Ever notice that most wheels either work on the road but not on the track or vice versa? This has a lot to do with the way the wheel flexes. Basically, it is better to have a stiff wheel on the road for roll, and a more flexible wheel on the track for grip. Different tracks also require different flex to optimize grip in a very similar way to Formula 1 race cars use a different tire for each track. At Bont, we have developed a different wheel with a different amount of flex, grip, roll and wear for each application. To do this we developed a hub with a hinge point that flexes in the centre where as most wheels do not have an engineered flex point. The hinge point controls where the hub flexes most. This is critical in allowing us to get the wheel to snap back into place after it has flexed. This snap provides a faster transition between the inside and outside edges.
Different wheels in the range have different methods of achieving grip or roll such as our flex band which is inside the urethane of some models. We use different hardness flexbands from very flexible for slippery tracks, to very stiff for grippy road courses and everything in between.
A clear focus of the entire range of Bont wheels is the rebound. Obtaining a higher rebound while maintaining wear was one of our main objectives and we have achieved the highest rebound and longest wear in the industry which is a real achievement. A higher rebound rating results in more speed and more energy return. Normally when a skater wants more grip, they had to go to a softer urethane compound. Recent research has shown that a more flexible wheel will provide the grip and we can use a harder urethane to increase the roll. HARDER WHEELS EQUAL MORE ROLL.
Since the 80’s inline wheel hubs were designed to look cool. That all changed at the end of the 00’s when we set our minds to think differently about the hub and using it as a tool to produce a better wheel. Using FEA Deflection Analysis we developed a unique hub that flexes and returns energy when you push. You may have heard that wheels that flex are bad because they absorb energy. That is true. Orbital flex where the wheel flexes like a snake is bad but controlled flex that adds grip by increasing the wheels footprint is good. The wheels footprint is the amount and shape of urethane touching the ground.
We utilize a number of different urethanes across the range. The urethane needs to be tweaked to suit the hub. This can take between 6 months and many years to perfect. The main urethane that we use for the road wheels is called G4 (Generation 4) because it is the 4th generation of the same family of urethanes that we have developed. To develop the urethane, we spent weeks talking to the track builders about the different materials that they use, and the way they build the tracks. This was an industry first. No one had gone into this much detail to develop a range of wheels before.
Inside the urethane, we have 3 ways of adjusting the wheel for the desired application. The road wheels are made with a mechanical lock inside. This mechanical lock stiffens the wheel up for the road to produce more roll and less of a footprint. The second way is where we have no mechanical lock. Instead, we use a special bonding agent to hold the urethane on the hub. We call this type of wheel a Cabriolet. The benefit of this type of wheel is that the urethane is able to flex which increases the footprint and grip of the wheel. This type of wheel also offers more maneuverability.
The third way of adjusting the internal structure of the wheel is with a flex band. A flex band is another layer of material between the hub and the outer urethane. This material offers more flex, rebound and energy return but we didn’t stop there. We pushed the boundaries developing a patent pending Dual Durometer Flex Band or DDFB. This special flex band is made of a similar material that you would find inside a golf ball. It has an insane amount of rebound. A single durometer flex band works well, but a DDFB allows us to make the wheel more flexible at the base and harder on the outside which allows us to precisely tailor the flex inside the wheel. Rather than adding the flex band to the Cabriolet hub, we wrapped it around the mechanical lock to give us the speed of the mechanical lock wheel with the added benefit of more rebound and flex.
Over the past few years, skaters and shops have asked us why don’t we just copy our competitors banked track wheels and put a special coating on the outside that wears out after a few laps so that skaters need to buy another set. We refused to do it. We persisted with our goal of producing the best track wheel in the world and making it so that it lasted.
With the ever growing range of wheels in the Bont range, it is important for you to read through each of them and understand their specific purpose for the best results. Inline speed skating wheels are now very technical and specific. The difference from one wheel to another is dramatic. If in doubt, please shoot us an email and let us recommend one for you.
The Bont G4 range of wheels are the first to consider the wheel from every single angle. From the hub itself to the flex of the wheel, to the latest in material advances. It truly is a complete and well planned wheel and we thoroughly hope you enjoy all the effort we put in to bring them to market.