Reviewing The Orangatang Kegel

 

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We here at the Silverfish Consortium Reviews team dream of wheels. Big or little, fresh or scrubbed, icy or buttery, we love those things through and through. We don’t discriminate. If it’s round (sometimes flatspotted...oops) we’re willing to roll on it. Every moment we get to keep rolling down the street is another moment in paradise. So accordingly, we love wheels.

We’ve definitely have fun skating the same mass produced shapes and cores that we have for the last few years. We mean that genuinely. Wheel performance has been upped so much in the last few years We are beyond stoked to try any new set of rounds that we can get our hands on. However, we’re always impressed with someone trying something new. There’s plenty of often used and well proven molds out there, but variety is the spice of life, right?

Well, Orangatang wheels is getting spicy with it. Their newest release, the Orangatang  Kegel, appears to be different from any wheel on the market (at least to our knowledge at the time of print). It’s big, it’s orange. It’s from the mystical and creative minds behind a number of really awesome wheels that we’ve been skating for years. Admittedly the Kegel is a pretty big wheel, but how does it stack up in a market flooded with race-tested and approved wheels already available to the public?

 

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Specs

Height: 80mm

Width: 56mm

Durometer: 80a

Urethane: Happy Urethane

Core height: 46mm

Setup

Deck: DB Lunch Tray, Earthwing 2014 Supermodel Topmount

Trucks: Paris 180mm 50*

Bushings: 90a Venom Barrel BS/85a Riptide APS Barrel RS

1/8” Riser

Initial Impressions

The downhill market is big right now. There’s so many solid wheels to choose from, it can get a bit confusing for new riders. The first question we should be asking is “how is it different from x y and z?” Well, the Kegel is different. It’s taller than what we consider the norm when it comes to competitive downhill setups. There’s a new core we haven’t seen in previous Otang wheels. It’s not what we’re used to, that’s for sure.

OK, we’ve gotten past the 80mm diameter. The width isn’t tremendous, falling in the mid range of what we consider top end downhill wheels at 56mm wide. The lips are thick and don’t look too easy to deform. The core is big and wide, further supporting the lips. The urethane is the “Happy Urethane” that we’ve seen in the previous downhill shapes put out by Orangatang.

However, you can only tell so much from looking at a wheel. Preconceived notions of how a wheel performs are only mean to be broken. So we got off the computer, slapped the Kegels on a board, and out the hills we went!

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Riding Impressions

We were a little giddy to skate fast on really big wheels again. It’d been nearly 3 years since we’ve skated 75  mm+ wheels simply because we finally figured out that smaller wheels usually drift nicer, and accelerate quicker than their taller competitors. However, we had not forgotten the feeling of finding the perfect steep straightaway and just steamrolling past our pals going down hills. It’s a feeling that’s hard to replace, honestly.

The Kegels did not disappoint in terms of roll speed, to say the least. These wheels haul hard. We went out to a hill in the neighborhood of 50 mph with some steady sweepers all the way down. We didn’t have issues holding a line through the corners, but most square lipped fresh wheels do the job. It wouldn’t be possible for us to overstate it, the roll speed on Kegels is incredible. The urethane is snappy, almost excited feeling beneath our feet. The wheels were basically begging us to take another run down the hill.

After plenty of runs, plenty of shut downs, the wheels lost their shiny skin. Happy Urethane was not known as the most resilient of urethanes in the past, but the larger supported core and thicker lips honestly kept the wheels feeling more like new past the first few MM than we’ve experienced in a while. All wheels get more slippery as they get smaller, but the Kegel did a good job of feeling fresher, longer than many wheels on the market.

Freeriding the Kegels was a pleasing surprise! We shied away from taller wheels in the past simply because so much urethane meant over deformation when sliding, resulting in a gross feel when getting sideways. The Kegels however stunned us. That core has something going on that’s a cut above. It’s large enough that the urethane depth isn’t too deep that the wheels over deform, but not so large that it creates for a harsh ride. It’s a very happy medium. The urethane predictably broke loose in a way that reminded us why we love Orangatang wheels. The medium-sized contact patch gripped enough, once lips were broken down we could take them to a freeride jam session.

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When we saw a tall wheel with a narrow contact patch, we grimaced a little. That was a perfect recipe for gross, chattery slides. However, the new offering from Orangatang definitely caught us off guard. Apparently not every aspect of a wheel can be determined just from it’s shape. Not much compares to blasting sideways at high speeds and knowing exactly how much speed your wheels are going to shave off. That confidence inspiring behavior sold us on the Kegels.

Criticisms

There’s a few negative things that one could have to say about the Kegels. Firstly, they’re big. While that’s awesome for roll speed, it can cut down on wheel clearance and create for wheelbite really fast. 80mm is effectively only cutting down 2.5mm on the wheel clearance side of things, which equals 0.0984252”. If you toss on a riser, you’ll be more than okay.

Happy Urethane isn’t the most durable out there. The new core makes leaps and bounds towards a greater longevity of the wheel, but the Kegel still isn’t going to be a wheel you grow old with.

The price is up there, for sure. However, when it comes to similarly sized wheels, the Kegel is actually darn cheap. You’re paying for a lot of high performance, lightning quick urethane here.

 

Conclusion

The Orangatang Kegel breaks the mold of what we knew as a competitive downhill wheel in recent years. It’s a bit of an homage to the hulking mammoth-sized wheels of yesteryear, but with an updated core and shape to really bring it to the forefront of the downhill industry. There’s a few qualms which one could have with the wheel, but we doubt you’ll ever be disappointed with how amazingly fast these wheels are, while still having an extremely predictable drift.

The urethane is fast, more supported, and ever predictable. We had high expectations for anything Orangatang produces, and the Kegels were right in line with the top-of-the-line performance that we knew and loved. The Kegels are the new kid on the block; flashy, quick, and a boatload of fun. Sometimes the new kid on the block isn’t all talk.

 

 

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