Second Chance (at a First Impression):
Doing reviews is such a humbling experience. As people we are so flawed and stupid…and cling stubbornly to preconceived notions and prejudices. I’m sure mine seep into my reviews all the time and color the way I view and describe products…though its definitely my job to try to keep that to a minimum (which I strongly try to enforce on myself) and in doing so I gain new perspectives and learn a lot about the different ways other skaters ride…not to mention how differently I ride now compared to when I started. Which is kind of where I’m going with this, do you remember your first wheels? Your first experience with sliding? Chances are, it might have very easily been on Orangutangs, and it might have been a bad one. Maybe we sucked at skating back then (let’s be honest, we did…), maybe Durians didn’t stand the test of time as longboard sliding evolved. Though that’s the great thing about Loaded and Orangutang: they easily could have coasted on their “everyone’s first board” status and did pretty well as a company…but the skaters that make up that company are much to passionate about skating to even just keep up and evolve with skaters, they were determined to innovate and experiment. Enter Keanu (stage left), one of three new freeride wheels…with a new formula and a very popular core, and things start getting really exciting.
The Tangy new Peach urethane is really what makes these wheels a unique product. I was fortunate enough to get to try both the orange (80a) and the yellow (86a) duros and both took a while to really break in, but the yellow was icy and unpredictable at first while the orange started pretty ok right out of the packaging and only got better. Once broken in, both slide smooth and controlled…though the orange has a much more defined release and a leanier steeze going on. The yellow have an abrupt and early release and a slide that leaves you a lot more on top of the board…it gets kind of icy if you go to fast, but still handles speed better than most wheels I’ve tried that are similarly techy.
Neither of these wheels really dump thane like a lot of modern wheels…so they last a while, but still feel pretty “in the pavement” for such a durable wheel. I mean, both those things are kind of opposites…so take that with a grain of salt. It’s no magic wheel with a chalky slide that lasts forever, but if you’re looking for the perfect balance between the two…Otangalang has got you covered. They really put in the hours perfecting the new Peachy urethane and it has really paid off. The wear is slow and even so I don’t see the center set thing becoming important in that respect…but it’s still nice knowing you can flip your wheels as a backup option.
I do have to be honest…as much as Keanus surprised me, some familiar things reared their ugly heads. It’s not a big deal, but as much as I tried to go in fresh these things made me immediately cringe while my head filed with bad memories. Maybe some of you can already guess…yes, I got these to chatter like mad. Though you notice that I said I got them too…for the most part I was pleasantly surprised: checks, 180s long standies, glove downs…all were met with a beautiful “SSSSHHHHHHHH” sound and smooth consistent sides. As long as four wheels were on the floor I was fine, though I did try a few blunt slides and got a huge “HOOOONNNNKKKK” from my wheels and a pretty choppy slide. Especially the yellow ones…which were otherwise great tech freeride wheels.
Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of people start leaning away from mids and put-cheating wheels and looking instead for a smooth controllable wheel that lasts a bit longer. I’m pleasantly surprised to realize that they might have been hiding right under our noses as a cool new product from an already well known brand. Keanus are a great wheel and Orang-Otang is making it pretty clear that aren’t ready to live off the name any time soon, so keep your eyes peeled. For more info or just to check out some pretty hilarious product videos check out the Loaded and Orangatang websites.