I’m not gonna lie, I was apprehensive about Halftones dual color wheels. The concept was sound, but application had to be perfect. Your wheel spins when you slide (if it doesn’t you flatspot)…so a lot of the idiot trolls who didn’t think striped thane lines would work, must either have piss poor form or an absolute wealth of misinformation about how longboards work…probably both. Seriously, just read “second hand stokes” comments and try not to cringe. It’s amazing how condescending some people can be while simultaneously being completely wrong about everything…only to turn around and beg for free wheels (you know, the ones that supposedly suck). So while anyone with a brain knows the idea of striped thane lines should work in theory, dye does change the consistency of urethane and only certain formulas will combat this (and even then, only within reason)…meaning that performance could easily suffer. Luckily, white and blue were a great choice is dyes and well “within reason”, but the urethane itself still had to be the right formula, one that didn’t react as much to the dye…which I won’t know until I ride them. One thing I did notice upon receiving the wheels is that they look less like a blue and white urethane mixed and much more like one urethane with blue dye added to the side of the mold. That alone removes the chance that a wheel is made up of two urethanes with slightly different compositions or ages mixed together. Which, a lot of people claim is how even single color wheels get swirls…so already Halftones is making sure their quality is above even that of some very popular wheels.
Once I took then to the hill, I was surprised by how the wheel rode. Not because anything horrible about them stood out…but not because anything amazing blew my mind either. All in all they were a really well rounded and balanced wheel. They didn’t dump thane, or die in a sesh…but the lines are bold and distinct. They had average acceleration, didn’t go crazy fast but didn’t feel sluggish or slow either. They didn’t kill all your speed when sideways, but they felt controlled and did shave a good amount off. Plus, the slide itself wasn’t icy and wild, but it was easy to initiate and slid for a while. I’d put them right in that category of wheel that everyone likes (even if they like others better) that are regularly suggested to beginners…you know, Freerides, Butterballs, that kind of thing. Really, it’s a basic familiar feel that anyone can ride, and I think that’s done purposefully. They aren’t trying to compete with the heavy hitters on the already over saturated market…they just want to add some harmless and accessible fun to the mix. Now, in mentioning beginners, I would like to bring up over really cool thing I did notice. Not only does the dual color thane not ruin the consistency of the urethane…but one could argue that it’ll encourage better form and therefore more even wear. Basically, by the same principal that makes lower degree slides keep wheels round as they thane, Halftones make more stripes the faster your wheel rotates while sliding. So the closer you are to sliding 90° the less stripes you’ll get until finally the wheels don’t rotate at all and you get one color and a flatspot. Obviously, striped thane lines in no way help your form… but the fun of being able to control the frequency of your stripes is some great positive reinforcement for playing around with/trying to improve your form. I learned stand up pendys on these simply because it was so cool seeing my lines go from really short stripes to long ones and back again.
Considering how much hate these wheels got online (before they were even released), believe it or not, I can’t really criticize them…not because they’re the perfect wheel that can do everything, but because they deliver on exactly what they intended to. They’re super fun to play around with, the feel is going to be accessible to everyone, and they have a very well rounded performance. They aren’t magical cheat wheels or downhill speed demons…but they aren’t meant to be. They’re a really well balanced quality product with a fun little gimmick. I personally wouldn’t pay extra for striped thane, but Halftones doesn’t expect you to. It may be the wheels defining trait, but they treat it very casually and their marketing and prices reflect that. If you ask them, it’s less a “feature” than it is just some unnecessary fun, like multi colored sets (I.e. Skiddles/Tracers), glow thane or, let’s face it, leaving thane lines in the first place.
I can’t help but think about how this might expand. I have a few color combos I think would be cool, and even some I’d be worried about. I think Halftones was very smart in their choice of colors because white and light blue have always seemed so similar in slide characteristic/wear to me in the past. This will be something to consider in future releases, and it’ll be fun to see how far they can take it without ending up with uneven wear. Yea I know, I’m never NOT the sceptic but frankly I think if their first wheel was a white/dark purple combo my review would have been that they ovaled like crazy. Though something like a red/blue or a light green/orange could make for some pretty vivid and awesome thane stripes while remaining consistent and smooth throughout. If you have your own idea for the next color combo, shoot them a comment on their Facebook page, and grab a set of the blue/white ones to help fund the next batch with new colors.