The History of the Avenger

bont inline speed skating wheel avenger
Timothy Loubineaud 1st Place 10K Point Race at French National Championships

My mission has always been for Bont to have the #1 inline wheel in the world at any cost.
I tried many different concepts over the last 25 years to create the best wheel. Many of them failed, such as the Wayv wheel, which was a wheel with a polycarbonate disc hub.
In more recent times, our aluminum hub Red Magic Hardcore 125mm wheel has won 6 of the last 7 inline world championship marathons and our Red Magic wheel has been the most sought-after track wheel on the market. We know that an aluminum hub offers more rebound than a plastic hub wheel. The only real problem is the cost. 
On the back of the success of the RMHC 125mm wheel, we wanted to develop a 110mm wheel. Unlike the 125mm wheel, this 110mm wheel needed to have more flex as it would not only be used for long-distance events but shorter events and track events, so we needed to make the wheel turn. 
We worked on the Avenger project for three years before we released it. 
We did a lot of CAD testing and made a lot of 3D-printed models, but you can't tell how a wheel will skate until you make it and test it. The wheel had to have just enough flex to allow the wheel to turn but not too much that it would break. Creating a new wheel always comes with a large financial risk. We lost $120,000 on the Wayv project. We paid for the Avenger molds and made sample sets. MPC, who produces the Avenger wheel for us, tested it in the lab and reported that this wheel had the highest rebound that they had ever recorded on a wheel. We were excited and had a lot of optimism. We sent the wheels out to our team skaters. 
Then we waited. 
The first test results came in, and here is some of the actual feedback that I received:
"We went to the track, and the wheel felt heavy and slow. We did some lap times to compare. We were all shocked by the timing, and we actually re-ran the lap to make sure we didn't make a mistake. All of us were setting lap records on the wheel'.
Typically, when I give a skater a new product, I get positive feedback. I assume it has to do with the product being exciting and new, so I always want to get more feedback from as many skaters as I can, and I want to wait a few weeks to see once the excitement of having a new product has worn off to see if they still like it as much. However, this feedback was actual lap records. A lap record is not a feeling; it's hard data that is undeniable. I started to receive feedback about lap records from Spain, Korea, and Italy. And then Lolo messaged us saying she had set her fastest lap time by over 1 second. Over 1 second faster than her lap record? This was not just a faster wheel; this was something we hadn't seen since MPC released the Black Magic wheel. We moved on to production and ordered a production run of hubs. 
Production started, and wheels were shipped out. 
Then the bad news came in. 
Some skaters reported that their hubs were breaking. 
There were no reports of the test wheels failing, but a few of the production wheels had issues. We couldn't have a wheel that failed, so we took the tough decision to recall and destroy $40,000 worth of hubs and start again with new samples. This took another year for us to make and test samples and then make another round of production wheels. We used CAD to see where the weakness in the hub was, which we knew was a weakness because we wanted the spokes to flex a little and beefed them up around 30%. We were able to add material to the weakest point and take some from a stronger area to keep the wheel at the same weight. The next production run was finally ready. 
Then covid hit. 
All skating events stopped. 
During the covid period, we grappled with pricing issues. The wheel costs twice as much as a normal wheel to produce. On top of the cost of the hub and urethane, there was the added cost of sandblasting and bonding and the rate of defects is also much higher. If we used the traditional pricing structure for distributors and wholesalers, the wheel would retail for around $45 per wheel or $360 a set. This is not a price that skaters will be willing to pay. So we had to apologize to shops and sell the wheel direct to customers at the wholesale price. It was the only way I could make the price close to a plastic hub wheel. That didn't end my problems. The cost to make the wheel is so high that there are not enough speed skaters to buy the wheels to give us enough profit to be able to supply our own team with wheels. IE. If I give the wheels for free to my team skaters, even if they win everything, it's not possible to make enough sales to cover the cost of the free wheels. 
Here we are. Sitting on what is probably the best inline wheel ever made that no one knows about. I have given the wheel to a few skaters this season, and just this weekend at the French National Championships, Timothy Loubineaud won the 10k points on the Avenger. It seems like such a long time from when I first started this project until our first win on the wheel, but I am sure this is just the beginning. 
Well, that's the story of the Avenger wheel to date. If you would like to try the Avenger wheel, check them out here. If you do love them, please spread the word.
If you haven't tried an aluminum wheel before, know that there are some differences that you need to be aware of:
  1. A plastic hub flexes, so it is easy to get the bearing in and out. An aluminum hub does not, so you may need a bearing press. 
  2. You may need to fiddle around with different size spacers, or they will make more noise. If you don't mind the noise, that's fine, but if you do, it is worth getting the right size spacers for your bearings, again, because the hub has no give in the bearing area. 

 Alex Bont - BONT CEO


bont avenger inline speed skating wheel

bont avenger inline speed skating wheel

Photo credit: Cécile Hérault Vincent