Seismic and 3dm wheels are poured at the world’s leading wheel factory, using the world’s finest urethane. We’ve conducted extensive lab tests that subject wheels to extreme stresses as they roll on a smooth drum simulating a uniform road. Our wheels never tear or chunk under these lab conditions.
But chunks and tears are an ever-present risk as flexible urethane wheels roll, turn, slide, and impact on imperfect surfaces in the real world.
Even the best auto and bike tires can go flat if they roll over nails or glass. Likewise, even the best skateboard wheels can tear on nails, glass, gravel, pebbles, and small sharp residue on roads that otherwise seem smooth. In both cases, the damage is almost always a matter of physics and bad luck, not product defect. Probably only wheels made of steel would be 100% resistant to tears and chunks!
Seismic follows the basic protocol of the auto and bike industries. We evaluate each report on its own merit, and we occasionally replace torn wheels on a courtesy basis. But we don’t otherwise warranty wheels damaged by sharp surface elements without very clear evidence of product defect.
The most common causes of tearing and chunking include:
– sliding and hard cornering at higher speeds on rough surfaces
– drifting onto road shoulders and rolling / sliding over gravel, rocks, glass, and dirt
– rolling over sharp breaks in the riding surface, such as sidewalk edges – especially when most of the wheel loses contact and the lip bears all the load as it rolls over the sharp edge
– kick-turning on rough surfaces, which can shred the edges of longboard wheels in a single afternoon
– hard impacts – such as rolling over big bumps or cracks without unweighting; losing control and shooting the board into a curb; landing a board flip on the wheel edges; and missing a high board toss
A tear that runs along a significant portion of a wheel’s circumference (see photos above) is clear evidence that damage occurred as the wheel rolled or slid over a sharp surface element.
Harder wheels, and wheels with rounded edges, don’t catch as easily on jagged surface features. Softer wheels, and wheels with sharper edges, are more vulnerable to damage – especially in extreme heat; or under heavier, faster, more aggressive riders.
Soft urethane can even totally absorb bits of glass, jagged pebbles, and beer-can tabs. These objects can then work their way deep into a wheel and later split it open from the inside. (Think of the “Aliens” films!)
High-rebound race formulas – like Seismic Defcon™ – are somewhat more vulnerable to tearing. Their faster rate of energy return is only possible because they have an inherently “looser” molecular structure. But experienced racers generally agree that the added speed is worth it. Before doing any slides, we recommend breaking in all Defcon race wheels by riding them on a very smooth surface for 5 or 10 minutes – until the glossy outermost “skin” is gone.
Very tall, narrow race wheels (like the Seismic 85mm Speed Vent) may be more vulnerable to tearing and chunking, for at least two reasons: 1) The longer “lever arm” between the axle and lips amplifies forces acting on the edges; and 2) Those forces are not distributed across a wide contact patch.
On very rare occasions, an air bubble trapped in a wheel lip can break open under normal riding stresses on good surfaces. Remnants of burst bubbles are fairly easy to see, and we replace such wheels. But the riding surface is definitely the culprit if more than one wheel in a set of four has torn or chunked. (It is incredibly unlikely that one set would include multiple wheels with large air bubbles on the lip.)
My name is Brandon Ross, and I’m a local Colorado freestyle skateboarder. I’ve been skating somewhere between 10-15 years. I was recently introduced to Seismic Skate Focus wheels by several top freestylers that use them. Everything I heard was overwhelmingly positive, so I decided to try them myself.
I initially bought the red 101a Focus wheels with the original core from a little freestyle skateboarding website called Decomposed. I LOVE the red 101a Focus wheels! The Focus design is a cored wheel, so installing and removing bearings is very easy and precise. The 101a’s allow you to do some really smooth footwork, spins, slides, carves, pivots, and quick changes of direction. These wheels are lightweight, agile, and stable. On smooth concrete, these wheels get really fun, since they have abilities typically reserved for ice skating. They glide and slide around at your command. Even though they occasionally slide-out, it’s a controlled slide that you can recover from, which is helpful for saving landings or modifying tricks. I enjoyed the red 101a Focus wheels so much, that I wanted to try the blue 97a Focus wheels.
I bought the blue 97a Focus wheels direct from Seismic Skate this time. Dan Gesmer at Seismic is so helpful and supportive, both with choosing wheels and customer service. He was so cool to throw in a few extras for me that I never expected, and that motivates me to skate better!
I have been very satisfied with the blue 97a Focus wheels so far. Now the Focus wheel has a significant core redesign. I thought the original core was great too, but I was told the new, smaller core is more resilient. The blue 97a’s exhibit a slightly different character than the red 101a’s. I noticed the wheel is softer, which means more grip, and resiliency on slightly rougher surfaces than smooth concrete. The blue’s grip more on slippery concrete, so that can prevent unnecessary sliding. They are every bit as lightweight, agile, and stable as the red 101a wheels, but with more stability from increased grip. The 97a is an excellent choice for versatility when skating on various smooth surfaces. However, you will find that the 97a and the 101a are complementary to each other.
Overall, both durometers of Seismic Focus wheels are incredible! The offset shape of the wheel wears down very evenly, and covers the axle and nut. Bearing installation is a snap. 101a is more prone to controlled sliding, and the 97a is more grippy with a little softness for resiliency. These are versatile wheels that can handle all aspects of freestyle, all tricks from rolling to rail are super stable. I recommend you try both durometers to get the full experience of what the Focus wheel design has to offer. Thank you Dan Gesmer and Seismic Skate for making these awesome Focus wheels! Ideal for freestyle! Keep on skating!
Caleb Shaffer –
I’m a beginner freestyle skateboarder from Pensacola, Florida. The Seismic Focus 95a was the first set of freestyle wheels I ever bought and I’m very proud to say that these are quite simply the best wheels I’ve ever used. If you’re a freestyle skater and you’re even thinking about considering to try and use these for your set up, DEFINITELY pick them up! Their only downside is that you’ll never want to skate anything else!
Troy in Nova Scotia, Canada –
I bought a Per Welinder reissue deck recently to get back into freestyle (I’ve been skating for 36 years now, and had a Kevin Harris back in the late 80’s.) My local skater-owned shops couldn’t bring in any freestyle-sized offset bearing seat wheels, in fact I couldn’t find ANY available in Canada. So thank you Seismic for making my skateboarding dreams come true.
Symmetrical bearing seat wheels (i.e. reversable) with round profiles don’t work for freestyle, as your axle bolt threads/nuts will get damaged and you’ll be wobbling when you go up on rail (a basic freestyle manoeuvre.) These Seismic Focus 55mm wheels fit my Indy STG II T-Hanger trucks perfectly flush to the rail edges, with no axle scraping. Brilliant!
I purchased 97A durometer wheels, not too bouncy, not too slippy. White urethane wheels (no extra dyes) tend to wear slowly and evenly, this adds to the quality of the overall design of these wheels. Anything over 58mm is too tipsy for freestyle; “Tall wheels are sluggish, that’s the antithesis of freestyle,” to quote Rodney Mullen. (“Zen and the Art of Freestyle”, Thrasher, March 1989. It’s posted online.)
Remember to use metal spacers between your bearings (and a washer on either side) to protect your bearings from getting wrecked by over-tightening and general (ab)use.
Service from Seismic Skates was fast, and the items I bought arrived in perfect condition.
I’m looking forward to getting back into freestyle, it’s aesthetically such a different approach than street/vert/downhill. Freestyle might closer to breakdancing where streetstyle is closer to martial arts, but it’s all sidewalk surfing in the end.
CANADIAN CUSTOMERS: Not only will you have to pay the GST & HST at the post office before you get your package, there’s also a lovely $9.95 CAD Canada Border Services Agency handling fee on top of that.
TAI TAI –
I’m a professional freestyle skateboarder and I’ve been using Seismic wheels since 2016. First set was 101 A, then, I bought 3 sets of 97 A, since we can’t find it in Brazil. Now, returning to the US, I am buying 3 sets more, this time 95 A.
They are my favorite wheels for Freestyle skateboarding, from all the brands I have tested. Can’t wait to put the new wheels, when I come back to Brazil !