Jul 27, 2020
There is an old saying when choosing roller skate wheels that goes like this… ‘there is no best roller skate wheel’. That all changed with the introduction of the Bont Royal Assassin roller skate wheel. This blog post will explain why the Bont Royal Assassin is the world’s best roller skate wheel.
Bont Royal Assassin Roller Skate Wheels
An Introduction to Hot Cast Urethane
Virtually every roller skate wheel on the market is made using cold cast urethane using a process where the urethane is dispenser using a machine at room temperature.
Cold cast urethane sets at room temperature and is great for mass production of roller skate wheels. Cold cast roller skate wheels are often run through a tunnel oven on a conveyor belt and once they pop out the other side they are demolded and the molds are quickly cleaned and used again.
Removing air bubbles from the urethane
There is another type of urethane called hot-cast urethane which is a more exotic urethane. This type of urethane is excellent for roller skate wheels but it needs to be baked in an oven for many hours for it to cure. This means that it will be expensive to produce because the wheel molds cant be used over and over on the same day, ovens need to be used, and not very many wheels can be produced each day. But, the roller skate wheels that do get produced are at a different level to cold cast urethanes.
The urethane is in the mold ready to bake in the oven for many hours
Hot cast urethane is poured by hand into molds and after the baking process, the wheels are left to cool for at least 48 hours in the mold before they are trimmed one at a time in a lathe. This labor-intensive process means that very few wheels can be produced per day and hence the reason it is only used for very small scale, extremely high-end applications. Hot cure urethane exhibits characteristics not found in cold cured urethane such as much greater wear properties. Bont produces wheels such as the Royal Assassin and Nio with hot-cast urethane. It is a labor of love, and you can feel the difference!
Baking Bont Royal Assassin Roller Skate Wheels
Gravity Poured Urethane
Gravity Poured means that the urethane is poured into the mold and not injected. Some roller skate wheels are injection molded and that is another completely different process again we can talk about another time. Our Royal Assassins are hand/gravity-poured, the urethane parts are mixed measured and weighed perfectly before being pouring into the molds.
Pouring the Bont Royal Assassin Roller Skate Wheel
Roller skate hubs
Traditional roller skate wheels are made with a plastic hub. Plastic hubs are great for mass-produced wheels as they are cheap and fast to produce. An aluminum hub is better than a plastic hub because it provides more rebound, it does not warp under load and it has a more precise bearing seat. Many of Bont’s high-end wheels feature smaller mini bearing seats. There is another type of aluminum hub on the market which is made with the classic retro roller speed skate look but it is a solid disc that absorbs rebound.
Roller Skate Wheel 3D hub design
Roller Derby is the perfect sport for the use of mini bearings such as Bont’s 167 and 688 bearings. The smaller roller skate bearings spool up faster allowing quicker acceleration. Combined with the Royal assassin’s hub, we gain a significant weight advantage over traditional wheels. Bont is really breaking the mold of what a traditional roller skate wheel should look like with roller skate wheels such as the Royal Assassin, Nio, and Speedster hubs. The roller skate hub is made from 6061 aluminum which is an extremely high grade of aircraft strength aluminum. Unlike most aluminum hubs, the Royal Assassin hub has a huge amount of machining done to it. This not only makes it look cool but strips out unnecessary weight from the hub. The end result is an extremely strong, light roller skate hub.
Trimming the Royal Assassin Roller Skate Wheel
We set out to design a roller skate wheel hub that was larger than usual. We knew that we had the luxury of having the highest rebounding urethane on the market so we could get away with making an oversized hub without sacrificing rebound. We also felt that 608 and 627 bearings are overkill for quad skating and they just add weight. So the combination of a small bearing hole with a larger outer diameter was our starting point. For the spoke design, we wanted something simple, strong, and aesthetically pleasing while keeping the weight to a minimum.
Trimming the Royal Assassin to size
The shape of the urethane affects the feel of the wheel especially the shape of the lip. With this in mind, we paid careful attention to creating the lip of the wheel based on feedback from our sponsored skaters.
Trimming the roller skate wheel to size
Extremely Limited Supply
As I explained above, these wheels are poured by hand and baked for many hours at high temperature and then machined one by one on a lathe. Our high-end roller skate wheels are produced by Scott Corey and to maintain the highest levels of quality, Scott insists on making every wheel himself. He says that the material is extremely difficult to work with and finding anyone willing to process the material right is the biggest challenge and to keep his processes secret as well as maintain the high quality he wants he does everything himself. This unfortunately limits the production to around 25 sets a week for the entire world. These wheels are generally sold out 3 months in advance so if you are lucky enough to own a set you know that you own the best roller skate wheels on Earth.
Bont Speedster Limited Edition (sold out)
Bont Nio Limited Edition Roller Skate Wheel (1st run sold out)
Scott Corey (left) and Alexander Bont (right)
Scott himself has been involved in quad roller skating and ice skating since the 1980s. Back in the early 1990s when Scott finished High school he came to work for Bont making our boots before moving on to study business and finding his own niche in life. Many years later, Scott told me that he was setting out to make the best roller skate wheels on the market. he loved the old retro style wheels and felt that modern wheels had prioritized profits over quality. We started planning the Royal Assassin wheel together and the rest is history.
when we caught up one time he mentioned he had started making roller skate wheels and asked if I would be interested in trying some. Once I had tried them and Scott explained what the differences were, we sat down and started work on what eventually came to be called The Royal Assassin.
About the author:
Alexander Bont has been skating since the age of two years old. He was part of the Australian national short track team for 7 years. He has also competed on quad roller skates, long track ice skates, and inline speed skates. Alexander has won a number of Australian national titles including national records in short track and state titles in inline speed skating. He is the owner and CEO of Bont Skates and has a passion for skate design.
If you liked this article, why not read out Blog on the Nio 2 Roller Skate Wheel.