Reviews by Ron: Bont Black Ops

The Bont Black Ops:

By: Ron Marfori

The Green Bont Black Ops (88A)

The Green edition is the hardest in the lineup of four new wheels with hardness ratings ranging from 84A to 88A.  At first glance, the wheels bear a striking resemblance to the new Hyper wheels. (In fact, I am not certain that Bont makes any of the wheels it sells. Clearly they work with some of the leading inline wheel manufacturers such as Atom, MPC, and Hyper to produce their wheels and do little to hide this fact. What is not clear is if there is any difference between the Bont wheels and the ones produced by the various wheel companies. I have heard they tweak the urethanes, flex bands, and other components to produce a wheel that meets their standards.) Bont utilizes their sponsored skaters to do a significant amount of testing before they put a product in the market. This is certainly an area they have a competitive advantage over most other companies.

My test session took place on a chilly 38 mile skate with speeds ranging from 18-22mph. The road conditions varied from super smooth pavement (great), to firmly packed peat gravel (very good), to rough Northshore like conditions (awful). The roads were completely dry although I was tempted to skate through some random puddles. I ultimately decided not to so I can’t comment on their performance in wet conditions.  I tend to favor dedicated rain wheels in wet conditions over all others anyway.

Overall, I was very impressed with the performance of the wheels. They ‘feel’ like a soft wheel although they are one of the hardest outdoor wheels on the market. This is a hard concept to grasp, and even harder to explain. I would compare the ‘feel’ to that of a track wheel such as the MPC Blacktrack. They performed their best on the smooth surfaces and pretty good on the rough ones, but then again which wheels feel good on the rough surfaces? In fairness, I was skating on the 88A wheels which are meant for optimal road conditions. I suspect the slightly softer versions would perform much better on average to poor road conditions than these.

As for grip, they felt like a wheel that gripped well, probably better than most. Again, the soft ‘feel’ likely contributed to the grip or perception of grip. As for wear, it’s really too early to tell as this set has been skated on only a handful of times; twice outdoors and at least once at the roller-dome. I would guess they have 100 miles or less on them. Some of the wheels still have traces of the pour ring remaining in the middle of the wheel. I think my skate session finally wore through the shiny outer coating that you see on new wheels and only in the middle portion of the wheels.

I haven’t been very happy with the wear of Bont wheels in the past (HR Mints for example), but my guess is these will wear better than those. At 88A, they would almost certainly have to wear better.

As for weight, here are some 110mm wheels I weighed, including the Bont Black Ops. One of the criticisms of 110’s is the weight they add to the overall skate setup so certainly the weight is important. In most cases, wheels will contribute the most weight over all other skate components. The Bont wheels did weight in as the heaviest wheel in my lineup. One theory is the flex band contributes to the additional weight, but I have no idea if this is indeed true.  The Bont wheels come in at 150g on average, and MPC wheels at 145g. In my opinion, the difference is negligible.

  • Bont Black Ops (Green) 150g – $17 per wheel
  • MPC Road War (X Firm) 143g – $15 per wheel
  • Bont High Rollers (Pink) 149g – $15 per wheel
  • MPC Street Fight (Gold) 143g – $15 per wheel
  • MPC Storm Surge (X Firm) 144g – $17 per wheel.

For those that prefer hard wheels (MPC Road War is my current favorite), I think the Bont Black Ops wheels require an adjustment period. The fact that they ‘feel’ soft tricks your mind into thinking they are slow.  Given time, my guess is the ‘slow’ perception would wear off as you get accustomed to the feel.  For those of you who favor a slightly softer wheel or track wheel, I would recommend giving these a try. I think you would like the feel of these wheels and the added benefit of the hardness.

The Black Op wheels are fairly expensive which will prevent some skaters from opening up their wallets. At $17 per wheel, they are tipping towards the high end of the cost scale. For budget conscious skaters, there are plenty of lower costs alternatives on the market. For those who are more concerned with performance over price, give these a shot. You may be pleasantly surprised.

About Ron Marfori:  Winner of the 2012 Metrodome Inline Marathon and new addition to TWINCAM, Ron emerged as a lead pack skater in 2010, but excelled in 2011 finishing 9th in the Minnesota Inline Grand Prix.  If you have recently tried a new product and want to share a success story or warn others, let know.