Gunslinger is a really cool brand out of South Africa. Their wheels are already a standard in the European market, and are ready to expand. In fact, the beauties I got to shred are some of the first to hit American soil…so expect to see a lot more of them soon.
The imagery here just seems so cool to me. With the spoked orange core, the glossy green finish, and the big rounded lips, these wheels really do kind of resemble toy grenades. It’s actually pretty clever using the entire wheel to develop a certain look, while leaving the graphic itself simple and clean. Of course, it would all be for nothing of the wheels suck…but the wheels feel solid, the core makes them pretty light, and the stone ground finish feels a little powdery (which I’ve found is usually a really good sign). All in all, I have some pretty high hopes for these wheels.
As it turns out, riding grenades is in fact a very unique experience. They feel like compressed mids…imagine loose granules of thane that have been over-compacted into a surprisingly dense ring around a very supportive core. The slide is smooth and consistent, feeling sugary and just barely in the pavement. The release and hook-up is well defined, but it’s overall a fun techy wheel for the amount of control you have. Though what really impressed me was the roll speed…these things can pick up and hold speed extremely well considering their pleasant powdery feel when sideways. Basically, if you want to get technical with your freeride, and aren’t afraid of doing it fast, these are going to be the wheels to help you shed that “putt-putt” stigma. The 83a is an especially fun choice for more advanced riders.
I’d say it has a medium-long life for a wheel…especially for the sugary feel of it. Definitely the kind of wheel that leaves visible thane lines, just not exactly thick piles of it. It wears the same way it slides: like a really dense mid. Thane comes off easily, but only in thin layers…most likely due to (or more likely, the reason for) that “just barely in the pavement” feel it has. Plus, added bonus: the Thane lines really do come out a faint green color. Not that it’s the only wheel that leaves the same color lines as the wheel itself…but enough of them just come out white that I though it was worth mentioning.
One thing I found with these wheels is that on they can change slide characteristics depending on the surface you’re on. This can be a good thing, because where other wheels might grip up more and slide less consistently, grenades slide just as well…only they feel a little more buttery and “above the pavement”. So on grippier roads, expect the release to be slightly more abrupt (as opposed to the late release most wheels will have) and the slide to be slightly less controlled (instead of the choppy slide you’ll be used to on those roads). Over all, it’s more just something to get used to than a real criticism…but when you’re familiar with a spot and automatically over-lean a bit to compensate for the grippier terrain, you ice out pretty hard. So I guess I just felt like bitching and whining about it. Just make sure you’re prepared for it, and you’ll more than likely enjoy this aspect of the wheels.
That’s pretty much it then…Gunslinger nails it in the urethane market. Maybe “fast technical freeriders” is a very specific target market, but damn if it isn’t a badass one! Again, don’t expect to see them in your local shop yet…only the coolest online shops will will be carrying them any time soon. Until then, keep an eye on the Gunslinger Facebook page for updates.
UPDATE: Gunslinger Grenades can now be found at Thane Store! (What did I tell you? One of the coolest online shops.)
DISCLAIMER: This company was confident enough in its quality that it was willing to provide me with product to review.