as easy on a battery as urethane, so expect some reduction. Personally I lost maybe 3 or 4 miles of range per charge riding the way I do, which is a mix of higher speeds and lower carving speeds all in mixed urban terrain with only minor elevation changes. However, for full disclosure, I tend to ride more recklessly when on rubber vs thane, and that definitely affects range. On a board that can easily do 35 miles on thane at fun speed, that’s not bad. You’ll still be killing it at group rides for sure, and you’ll be able to do it on a wider variety of terrible pavement without it feeling sketch.
In conclusion, we look forward to moving into production with these and will keep you posted on availability. In the meantime, happy riding!