Review of the Seismic Defcon Formula Speed Vents and Hot Spots

 

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One of the truest and most trusted names when it comes to skating fast is Seismic. For years, Dan Gesmer and crew have been creating some of the fastest, most high performance skateboard wheels available. Seismic began in the wheel industry in 2004 (and the truck market a decade earlier) and has been at the edge of speed ever since. Wheels produced by Seismic include the 3dm line which offers some of the relied upon slalom wheels to ever navigate cones. Any beyond the slalom market, Seismic has been in the downhill game for years now. Seismic Hot Spots and Speed Vents can be seen dominating race courses worldwide.

Previously, Seismic’s Black Ops urethane was known as the fastest on the road (not to mention setting an IGSA speed record or two). The urethane is lightning fast and corners like a vice, but the biggest criticism is how the urethane slide on the unpredictable side. All too often skaters found themselves riding what felt like a bucking bronco through a predrift.

The days of Black Ops are not over, but there’s a new neighbor in urethane town. Seismic’s new Defcon urethane is promised as smoother sliding, ultra-high rebound, and ridiculous acceleration. We received 2 sets of wheels, a set of 69mm 78.5a Hot Spots, and a set of 73mm 81.5a Speed Vents. We went fast and slow, forwards and sideways, and put the wheels through a workout on a few of the most unapologetic corners that we know of, and wrote up all our findings. How did the new Defcon ‘thane hold up? Fast and resilient, just like we hoped for.

 

Specs

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Hot Spots
Height: 69mm, 76mm
Width: 52mm, 59mm
Durometer: 78.5, 81.5a
Bearing seat: Offset

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Speed Vents
Height: 73mm
Width: 54mm
Durometer: 78.5a, 81.5a
Bearing seat: Offset


Initial Impressions

We got the two sets of wheels fresh in shrink wrap from Seismic. They looked about as good as we could imagine. The Speed Vents feature a seriously updated graphic that we have to applaud Seismic on. We know wheel graphics should matter very much, but they look darn good. The Hot Spots feature the same molded-in graphic that we’re used to on Hot Spots. Subtle, yes, but we care about performance not the fashion statement we’re making.

The colors are bright and eye-catching. We’re especially partial to the bright electric green on the Speed Vents. The Speed Vent features an exposed inner and outer spoked core, while the Hot Spots seemingly have the same core when viewed from the inside, but it’s filled in rather than spoked. We’ve skated these shapes before, but never in this urethane, so we were pretty stoked to mount up and go skate.

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The difference between the two wheels is more than just a few millimeters in shape, though. The cores are definitely a defining feature to these wheels. The Hot Spot core is smaller and not as wide, made to have lips deform and maintain the more traction. The Speed Vents core is a little bigger and wider, making the lips deform less and create for an easier break out still with quick acceleration for a little bit bigger of a wheel.

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We brought out both wheels to a fun little downhill paradise tucked away from the city to push these wheels as hard as we could.

Riding Impressions

The wheels were pretty clearly intended to go fast on, so we put them on our downhill decks, tightened the nuts, and went head first down a nice long hill with a number of surfy sweepers. Running the wheels with the fresh skin on, we had no qualms about their ability to grip through the course. We definitely did notice the speed. We expected nothing less from a company known for producing some of the finest racing products, but we still have to giggle a little bit when we breeze past our friends on sluggish wheels. And breeze past we did!

The wheels are fast, without a doubt. Some of the fastest we’ve felt quite honestly. They charge corners and the exit speed is matched by few on the market. If someone is looking for race wheels, look no further. Especially when fresh, this new Seismic Defcon urethane won’t disappoint if one is trying to go fast.

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We did a few shut down Coleman slides to break them in, and went to the next hill of the day: a harsh right hand, unbanked hairpin with basically zero traffic and gnarly, unforgiving pavement. The spot is fast and without the proper line being chosen, can be very unwelcoming to riders. Guard rails on the outside edge seem to have a magnetic effect to first time riders. This is not where the locals take just anybody looking for a session.

The wheels were passed around to a number of riders that day, and all seemed pretty pleased with how they performed. Coming in fast, many riders found throwing their predrift just a little earlier meant the best way to navigate the corner. The Defcon urethane definitely does as advertised though, the grip to slide transition is on point. We knew when we were breaking loose, and we knew when we were gripping back up, even on a hill that’s known around these parts for making every slide unpredictable.

The slide itself shaves less speed than we expected. We know what sliding other Seismic wheels was like, so we expected to really slow down quickly once sideways, but true to what they claim, the wheels smoothly drift when needed, and hook back up once pressure is reapplied. We hit the corner time and time again, and once the feeling for the wheels was gained by the rider taking a run, they liked what they were feeling.

The best part about the corner while running Defcon urethane, was exiting. Certainly a pleasant breakout was enjoyed when entering our predrift, but the very distinct feeling of hooking back up and roaring out of the hairpin was an absolute delight. The Hot Spots really seemed to have a precise hookup and were a rider favorite on the day, but admittedly this was a spot with typically little to no grip for riders. The larger core on the Speed Vents definitely assisted with flying out of the corner, and breaking loose getting sideways, but the hook up did not feel quite as defined.

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The Speed Vents felt like they’d be in their ideal situation on a little bit slower hill with more tight pre-drifts, but exiting the corners quickly would be the advantage. The Hot Spots felt right at home on this gigantic hairpin that we were sessioning for the sake of the review, where shaving speed was more necessary and hooking back up was the most important thing happening.

Arguably the most impressive aspect of these wheels was the durability. The pavement we were riding through the hairpin is grainy and eats urethane without remorse. Slide after slide was sent through the corner, and frankly little wear was shown on the wheel. We first started seeing our inner lip become a hair more rounded, but the wheels stayed quite square and we stayed charging hard down the hill.

 

Criticisms

It was hard for us to be too upset at much from this new Defcon urethane. The only qualm we can think of when it comes to riding is that the urethane does not seem to shave much speed when sideways. It’s lightning fast coming into slides, so prepare yourself to be drifting for a bit. With some experience on Defcon urethane, it’s not hard to enter slides a little earlier and exit with tons of speed.

The non-riding qualm we can think of is the price. The 69mm Hot Spots come in at $55 off the Seismic site, which we didn’t have that much of a problem believing, but the 73mm Speed Vent is priced at $64 even. While this can probably be attributed to the core in the Speed Vent being so particular to make, it’s still pretty steep.

Conclusion

The Hot Spot felt like it would be at its home on a hill where grip is the secret to winning, and the Speed Vent felt like it belonged most on a hill where accelerating would be the name of the game. So keep these thoughts in mind when buying one of these new Defcon wheels.

That being said, these are some of the finest wheels on the market. We’ve gotta take our hat off to Seismic for listening to the skaters and finally putting out something that is extremely race-worthy, but still drifts and performs like we’d hope when sideways. These wheels rage out of corners and are without a doubt going to be taking a podium or two in the near future. Any downhiller can rely on them to perform when it’s needed most, and that’s the bottom line when going head to head with other skaters.

So can we recommend them? You’re darn right we can. If they’re Seismic wheels, you know they’re going to be fast, that’s already been quite well established. But the new Defcon urethane is a better all-around performer than ever before produced by Dan Gesmer and crew and we’ve got to hand it to Seismic. One of the hardest to beat wheels that we’ve ever skated.



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