Product Thrash: Orangatang Keanu Centerset Freeride Wheels
Orangatang has steadily released new and improved wheel designs and the newest freeride shape definitely does not disappoint! The Keanu is one of three new wheels: The 66mm Keanu, The 69mm Kilmer, and The 73mm Cage. Fun fact for those of you out of the loop, they are named for three famous actors, Keanu Reeves, Val Kilmer, and Nicolas Cage.
Each of the three new wheels is available in Orangatang's usual three-durometer offering in the familiar Orange 80a, Purple 83a, and Yellow for 86a. All three wheels are more or less proportionally the same, just different diameters. Orangatang is also using a brand new urethane formula which they call "Peachy Thane" which is some mixture between the feeling of Otang's original "Happy Urethane", and their ultra long-lasting "Euphorethane".
This urethane formula has all the great slide characteristics a wheel should, with the durability that you wish most wheels had. All of these new wheels come stone-ground and pre-broken in!
Out of the Packaging
Right away, the Orangatang Centersets slid with a lot of ease and control, without any need to be broken in. The slides felt effortless to initiate, with a nice and buttery slide, and just enough hookup. The main thing that I really, really loved about them was the fact that they felt the same all the way down to the core - probably having a lot to do with the durability the Peachy thane possesses. They performed great on a wide variety of pavement types and kept a big smile on my face!
Fully broken in
As I mentioned before, the Orangatang Centersets feel very, very consistent all the way throughout their lifespan. They deliver a great feeling drift, slide after slide. They feel excellent for fast freeriding and they definitely perform just as well when you're foolin' around on your skateboard for flatland tricks too. They provide lots of confidence and control when it comes to pushing your limits and going big! I did feel like the 80a durometer shed speed kind of quickly when going for big slides, and perhaps the 83a version would be more suited for holding out the giant standers. That being said, it's comforting to know that the 80a will support you in a slide, and not shoot you off a cliff-side corner!
The new Orangatang Centerset Freerides also feature a core that Otang has never used before. This wider and more supportive core not only gives the new centersets their amazingly smooth slides, but also makes the wheels roll faster as there is less wheel deformation from rider's weight. On the overall spectrum of wheels, I would say that the Otang centersets posses a good deal of roll speed which is great so you don't have to wait as long for them to accelerate to a speed at which to perform your next slide.
This has to be by far my most favorite aspect of these wheels. I generally go through wheels pretty quickly, but these ones were actually some of the most resilient wheels I have ever ridden, while SIMULTANEOUSLY being one of the best sliding wheels I've ever ridden. Generally, those two things don't necessarily go hand-in-hand, and I was extremely happy with the longevity of Otang's new Peachy thane. Take note though, you thane-line-heads, due to the Otang centersets' extreme durability, do not expect to see lots of thane lines..but that shouldn't prevent you from owning a set of these juicy urethane morsels!
I was blown away by the overall performance of the new Otang centerset wheels. The combination of a super awesome and consistent feeling slide, matched with countless hours of maintaining said consistency, is rare in the wheel market. At a price of about $45-$50, depending on the size of wheel you select, you'll be saving money in the end, because Peachy thane will last you at least twice as long as a conventional wheel... but personally I would say it's more like six times as long as many of wheels out there right now.
I have said it before, but the new Peachy thane is extremely different than Otang's other urethane formulas. Although it is a combination of the previous two, it feels like it has it's own distinct character, which was a pleasant surprise to me. I have spent time riding Happy thane (my first set of wheels I ever bought were Durians), and I have ridden Moronga's with Euphorethane to the core. Both of their previous formulas had their flaws and downsides in my opinion - although they definitely had their merits as well - but their latest urethane blend seriously shattered all my prior preconceptions and I think they have honestly raised the bar for freeride wheels with the new Cage, Kilmer, and Keanu.
You really should just get a set for yourself to see why I can't stop saying good things about them!