Freeskate wheels market was always rather small, and it lacked ones you could describe as reasonable budget alternative to classic offerings such as Hyper Concretes. Of course, from time to time, some companies released wheels that were both quite cheap, of acceptable quality and endurance, but usually these lacked most valuable characteristics of more expensive ones.
Some time ago Powerslide released Powerblading Standard wheels under their well known aggressive skating brand – Undercover. These are really cheap – only half the price of famous Concretes, and two and half times cheaper than Undercover Powerblading Team wheels. I must admit right there that there is more to that price jump – turn out Team version is poured by Matter in USA, while Standard version is made in China.
Price aside, these wheels have some characteristics that were exclusive only to top of the range offerings in the past. Most noticeable thing is the core, which is really solid, and very close to one used in Hyper Concretes (which have reputation of near indestructible). The one in UC PB Standard is slightly larger (not enough to notice difference until you compare both wheels side to side) and made of harder plastic. But you can notice that these are budget wheels right from here – in some wheels in my set it was extremely hard work to get bearings in, while in others they slid in the core freely. But overall none of cores is too loose or too tight, and I honestly say this element of wheels is not disappointing so far.
Manufacturer labelled these wheels as 88A, so quite hard for fsk wheel, and while hardness is something you usually shouldn’t take too serious (differences between wheels of the same hardness made by two different brands can be very clear), this time I assure you, they are hard. UC PB Standard are harder and less comfortable to skate on than Hyper Concretes 84A, even in skates with very good padding and shock absorption like Rollerblade Solo RG2 sor Xsjado PB. People skating slalom skates, or those who have freeskates with scarce shock-absorption (PS Metro, Seba FR etc.) for sure will feel it. But 88A isn’t that bad actually – you are trading comfort for speed, and in connection with this wheel profile and good bearings (I use Bones Reds), you can skate really fast.
Wheel profile is much like in other budget wheels, so it is not perfect ellipse like in UC PB Team, it is asymmetrical. It is not an issue during skating, only group of people I can think of that will view it as a problem are slalom skaters doing ultra precise wheeling tricks.
Wheels have mediocre grip, and they tend to slip more than other wheels I’ve used lately (Hyper Concretes and Roll Line Extrema) and it is very visible especially right now, after winter, on still dusty streets of Cracow. I have to be more careful when taking corners. But these aren’t too bad, still have just enough of grip, and sooner or later you’ll get used to it’s safe-zone. Slippery wheels make much more sense actually if you consider these are made for powerblading application – with such wheels, wheel bite is less likely.
As for durability, it is not really surprising that shuffles aren’t healthy for these wheels. While it is easy to get in to a slide, even basic ones like powerslide or hockey stop that you overdone and transferred to short parallel slide, will make them shrink pretty fast. Using T-stop in city conditions to control speed too often can murder your urethane sooner than you would think.
While skating without shuffling/sliding though, urethane wear is reasonable, and trust me, I’ve skated Metro 2009 wheels, these nightmares had to be rotated after every session, so I know what bad wheel is. After over a dozen hours of skating, wear is noticeable but not at alarming levels. You get what you paid for – and there is a lot of urethane on the core, it wears down evenly and don’t crack, which is really one of stronger points of these wheels.
So far I’m very positive about these wheels, and skating on them is fun experience. I didn’t want to wait with hands-on/review until I will wear them down to 65mm or something, because spring finally started, and there isn’t much info about these wheels, even though many people are interested in them. I’ll write another piece after some time, to supplement this article, and will describe how they stand up in comparison to UC PB Team, as new set of these is occupying space on my shelf, waiting for Level 2’s to arrive (there will be Kizer Advance vs Level 2 comparison article …soon).
To sum it up – these wheels are definitely worthwhile. It is clear they aren’t best wheels out there, but have some important features of more expensive wheels, and are relatively cheap. People who do not like to skate on wheels after they go down below 70mm could be interested in these, as you can get two sets for the price of one set of Concretes, and in theory this should give you more time skating on 70-80mm diameter.
Wheels were made available for this test by Jakub Zico Ciesielski and his skateshop zicoracing.com, and I would like to thank him for these, and other awesome stuff he send me in past few months!